When I think about an instance of sexuality occurring in public life, the first thing that comes to mind is the #metoo movement. The #metoo movement is a widespread movement against sexual harassment and assault in the workplace. This movement began in 2017 after Alyssa Milano tweeted #metoo encouraging victims of sexual harassment to tweet about it. The movement has opened the door to conversations about the sexual objectification of women. The challenge is that sex is related to power and historically, men have abused their positin of power to sexually objectify women. Harvey Weinstein is just one of the many men accused of abusing his position of power to manipulate women into providing sexual acts. The #metoo movement has played out publicly, creating awareness of the sexual objectification of women.
Foucault’s (1990) speaks about sexuality and his conception of modern power in Volume 1 of The History of Sexuality. According to Foucault, sexuality isn’t a “thing” that is repressed by power and then needs to be rediscovered. Sexuality and power relations are closely intertwined. Foucault states that sexual repression is a superficial phenomenon. The
“[T]he deployment of sexuality, with its different strategies, was what established this notion of ‘sex‘” (154)
Sex could function as a universal signifier for anatomy, gender, biological functions, pleasure, sensations, and behavior. The conception of sex takes form in the strategies of power, not separate from it. Foucault also believes that family doesn’t repress sexuality, but nurtures it. According to Foucault, sexuality doesn’t exist in us in the way our consciousness exists in us, but
In The Care of Self: This History of Sexuality Volume 3, Foucault (1990) states,
“it is good not to seek a selfish enjoyment, not to try and have all the pleasure oneself, but to share it by supplying the other with as much of it as one experiences” (220).
While Foucault was referring to sexuality in this statement, but it can also apply to food. One can also correlate masturbation to eating, as think about the perceptions of eating alone and the perceptions of masturbation… both are seen as unfortunate, desperate and hidden events. “Pigging out” by eating massive amounts of food in secrecy is considered pathetic, similar to chronic masturbation. Foucault pointed out, the exercise of sexual power generates both some acquiescence and some resistance on the part of those who are the objects of that exercise. The point is to maximize the resistance and minimize the
Foucault, Michel. The History of Sexuality Volume 1: An Introduction. New York: Vintage, 1978.
Foucault, Michel. The Care of the Self: The History of Sexuality Volume 3. Penguin, 1990.