March 30

21st Century Living

Saturday’s Big Idea

The Repressive Hypothesis

In his great work, The History of Sexuality, the French theorist Michael Foucault debunked the idea that western society suppressed sexuality from the 17th to the mid-20th century. Discourse on sexuality, however, was not in fact confined to marriage.

Psychiatry, for instance, itself became an outlet that freed people from the confines of conventional morality. However, Foucault pointed out the paradox of all of this: why do we proclaim so loudly that we are repressed, why do we talk so much about how we can't talk about sex? Instead of liberating ourselves in the way we would like to think, psychology ended up creating a prison of its own, a prison of discourse that is itself a form of preaching. Everything comes back to sex, and our identity becomes inextricably tied to it.

In today's lesson, the sociologist Eva Illouz shows how so much of what we think about failures in our romantic life are bound up in cultural biases that are derived from this discourse on sexuality. 

  1. 1 Romantic Failure: A Cultural and ...
  2. 2 The Power Struggle of Love
  3. 3 The Myth of Happiness
  4. 4 The Dollars and Sense of Romance
  1. Romantic Failure: A Cultural and Cognitive Bias

    Romantic Failure: A Cultural and Cognitive Bias

    We are socialized to blame ourselves when things go wrong in love because that is what is available to refashion when you are in a psychiatrist's office. 

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  2. The Power Struggle of Love

    The Power Struggle of Love

    How to negotiate the age-old power dynamics of romance, from flirtation through the “stable phase” of a relationship.

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  3. The Myth of Happiness

    The Myth of Happiness

    Overcoming the myths of happiness might make life seem more complicated, but it’s the only way to stop interfering with our own potential to be happy.

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  4. The Dollars and Sense of Romance

    The Dollars and Sense of Romance

    Ted Fischer talks about how people act financially and how they behave romantically and how those two behaviors are opposed to each other, often needlessly.

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