One day, argues Foucault, we may wonder how “the ruses of
sexuality” seduced us to academic inquiry, but that day is possible
only “in a different economy of bodies and pleasures” (1976, 159). In such a very different political
reality, a genealogical account of the relationship between power and
sexuality might not be necessary. But at present, “our discourse,
our customs, our institutions, our regulations, our knowledge” is
“busy producing in the light of day and broadcasting to noisy
accompaniment” sexuality so pervasive in our consciousness that it
informs much of our political culture and democratic governance.
Politicians fear being caught in its seduction, yet conjure it to excite
voters. Campaign advisers dance with sexuality, provoking it to publicly
bless their candidate and using it to scandalize their opponent.
Janus-faced voters charge the state with its regulation while, publicly
and privately, celebrating sexual freedoms. The body politic knows well
the power of sexuality. The leading professional association of political
scientists has yet to formally recognise it. Perhaps one day people will
wonder at this. Perhaps that day has come.The authors would like to thank Cynthia Burack and Jyl
Josephson for assistance with this article.