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Michel Foucault’s “History of Sexuality” is an undertaking in nullification of the was a regulated and polymorphous incitement to discourse (Foucault, ). Incitement to Discourse. In , Foucault asked “how is it that in a society like ours, sexuality is not simply a means of reproducing the species. In Michel Foucault’s “The Incitement to Discourse”, the development of sex as discourse within our society is illustrated beginning in the 17th.

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Foucault’s Incitement to Discourse by David Hawkins on Prezi

An instance provided by Foucault is in 18th century secondary schools where explicit statements regarding sex were not socially accepted, but there was a constant focus on sex in the establishments of schools. Foucault has rationalized that contrary to the opinion that the society of the nineteenth century had little dialogue relating to sex, that they did in fact put into operation an entire machinery for producing true discourses about it.

Foucault argues further by suggesting that it is peculiar to modern societies not to consign sex to a shadowy existence but to speak about it ad infinitum whilst at the same time exploiting it as the secret. Sex has been the central theme of confession from the Christian penance to the psychiatrist’s couch.

Is what first appears to our view really the accentuation or establishment of a regime of sexual repression beginning in the seventeenth century?

We confess in public and in private to parents, educators, doctors, loved ones in pleasure and in pain, things that would be impossible to tell anyone else. Sex has always been the forum where both the future of our species and our “truth” as human subjects is decided.

It is the sanctity accorded to the heterosexual monogamy in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries that has as its natural consequence the incitement to confession of a multitude of sexual perversions that were deemed as unnatural or abnormal equivalents to the ‘regular’ sexuality of the ‘acceptable’ couple Smart, The transformation of sex into discourse along with the dissemination and reinforcement of heterogeneous sexualities are all linked together with the help of the central element of the confession which compels individuals to express their sexual peculiarity no matter how extreme it may be Foucault, This entry was posted in Section How has sexuality come to be considered the privileged place where our deepest “truth” is read and expressed?

Foucault on Discourses Concerning Sex

The other becomes the authority who requires the confession in order to arbitrate upon it. Foucault desired to trace the thread through so many centuries that has linked sex and the search to identify the truth for our societies. Since Christianity, the Western world has never ceased saying: The confession can be voluntary or wrung from a person by violence or the threat of it.


Indeed to construct a knowledge of the individual the object of the investigation has become to uncover the truth of sex and to reveal its assumed hidden secret. This occurred as sex became increasingly an object of administration and management through government inquiry.

Silence is strategic because when its presence is acknowledged and recognized, people must think about what is not being said, why it is not being said, and who is not saying it. Modern society, according to Foucault, “put into operation an entire machinery for producing true discourses concerning sex”.

Our society has broken with the tradition of ars erotica and bestowed upon itself a scientia sexualis by adapting the ancient procedure of the confession to the rules of scientific discourse. Foucault has no patience at all with what is termed the ‘repressive hypothesis’ as he feels that a society cannot be sexually repressed when there is such an incitement to discourse upon this very belief Bristow, The confession has spread its effects far and wide; we confess our crimes, our sins, our thoughts and our desires.

The effect of these analyses was a grid of observations that related to sexual matters.

Michel Foucault’s “The Incitement to Discourse”

Here, Foucault demonstrates that the presence of silence is planned and organized in that people actively choose and decide what not to say, regardless fiscourse whether the silence is driven by personal preference or societal norms or legal requirements. His analysis begins with an examination of the widely held belief that in the Icnitement era, sexual experience and practice were subjected to a power of repression Smart, And not so much in the form of a general theory of sexuality as in the form of analysis, stocktaking, classification and specification, of quantitative or causal studies” [2].

According to Smartp96Foucault stated that as dlscourse seventeenth century drew to a close. Nearly one hundred and fifty years have gone into the making of the complex machinery for producing true discourses on sex and the enablement of the truth of sex and its pleasures to be embodied in a thing called ‘sexuality’ Foucault, The purpose of this paper is an attempt to explain, through the reasoning of Foucault, that modern society has implemented the mechanisms necessary for generating true discourses relating to sex.


The practice is understood and experienced while pleasure is not defined in relation to the permitted or the forbidden.

Use of Silence in Foucault’s “The Incitement to Discourse”

He said; “how is imcitement that in a society like ours, sexuality is not simply a means of reproducing the species, the family and the individual? Foucault initially directed his work on sexuality to questions such as these although there was evidence from the seventeenth century onward of a whole new set of proprietary rules in the domain of sexuality and too growing sense of prohibition, censorship and general silencing of sexual discussion.

That perhaps all of the forms of discourse had as their end the cultivation of a vital population, reproduction of labour capacity and the prevailing social relations. The immense extortion of the sexual confession came to be constituted in scientific terms in the following ways; a clinical codification of the inducement to speak, the postulate of a general and diffuse causality, the principle of a latency intrinsic to sexuality, the method of interpretation, the medicalisation of the effects of confession Foucault,pp It began to be spoken about from the rarified and neutral discuorse of science, a science that refused to speak of sex itself but spoke of aberrations, perversions, exceptional oddities, pathological abatements and morbid aggravations.

His final question asks, does the critical discourse that addresses itself to repression act as a block to the power mechanism that has operated unchallenged to this point or is it in fact a part of the same thing that it denounces and misrepresents by calling it ‘repression’? This only proliferated these sinful thoughts as people would constantly focus on not having sexual ideas that they occurred more and more.

As a consequence a proliferation of unorthodox sexualities has eventuated. Seemingly insignificant details regarding sex including bedtimes and the shapes of tables were heavily monitored as a result of administrators acknowledging the presence of sexuality within children.

According to Foucault, until Freud, the discourse on sex that scholars and theoreticians engaged in never ceased to incitemennt the thing that they were speaking about and by speaking about it so much, by multiplying it and partitioning it off there was created a screen-discourse, a dispersion avoidance meant to evade the unbearable and too hazardous truth of sex.