The History of Sexuality, Vol. 1

The History of Sexuality, Vol. 1 Irony

The Irony of the Repressive Hypothesis

One of the most integral aspects of Foucault's argument is the great irony of the Repressive Hypothesis. The Repressive Hypothesis claims that we have been silenced about matters of sex by a repressive and controlling regime of Victorian-style prudishness. Foucault, however, goes to great lengths to argue the contrary: that modernity has seen an absolute explosion of discourses, and of injunctions to discourse, around sex. The irony of the Repressive Hypothesis is that it encourages us to feel that the history of modern sexuality is one of prudish silence, when in fact it has been one of obsessive and constant talk.