Like, 1800 Years of Missionary-Position
The different ideas that arise from the concept of sex are inextricably linked to what Michele Foucault calls “power relations.” The way we think about sex, as Decaf Fiction pointed out is effected by social categories surrounding the act of sex. OK, so say we have like 1800 years of missionary position, personally think we were more creative than that, at least before Cyril scraped the flesh from Hypatia’s body with an oyster shell (he was sanctified for this)…rambling now, anyways, during this 1800 year reign of missionary-only sex, people were socialized to regard anything straying from this sexual norm as deviant. Punishment was meted out to anyone suspected of defying established norms controlling human sexuality. Religious and social institutions reinforced these norms. Touring torture mueseums in medieval towns of Europe will acquaint you with the extent religious authorities would go to enforce sexual proscriptions. A torture device called the “pear”, a bolbous screw driven mechanism that expanded when turned, for instance, was inserted into the vagina of women suspected of cukoldry, of being witches or for any number of other offenses of sexual deviance. This was also called the “Pope’s Pear”, a reference to its use by the Popes and clergy in the act of extracting confessions from sinners. That such disciplinary measures surrounding the act of sex repressed people’s sexual drive, causing them to conform to the sexual norms dictated by the religious establishment illustrates how certain people were in a positions of power, in positions to coerce compliance out of others, often by ruthless means. This is an example of how power relations function. Sex was supposed to be confined to acts permitted by the pear inserting screw turners and their superiors during the 1800 years of missionary. Clergy members and others involved in regulating copulation stood at a distance from the social body they coerced into obedience. Having lived during this sexually repressive historical moment one would associate sex with the rules, regulations and punishments surrounding the act of sexual intercourse. A discourse about sex existed, but that discourse was dominated by people in positions of power (relgious establishment in this case) who forced submission to their rules and regulations of the body and it’s engagement in sexual intercourse with the pervasive threat of punishment, with the pear or in places like Chad and Kandahar today with scalpels and scissors to perform female circumsision, an act of regulating a females sexual life and enforcing compliance to established sexual norms.