Foucault’s Criticism Of The Repressive Hypothesis

The discursive explosion on sex – What is Foucault’s Criticism Of The Repressive Hypothesis and what evidence does he use to present his criticism?

In his book, The History of Sexuality, Foucault largely criticizes the “repressive hypothesis” by giving a number of reasons. Repressive hypothesis is a broad characterization of assumptions that explain the relationship between power and sex in terms of subjugation. These theories assume that a number of power mechanisms have been put in place to repress discussions of sexuality and to prevent human beings from achieving satisfaction, since the emergence of civilization. On this view, power is seen as a force that acts against a majority of individuals, thereby preventing them from achieving their desires. According to supporters of “repressive hypothesis”, repression acts as a sentence to disappear and as an injunction to silence, such that it becomes difficult to see or know whatever is taking place. Ideally, sex and sexuality have dominated the society, yet, the power holders rarely discuss the sexual themes and desires (Renaud, 2013).

Foucault poses two criticisms against “repressive hypothesis” both of which are directly linked to repressive civilization. First, Foucault focuses upon the idea of choose to adopt which is centered on the idea that sexuality is largely suppressed under capitalism because it does not agree with the terms found within an environment of intensive work. Foucault claims that capitalism does not call upon delays in gratification, and therefore feels that the historical perspective makes repressive sexuality a very easy concept to analyze. This is with the honor that sex too is listed among the agenda for the future. Second, Foucault criticizes “repressive hypothesis” by focusing on the motivation behind the theory. He says that suppose sex is repressed, then those who talk about it are victims of transgression. This is because, those who attempt to challenge repression assume that they are privileged beyond operations of power by accepting the historical explanations that related sexuality to repression. On this basis therefore, it is very clear why one would automatically reject “repressive hypothesis (Renaud, 2013).”


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