The very term Sexualit‘ies’ bursts the notion of sexuality as a monolith institution. It underlines the fact that there is more than one form of sexuality which are often suppressed and constantly marginalised to legitimise and uphold the dominant norm. However I will use the terms ‘Sexuality’ and ‘Sexualities’ as interchangeable in this paper. I will begin by tracing various approaches that have historically been adopted to understand sexuality. Then I will discuss sexuality as a form of desire (transgression of heteronormative ideal) and how the women’s movement in India is conceptualizing it.
Sexuality as a Historical Concept : Normative vs Cultural
Sexuality is a contested terrain in a ...view middle of the document...
But Freud has been criticised for being essentialist and biologistic. Sexuality can’t be defined only as a biological drive. Freud’s analysis doesn’t take into consideration historical specificities in which different sexualities are embedded. Sexuality can’t be defined only in biological terms. It’s a social construct or socially shaped than merely being an instinct or drive which moulds society. It’s meaning can not be compartmentalised as there are no fixed meanings rather it is a process which shapes and negotiates meanings. The dichotomy between the ‘self’ and the ‘other’ plays an imperative role in the construction of various meanings where both are constantly revised by each other. Sexuality is then a process of becoming and learning, which can only start when one understands the concept of sexuality, unlike the Freudian conception of the process beginning at birth.
While talking about Sexualities, it is almost necessary to talk about Foucauldian notion of the construction of sexuality. Foucault sees sexuality as a discourse which is conditioned through various other discourses within society and constructed in relation with other social relations. He analysis the way sexuality is situated and it is shaped by various other factors. Foucault argues that the notions of sexuality is appropriated through various institutions such as religion, education etc. These institutions produce knowledges, according to which social relations are defined. For example the classification
￼between ‘normal’ and ‘deviant’ and relegation of sexuality in these two spheres. The constant drilling of dominant notions of sexuality enables internalization of those notions on the part of the ‘object.’ This drilling continues until an individual doesn’t become an object of one’s own surveillance. Foucault too bursts the Freudian myth of sexuality as biological and tries to underline the social process which are responsible for it’s existence in a specific way in the western society. However, he doesn’t discuss the gender disparities in the discourse of sexuality. He discusses power in general, leaving behind notions of control which primarily concern with gender, thus ignoring the gendered experience of sexuality. His analysis is obstructed by class and gender because he leaves out all those who did not/could not write (working classes, women).
Radical feminism draws a connection between patriarchy and maledominated sexuality while analysing sexuality. It criticises the female objectification and eroticisation and romanticisation of the notions of masculine domination and feminine...