Both of these readings are incredibly concerned with discourse. Foucault pretty much slams his audience over the head with it (I’ve never read the word so much in one setting, ever), but Ang and Hermes also heavily deal with discourse. To choose the word discourse over theory, or some other derivative, has a lot of implications. Or at least I feel like it does. Am I totally wrong about this? I feel like discourse is more directly connected to power than theory is, as discourse implies a universal institutionalization. Discourse is also concerned with a lot more than what is said and the implications of that, but also with who said it and when and in what context, etc. Why is it important to these authors to focus on discourse, as opposed to theory? Is there a difference? What difference does it make, especially in regard to power?
On page 10, Foucault asks if power is ultimately repressive, if it serves no purpose other than to repress. He uses much of the rest of the book to prove that this is not the case. He sees power as coming from everywhere, present in all relations, and even grants acts that are usually deemed passive (like silence) with attributes of power. He’s essentially telling us that power is everywhere, that we can’t resist it because it’s a part of everything. But he concludes the book by saying that, in order to free ourselves from the repressive hypothesis, we must resist the discourse of sexuality. Is this contradictory? If we can’t resist power, how can we resist this discourse?
I loved Foucault’s analysis about sexuality as a construct, specifically the part about how sexuality is used to try to come to an understanding of personality, or a person’s fundamental character. Basically, I love that he’s saying that sexuality doesn’t exist in the terms in which we think of it. Gay people are only gay because the discourse on sexuality needs to differentiate from what it has established as normal. There is nothing constitutive about a person’s identity based on how that person partakes in sexual pleasure. But for many queer people, a queer identity is really important. Entire communities are based around these identities. Are they false identities? In trying to deconstruct the discourse of sexuality, has Foucault invalidated communities?