Part One: We “Other Victorians”
I just finished reading the first part of The History of Sexuality…by which I mean the first thirteen pages, not the entire first book. One step at a time.
“My aim is to examine the case of a society which has been loudly castigating itself for its hypocrisy for more than a century, which speaks verbosely of its own silence, takes great pains to related in detail the things it does not say, denounces the powers it exercises, and promises to liberate itself from the very laws that have made it function…Why do we say, with so much passion and so much resentment against our most recent past, against our present, and against ourselves, that we are repressed?” (8-9)
This chapter made me reexamine some of my assumptions about my own theoretical work. I hadn’t realized how much I fell into this trap myself. The very assumption that certain kinds of speech or certain kinds of pleasure are “forbidden,” and how the hope for a future where this won’t be the case, both reinforce the very discourse of repression. Where does this idea of repression come from? Who began it, and how is this language being used to further entrench certain systems of power, systems that use the pleasure of sex and the victory of speaking it to persuade people that they are victoriously rebelling against the Law?
Sex is the opium of the people.