The History of Sexuality, Volume 1 Quotes

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The History of Sexuality, Volume 1: An Introduction The History of Sexuality, Volume 1: An Introduction by Michel Foucault
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The History of Sexuality, Volume 1 Quotes (showing 1-28 of 28)
“Where there is power, there is resistance.”
Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Volume 1: An Introduction
“There is not one but many silences, and they are an integral part of the strategies that underlie and permeate discourses.”
Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Volume 1: An Introduction
“The appearance in nineteenth-century psychiatry, jurisprudence, and literature of a whole series of discourses on the species and subspecies of homosexuality, inversion, pederasty, and "psychic hermaphroditism" made possible a strong advance of social controls into this area of "perversity"; but it also made possible the formation of a "reverse" discourse: homosexuality began to speak in its own behalf, to demand that its legitimacy or "naturality" be acknowledged, often in the same vocabulary, using the same categories by which it was medically disqualified.”
Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Volume 1: An Introduction
“We demand that sex speak the truth [...] and we demand that it tell us our truth, or rather, the deeply buried truth of that truth about ourselves wich we think we possess in our immediate consciousness.”
Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Volume 1: An Introduction
“power is tolerable only on condition that it masks a substantial part of itself. Its success is proportional to an ability to hide its own mechanisms.”
Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Volume 1: An Introduction
“In actual fact. The manifold sexualities - those which appear with the different ages (sexualities of the infant or the child), those which become fixated on particular tastes or practices (the sexuality of the invert, the gerontophile, the fetishist), those which, in a diffuse manner, invest relationships (the sexuality of doctor and patient, teacher and student, psychiatrist and mental patient), those which haunt spaces (the sexuality of the home, the school, the prison)- all form the correlate of exact procedures of power.”
Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Volume 1: An Introduction
“Resistances do not derive from a few heterogeneous principles; but neither are they a lure or a promise that is of necessity betrayed. They are the odd term in relations of power; they are inscribed in the latter as an irreducible opposite.”
Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Volume 1: An Introduction
“[T]hus one should not think that desire is repressed, for the simple reason that the law is what constitutes both desire and the lack on which it is predicated. Where there is desire, the power relation is already present: an illusion, then, to denounce this relation for a repression exerted after the event.”
Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Volume 1: An Introduction
“It is not the activity of the subject of knowledge that produces a corpus of knowledge, useful or resistant to power, but power-knowledge, the processes and struggles that transverse it and of which it is made up, that determines the forms and possible domains of knowledge.”
Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Volume 1: An Introduction
“there is no escaping from power, that it is always-already present constituting that very thing which one attempts to counter it with.”
Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Volume 1: An Introduction
“No seventeenth-century pedagogue would have publicly advised his disciple, as did Erasmus in his Dialogues, on the choice of a good prostitute.”
Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Volume 1: An Introduction
“The question I would like to pose is not, Why are we repressed? but rather, Why do we say, with so much passion and so much resentment... that we are repressed? By what spiral did we come to affirm that sex is negated? What led us to show, ostentatiously, that sex is something we hide, to say it is something we silence?

...I do not maintain that prohibition of sex is a ruse; but it is a ruse to make prohibition into the basic and constitutive element from which one would be able to write the history of what has been said concerning sex starting from the modern epoch.”
Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Volume 1: An Introduction
“People will be surprised at the eagerness with which we went about
pretending to rouse from its slumber a sexuality which every­thing-our discourses, our customs, our institutions, our regulations, our knowledges-was busy producing in the light of day and broadcasting to noisy accompaniment.”
Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Volume 1: An Introduction
“There is no binary division to be made between what one says and what one does not say; we must try to determine the different ways of not saying such things, how those who can and those who cannot speak of them are distributed, which type of discourse is authorized, or which form of discretion is required in either case. There is not one but many silences, and they are an integral part of the strategies that underlie and permeate discourses.”
Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Volume 1: An Introduction
“One had to speak of sex; one had to speak publicly and in a manner that was not determined by the division between licit and illicit, even if the speaker maintained the distinction for himself (which is what these solemn and preliminary declarations were intended to show): one had to speak of it as of a thing to be not simply condemned or tolerated but managed, inserted into systems of utility, regulated for the greater good of all, made to function according to an optimum. Sex was not something one simply judged; it was a thing one administered.”
Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Volume 1: An Introduction
“A policing of sex: that is, not the rigor of a taboo, but the necessity of regulating sex through useful and public discourses. A few examples will suffice. One of the great innovations in the techniques of power in the eighteenth century was the emergence of “population” as an economic and political problem: population as wealth, population as manpower or labor capacity, population balanced between its own growth and the resources it commanded. Governments perceived that they were not dealing simply with subjects, or even with a “people,” but with a “population,” with its specific phenomena and its peculiar variables: birth and death rates, life expectancy, fertility, state of health, frequency of illnesses, patterns of diet and habitation.”
Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Volume 1: An Introduction
“States are not populated in accordance with the natural progression of propagation, but by virtue of their industry, their products, and their different institutions.… Men multiply like the yields from the ground and in proportion to the advantages and resources they find in their labors.”
Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Volume 1: An Introduction
“Under the authority of a language that had been carefully expurgated so that it was no longer directly named, sex was taken charge of, tracked down as it were, by a discourse that aimed to allow it no obscurity, no respite.”
Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Volume 1: An Introduction
“Rather than the uniform concern to hide sex, rather than a general prudishness of language, what distinguishes these last three centuries is the variety, the wide dispersion of devices that were invented for speaking about it, for having it be spoken about, for inducing it to speak of itself, for listening, recording, transcribing, and redistributing what is said about it: around sex, a whole network of varying, specific, and coercive transpositions into discourse. Rather than a massive censorship, beginning with the verbal proprieties imposed by the Age of Reason, what was involved was a regulated and polymorphous incitement to discourse.”
Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Volume 1: An Introduction
“Hence, too, my main concern will be to locate the forms of power, the channels it takes, and the discourses it permeates in order to reach the most tenuous and individual modes of behavior, the paths that give it access to the rare or scarcely perceivable forms of desire, how it penetrates and controls everyday pleasure—all this entailing effects that may be those of refusal, blockage, and invalidation, but also incitement and intensification: in short, the “polymorphous techniques of power.”
Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Volume 1: An Introduction
“la conveniencia de las actitudes esquiva los cuerpos, la decencia de las palabras blanquea los discursos”
Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Volume 1: An Introduction
“Through the various discourses, legal sanctions against minor perversions were multiplied; sexual irregularity was annexed to mental illness; from childhood to old age, a norm of sexual development was defined and all the possible deviations were carefully described; pedagogical controls and medical treatments were organized; around the least fantasies, moralists, but especially doctors, brandished the whole emphatic vocabulary of abomination.”
Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Volume 1: An Introduction
“According to the new pastoral, sex must not be named imprudently, but its aspects, its correlations, and its effects must be pursued down to their slenderest ramifications: a shadow in a daydream, an image too slowly dispelled, a badly exorcised complicity between the body’s mechanics and the mind’s complacency: everything had to be told.”
Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Volume 1: An Introduction
“Poder y placer no se anulan; no se vuelven el uno contra el otro; se persiguen, se encabalgan y reactivan. Se”
Michel Foucault, Historia de la sexualidad 1. La voluntad del saber
“For was this transformation of sex into discourse not governed by the endeavor to expel from reality the forms of sexuality that were not amenable to the strict economy of reproduction: to say no to unproductive activities, to banish casual pleasures, to reduce or exclude practices whose object was not procreation?”
Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Volume 1: An Introduction
“The nineteenth century and our own have been rather the age of multiplication: a dispersion of sexualities, a strengthening of their disparate forms, a multiple implantation of "perversions." Our epoch has initiated sexual heterogeneities.”
Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Volume 1: An Introduction
“Homosexuality appeared as one of the forms of sexuality when it was transposed from the practice of sodomy onto a kind of interior androgyny, a hermaphrodism of the soul. The sodomite had been a temporary aberration; the homosexual was now a species”
Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Volume 1: An Introduction
“So we must not refer a history of sexuality to the agency of sex; but rather show how "sex" is historically subordinate to sexuality. We must not place sex on the side of reality, and sexuality on that of confused ideas and illusions; sexuality is a very real historical formation; it is what gave rise to the notion of sex, as a speculative element necessary to its operation. We must not think that by saying yes to sex, one says no to power; on the contrary, one tracks along the course laid out by the general deployment of sexuality. It is the agency of sex that we must break away from, if we aim – through a tactical reversal of the various mechanisms of sexuality – to counter the grips of power with the claims of bodies, pleasures, and knowledges, in their multiplicity and their possibility of resistance. The rallying point for the counterattack against the deployment of sexuality ought not to be sex-desire, but bodies and pleasures.”
Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Volume 1: An Introduction

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