Queer Theory and Gender Performativity

Segment from Paul Fry’s lecture at Yale University.
Talks about Michel Foucault and looks at sexuality using his methods.

This text i found kind of helps to understand it, I had to watch it like 5 times and read this loads but its quite interesting really, i think the point he is making is that:

Sexuality, according to Foucault, is constructed out of society and culture. and it cant exist without it, and that it exists through discourse? he doesnt really speak about it as an act or anything? he speaks about it like an ‘IT’ like its just a whole subject? or maybe just the discourse in general. reading foucault’s piece he splits it into 4 sections, which are;
the hysterization of womens anatomy, pedagogization of child sex pedagogization (coined by a Dutch philosopher I think) comes from the term pedagogy and it means:
1. the function or work of a teacher; teaching.
2. the art or science of teaching; education; instructional methods.
I’m still trying to figure out what it means in this context?
socialization and finally psychiatrization (read the reading below for more explanations on the terms)
So what Foucault goes on to say is that sexuality cant exist without these core aspects? Im not going to argue with the man but its hard to get that in your head I think? i feel like it would exist without but its maybe amplified by this? hhhmmm..


Foucault identifies four centers that have related power and knowledge to sex. First, the “hysterization of women’s bodies” has led us to think of the female body first as highly sexual and second as an object of medical knowledge. The female body, as a center for reproduction, has also come to be considered a matter of public interest and public control. Second, the “pedagogization of children’s sex” sees children as highly sexual creatures, and sees this sexuality as something dangerous that needs to be monitored and controlled. Third, the “socialization of procreative behavior” sees reproduction and therefore sex as a matter of public importance, and disapproves of non- procreative sex. Fourth, the “psychiatrization of perverse pleasure” is the result of studying sex as a medical and psychiatric phenomenon. It highlights divergences from normal sexual behavior and identifies them as illnesses that need correcting. Foucault emphasizes that these four centers do not “repress” sexuality; the concept of sexuality does not exist except as it is framed by these discourses.

Foucault distinguishes between what he calls the “deployment of alliance” and the “deployment of sexuality.” The former is a system of kinship ties that exists in almost every culture. It consists of a number of spoken or unspoken rules regarding marriage, family ties, ancestry and so on. The latter, which has increasingly come to replace the former in modern society, is far less regulatory and far more variegated. While the deployment of alliance essentially works to maintain the stable structure of society, the deployment of sexuality provides an ever-changing structure that allows us to interpret a range of phenomena in their relation to sex and pleasure. Foucault suggests that the deployment of sexuality evolved from the deployment of alliance, as the earlier emphasis on what sorts of relations were permitted was replaced by an emphasis on what sort of sensations were permitted.

All four strategic centers deal with family relations. Foucault concludes that the family does not repress sexuality, but nurtures it. The deployment of alliance focuses specifically on family relations, so it is in the family that the deployment of alliance and the deployment of sexuality have the most contact. Foucault suggests that the deployment of alliance maintains some control over family relations and thus on the deployment of sexuality by means of the taboo it places on incest.

The “deployment of sexuality” is the way that we use sexuality to join different concepts. It is closely related to the “deployment of alliance,” which is the way that alliances have been used to make connections within a society. All societies involve alliances at the family level. Foucault takes as examples the way property or names get passed down through families, or the kinds of protocol that exist between different family relations. An important application of the deployment of alliance has to do with sex: married people can’t have extra- marital sex, and people cannot have sex with their family members.


Rachael Ellis


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