Questions/comments between you and Nathalie, your excellent Teaching Assistant, on Foucault’s Panopticism, and History of Sexuality, and Butler’s Gender Trouble
Nathalie’s comments are in italics.

In Panopticism, Foucault mentions that it doesn’t really matter who is in power, but that power is formed by the context. Is this referring to the fact that in the Panoptican, the actual design is what shapes the power structure? I’m also thinking about lecture on Tuesday when we were trying to discuss how prisoners and people in general are scared. What exactly are people afraid of? Is it a person or an institution, or perhaps a consequence? I was also thinking of how it relates to power between gender categories. How does context give structure to who has more power?
Yes, here you might think as the design +other things like the limited interactions prisoners can have with each other or who/what they see as the context. So in that sense, the whole context taken together is what gives rise to the power that the prisoners feel rather than the one guard who is supposedly watching them.
Regarding feeling/being scared, I think that it's not a particular person or institution because as we discussed power here is more implicit and intrinsic than explicit. It's the context taken all together and the consequences maybe. It sort of depends on the situation we are describing, but a lot of the time you internalize the context to the point where you don’t even realize its power at play and that's sort of the whole point.
Regarding gender, power relates to gender categories in many ways. One way I can think of right now, is the very power that operates to constantly define and re-define gender categories as distinct binaries. It's sort of invisible but all around us and works every day to tell us that we are supposed to choose to be either man or woman, feminine or masculine. We can’t be both and we can’t be neither and many things in society work together to constantly remind us of that message.

Examples of people who fall between categories of gender are Ellen Degeneris and also Andy Warhol. I was thinking about how people construct gender differently according to the culture. When I traveled in Latin America I noticed that a lot of men are incredible dancers. For Americans it is generally assumed that if you are guy and you dance well and you like to dance you are probablyhomosexual. Yet, in many places, not just in latin America, the ability to dance is not associated with femininity as it is in the U.S. In fact, in some places as with certain kinds of turkish dancing (some whirling dervishes) dancing is specifically restricted as a male activity. I was also thinking about how when people do not see bathrooms labeled as male or female there is a sense of anxiety. For example, the Tea House downtown has two bathrooms which are both labeled "either/or" and I have witnessed confusion on multiple occasions by customers afraid to 'mess up' or 'make the wrong' choice until they realize both bathrooms are unisexed. The assumption being that men and women's bathrooms are vastly different. The irony is that everyone does essentially the same thing in bathrooms, they are essentially just places for excrement. In relation to the construction of what is natural, I think that at least in America, there is an assumption that women talk more than men and are naturally inclined to do so. This is obviously not true.

It is really interesting to notice the different things that count as masculine/feminine in different countries such as dancing, ways of dressing wtc…and that really brings out the point that gender is a cultural construct, and that what counts as "natural characteristics" for men or women to have are not natural at all.
The bathroom is always an interesting case. When I think of bathrooms I think of Foucault actually and the repressive hypothesis. At school where I used to go in Lebanon, on the women's bathroom there were always comments left on the walls and doors about the sexual adventures the girls were having and I used to always wonder what to make of it. I've thought of it in terms of a "confessional place" and wondered whether the same happens in men's bathrooms. I wish I had the courage to go and check at the time, because bathrooms play a big role in reinforcing gender, and at the time I was in college there was a double standard for talking about sex. Men could boast about it but women could not talk about it but I guess Foucault would say they had been talking about it all along in the bathroom, before they started talking about it openly to other people.
Regarding women talking more than men, you are right it's not true! There's also the conception that women gossip more than men but that's also not true. There are interesting studies in linguistics that show that men gossip just as much as women but it's sort of under a different guise that is culturally not as easily recognizable as the way women gossip!!

My question is about Foucault's History of Sexuality. In the beginning of his discussion of the Repressive Hypothesis Foucault discusses how the Catholic church/faith was involved in creating more discourse about sex than before. He describes this in terms of the Catholic confessional, but then later begins to describe it in terms of Christianity. Do you think he is just using these terms interchangeably, or is he arguing that both Catholicism and Protestantism contributed to the increase of discourse about sex? If the first is true then do you think he is arguing that Catholicism helped naturalize this increase of discourse about sex, or is he just not taking Protestantism (or religions other than Christianity, for that matter) into account? Does this whole history only apply to Catholics and/or Christians?
That's a good question. I actually don't know if he is using Catholicism and Christianity interchangeably or when he uses Christianity he implies both Catholicism and Protestantism. I don't know enough about Protestant views on sexuality and how they differ from Catholic ones to be able to answer your question, but he is starting with 16th and 17th century discourses on sex and Protestantism was gaining momentum at that time in Europe, so it might be that he is talking about both. That is just a guess though so don’t take my word for it.
I don’t think he is taking other religions into account nor other cultures for that matter. He is interested in sexuality in the western world so that might be reason enough for him not to take other religions into account. I don’t think his history would apply to Catholics everywhere because he is also contextualizing it in terms of capitalism and the bourgeoisie which was manifested differently in Europe than in other places.

In Panopticism, Foucault implies that the prisoner becomes their own guard. How well did this system work in practice?
I think it had to have worked pretty well for him to take it as a theory of power that applies to peoples' lives too. We discussed in class how we sometimes become our own guards and I think it works pretty well mostly.

What criteria did Butler give to define sex and/or gender, once it was established that they viewed the two as sharing the same problems?
Given that Butler's whole point is to denaturalize the definitions that are given to sex and gender, I think one thing she would emphasize is that they should not be viewed as rigid categories with specific characteristics, but rather that they are things that are performed on a daily basis. I think the main criterion that she would give gender is that it is performative.

In regard to Foucault's "History of Sexuality", he opens with a description of the "imperial prude" forcing sexuality to transform from something open/on public display to what is closed off and discussed only as a family matter or between a man and a woman. His tone on this regard is very adamant in its disregard and distaste for the Victorian period's rise of propriety, but does not look at the reasoning for why this occurred. Sexual diseases ran rampant due to the numerous amounts of partners and free speech regarding sex, so aptly described by Foucoult, and an influx of Christian morals (and moral dilemmas) are the backdrop for a societal shift in its approach to sexuality. It went from one extreme, complete openness, to the other, closeness, as a culture grew tired and fed up with the results of no restraint on sexual "deviancy".
What is the role of women in Foucault's 'History of Sexuality" in regard to sexual repression? Stereotypically associated with demure, "motherly", proper behavior until the Sexual Revolution of the 1960s, one might suggest that it was women, who also began the Temperance and Suffragist movement, also were responsible for the shift in sexual behaviors in order to uphold a good and godly family for their own sakes and others.
Is capitalism and the bourgeoisie really responsible for the "downfall" of sexuality? Did it benefit or handicap society by making sexuality a family matter? Studies regarding family structure and the varying classes have shown the Sexual Revolution has done more harm to the family, men & women, and children than any form of "help" - above all else, what was supposed to be empowering for all classes has proved detrimental to the lower classes (McLanahan 2009), which goes against what Foucault claimed about the bourgeoisie making the proletariat miserable in everything regarding sexuality.
As far as I understood, at least in the parts we read, Foucault isn't specifically focused on women. The sexual revolution is an interesting case but comes at the very end of the period he is discussing.
Regarding your last point, I don’t think he is saying they are responsible for the downfall of sexuality. Rather, by the 19th century, when capitalism had allowed for a bourgeois class to come into existence, they sort of encouraged the proliferation of the discourse on sex. In fact he says that Bourgeois society "put into operation an entire machinery for producing true discourses" on sex because they wanted to know what they thought was a fundamental secret that had to be learned. Also, at first he says that they made it a family matter and were interested in sexual relations between a married couple. Later he says that the fascination was displaced to sexual relations marriage to include the sexuality of children and the mentally ill, criminals, and gay people. He says that this is actually harmful because these things become labeled as "perversions". I don't know the study you are referring to but I suppose one of the things about Foucault is that he is trying to write a history of sexuality on the West from the 16th century until the 20th so at different points in time different things are playing out and it becomes harmful to some people and not others depending on the specific context. I think a study focusing on just the sexual revolution in the 60's would give a very different image because the context, actors ect... are different.

Is one of Foucault’s main idea that a Panopticon mirrors the gender/power relationship? Is he saying that with gender you can be unsure of who the guard is, so you’re constantly trying to defend or reaffirm your gender even if no one’s looking? Is the trouble with gender that fact that it's been ignored or overlooked so it becomes a self-fulfilling representation? For Foucault’s idea on how power operates…if power isn’t external to relationships, does that mean it is involved in all relationships? And if that’s the case, how is there ever a time where power doesn’t exist in the first place (Resistance to power exists but it is never possible without power in the first place)? Examples: Hook-up culture could be an example of one of those things that people say they don’t want to talk about it, but they really do want to talk about it. People act like they do not want you to know who they hooked up with, but really if they keep bringing up their night or details about the night, they really do.
An example of a celebrity where their gender is not just masculine or feminine but they fall somewhere in between could be Ellen DeGeneres. She dresses in a more masculine way and wears suits. Another example: Caster Semenya was an Olympic track star and she was stripped of all of her medals because she did not fall into this binary well enough when she was subject to gender testing.

Foucault is saying that power in society in general mirrors the panopticon. And yes, it certainly applies to gender in the sense that you are talking about. We do always feel we need to reaffirm our gender even though there is no one holding a gun telling us to do so. It's more a subtle kind of power that makes us feel we have to do it all the time.
I think what Butler means by gender trouble is both that is it troublesome in the sense that it is often taken for granted as natural and overlooked as a cultural construct and in the sense that she herself is calling for social scientists to trouble it's categories by starting to denaturalize it. So it is both a troubled category and it is one we should trouble ourselves.
I think Foucault would say power is involved in most relationships, but it more subtle ways in some relationships. So he would say it is always there in some form or the other.
P.S: Good examples!

Despite our discussion about gender being culturally constructed and sex being biological, Butler defined both sex and gender to be constructed, but I was confused by her reason of why she thought so. Is she saying a person's sex is also culturally constructed because a culture defines what biological feature is male and female?
Yes, she is saying that. Imagine a culture decides that a penis is women's genitalia and vice versa. It's hard to imagine but the fact is that science randomly decided to call people with a penis men and people with a vagina women and we've taken these categories and ran with them ever sense without even questioning them. She is questioning them and saying that in the 1st place there are plenty of people with genitalia in between. it's not a rigid thing of either/or but in fact it is culture that has taught us that what is natural is either having male or female genitalia, and taught us that it is not natural to have both or none or a hybrid, when in fact it is often the case.

The idea of hegemony fits very well into Foucault's chapter 4 when he talks about how sexuality was a means of controlling the working class by the bourgeois because the working class bought into ideas of sexuality set by the elite even though the working class did not benefit from following the bourgeois' standards.
Great example! Nice work picking up on that.

Since Foucault uses history to prove his specific point, I feel like it would be very easy for him to pick and choose which parts of history would best support his argument rather than the whole.
Yes, I understand that you feel that way. It is often a critique leveled against people who use genealogies of ideas for their research. Think about it more for your paper to get at the assumptions he might be making.

Finally, I'm still a little confused about his attempt to refute the repressive hypothesis and say that sexuality is used to transmit power by the elite. Aren't the elite repressing the lower class by giving them a rigid standard of "correct" sexuality?
Foucault is arguing against the repressive hypothesis in the sense that he is saying that it is not true that people in the 16th/17th...century were repressed and did not talk about sex. He is arguing that they did in many ways. i.e. they were not repressed at all in regards to talking about sexuality. Now, what counted as normal sexual behavior vs not normal was decided by the elite so I would say it's not that the lower classes are repressed in the sense that they cannot talk about it but rather that their ideas about what counts as normal or not comes from a hegemonic group to use Gramsci's term.

Butler and Foucault speak from a Western perspective, explicating gender and sexuality as it has been understood in Western cultures. Do they ever spend any time addressing what other cultures might have thought of gender and sexuality? Or is the Western perspective the only important one nowadays, because it is the predominant view in the world? Or did they not know enough about other cultures to assume that they could write about such topics there? I was wondering their intention was only to write about what they knew, or if there was a purposeful ignorance of other cultures because they didn't find them important in their theories.
Yes, Butler and Foucault are speaking from a Western perspective. The main thing to remember about them though is that they are not anthropologists, so the agendas for their projects don’t include other cultures. So it's not purposeful ignorance, nor is it that they don't care it's just that they are not anthropologists. Even though they don't spend time addressing what other cultures think of gender and sexuality, their ideas are taken up by anthropologists studying other cultures and their theories are tested against non-western cases and used and tweaked accordingly. So when professor Alexy said a few lectures back that the readings for the remaining part are not by anthropologists but the ideas and theories are taken up by anthropologists studying different cultures, these are two very good examples on that. For example, open any anthropology book/ ethnography dealing with gender and/or power and I guarantee you that you will find a discussion of Foucault and Butler, either using theory theories, or trying to prove that they don't fit a particular case/context. The anthropology of the body, the anthropology of the state, medical anthropology are just a few examples of fields who extensively draw on these theorists.

How are Foucault's ideas on power related to Bourdieu and Gramsci?
Can his writings on power for the Panopticon and sexuality be related to Bourdieu and Gramsci in the way that his theory suggests a sort of circular system on power where, for example, beliefs about where power is held for the prison system (in the central tower) are created through the tower's existence and then maintained and reinforced by the fear of the threat of watching of the collective population of prisoners?
In addition to what you said, Foucault's ideas relate to Gramsci in the sense that they are both theorizing power in more subtle ways showing how it can work intrinsically and internally. One way Foucault could relate to Bourdieu too is that power is shown to work through daily action and activities rather than something that is just enforced on you.

In the same line of thought, can Butler's beliefs about the nature of sex and gender also be related to all 3 theorists (Gramsci, Bourdieu, & Foucault) through her theory that beliefs on the nature of sex/gender are created and reinforced culturally by culturally-derived norms, such that cultural perceptions of the nature of sex and gender are maintained through a circular system?
While Gramsci & Bourdieu's use of a circular system can be readily seen, can we say that all 4 theorists (including Butler & Foucault) are basing their theories off of the notion of a cycle of reinforcement?
I think you relate Butler nicely to the rest, however I'm not sure what you mean by cycles of reinforcement. I can better answer your question if you make that a bit clearer.

I had a question about hegemonic power. If I understand it correctly, it is the persuasion of the unempowered [AA: “enervated” is the right word] to want the same things as those with power. If the unempowered do, in fact, want these things, is it still as oppressive and self-serving on the part of the empowered? Or is this more of a weapon of the weak?
Yes, except it's a little more subtle than persuasion in the sense that you when you are under hegemonic power, 1st you don't realize you've been persuaded to do something and second you do something that is not good for you willfully so no one is persuading you to do it at that moment. The whole point is that the un-empowered want these things and that is what is amazing about it because you are willfully being oppressed. We talked about this in section extensively if you recall.
Not quite sure what you mean by weapon of the weak? Are you using it in the James Scott sense of the term? For Scott people resist through their everyday actions and he is in fact arguing against Gramsci, if I recall correctly.

Foucault believes that, contrary to popular belief, when we talk about sex we are not in fact transgressing norms of sexual repression. This, to me, implies not only that it is actually fairly acceptable to talk about sex in society (just not acceptable to acknowledge that that is what we are doing), but also that we may still be sexually repressed despite feeling that we are not. If we are not able to break free from our repression by talking about sex and sexuality, how can we break through it? What cultural power structures would have to be altered in order to allow us to break free? Also, I wanted to comment on the repressive hypothesis. I totally buy into the idea that we tend to believe ourselves to be freer or less repressed now than we were in earlier times. Whether or not it is true, I think it's especially common to think this way about race relations, for instance. We tend to see the Civil Rights Movement as having solved racial tensions, and now that we are "liberated" from racism, we do not see the racism that is still very prevalent and apparent in our society every day. Therefore, I see the repressive hypothesis as applicable on a much broader scale than simply sexuality.
I think the parallel to race is a good example. Often times, we see certain moments in history as being very significant and liberating, and they do indeed maybe alter some structures, but then we realize that forms of power are so pervasive and subtle in society, that the discourse on race maybe changes form and content, but they still exist just under a different guise. This brings me to your question about how to break free from repression. I don't know exactly how, or what structures would have to be altered. These things are hard to predict. But Foucault's idea about paying attention to changing discourses and the subtlety of power is a start.

In chapter 2, Foucault discusses how he sees four different operations working to create power vis-a-vis sex and sexuality. Did the power he discusses come from intentional division and definition of different types and grades of sex and sexuality, because it breaks down society into smaller groups that can be placed in opposition? And who/what group is in position of this power - the majority? We can see again in this writing that he is setting up dichotomy between the culturally constructed 'natural' and 'unnatural', the 'norm' and the outliers that remind us of Bordieu and Butler's writings.
I think that the power did come from attempts to define it, classify it, and examine it in a scientific manner. By doing that, the discourse that is in circulation can now categorize people as "normal", "deviant" ect... and that is a powerful thing. I think it was intentional in the sense that ruling classes at the time where thinking about how to control and learn about large populations, but not intentional in the sense that they wanted to have power over sexuality per say.
I think it provides for a nice comparison with Bourdieu and Butler too, in the sense that we can see through Foucault how sexual categories came into being in the 1st place, and the way power works through them, and through Bourdieu that the daily habits of people here are very important.

My question/comment is on the Butler reading. I was already aware of the idea that gender and sexuality are not defined by two opposing poles, but rather they are gradated scales. However, this was really the first time I've heard the idea that biological sex is just as culturally constructed, and also cannot be contained within the popular binary structure. Firstly, I was wondering what exactly was meant by the 1 in 100 people whose bodies "deviate" from the standard--what exactly does that mean? In other words, is the "in between" area of biologically male and female always a form of being intersex or are there other terms/concepts? I watched the documentary mentioned by Professor Alexy (XXXY) and was struck by the realization that intersex is almost never discussed within our society. It makes sense to a degree because we consider our physical bodies to be private things, but I'm thinking the world/America needs to hear about more intersex people in order to view it as a legitimate thing and also question our paradigm of biological sex, not just gender and sexuality.
To answer your question about what it means when we say deviate from the standard, it can be something like people born with two X chromosomes and one Y for example, which could lead to having more estrogen in their bodies, or people having parts of both genitalia for example. It doesn't always have to be intersex, it could be other things. There are all these in between areas that science labels as a deviation to the norm, but the norm too is completely arbitrarily defined by science.
Seems like the movie made you think! If you are interested there is also a book by a professor of Biology and Gender Studies at Brown University Anne Fausto-Sterling, the book is called Sexing the Body and she argues that scientists and scientific knowledge politicize the body in a way that reproduces the sex dichotomy.

I am still a little unclear about how Foucault’s theories fit into Butler’s argument, which was one of the questions on Tuesday’s quiz. Butler uses Foucault’s work on the hermaphrodite Herculine Barbin to show that there are problems with the binary system of sex and gender. Is this the main point of using Foucault’s work? What does Foucault mean by “genealogy,” since it is brought up many times in the reading? It seems to be a study of the origins of gender from a political standpoint, but it is not clear to me.
When she uses Foucault's work on Herculine Barbin, she is referring to another piece of work Foucault published in 1980. What she does in this part is critique his introduction in that work saying that it contradicts his argument in History of Sexuality, which you read part of. The main thing to remember about Foucault is that all of his works have a common theme more or less so whether it's History of Sexuality or Discipline and Punish, Foucault is always interested in power and the way it works so that people conform to the rules of society. SO I think Butler is going to use that idea of how power does exactly that to gender and sex categories, then proceed to break down the categories. What Foucault means by genealogy is a specific type of history.

I find Foucault's Panopticism interesting both in its literal and metaphorical structure. However, I am curious to understand why he chose a prison. Was it like why Hegel chose the Master-Slave dialectic by chance to illustrate his discourse, or is their some particular inspiration to conceive the idea of the Elite imprisonning the Commoners in a metaphorical sense through society's power structure? Furthermore, how does a Panoptic power structure (from Foucalt's point of view) respond to rebellion or civil uprisings/riots?
In Discipline and Punish he is interested in the history of the Penal system in France so the prison is part of that. Before that in the book he details the age of torture and execution...up until we reach the prison. It does in a sense illustrate his discourse because he is saying that the prison ultimately is a site of discipline, enforced by not knowing if you are watched or no, and that is what gives it its power. I think it operates really well in the metaphorical sense as you describe it which was what we were trying to get to in class with examples. Not quite sure what you mean by respond to in the last part of the question...

Listening to Professor Alexy's lecture, I was reminded of an experience I had while doing fieldwork in Guyana. As Professor's slides discussed, a cultural norm in western, modernized society involves this idea that men are biologically stronger and tougher than women. This was not the reality in the Makushi village where I lived, and the status of the truth that men are stronger in biological terms and therefore should be chivalrous in helping women, was not the norm or practice.
One day, one of the village council members passes by our (the students') place of residence. She is carrying, what appears to be, a heavy box or case of some sort, and by her side walks her husband. Although, we have already discussed the difference of gender roles in Makushi culture, my first thought is, why is her husband not carrying the box for her? It seems like it would be the "normal" or perhaps even polite thing to do. Turning to one of my friends, I call attention to the situation, and then we proceed to discuss gender roles. My "gut" reaction had been to privilege a status of the truth (or production of a certain type of knowledge) in which I had participated in during my life. In this different culture, however, the reality and lens through which one experienced the world was different. In that moment, I felt the internalization/externalization of cultural norms, and realized, how participating in a different culture transforms an anthropologist's experience and interpretation of the representations of the world. The laboratory of power, which Foucault discusses, privileges the biological discourse in western society, but in other places, the representations of the world are different, and therefore the constructed "nature" of norms become visible.
This is a great example! I'm glad the material spoke to you in that way. Really nicely put.

I find it interesting that Foucault states that the evil was shifted from "transgression" to "desire" (19). In this comment, I see that he holds the discourse surrounding taboo as being moved from what someone does to the corruption it has on the person internally. The sin is no longer the action in itself but the emotional corruption that comes from it. This ties into his thesis because the preventative measure of discouraging others to have sex feels that there is more at stake than just the body use. As a result, to share this with your priests, changed the course of your life and the payment you had to pay for that sin.
Yes, and not just that but also that it has the power to be internalized, which is one of the mechanisms of power. Once you internalize it, it becomes even more powerful. I thought Foucault was trying to make a statement about the difference between the panopticon and the medieval era. He seems to present the idea that discipline should be used to protect others from a harm greater than themselves (such as the plague) rather than force people into becoming a certain mold within a community. In other words, there seems to be a suggestion that the fault in discipline is it tries to make those who "aren't" into what they should "be". Thus, the system makes no room for deviants and has succeeded in [subtly] forcing people to conform to one mold. He suggests that society is inflexible and systems are internalizes such that people themselves monitor their actions (even thought they do not know they are) to keep within these norms.
Yes, you are right. Before the panopticon, it was more about punishment and just reprimanding people publicly so that everyone could be disciplined through seeing others punished. Power was more explicit and visible. With the panopticon Foucault is saying that you move to a more disciplinary model, where as you are describing, people internalize “disciplined behavior” and power moves from an external position to an internal one. However, as you are saying, the very process of internalizing behavior creates categories which cast people as deviant ect…

When we are talking about gender in relation to power, we are discussing power in what sense? Are we referring to the power of men as an "unmarked" category which encompasses women as a category? Or are we talking about power in the sense that gender is very powerful in the way that it comes to be viewed as natural even though, in reality, it is a social construct? I understand the way in which we discussed power during last week's section, based on the texts by Bourdieu and Gramsci, but I'm a little bit more confused about it in relation to gender.
I think it applies to both the ideas that you are suggesting. First, power plays a role in making men the unmarked category and women the marked one. For example, with Gramsci he might say that patriarchy is a hegemonic ideology that infiltrates society so that we understand men as unmarked and women as marked. Also, the power of patriarchy is that it further helps naturalize gender categories, and hides the fact that they are in fact constructs. So for example, if we take Bourdieu’s notion of habitus, through our everyday actions and practices, we all reinforce gender categories as natural.

One thing I found interesting in Judith Butler's chapter was the way in which she explains that gender, especially female gender, cannot really be considered a form of identity without including other categories, such as race, class, and ethnicity. Moreover, if female gender is encompassed in the category of male gender, do women have an identity at all? Overall, Butler suggests that we put so much value on gender in how we let it define us, when actually, gender is performed. We can't necessarily "be" a certain gender because it is not something inherent and not even really something that we create for ourselves. Instead, it is a socially constructed concept but also one that each person can shape for themselves by performing it in their own way.
Yes, this is the theory of intersectionality as explained in the race lecture. Women do have an identity but she is showing how it has been historically and culturally constructed so that we see it as encompassed within the male gender category, as if they cannot exist without it, or the category can’t stand on its own. I like the way you phrase how gender is performed. Very nicely said!

I think i understand the repressive theory, but is Foucault saying that it was good that in the past people talked about sex, even though it was about how we weren't supposed to be talking about it, that this leads to people who are more well-rounded? Also, im not entirely clear about children's sex, and on page 31 he talks about that "curdled milk" incident, and I felt like he was saying it was okay to receive sexual favors from little girls. I might just be interpreting that through my culture.
I also felt like he was saying that the repression causes perversions because people are not well adjusted, I'm not sure if that's what hes actually saying there.
I don’t think he is saying it’s good or bad, just that it is wrong to assume people were repressed because they didn’t talk about it, because they actually were, whether it was through confession or through talking about not talking about it. What do you mean by well-rounded? I don’t think he would say it’s healthier or not to talk or not talk, the point is that different forms of talk about it give rise to the categories we think with. Regarding the curdled milk story, he is not saying it is right, but rather that “a game” that is not sexual, once in the hands of the authorities, gets interpreted as perverse. i.e. the categoriy of the law begins to tell us what is right and what is wrong and where we stand with regards to sex i.e. as “normal” people, “perverts” ect… The same thing applies to repression. Once the category of “repressed” gets defined it also creates categories such as “pervert”.

Butler presented the theories and arguments of many feminist theorists, including de Beauvoir, Irigaray, Wittig, and Lacan, but I am having some trouble identifying which of these theorists she supported and which she disagreed with, but also what her own viewpoint was. Could you help me distinguish?
As far as I can tell she is disagreeing with de Beauvoiy and Irigaray, because they make assumptions about the need of women to be represented by others, or through others, which for her if you make that assumption, then that doesn’t allow for performing or “being” a gender at all. Not sure about the others!

I think I understand Foucault’s argument a little better, but I must say that the intro threw me off. He talks about some time when sex was not a taboo subject and was actually freely discussed and viewed by children and adults. First of all, when and where was he discussing, and how does that play into his argument that we are even less repressed than that, even though we only talk about not talking about sex?
He is discussing the 16th through 18th centuries, in France as far as I can tell. He uses that to say that we think people were repressed then in the sense that they were not talking about sex, but in fact talking about not talking about it, is actually talking about it, because that is in itself powerful and creates categories. When you define where and how you can talk about sex, and what you can and cannot say, that creates a discourse that goes on to define powerful categories. Think about people who talk about it too much and get labeled “promiscuous” to use a nice word, or not talk about it to avoid the category.

The idea that the plan of the Panopticon is not only applicable to prisons but many other parts of society as well. We are all given our own individual space in dorms, lecture halls, hospitals. So even places that are not built as‘correctional facilities’. This idea points to the idea that even if we haven’t done anything ‘wrong’ we are under the constant surveillance of authority. But if this system is so efficient and widely spread within our society, then how does Foucault explain the need for prisons in the first place? Because if the idea of the Panopticon applies to almost all situations of our lives, then shouldn’t everyone be too scared to break the law? Shouldn’t the omnipresent authority idea worry them?
Nice picking up on how many other institutions are similar. Foucault explains the rise of prisons historically as a design that shifted the ways in which people became disciplined. Before that, to discipline people there would be an explicit authority and a public punishment. After prisons, the focus shifted to the individual disciplining himself/herself as opposed to someone visibly exerting power on them to do so. So we needed them for that reason. I don’t know if the prison came before the other institutions, but he uses it because he is interested in the discourse of discipline and punishment, and the prison is the most obvious of correctional facilities. In a dorm you are disciplined but you are not there to be punished for something you did. I think everyone is scared on some level of breaking the law, but it depends on who you are and there are some situations you feel it more clearly. So think about the ways race/gender/class all influence how you feel that power over you and to what degree you feel it. For example, when I am in Lebanon I don’t worry about it much, but when I am in the US for example, for some reason I am more afraid of breaking the law and feel more “watched” as an international student, even though most probably no one is watching me, directly at least. If your question is then why do people still break the law, I think Foucault would say that is not the question he is interested in but rather what happens once that happens.

One of the points that Foucault makes is that power does not come from one person or a group but is much more diffuse, and that it is not necessarily a top down process. But then how were the prohibitions on sexuality enforced on the people? It was the say of the central authority right? Or does this go back to the idea of making cultural things seem natural? Like it was natural not to talk about sex as opposed to this was the idea of the leading authority?
His point is that before it was the decision of one central authority, but then it becomes less obvious and it is exactly through the mechanism of making cultural things seem natural that it begins to work.

So if we take the idea of power, is Butler assigning the gender power to the men? As in, are they the one exercising the power to assign culturally constructed gender roles to the women? Or is she saying that this is a general idea among the public, that a woman is a woman because she isn’t a man and must act this way? I know she links it to the use of language, so does she assign the power to the general public? Who is she blaming for these roles?
I don’t think she is blaming men as a category, or as individuals for that matter. And it’s not that men have power as opposed to women, because in fact some men might not benefit from the system. But she is saying that in that this is a general idea that women can only be understood through men, but she is arguing this is false, because gender is about “being”. Power comes from patriarchy for example, as an ideology and in the way it is institutionalized.

I have a question about the History of Sexuality reading by Foucault. What are his thoughts on biology in general? I know that he does not believe that any binary constructions in sex, gender, or sexuality are "natural," but does he completely discredit biology? In the lecture, Professor Alexy describes the anthropological view of biology to apply to "sex" in terms of genes. Does Foucault agree with this? Is it possible to completely reject biology? Can we say that biology in and of itself is socially constructed? I am not sure if Foucault ever explicitly argued this or if he would even agree, but it seems like he and many of the other recent theorists do not believe anything is natural.
I think Foucault is not interested in proving that biology is a cultural construction. To some extent I think he takes that for granted anyway and then is interested in taking it as a culturally constructed category and seeing how it is imbued with power and how people use it to organize societies and bodies. Hence, his famous term “biopower” which alludes to the ways in which is basically how he think nation-states control their populations and the bodies of these subjects through biology. So he looks at how practices of public health change, how ideas of heredity are regulated etc…and sees that regulation of sexuality is one way in which states can exert power over their people. I think we can say biology is in and of itself socially constructed. What I think of is chromosomes and genes and the way XX is supposed to be woman and XY is supposed to be man. Scientists could have decided when they discovered the combination XY and saw that it was producing a body with a penis for example, that they would name this species “woman” but it was random that they named it man. I don’t think that means we reject it altogether, but we should also realize how it constructs certain specific categories and what those categories do and how they work in the social world, just like any other science really.

First, an example of what people consider natural is actually not inevitable but socially/culturally constructed. I am not sure whether this is a good example, but this is what came to my mind immediately. In the Declaration of Independence, it says: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. I always feel that there is an ingrained sense of hierarchy, probably left by the Imperial China that lasted for more than 2000 years. So for me and probably a lot of Chinese, we don't perceive everyone is naturally created to be equal. even though our society is democratic to some extent.
Right, the declaration of independence is taking these things for granted to some extent. Whether we want a society to be hierarchical or egalitarian it takes social work to create either models, both in practice, and for how we want people to think about themselves and others.

Second, an example of being in-between what we consider masculine and feminine. This is a very popular South Korean male star, Jang Keun Suk, who seems to have a lot of what we consider as feminine characteristics. I honestly thought this star was female when i first saw him on TV.
Yes, good example.

Third, an example of not talking about something is actually talking about something. I guess it has something to do with taboos in society. I am not quite clear about this connection here. For example, we are not supposed to talk about our presidents ostensively in my society. Especially with the Great Fire Wall governing Chinese internet, people start to pay more attention to it. For example, people would use characters that sound like the name of presidents or other people that we shouldn't be talking about to refer to them. Is it analogous to what is said in the podcast about repression hypothesis?
Yes, that example works. You find other ways of saying what you want to say without directly saying it. So while someone from another country might think the Chinese are repressed because they don’t have freedom of speech for example, upon looking more carefully they will find out that they actually are talking about it but not so directly, and so the assumption that they are repressed is false. So yes, the repressive hypothesis applies to this example because at first glance it seems that people are not talking about it, but upon closer inspection you find out they actually are.

My question for this weeks reading is on viewpoint of Foucault on the bourgeois. I feel as though in both pieces that we read, Foucault kind of accepts power as inherent to relationships and society, and thus doesn't really criticize it as a whole or harbor any negative feelings towards it, whereas Butler gives power almost a negative/oppressive connotation.
Perhaps it is because of the different styles of writing but they are definitely both saying that power works in such as way as to become inherent and sort of transparently oppressive so that most people don’t even realize they are subjected to so much power in their daily lives.

In lecture we discussed Foucault’s suggestion that the sense of being constantly observed gets internalized by and in people; thus self-regulation occurs in spite of the authority’s absence. We further raised the question of why and how does this occur. However, the question remained somewhat unanswered.
My reading of it was that the given historical genealogy of power, punishment, and legislation (as a structure in the present) was created based on peoples desires – on what people wanted the law to protect them from. As we have seen, moreover, these structures reinforce the way people understand themselves and Foucault argues that that reinforcement has embedded the self-regulatory aspect. Because depending on your position within the structure, simply put, you do not do what you do not want people to do to you. This process, therefore, gets reinforced over and over again.
Is this right? Is this actually what Foucault is arguing that makes us internalize the demands of the authority and exercise power over ourselves, hence self-regulate?
Yes, great reading of it. I would not disagree with anything you said above. I think it explains the how and why nicely. However, I’m a little iffy about the fact that it is always created based on peoples desires. Maybe it depends on what you are looking at, whether it’s the institution of law, or medicine..ect.. maybe the desire of “whom” changes for different cases.

Also, is Foucault using prisons and sexuality as: 1. Mere examples of power dynamics? 2. Is his main point to suggest that essentially truth, “regimes of truth”, are constructed through dynamic, fluid power relations? If not, what is his MAIN point?
1.As a example of power dynamics and how they get created through discourse. 2. Yes it is. Nicely said.

And one more :
By no means I want to suggest or agree a type of scientific/universal/”naturalist” approach. However, can we argue that Butler is too constructivist (pushing to hard on the construction argument). Because it seems that in spite of her, I think, being correct, she leaves the discussion of gender too open to the point were the most minimal possibility of a fact gets denied. For example, if we follow her argument it can’t even be said that there are two different types of tangible objects in the real world that we socially denominated and constructed as bodies and further as male and female. What I am trying to ask is that if her account is not too broad and totalizing although it is the opposite spectrum that the scientific totalizing argument. For me it can even be paralleled with cultural relativism. Its so totalizing in terms of “every every every thing is constructed” that it does not allow to grasp the construction indeed and viewed as something that is lived as truth. Not universally of truth, but different constructions, regardless of being so are experienced in real terms.
I think you are picking up on a criticism that is often leveled against her, in the sense that she is often criticized for being too vague about how people should go about subverting their gender identities. So in the end you don’t get a sense of how gender should be lived to be able to change it. If she is saying it is performed and can be made and remade, she doesn’t tell us how to do it. I don’t know if that was what you were going for but that is one thing she is often criticized for.

Something that I thought of after class about Foucault's panopticism is something that I can relate to on a daily basis. At football practice, we film everything we do so we can go back and look at the mistakes we made and fix them for the upcoming game. We have people who sit in towers around our practice fields and record various angles of practice. Since we know the coaches are going to go back and look at this film, we as players, try our hardest when the cameras are rolling so we don't upset the coaches. We know when the cameras are rolling during practice, but sometimes the cameras are filming when we as players don't know they are. So this causes us to always keep in the back of our minds that the cameras may be filming us at any moment and make us try our hardest throughout practice. The reason we don't want to mess up during practice is because the coaches will yell at us for not doing the right thing. The people in the towers are always up there during practice with their cameras so we can't see if they are recording at that moment or not so we just assume they always are.
Fascinating example. I think looking at football anthropologically can tell us a lot about culture in the U.S.

For Butler's "Gender Trouble" she said that feminism is undermined by representational discourse. How does she suggest to solve this issue? Also, if feminism is undermined by representational discourse does that mean that masculinity is promoted?
I think she would solve the issue by deconstructing this discourse to show the ways in which it always reified and strengthened. Not masculinity per say but maybe more generally patriarchy, since there are many masculinities too that are undermined by representational discourse.

In Foucault's "Discipline and Punish" he said that the accumulation of men and capitol can't be separated. How does this relate to his views on power?
They relate to his views on power because he is saying that the change in discipline techniques from a more explicit form of power like public executions into a panopticon model was also a very capitalistic move since it was a very cost effective way of exercising power, all the while bringing it to its maximum intensity, and also being far-reaching through its apparatuses (the prison, the educational system, the medical system etc…)

I have a question about Foucault's works. I was wondering how the two articles that we read written by him related. "Discipline and Punish" seemed to convey an attitude that power came from an understanding that a person might be watched at all times; the population's behavior is regulated by this feeling of uncertainty. "The History of Sexuality" seemed to imply that the rise of sexuality was due to the power that intended to repress society but instead increased the sexual discourse. How do these works tie together his view on power? The first pointed out that by letting someone know they were being watched at all times, they would behave accordingly. The second says that repression leads to a reversal of this, and actually increases the talk of different sexualities. I am not sure of what his overall take on the power in society is.
I think the two works can be linked through the notion that power is internalized. In Discipline and Punish it is precisely because we internalize the power structure that we begin to exercise it over ourselves sort of unconsciously, and in the History of Sexuality, because people were encouraged to talk about sex, the elite gained knowledge which they used to organize sexual categories which in turn became internalized by us and now have power over us. This is one way we can link them. I'm sure there are others but this is what I thought of.

Last week we talked about hegemonic power, and gender norms fit into that perfectly in my mind. However I am still a little confused about where Professor Alexy stopped today's lecture and Foucault's attention to power and how it relates to gender in other ways.
1) if power can come from below, what are some examples of this? And pertaining to gender specifically?
There are many examples. One great example mentioned by a student in this class in her weekly essay is the way street fashion gained prominence. It redefined not only what is fashionable, but also the way both men and women dress.

2) If power is not from one person or group, is Foucault talking about hegemonic power here?
I think Foucault takes a step further than hegemonic power in that he not only asking the question of why people do things that might not be the best for them, but he takes it further and shows us the how, in other words how are the mechanisms of power working through discourse.

3) Next week I'd really like to talk about how power enters into gender discourse because I know it's not just about explicit power in gender relations. Does Foucault mean that just by "repressing" talk about sex, sex is given power because people actually will want to talk about it more? And if resistance is possible only because power exists, doesn't that mean that resisting against the "repression" of sex means that this repression exists in the first place?
Foucault is saying it was never really repressed at all and that not talking about it is a form of talking about it, the same way silence means something. Hence, when you are resisting the repression of sex, you don’t realize that it is not repressed in the 1st place.

I thought it was interesting when Butler wrote "Is gender as variable and volitional as Beauvoir's account seems to suggest?" It seemed to me that she was referring to the fact that although gender is performance, it is a performance that is restricted by biological dispositions. However, it seemed that this was all she said about this idea. I wondered if this was her opinion. As I was reading, it was difficult to see her actual opinion about any of the topics on which she wrote.
I think her opinion is that first both the biology (i.e. sex) and gender are cultural constructions. Second, she is going a step further and saying and here is the twist, I think, they cannot be be understood without each other, in the sense that sex would not mean anything without gender, i.e. it would mean nothing that a body was sexed if not for the constant performance of gender to give meaning to that sexed body, and the fact that we sex in the 1st place is because of the way gender is performed.

Panopticism: I was captivated by the idea that power is transferred from the individual, in this case all of the individuals incarcerated, to the singular entity of the watch tower. I would be interested in how this could also apply in society? This reminds of the lecture when the Prof mentioned that power is not always from the top-down but can also come from below. Interestingly this was derived from Foucaut’s “The History of Sexuality.” It would seem that it would be the inverse of the Panoptic idea, is this true? Or am I reading too much into it and the idea is simply that implicit power can have great consequences to society? Implicit power can come both from the bottom and the top?
Yes it can come from both top and bottom. The key is that it is internalized anyway by individuals, and has a consequence on society in both cases.

History of Sexuality: I have always believed that sexuality has pretty much been consistent from the dawning of time, it has simply been expressed, or restrictions have been manifested in different ways over time. I am still confused if Foucault is saying that sexuality is less repressed now, or has simply changed? Is he expressing a paradox in the fact we believe that we are less repressed, but by increasingly talking about sex we are still exploiting it as a “secret” and therefore are opressed?
He is saying we thought people before us were repressed by they were not. I don't think he is saying we are more repressed now, but that the way we talk about it has changed. Regarding the paradox, yes that is true.

Gender Trouble: Butler seems to be arguing against structuralism because of the binary created between man and woman, is this true?
I don't think she has a direct issue with structuralism but she is more saying we should not think of them in terms of binaries because if we deconstruct them they are actually a gradient rather than an opposing binary. However, the fact that we do is because they have been so naturalized, we cant see the gradient anymore.

Firstly, I understand and, frankly, agree with Foucault's theory on power as exercised rather than possessed. However, I feel like he never addresses how a certain idea about society originally gets diffused to the point that it becomes a norm. Basically, I feel like an idea has to come from somewhere and I feel like he never addresses that. Did I miss something? Or is he just assuming that where an idea came from and how it got diffused isn't important to the fact that power (as the privileging of certain ideas as true) is diffused throughout society? I guess I have the same question for Butler too- does how gender, sex, and sexuality got divided into binary categories matter for/to her?
I think in addressing how an idea got diffused he is also discussing where it came from, because he is giving us a geneology of ideas and how they change across time. Maybe we don't get that feeling because he never says in the beginning of time this was the way discipline or sexuality was first exercised or thought about, but he is starting from a point in history and then following how the ideas are changing. For Butler, I think she is starting from them being binaries, but her explanation of how they become naturalized through performance shows how they came to be a binary in the 1st place.

Also, for both Foucault and Butler, where are the other cultures of the world in their theories? They both address Western culture, or even a subset of Western culture, but western culture is not how all cultures function. Does how other cultures function matter to them? Are they saying that their theories are true everywhere?
They are both not anthropologists so they are writing from a western-centric point of view, Foucault for Europe, maybe more specifically France in some instances, and Butler the U.S. However, that being said their ideas were useful for anthropologists and many have taken them to other places showing how and why they work or don’t work in certain places, thus modifying them accordent to a specific context.

For Butler- Why are gender, sex, and sexuality categories only a problem for feminist theory? Don't these categories apply to other theories too? Does challenging ideas of "woman" and "man" as the center point of a theory not apply to other theories as well? Or is this also what she is arguing?
I think she is arguing they should too for other theories. I think race theory draws a lot on gender thoery for example. I think first they are seen as a problem for feminist theory only, but as anthropology evolves along with feminism they start to apply the deconstruction of these categories, or at least the arguments and methods Butler uses to other things.

I like Butler's problematizing of the distinction between "gender" and "sex". In the West, the former is associated with "culture" and thus appears more flexible and context dependent, whereas sex is pinned to "biology" and thus, as I stated in my response, "beyond reproach". As discussed in lecture, 1:100 babies are born without a clear binary sex. In trying to figure out why our culture places hegemony on the male/female dichotomy and naturalizes it in any way possible, I thought of taking a page out of Schneider and examining how our concept of sex and gender relate to his symbolic analysis of American kinship. Schneider asserts that Americans base their kinship system on the nuclear family, and that the symbol of the nuclear family contains both bonds by blood/nature (children) and bonds by law/culture (marriage). Perhaps Americans find it difficult to think outside of sex/gender binaries because of the centrality of the matrimonial couple that reproduces and "naturalizes", vis-a-vis having children, the nuclear family, concepts which make little room for "in-between" genders/sexes. Provoking thought. In fact, many have used Schneider's arguments and linked them to the way gender is reproduced. If you are interested check out Carol Delaney's work Turkey or Rebecca Bryant's work on Cyprus.

I really like reading Foucault. He's clear and compelling. I do feel, however, that in his use of "genealogies of ideas", he is seeing only the parts of history that support his theories. He discusses the increasing interjection of the medical in place of the religious in framing the multiplicity of sexual discourses, and uses as his primary example of this the psychoanalytic technique of talking with patients in order to uncover their sexual history that replaced the religious confessional. I feel that most of society did not regularly experience either psychoanalysis or confessional (Foucault even admits to the latter). Is he arguing that the experience of confessional and psychoanalysis were nodes of power that shaped larger discourses on sex in society? If this is true, Foucault is arguing for a rather top-down view of sexual discourse, where religious clergy and, later, medical professionals, shape the discourse through their interest in dissecting the experience of sex. Yes, he is arguing that the confessional were nodes of power that shaped larger discourses. Not necessarily a top-down view at least later when it gets internalized everyone is exercising it on themselves so it’s no longer top down.