Feminism, Foucault, and Embodied Subjectivity by Margaret A. McLaren

By Margaret A. McLaren

Addressing crucial questions within the debate approximately Foucault's usefulness for politics, together with his rejection of common norms, his perception of energy and power-knowledge, his possible contradictory place on subjectivity and his resistance to utilizing id as a political type, McLaren argues that Foucault employs a belief of embodied subjectivity that's well-suited for feminism. She applies Foucault's proposal of practices of the self to modern feminist practices, comparable to consciousness-raising and autobiography, and concludes that the relationship among self-transformation and social transformation that Foucault theorizes because the connection among subjectivity and institutional and social norms is essential for modern feminist conception and politics.

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61 The local and specific aims, objectives, and goals interact with other local and specific aims, objectives, and goals, resulting in effects and consequences that are not the plan of any one person, or even any group of people. Thus, because there are specific aims, objectives, and goals, power is intentional. Yet because power is neither possessed nor controlled by individuals, it is nonsubjective. A specific example from The History of Sexuality Volume One may help to illuminate the way that power can be both intentional and nonsubjective.

40 Foucault’s work illuminates the multiple influences—legislative, economic, medical, scientific, technological—that led up to the penal system as contemporary institution. Foucault’s The History of Sexuality Volume One takes issue with the repressive hypothesis regarding sexuality. The repressive hypothesis holds that at the 32 FEMINISM, FOUCAULT, AND EMBODIED SUBJECTIVITY beginning of the seventeenth century there was a certain openness about sexual activity that was notably lacking in the nineteenth century.

In turn, he shows how sex and sexuality play a fundamental role in the regulation of our moral and social behavior. So, Foucault’s genealogy raises questions about many of the things that we take for granted, for example, that sex is a natural biological category, that particular behaviors are unnatural, and that one’s sex prescribes what an individual can do. Throughout The History of Sexuality Volume One, Foucault cautions us against taking the explosion of discourse around sexuality as liberatory, claiming instead that this proliferation of discourse is an exercise of power.

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