George receives a massage from a man
, 00 to 05 minsLength:
This clip is from the Seinfeld
episode entitled "The Note
," which is the first episode of the show's third season (note: the audio is low; turn up the volume when screening this clip). After receiving a massage from a man
, George shows up at Jerry's apartment, clearly distraught. George reveals to Jerry that he thinks he might have had an erection during the massage and he fearfully exclaims: "That's the sign! The test…if a man makes it move." Jerry reassures George saying, "That's not the test. Contact is the test. If it moves as a result of contact." This clip can be used to teach several concepts. First, the clip can be use to illustrate how sexuality is not a fixed concept; it is fluid and not easily defined. For example, is sexuality defined by sexual desire? Sexual behavior? Sexual identity? In this case, George focuses on sexual desire. Despite not identifying as gay or engaging in sexual behavior with men, George wonders if his erection is a sign of same-sex desire, a desire presumably unbeknownst to him. Jerry shifts the focus by narrowing in on behavior, stating that the sign of gay entails physical contact that results in sexual arousal. This discussion points to the complexity of sexuality. Viewers can be encouraged to consider various scenarios in order to highlight this complexity. For example, if George dates women, has sex with women, self-identifies as straight, yet is aroused by a man, is he gay? What if he identifies as gay but has sex with women? Viewers can further be encouraged to question our cultural obsession with defining sexuality
in the first place. In his book The History of Sexuality
, Michel Foucault calls this a discourse of knowledge and, similarly, power. The clip also illustrates how heterosexuality gets renormalized in our culture through social interactions—that is, there is no need for George and Jerry to debate the definition of being straight. Presumably, that's just known and normal. Finally, the clip also supports elements of Michael Kimmel's concept of masculinity as homophobia
, or the notion that men are terrified to be gay or, even more, be perceived as gay. Submitted By:
, abjection, asexuality, heterosexuality, masculinity, 06 to 10 minsYear: 2006Length: 6:44Access: YouTubeSummary:
A common assumption about sexuality is that all humans have sexual desire, which suggests that sexual identity is biological or innate (e.g. see Foucault 1978
; Planned Parenthood
). However, in this interview with Tucker Carlson, asexual activist David Jay
broadens the discourse on sexual orientation by bringing asexuality to the forefront of the discussion. In short, an asexual person is defined as someone who does not experience sexual attraction. Through his interview with Carlson, Jay challenges the commonly held belief that all humans are sexual beings, and effectively creates a dialogue for viewers to rethink taken-for-granted assumptions about male-dominated heterosexuality. Questions to ask while watching this video include: How does Tucker Carlson define sexuality in patriarchal terms? How is his definition of a heterosexual male limited? How does David blur the dichotomous lines of gay and straight? Can we understand sexuality on a spectrum instead of as mutually exclusive? Why is Tucker pressuring David to “try” sex? Is this Tucker’s attempt to make David an intelligible body? Why is it so important to Tucker that David perform his sexuality “properly”? How does Tucker abject David and the concept of asexuality? Why is the concept of asexuality so problematic for Tucker? Julia Kristeva’s (1982) theory of abjection
may serve as a useful concept to frame discussions around this video. The abject is defined as “the other” or as “the human reaction […] to a threatened breakdown in meaning caused by the loss of the distinction between the subject and object or between the self and the other.” We fear and loathe the abject because they are threatening to the social order and ultimately to conceptions of our self. Considering this, another question to ask is whether or not asexual relationships threaten heterosexual masculinity. The discussion of asexuality challenges naturalized conceptions about human sexuality and paves the way for the exploration of other forms of intimacy, sexual orientations and partnerships. It is only when we let go of normative prescriptions of sexuality that we can experience and recognize other forms of love and expression. Submitted By:
, government/the state
, biopolitics, biopower, governmentality, microphysics, subtitles/CC
, 11 to 20 minsYear:
14:34Access: YouTube Summary
: This clip is from the History Channel documentary, Third Reich: Rise & Fall
, and features rare footage of the Hitler Youth Brigade. Examining the girl's division, the film's narrator explains that these Hitler Maidens from Nazi Germany were taught from a young age that it was their duty to breed and nurture new generations of Aryan youth. The clip might be a useful way for stimulating discussion about what Michel Foucault meant by governmentality
. As sociologist Thomas Lemke summarizes
, the concept suggests "a view on power beyond a perspective that centers either on consensus or on violence; it links technologies of the self with technologies of domination, the constitution of the subject to the formation of the state." From this Foucauldian perspective, one can see in the clip how the young girls were constituted as good Nazis. Strictly speaking, their political compliance and enthusiasm to "breed" for the Führer cannot be explained as due to simple coercion or consent. For Foucault, the state, and the individuals the state is said to govern, codetermine each other. At about 10:00, a "Hitler Maiden" writes about how most of the girls in the youth camp became pregnant during the summer. Upon learning of her daughter's pregnancy, a mother rushed to the camp and attempted to discipline her daughter, but the daughter responded by telling her mother to leave the camp, or else she would report her mother to the authorities for "sabotaging German motherhood." This section of the clip could be drawn on to underscore Foucault's theory of the “microphysics of power” and “the gaze,” which Foucault described as swarming through society and entering into the minds and consciousness of the people.Submitted By:
Tags: foucault, knowledge, lgbtq, sex/sexuality, theory, asexuality, identity politics, queer theory, wilchins, 00 to 05 mins Year: 2010
Access: Kickstarter.com Summary: This is a promotional clip intended to raise money to complete a documentary film about asexuality. The clip's description explains that while the asexuality movement was inspired by the LGBT movement of the 1960s, some members of the asexual community are hesitant about being a part of the broader LGBT community. The filmaker poses the question: Can asexuals--members of a group who have rejected sex--be members of the sex-positive pride march? This clip might be useful in a class on the sociology of sexuality or gender, as it wrestles very directly with the topic of identity politics. The clip might also work well as an accompaniment to Foucault's The History of Sexuality or Wilchins' excellent primer, Queer Theory, Gender Theory. Using this clip, one could ask students to reflect on the way sexual identities, which scarcely existed 200 years ago, are now a primary means by which people politically organize themselves. The clip would work well with another short promotional film called "The Bi-deology Project," which
similarly argues that bisexuality is an identity that needs to be recognized. Submitted By:
Tags: foucault, surveillance, panopticon, 1984, orwell, big brother, police, crime, disciplinary society, privacy, 00 to 05 minsYear: 2008
Access: YouTubeSummary: This is a student-made video that explores the Panopticon. It includes contemporary examples such as security cameras, the Patriot Act, and social networking sites; brief commentary on Jeremy Bentham and his original Panopticon; and theoretical discussion of Foucault.
Submitted By: Paul Dean
Tags: foucault, lgbtq, media, sex/sexuality, Identity politics, queer theory, 00 to 05 minsYear: 2010
Access: current.comSummary: This clip presents sarcastic commentary from Bryan Safi about the Wall Street Journal's coverage of the nomination of Elena Kagan for Supreme Court Justice. Her sexuality has come under question and the Wall Street Journal ran a picture of Kagan playing softball, presumably to imply that Kagan is a lesbian. Safi makes the observation that the Wall Street Journal is talking around the issue and not directly addressing the issue. Safi's charge is that the Wall Street Journal is uncritically participating in the politics of sexual identity and failing to analyze the deeper question of why and how a lesbian identity is being used as a basis for political exclusion. This clip might be useful to instructors who are teaching Foucault's The History of Sexuality.
Submitted By: Lester Andrist
Tags: children/youth, discourse/language, emotion/desire, foucault, gender, lgbtq, marriage/family, religion, sex/sexuality, social construction, discipline, heteronormative, femininity, masculinity, norms, socialization, purity ball, virginity pledge, 00 to 05 mins Year: 2008
Access: YouTubeSummary: This clip describes and visually portrays an example of a purity ball, a formal ritual/party in which girls take a purity pledge (a.k.a. "virginity pledge") in front of their family and friends and, most prominently, they make this pledge to their fathers. I use this clip when introducing Foucault to my students, and I ask them how Foucault might make sense of purity balls and virginity pledges as a social and cultural phenomenon.
Submitted By: Valerie Chepp
Dave Zirin discusses controversy surrounding Caster Semenya
Tags: biology, bodies, foucault, gender, intersectionality, lgbtq, media, prejudice/discrimination, race/ethnicity, sex/sexuality, social construction, sports, caster semenya, norms, 00 to 05 mins Year: 2009Length: 3:44Access: YouTubeSummary: Interview and commentary with Dave Zirin, sports writer for "The Nation." Zirin discusses the case of South African runner, Caster Semenya, whose gender was called into question after her victory at the 2009 World Championships.
This clip is useful for talking about the social construction of sex and gender, and the pervasive discomfort around - indeed "disciplining" of - bodies that do not neatly "fit" into clear sex and gender categories.Submitted By: Valerie
Tags: bodies, crime/law/deviance, discourse/language, foucault, gender, knowledge, lgbtq, religion, science/technology, sex/sexuality, social construction, theory, discipline, norms, power, 00 to 05 mins Year: 2010Length: 3:29Access: YouTubeSummary: This short clip summarizes the main arguments of Foucault's "The History of Sexuality" in a playful song/music video format.Submitted By: Valerie
Tags: crime/law/deviance, foucault, 1984, big brother, disciplinary society, orwell, panopticon, police, privacy, surveillance, 00 to 05 mins Year: 2006Length: 3:21Access: YouTubeSummary: This is a CNN video on the expansion of security cameras in major US cities, with a heavy focus on NYC. It explores the issues of crime deterrence vs. privacy, and is an excellent video to introduce Foucault's concepts of the Panopticon, Surveillance, and Disciplinary Society.
Added By: Paul Dean