This article on pedophilia is written by Dhruv Shekhar, from Jindal Global Law School, having studied History before at St. Stephens College. Intrinsically passionate about the films, books and football, he seeks to examine and study his interests within the ambit of the legalities concerned with the said subject matter.
Mill’s treatise on the various works[i] of the eponymous Foucault are served in the format of a historical narrative. Whereby she exemplifies the various time periods and the varied notions that lay therein about sex. She speaks about the Foucault’s take on the Greco-Roman conception of sexuality right down to the modern western iteration of the Church anointed form of “proper sex”. However it is not this simple narrative that piques one’s interest, it is the linkage between the conception of power (by which I mean the ruling regime/oligarchy/church et al) and its relationship to sex.
Like a classical post-structuralist and post-anarchist (nomenclature Foucault would no doubt desist), Mill explores the scholar’s conception about the aforementioned ideologue. Whereby, sex/sexual knowledge has been used as a controlling mechanism by those in power in consonance with their ordered conception of the society. This narrative is abounding when Sara Mills (in reference to Foucault’s works) explains the importance that the concept of children’s sexuality and the need to protect it, assumed in the eighteenth-nineteenth centuries.
How matters such as a child’s masturbation habits were not only a matter of parental importance, let alone privacy issues aside, it was one of public debate and discourse. An aspect which is laid bare by the manner in which boarding schools are constructed. Such as the manner of segregation that can be seen in separating the girls and boys hostel rooms.
Thus this discussion raises one question in my mind is “Why notions about sex/sexuality need to be controlled?”. Concepts such as coming out and the fallacy surrounding it are beautifully torn apart by Foucault. Raising further questions, such as whether there is a pervasiveness to uninhibited sex which scares that powers that be in the eons post the Greco-Romanic Era.
Sara Mill builds on to the Foucauldian ideologue, by reasserting that the categorization of sexuality or sexual preferences is a fairly recent construct dating as a remnant of the Industrial Age. While simultaneously giving one a peek into the capitalist concerns behind regulating and restricting sexual behaviour in an attempt to ensure a well-oiled workforce stays on track.
This explanation behind it, while well reasoned also shows how on a strict evolutionary understanding we have clearly regressed from a time where there were no normative constraints be it the ancient roman era of Emperor Caligula known for his sexual notoriety or closer to home the exponents of art and sexuality at the Ajanta-Ellora caves rife with its depiction of androgynous gods/ Figurines/ entities of the bygone past. Moving on to a day and age where the codification and vilification of “unnatural carnal offences” under the garb of law[ii] continue to persist.
German Psychiatrist Fredric Wertham’s work, titled the Seduction of the innocent[iii], played its part by disseminating and implanting the idea that comic books (owing to their apparent vile, violent and sexual content) were reasons for childhood delinquency. This idea is analogous to the previously mentioned machination aimed at protecting from the profane sex. One which caught the fancy of the common folk to such an extent, that a once flourishing industry stood to a standstill and saw declining sales in the post-war years owing to the impact of the aforementioned work[iv].
An interesting explanation could also be that every day and age has a theme and a value which needs to be protected or needs to be in vogue thus requiring for it to be chastised in the first place. International law often finds an apt example for a statement such as the above, where he 90’s the in vogue global value was Human Rights, while the noughties put the focus on environment and terrorism.
Sexuality, however, occupies a unique place in this pantheon. An essential to both the epochal social and biological existence of man, however one which has had a constrictive impact through the man-made politics of the body over the last millennium. Be it the incumbent discourse regarding sexuality, the ideal female body type, feminity and questions are abound about the entity who dictates these facets are those which when explored open Pandora’s box worth of revelations.
[i] Sara Mills, Michel Foucault, (Ed. 2), 2005
[ii] Section 377 of The Indian Penal Code, 1860
[iii] Fredrick Wertham, Seduction Of The Innocent (Ed. 5), 1999
[iv] Carol L. Tilley, Seducing the Innocent: Fredric Wertham and the Falsifications That Helped Condemn Comics, 47, I&C, 383, 384-85, (2012)