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A Study On What Is Sexuality Media Essay

The repressive hypothesis according to Foucault relates to sexuality in history during the 17th -20th Century. The chapter discusses the beginning of sexuality with reference to Christian emphasis on “sins of the flesh” which ultimately advanced the awareness of sexuality in the seventeenth century. According to Michel Foucault, sex was treated as a practical and private affair in which only a husband and wife should engage. Sex outside these restrictions was not just prohibited, but repressed. Therefore the discourse on sexuality was confined to marriage only. This attempt at regulation only assisted in spreading the discourse of sexuality and consequently sexuality itself. Foucault suggests the repressive hypothesis is essentially “an attempt to give revolutionary importance to discourse on sexuality.” What Foucault means by “the incitement to discourse” describes any effort to repress sex only reflected a fascination with it resulting in even more awareness and talk about it.



Foucault introduces a question in his chapter: Is our modern day discourse on sexuality really a break with this older history of repression, or is it part of the same history? This idea challenged my thinking about sexuality in the 21st century. The past was seen as a dark age where sexuality had been something illicit, and still today, although society's understanding of sex has become more lenient, our discourse on sexuality maintains a kind of forbidden stance. It still continues to be a controversial. So my answer is yes, to some extent, I do think our modern day discourse on sexuality is still apart of the same history of repression.



After reading research conducted by Foucault and study guides (Sparknotes: The History of Sexuality) to further understand the material of sexuality throughout history, the ideas have opened up avenues for considering views of sexuality in today's era. I know understand how much sexuality is an expression of yourself as an individual; it is the inner most fundamental form of identity.



An example of repressed sexuality could be seen through a 2007 report concerning Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and his visit to a strip club when he was Shadow foreign affairs minister in New York, 2003. The media created this act as an outrage explaining it could ultimately affect Rudd's chances of being elected as Prime Minister. This example explains that if it was such an inexcusable act on Rudd's part because he visited a strip club that all other society members are consequentially free to do, then society does hold a repressed view of sexuality. (The Daily Telegraph)


References for addition research:

The Daily Telegraph http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/sunday-telegraph/kevin-rudd-hits-a-strip-club/story-e6frewt0-1111114215510)
Sparknotes: The History of Sexuality http://www.sparknotes.com/philosophy/histofsex/section1.html


Week Three: What's gender got to do with it?


Reading: Halberstam, J. “F2M: The making of female masculinity” in Doan, L. (1994) The Lesbian postmodern.


Question: Discuss the relations between transgenderism and sexuality in Halberstam's argument. Why does she insist both that “we are all transsexuals” and that “there are no transsexuals”?


Judith Halberstam in her essay introduces the complicated issue of gender identity explaining it to be more than just associating the penis with a male or the vagina with a female. Halberstam argues “we are all transsexuals” indicating that an individual can create a desired gender through assembling visual characteristics such as our appearance through clothing and the physical body, including genitalia. Iagender menjadi lebih rumit daripada sekadar menghubungkan penis dengan laki-lakiBaginya “ we are all transexuals ” dan pada saat yang sama “ there are no"We are all transsexuals" yet "there are no transsexualstransexuals ”(1999, 126-127) sedemikian sehingga gender dan seks dapat sama sekali" (Halberstam: 1994, p225) ‘Trans' refers to the crossing between two sexes; wearing drag allows us to mimic the other gender through dress. Halberstam suggests that usual sexual categories aren't enough to determine whether an individual is classified as a male or a female. For example, there is not only one single lesbian identity; there are many categories. Clothes can construct gender where anatomy can not; drag is a way of expressing sexual identity. Suggesting that we are all wearing ‘drag' explains that we are all forming a socially constructed identity of sex and gender that doesn't involve biological factors.



Halberstam showed the reader that sex is more of suatu penampilan saja atau bahkan lebih merupakan suatu pertunjukan kultural.an appearance, or even a cultural show. An individual can still claim a sex category without portraying the associated genitalia to that particular sex. In turn, this topic introduced me to the idea that gender is synthetically constructed.



Halberstam shows the artificiality of gender through visual appearance including clothes, cosmetic surgery and performance which did at first challenge my understanding of sexuality. I now understand her idea that masculinity and femininity are artificial discourses that can be reproduced and created by anyone.



In considering Fausto- Sterling's reading for this week also, I would like to use examples of pop singer Lady GaGa and the allegations she may be a hermaphrodite. It was broadcasted over Sydney radio stations with radio hosts discussing it as such a controversy confirming that society still sees such issues of gender identity as ‘forbidden'.


References for addition research:

http://depts.washington.edu/keywords/wiki/index.php?title=%E2%80%9CF2M:_The_Making_of_Female_Masculinity.%E2%80%9D


Week Four: Sexual identities and beyond.


Reading: D'Emilio, J. (1993) “Capitalism and gay identity” in Abelove, H. et al. The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader.


Question: Discuss why D'Emilio describes the relation of gay men and lesbians to capitalism as contradictory. Does his account of these relations seem persuasive?


D'Emilio describes Capitalism as a contradiction towards gay men and lesbians due to its intentions of maintaining and enforcing heterosexual standards within society while at the same time assenting to the idea that males and females should conduct their own lives with an autonomous view on sexuality. When conducting further research, I found a concurring argument by Alison Thorne; a member of the Freedom Socialist Party. “Gays are oppressed by the ideology of the nuclear family and by the capitalist system which produced [such an] ideology.” The nuclear family provides sex and age roles such as men becoming responsible for supporting women who in turn have produced a new generation. Men are ‘breadwinners' who receive a wage to support their family, women provide domestic labour and emotional support as a mother and a wife, and children are the innocent and persuaded recipients to these ways, being moulded for the future according to their parents' traditions.



The idea of Capitalism being the reason that gay men and women are oppressed was a new concept to me. I had never thought much about it. After reading D'Emilio's work, I can understand how the idea of a nuclear family within a capitalist society is the means by which the next generation of reproducers can be raised and socialised into a system that provides problems for the gay liberation movement.



I struggled at first to accept the idea of capitalism as a major factor that results in the oppression of gay men and women. It was naïve of me to think that if only the greater of society was more tolerant on views of homosexuality that the capitalist system would not be a factor. I understand how the nuclear family is used as a template for ‘maintaining' an ideological and sexual order but frankly, I sometimes desire that it could be as simple as having a more tolerant society that is willing to teach our young society how the ‘real world' is, and that being ok; teaching a more accepted view of the family in various sexualities. It is a very detailed idea presented by D'Emilio that required further research in order for me to understand.


References for additional research:

Thorne, Alison: http://www.anu.edu.au/polsci/marx/gayleft/where.htm
http://www.isreview.org/issues/37/gay_oppression.shtml


Week Five: Desire in theory


Reading: Bataille, G (1968) “Introduction” in Erotism: Death & Sensuality, 1st City lights edn, trans. M. Dalwood, pp 11-25.


Question: Why does Bataille associate eroticism with death? Does his argument seem plausible?


Bataille relates eroticism to the features of religious experience. He believes that eroticism in the philosophical sense is linked with life in the most intimate way. Although reproduction is opposed to eroticism, Bataille sees the fundamental meaning of reproduction as the key to eroticism. "Reproduction implies the existence of discontinuous beings". (Bataille: 1968, p12). Each being, though reproduced, acquires a distinction from others. Thus, it is through the process of reproduction that man obtains an individuality; he is born alone, he dies alone, and between him and other men "there is a gulf, a discontinuity". Human reproduction brings about separate individuals. “If you are born, it is not my birth. If you die, it is not my death.” (Bataille: 1968, p12-13).


Even though reproduction brings discontinuity to beings, Bataille argues on the other hand that death brings continuity of beings.However, death also means the biological phenomenon of that instant when the egg and the sperm fuse and the transition to continuity begins again. It is in this fusion of two separate beings in q sexual act, that unity and continuity comes into existence. I can fathom, to an extent, what Bataille is attempting to explain to the reader, however these ideas seem like they have been examined in depth to the point of them being unnessacary and lacking real meaning.



The ideas in this topic challenged my thinking on sexuality tremendously. I found it very hard to understand what Bataille was implying through his ideas of eroticism, religion and death. The comparison between sexual activity and erotic activity is now understood after the tutorial. Sexual activity has the goal for reproduction, were erotic activity is needed for discontinuity. “Eroticism…is a psychological quest independent of the natural goal: reproduction and the desire for children.” (Bataille: 1968, p11).



The chapter makes us think about the experience of eroticism and desire, not just reproducing. With the idea of physical eroticism and stripping naked, I understood that getting rid of discontinuity meant riding the self of clothes that represent your own identity; you are trying to shed your identity. (Bataille: 1968, p17).



I can not think of any media stories that can relate to Bataille's theory unless you could consider the Mardi Gras as an idea of stripping naked, although in this sense it is not to shed an identity but to gain an identity.


References for additional research:

http://christianhubert.com/writings/continuity_discontinuity.html#12


Week Six: Cruising


Film: Cruising (1980) Dir. William Friedkin. Warner Bros. Pictures.


Question: How does Cruising represent gay identity? “Positively” or “negatively”? And how does it situate gay identity in relation to straight identity?


William Friedkin's film Cruising (1980) was introduced with immense controversy when it was first released. Gay and lesbian activists protested against the film's negative portrayal of gay men's S&M culture and the associated violence toward the homosexual community. The film raises the implication and stereotype that violence is natural to the homosexual lifestyle. Controversy concerning the film's perceived homophobic undertones including socialising that occurs in that underground subculture. Steve Burns opens the film as being a heterosexual male who needs to play the role of a homosexual. We begin to see a change in dress, make-up and surroundings such as gay bars while Burns learns the gay codes of the culture. Vito Russo discusses this in his book The Celluloid Closet, how within Cruising, homosexuality is compared to monsters such as vampires or zombies that create new members of their group, “Homophobic in spirit and in fact”. (Russo: 1981 p,236).



I found it very interesting that coloured bandannas were used to indicate particular sexual acts an individual is willing to do. As I understood from past research, gay men wore pink handkerchiefs in their pockets as an unspoken signal for other gay men. It also made me aware to the extent of the brutality that was involved by police out on the streets during the late 1970's and early 1980's with society's view on homosexuals.


References for additional research:

Russo, Vito. (1981). The Celluloid Closet: Homosexuality in the Movies. Harper and Row publishers, New York.


Week Seven: What's love got to do with it?


Reading:


Question: Why does Illouz define romantic love as a “utopia”? Do you agree with her analysis?


Eva Illouz's study argued that romantic love reflected a continuing search for ‘the experience of utopia'. In the twentieth century the ideal of love lost many of the religious implications that it carried in the nineteenth century and by the 1920s, romantic love meant personal happiness was reliant on its connection to popular fiction, film, and advertising. Illouz explains the mass of images that define our ideas of love and romance, displaying the experience of ‘true' love is entrenched in the experience of consumer capitalism. Her studies on individual conceptions of love relate with the world of clichés and images she calls the "romantic utopia." This idea of romance is limited only to our imagination, of a world that is built on images that unite “passionate and economic activities” in the practices of dating, sex and marriage.



In terms of the idea of romantic love being lost and not carried forward into the twentieth century I absolutely agree with Illouz. And the idea that it has been lost due to consumer capitalism does make sense. I think it has become so difficult for the everyday person to live up to expectations of love displayed in films. Films push the limits of love until it is impossible to recreate it in ‘real' life.



Absolutely. Under capitalism, romance is commodified and commodities are romanticised. Conceptions of intimacy and sexuality are defined and understood through the consumption of products that produce positive self esteem.



I thought about game shows, such as ‘Australia's Perfect Couple' that have been designed to create and satisfy consumer cravings by giving away prizes and money and feature dating couples and couples soon to be married, also ensuring that sexuality is kept in the public's gaze.


References for additional research:

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