The History of Sexuality 1: An Introduction - Michel Foucault, Robert Hurley The History of Sexuality is a history with little to no citation. What struck me as particularly frustrating with Foucault in Discipline and Punish is also present here. Whereas I have some understanding of legal history to recognize the generalities and oversimplified principles operating within his summary of criminal law, I don’t have the same background in gender studies or the equivalent. Undoubtedly, he sketches the evolution of societal response to sexuality in a hurried outline, but I cannot point to specific omissions.

Though I hear Foucault most spoken of as in terms of a philosopher, The History of Sexuality is really more of an ethnography. He strikes me more as a cultural anthropologist than anything else. He limits his discussion to western societal standards (which is still probably much too broad- his overview seems more specifically limited to western European and North American values).

But these criticisms are not meant to demean what is apparently brilliant. This introduction to his 4 part series (only 3 of which were completed) presents a piercing double hypothesis:

1) The idea of sexual repression in terms of discourse is a myth. In actuality, from the 17th century, sexuality has become increasingly applied to, and discussed within, all aspects of our lives; from psychoanalysis to government regulation; and

2) Sexuality is a rather asinine way of identifying ourselves. By doing so, we unnecessarily submit ourselves to various from of societal control.

Foucault’s analysis of the various ways in which the increasing vocabulary and application of sex to our lives hinders our ability to experience our sexuality freely was one of the more insightful connections I’ve read in some time. Though Foucault’s work is plagued by his seeming inability to back his historical conclusions with referenced data, his ideas lend themselves to modern culture. Regardless of whether his historical facts are accurate, the ultimate consequence of our society’s treatment toward sex can be seen with the lens Foucault fits. Thus, it's not so much revisionist history but revisionist thinking.