Queer theory confronts philosophies of sexuality within conventional discourse. Conversely, it proposes that sexuality should be understood through emphasis on changing cultural creations, limits and ambivalences that shift depending on past and societal circumstances. Michel Foucault examined some of human’s core principles including sexuality and gender. Additionally, he examined the issue of self-knowledge and the impact that it has on various concerns. This article is a response paper to the document titled “Homosexuality: Foucault and Politics of Self” written by Riki Wilchins.
It is clear that the writer attempts to answer the origin of homosexuality and she begins by providing the meaning of the self. The first argument provided is that humans do not have the power to choose their sexuality. On the contrary, sexuality chooses us. Moreover, it makes us who we really are. However, the society provides different interpretations to people’s sexuality. From the text, it seems that the writer wants to emphasize that sexuality provides the foundation for relations and should be recognized always. Hence, it is noted that sex should provide reality. For this reason, sex confession is proposed. In other words, repressed sexuality is injurious, incapacitating and self-destructive.
The article noted the importance of sexual confessions. After the Enlightenment, the church encouraged people, especially priests, to make confessions. The confessions were to help people avoid the effects of repression. However, the paper did not consider the effects that confessions had on people. Foucault himself questioned the effectiveness of confessions. Notably, sexual confessions are likely to cause explosions of dialogues. Thus, confessions cannot liberate sexuality, that power and the past has distorted and censored. Nonetheless, the paper compares sexuality with truth and notes that it emerged as the central issue in leading an upright life. Wilchins noted that the church used sexual confessions, read self-knowledge, to exercise much control over people’s lives. She then wonders why other basic appetites, like food, have not been politicized. Finally, Wilchins notes that humans are confessing beings who tell one another their sexual activities. In this section, it seems that she challenges Foucault for he did not support confessions and psychiatric treatment for homosexuals.
The author notes that science also shifted the attention to sexual identity. Scientific approaches developed to study human behavior shifted the attention of people on sexuality. Therefore, sexual identity had to be managed for normalcy. Indecent sexual desires were a danger to decency and the society. Thus, abnormal, or otherwise unnatural, sexual orientations had to be avoided in the society. Pleasure and the craving for sexual activities were examined through scientific strategies and judgment.
The author agrees with Foucault that the categorization of sexuality resulted in the church and medicine having more power over individuals. Foucault had noted that what was previously visualized as an activity became to be envisioned along the alignment of identity. This was due to the more power that institutions and the church developed over individuals. These institutions also modified gendered behaviors of individuals through rewards and reprimands. Furthermore, the new scientific approaches only wanted to develop power over sex. New science also identified homosexuality as an abnormality that required intervention. The writer notes that all humans should have equal rights. Hence, she questions the need for subjectivity. However, she notes that Foucault hoped to make people embrace their sexuality and develop self-knowledge. Thus, she states that subjectivity is a type of politics.
In conclusion, Riki Wilchins used all the tenets of queer theory in writing the article “Homosexuality: Foucault and Politics of Self.” These systems of belief are that all factions that illustrate sexuality are falsifications and that declaration about truth are culturally constructed. Additionally, human actions are textual signification and disclosures are systems of control. Finally, conceptualization of normalcy and deviance can be achieved through examination of literature and cultural expressions.
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