Archives for posts with tag: Michel Foucault

Reading Michel Foucault’s Abnormal allowed me to see how other people classify deviance.  Personally, I feel that devience in society is what makes the world interesting.  And, society causes this devience by categorizing anything as “normal”.  The three figures, the monster, the incorrigible/the individual to be corrected, and the masturbator were put into perspective for me after our class discussion.  I still find it hard to believe people think it is okay to classify outcasts by levels of abnormality.  Who has the right to say what is not “normal”?  Something that is normal to one person may not be to another.  Peoples lives vary to such a larger degree.  The reading talked about the “seceret” of masturbation, that everyone does it, but no one will admit it. I can’t help but wonder where this all came from and how it got started.  When was it first thought of that maturbation was something so wrong that it needed to be hidden and left unspoken? And, how does society not realize that pointing out devience only worses the matter.  A person was probably acting abnormally to cause trouble in the first place and drawing attention to the situation and trying to correct them will only cause them to rebel even more! A large portion of the reading was dedicated to “fixing” the abnormal, depending on their severity, by placing them in the proper institution.  This is ridiculous! Placing someone into an institution for exploring their sexuality through masturbation is the most insane thing I have ever heard of!  And if everyone is masturbating and only those that admit it are being penalized, those who are lying are being rewarded.  Also, if the masturbator is formed through the family, the bedroom, and the body, how is a child supposed to know this is so wrong when it is not talked about unless masturbation becomes a problem?  This terrible act that causes a person to become a monster and could force them to be institutionalized.  Overall, I enjoyed the reading, although I do not fully agree with the idea, I liked the view point of another person classifying diffrences in people.

Alexandra Fath

In the lecture “Abnormal” Michel Foucault, when talking about the figure of the masturbator, says, “Almost no one knows what everyone does,” (59). This idea of shared ignorance about sexual practice which Foucault applies to the practice of masturbation, seems to me to be applicable in regards to a myriad of sexual behaviors. I am reminded of the impact of the publication of the Kinsey Reports in the late 1940s and early 1950s: before the debut of this document, many Americans had no idea what other Americans like themselves actually did when they were sexual. As Foucault implies in his lecture, masturbation is that thing that everyone does, but nobody talks about; this secrecy fosters a climate of guilt surrounding the unspeakable practice and prevents those partaking from truly enjoying the experience. Arguably, such was also the case with many other taboo sexual practices (oral sex, anal sex, homosexual contact of any kind, etc) before the publication of the Kinsey Reports (but also persisting to the present).
As can be seen from examining the Dear Dr. Kinsey Collection (a collection of personal letters addressed to Dr. Kinsey during the 1940’s and 1950’s), the cycle of secrecy, guilt, and subsequent sexual anxiety about behaviors persists when “no one knows what everyone does.” I had the wonderful chance to examine some of these personal letters, and one profound conclusion I came to was just how little most people knew about what was common and healthy sexually (not to mention how often “healthy” and “moral” wound up tied together). Many letters were from anxious writers in the 40s and 50s describing behaviors such as cunnilingus or fellatio (which are commonly accepted today) and asking whether they were going to develop a physical or moral disease as a result of their behavior. Insofar as behaviors which have no empirically proven physical detriments are blamed for unrelated health problems, the depiction of sex as immoral or unhealthy does no one any favors: when “no one knows what everyone does,” we all spend a lot of unnecessary energy feeling bad about what we like.