Human sexuality has long been a taboo and murky subject especially within the academic realm. Foucault, Drucker and Somerville have all studied the subject extensively. While the conclusions they have drawn on the subject of human sexuality differ at times and are at time in diametric opposition, their contributions to the field itself has been invaluable. Throughout this essay we will examine the contributions to the study of human sexuality made by Foucault Somerville and Drucker. Overall Drucker’s theories surrounding human sexuality align most closely With Hoang’s conceptualization of sexuality. Both of these scholars see a significant relationship and similarity between human sexuality and economic systems. Both Drucker and Hoang see serious issues capitalistic economic systems and social influence they command over human sexuality. For Hoang one of her main grievances lies in the creation of human trafficking systems that have capitalistic elements. Their overarching arguments relating to human sexuality and economy are very similar.
Drucker hypothesized that there needs to be unity between the queer and anti capitalism movement. This unity will create political avenues for progression within the gay community. Drucker sees political systems as something to be used as a vehicle for social change. Drucker is far more optimistic about the ability for politics to be used for social progression. Many of Drucker’s arguments are heavily based in a socioeconomic scope. Drucker takes sees the influence that social structures have upon the well being of the queer community. Of the three theorists Drucker is by far the most critical of the prevailing capitalistic economic systems that inhibit the progression and welfare marginalized sexual identities. These systems promote the commodification of sexual identity. The criticism of capitalism and the perverse manifestation of its principles in structures of human sexuality is where Drucker’s research displays the most similarity with Hoang’s. Hoang expresses eschews the capitalistic nature of human trafficking structures which often mimic the very economic systems the function within. These micro-economies of human sexuality such as human trafficking and prostitution function outside the legal parameters of governmental structures. Yet the structural nature of these operations take on that of a microcosmic capitalist economy.
Foucault takes a much more philosophical approach in examining the nature of human sexuality. While Drucker looks at human sexuality through a more economically oriented perspective, Foucault contextualizes human sexuality within the overarching power structures that it exists within and the influence these power structures have over human sexuality. Foucault posited that these powerful social structures define normality. Additionally, anything outside of what the socially constructed notion of normality would be considered deviant and socially unacceptable. Homosexuality has widely been considered a deviant act. Foucault himself was someone who experimented with fringe activities in many aspects of his life. Foucault dabbled in sadomasochism and other deviant sexual acts and behaviors. Foucault saw the fringe elements of society as very valuable on a sociological level as they helped to define the social boundaries of human behavior within a given society. This is why Foucault had such a fascination with the taboo and socially deviant behavior.
Somerville, on the other hand, chooses to discuss homosexuality in reference to the timeframe in which it became a social phenomenon. Specifically, since the idea of homosexuality came about at the same time that institutional racism was prevalent, the way in which homosexuality is viewed is intrinsically linked to racist structures and mechanisms. For instance, the famous supreme court case of Plessy vs. Ferguson instituted in 1896 paved the way for institutional racism in the United States. This case enforced the doctrine of “separate but equal” facilities for blacks and whites. As it became evident that two societies could not mutually exist with both separate and equal opportunities while one of these groups was being simultaneously oppressed, the movement of homosexual freedom, and sexual freedom in general, entered into the popular culture. Given the fact that these two instances occurred nearly simultaneously, Somerville argues that the structures for how they are oppression are instituted should mirror one another. Strict lines across the rights in which two groups observe, institutional enforcement regarding identities, and manipulating societal discourse about these groups are solely a minority of the actions taken to delegitimize and thus, perverse the ingrained cultural practices of these marginalized communities. Ultimately, Somerville employs the analysis of a specific timeframe to discuss the emergence of sexuality.
In terms of choosing one of the above three theorists when as it pertains to their similarity to a contemporary theorist such as Hoang, it becomes difficult as they have all influenced the ideas surrounding her findings. However, in terms of the examples employed to support these findings, Hoang is most similar to Drucker. Both of these theorists claimed that the emergence of capitalism and capitalistic power structures caused the societal disregard and prejudice towards certain communities in terms of their sexual identity. The difference in their work arises solely in the specific communities they choose to discuss. This trend can be observed in the nations where wealth and money are not the primary issues halting the progression of social issues like sexuality. The nations where the income inequality is so evident certainly possess reasons outside of their power structures that can increase the level of prejudice in that nation. However, in developed countries, where sexual freedom is still oppressed to noticeable degree, we must look at the causes of this oppression outside of income inequality. The very link between Hoang and Drucker arises in the answer to a possible cause of this oppression which is capitalistic power structures, where profit outweighs simple means of humanity. Since people at the bottom of this power structure are more affected by the negatives of it, one can observe why both the queer community (Drucker) and other contemporary communities (Hoang) possess anti-capitalist sentiments.
Sexual egalitarianism has long been an end goal sought after by scholars and activists. Great strides have been made towards sexuality equality across the LGBTQ spectrum yet we still have many issues to overcome on the path towards sexual liberation and freedom. One key example of one of these obstacles is gay marriage legalization. Gay marriage legality is an issue at the forefront of global politics. The idea that two males or two females are barred from marriage in countries across the world is unfathomable. This is just one piece of a larger puzzle that we must confront. Issues ranging the violent mistreatment of homosexuals in countries like Iran or Uganda to the lack of recognition and respect trans people receive from the Trump administration.
Michael Foucault confronts many issues surrounding the stigma attached to homosexuality. Foucault was gay himself and had intimate knowledge of many of the sociopolitical struggles that homosexual individuals faced at that time. He was a fierce advocate for the gay community and the issues that they faced. Foucault battled stigma against homosexuality in France in the 1950s-70s and as a result of being forced to repress his true self he became depressed. Foucault became interested in finding the true cause of his depression. He theorized that the stigma came from the power structures that dictated what was considered be the parameters of “normal”. He saw himself as someone whose lifestyle was considered to be a fringe existence. This deviation from social norms made him a pariah and an outcast in the eyes of society.
Overall, Foucault’s experience is a singular anecdote for a larger issue. The marginalization of homosexuals is commonplace around the world and throughout history. In the context of Foucault’s work sexual egalitarianism could be achieved throughout the normalization of homosexuality and transgender issues. Once you can accrue a critical mass of people who perceive homosexuality or transgender lifestyles as acceptable and normal the stigma will largely disappear. Drucker had a similar perception of many of the underlying factors facing trans and homosexual individuals and the stigma surrounding them. He discussed the term “homonormativity” which essentially promotes the idea that trans and homosexual behavior is largely normative and not deviant as it is so often portrayed and perceived. Those who support homonormativity advocate for gay rights but also the normalization of gay existence. The equal treatment of both homosexual and heterosexual people is what he is striving for.
The atrocities visited upon those of “deviant” sexual orientation throughout human history is simply appalling. Gay communities around the globe have faced hardships across the spectrum. All of these theorists had a passion for the examination of human sexuality. In their inquiries they experienced drawbacks and obstacles when discussing and researching the nature and progress of human sexuality. By and large human cultures have been unaccepting of homosexuality and the transgender identification. The needle of positive social change has only recently begun to move to sexual egalitarianism. We still have a long ways to go in terms of achieving true sexual liberation. While analyzing these theorists it opened my eyes to just how nuanced and complicated human sexuality is. The marginalization of homosexual and transgender individuals across the world is far too common and must be addressed by the people in power.