Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Reflection of Gender Studies/Feminism Presentation
In my presentation for our English 436 course, I presented Foucault's theory in his "The History of Sexuality." My group divided the movement into four sections so each of us was able to present a different theory. I believe our presentation was a success and everyone seemed to enjoy the topic and our interpretation of it. I was satisfied with everyone in my group and felt no problem working with them nor obtaining a grade as a whole.
For my contribution I began by giving a short summary and analysis of Foucault's theory. My notes were as follows:
The Incitement to Discourse:
Sexual activity was once an individuals unbiased choice. Now there are social norms and regulations that reflect upon sexual activity. It has been censored throughout the centuries. Religion such as Christianity influenced peoples thoughts on sexual interaction and desires. Now there are government laws and moral laws to abide by. As well, there is one similarity between confessing your sexual sins to a priest and defending them in a court room: truth. People began to write literature related to sexual activity that was looked down upon as “scandalous” literature. Foucault brings up the anonymous author of My Secret Life, who dedicates his writing to describing his sexual adventures. The anonymous author says, “there is nothing to be ashamed of…one can never know too much concerning human nature.” He was scorned by Victorian critics and people felt it was obscene and inappropriate, though he believed sexual activity should not have the discourses it has been made to have. He justifies it by calling it human nature. In the 18th century there became an uprising to discuss sex. Not sex in general, but to analyze, classify, and specify it. They would analyze the birthrate, the age of marriage, the legitimate and illegitimate birth, the frequency of sexual relation, the ways of making them fertile or sterile, the effects of unmarried life, the impact of contraceptive practices, etc. Foucault believes that we talk about sex more than anything else and we are always in search of it. Society has made less a discourse on sex but rather many discourses produced by a series of institutes such as demography, biology, medicine, psychiatry, psychology, ethics, pedagogy, and political criticism. Everyone wants to talk about sex, yet it is exploited as the secret.
The Perverse Implantation:
The transformation of sex into discourse was the object of banishing any sexual activity that would not procreate. Legal actions against minor perversions were multiplied: sexual irregularity was annexed to mental illness. During childhood, norms are set and if one deviates the slightest from the accepted form of sexual activity, that person is alienated and looked upon as someone with a problem. Grave sins included debauchery, adultery, rape, spiritual or carnel incest, and sodomy. As well hermaphrodites were criminals for a while because they were “crimes offspring.” Tells us a story of a man who pet a little girl for doing a job for him and he is sentenced to jail time for it. Too many regulations and emotions involved with sexual activity.
After I presented this information to my peers, I told a narrative about a personal experience belonging to my neighbor who suffered the consequences of sex as a discourse. By doing this, I was able to involve the audience emotionally using Plato's "On Rhetoric" device pathos and intice thier curiousity, which may have lead to a discussion but for lack of time was forfeited. I explained how my neighbor inacted a perversion, slapping a girls bottom, and was sued by her father for this minor perversion. The legal system sided with the young girl's family and my neighbor was sentenced to forfeight his right to attend LAUSD schools. As follows, he felt alienation and was labeled a pervert. He ended up falling into bad habits such as drugs and alcohol. Now he is twenty-three, has no job, no car, and no friends. This is a perfect example of the negative side and consequences of our discourse of sex.
After I presented I felt everyone was moved by my narrative and had a good understanding of Foucault's theory.