Both social and cultural factors define how sexuality is perceived by the individual; therefore it is a complex phenomenon as Foucault claimed, rather than a simple biological fact. In Foucault’s History ‘he argues that the apparatus of sexuality is of central importance in the modern play of power’ (Weeks, 1981:6). Weeks observes how Foucault introduces an unconventional theorisation of power, where power is omnipresent, it is not just the matter of the state. It is important to make clear that power is constructive and should not be thought of in purely negative terms.
Against the backdrop of this a parallel can be drawn between social and physical space: power relations seem to work on the same level regardless of the character of the spatial system. The spatial arrangement of both Sh! and Coco de Mer are created in order to represent a different approach to sexuality, focusing on women. The objective of this dissertation is to highlight some of the issues raised in terms of sex and gender, especially their socio-cultural character in order to better understand the raison d’être of feminine sexuality. Sh! and Coco de Merwill provide the platform for this investigation.
The term ‘sexuality’ has become a popular subject matter for many academic writers and a focal point of research for various psychiatrists and sociologists. Sexuality is a broad label, described differently depending on the era and whether it is explained in a cultural, political or philosophical context. The emergence of the apparatus of sexuality has been comprehensively analysed by Michel Foucault through the History of Sexuality, which provides a provocative interpretation of modern sexual history. In order to understand the status of contemporary erotic shops it is necessary to see how sex has become a topic of discussion, how it has been discovered and generated.
In Volume 1 – An Introduction Foucault attacks what he calls ‘the repressive hypothesis’ and develops the theory according to which despite the semblance of censorship there was a ‘proliferation of discourses concerned with sex’ (Foucault, 1978:18). Foucault focuses his thesis on the Victorian bourgeoisie, and develops an exploration of the accumulation of knowledge of sex through the principle of confession. As already discussed in the introduction this confession is by no means the confession made in the church to a priest, but a confession made to a doctor, to the state office. Foucault interprets confession as a mean of control over the person. He challenges several contemporary assumptions about sex, generating further discussions by other philosophers such as Judith Butler or Joseph Bristow.
TO BE CONTINUED…