Michel Foucault (15 October 1926 – 25 June 1984) was a highly influential French historian and social theorist known for his critical studies of social institutions, most notably psychiatry, medicine, the human sciences, and the prison system, as well as for his work on the history of human sexuality. His work on power, and the relationships among power, knowledge, and discourse have also been widely discussed.
His role in the 1977 French petition against age of consent laws is a frequent talking point among both those who oppose Queer Theory, and others who instead question the importance of Age of Consent laws.
The History of Sexuality
Our own article summarises Foucault's 1984 text The History of Sexuality.
[I]t is difficult to lay down barriers. Consent is one thing; it is a quite different thing when we are dealing with the likelihood of a child being believed when, speaking of his sexual relations, his affections, his tender feelings, or his contacts (the sexual adjective is often an embarrassment here, because it does not correspond to reality), a child's ability to explain what his feelings are, what actually happened, how far he is believed, these are quite different things. Now, where children are concerned, they are supposed to have a sexuality that can never be directed towards an adult, and that's that. Secondly, it is supposed that they are not capable of talking about themselves, of being sufficiently lucid about themselves. They are unable to express their feelings about the whole thing. Therefore they are not believed. They are thought to be incapable of sexuality and they are not thought to be capable of speaking about it. But, after all, listening to a child, hearing him speak, hearing him explain what his relations actually were with someone, adult or not, provided one listens with enough sympathy, must allow one to establish more or less what degree of violence if any was used or what degree of consent was given. And to assume that a child is incapable of explaining what happened and was incapable of giving his consent are two abuses that are intolerable, quite unacceptable.
I think Hocquenghem has shown very clearly what was developing in relation to the strata of the population that had to be "protected." On the other hand, there is childhood, which by its very nature is in danger and must be protected against every possible danger, and therefore any possible act or attack. Then, on the other hand, there are dangerous individuals, who are generally adults of course, so that sexuality, in the new system that is being set up, will take on quite a different appearance from the one it used to have. In the past, laws prohibited a number of acts, indeed acts so numerous one was never quite sure what they were, but, nevertheless, it was acts that the law concerned itself with. Certain forms of behavior were condemned. Now what we are defining and, therefore, what will be found by the intervention of the law, the judge, and the doctor, are dangerous individuals. We're going to have a society of dangers, with, on the one side, those who are in danger, and on the other, those who are dangerous. And sexuality will no longer be a kind of behavior hedged in by precise prohibitions, but a kind of roaming danger, a sort of omnipresent phantom, a phantom that will be played out between men and women, children and adults, and possibly between adults themselves, etc. Sexuality will become a threat in all social relations, in all relations between members of different age groups, in all relations between individuals.
[We] should consider the battle for gay rights as an episode that cannot be the final stage.
- IEP - Encyclopedia.
- Understanding pedophilia - Some reflection on Foucault and MAPs.
- The Black Masses of Michel Foucault, The Bullshit of Guy Sorman (2021) - Rebuke of the Right-wing culture warrior Guy Sorman's claims of having observed Foucault paying for sexual contact with pre-pubescent males while in Tunisia. A week after the publication of this response, Sormon "walked back" his claims.
- Foucault, Feminism, & Sex Crimes - Percy Foundation review with discussion of Foucault's thought.
- The Danger of Child Sexuality
- From The Danger of Child Sexuality, Foucault's dialogue with Guy Hocquenghem and Jean Danet, was produced by Roger Pillaudin and broadcast by France Culture on April 4, 1978. It was published as "La Loi de la pudeur" in RECHERCHES 37, April 1979. First published in English in Semiotext(e) Magazine (New York): Semiotext(e) Special Intervention Series 2: Loving Boys / Loving Children (Summer 1980), in a translation by Daniel Moshenberg. A translated, full version was published in paperback as 'Sexual Morality and the Law', in Politics, Philosophy, Culture: Interviews and Other Writings, 1977-1984, ed. by Lawrence D. Kritzman, trans. by Alan Sheridan et al., (New York: Routledge, 1988).
- Michel Foucault, Abnormal: Lectures at the Collège de France 1974-1975, trans. by Graham Burchell, ed. by Valerio Marchetti and Antonella Salomoni (London: Verso, 2003), p. 243.
- No more gay martyrdom - Mail and Guardian
- Another article includes a statement from a Tunisian local: "Moncef Ben Abbes, true memory of the village, is categorical: "Foucault was not a pedophile but was seduced by young ephebes. Guys of 17 or 18 years old whom he met briefly in the groves under the lighthouse next to the cemetery." Civil majority is [i.e. was] then set at 20 years. Frida Dahmani, Tunisia: “Michel Foucault was not a pedophile, but he was seduced by young ephebes”. (Jeuneafrice, April 1, 2021).