Terminology issues -- "sexuality"

Dear everyone,

I wanted to raise a point about use of the term "sexuality."

Willy, in his last post, said:

Situated, as "we" are (whoever, whatever, whenever "we" are, thankyou
within a consciousness-constituting fabric of language, we have
(as well as "sex", "brocolli", and all the other things we "have") in a
particular WAY. That WAY being, as an abstracted thing, ie. as an emerged
"object", suitable for "speaking of", in all the various "modern"
with which we are familiar.

Now, it would be nice to think of myself as having somehow escaped
clutches, that somehow, I never think "of" my sexuality, or the sexuality
others, as if it was something apart from myself, as if, that is to say, I
never thought of sexuality at all. Nice in the sense of never having to
about it, of it not being an issue of being human - but the fact is, that
aint so.

Human Sexuality is not merely - if at all, any longer - a submerged aspect
human being - of what is it to be human, simply (as it is, I imagine, of
cow sexuality is for cows, simply) - but an emerged and problematized


However, I would like to raise a question around the idea of "sexuality"
as a signifier. While the above comments seek to foreground the ways in
which one cannot escape the being/having of sexuality as an identity in
contemporary discourse, they still make use of the word "sexuality" as if
it had a transhistorical referent ("Human sexuality is not merely...any
longer...submerged"). I note this because, for me, one of the most radical
concepts at work in _History of Sexuality_ is Foucault's dismantling of
the presumption that "sexuality" refers to a definite set of objects,
bodies, drives, pleasures, etc. Or rather, Foucault suggests that such
associations are a product of an explosive proliferation of discourses in
which various forms of somatic understanding, desires, sensations, etc.
are inexorably woven together. He states:

Now, it is precisely this idea of sex *in itself* that we cannot
accept without examination. Is "sex" really the anchorage point that
supports the manifestations of sexuality, or is it not rather a complex
idea that was formed inside the deployment of sexuality?(152)

And earlier in the text, he suggests:

Sexuality must not be thought of as a kind of natural given which
power tries to hold in check, or as an obscure domain which knowledge
tries gradually to uncover. It is the name that can be given to a
historical construct...a great surface network...[.](105)

Thus, in order to hold onto the implication of the above quotes, the idea
of "sexuality" as a deployment, a historical-discursive construct, I would
suggest refraining from speaking of "sexuality" as itself a fact of which
one may be conscious or not. "Sexuality," then, is a product of
"modernity," rather than a given against which "modernity"'s presence or
emergence can be charted.


Partial thread listing: