The French philosopher argued that as our public discourse tightens its grip on sex, mining it for more and more information about the body, the mind and the soul, it turns “sex” turns into a rhetorical black hole – a vortex sucking energy in, radiating pure affect. Making less and less sense.
Journalists (?) heckling Anthony Weiner – launching barbs about the size of his dick as they might shout “fag” at a baseball game – prove Foucault’s point: the more discourse we produce about sexual health, sexual behavior, sexual being and sexual practice – the more discourse on sex becomes a powerful mechanism of policing and control; a shit-storm of rhetorical violence.
Nevermind that, these days, it is less “forward” of a guy to put a picture of his dick in an e-mail (or a Craigslist ad), than it is to buy a stranger a drink in a bar. The circulation of sexy pics of our body parts is a banal fact of our fully mediated, broadcasted life. The banality of this practice doesn’t make it less erotic, or feel less personal. It’s a form of exhibitionist correspondence organic to what Lauren Berlant described as an “intimate public.” It is not in the least bit surprising that a public figure might have an erotic relationship to publicity.
Even knowing this, men and women unite behind “Bye Bye PERVERT!” They lean back, content in their own morality - as if they have never looked at a nude picture of a dick, or tits, or whatever. As if they haven’t combed the web looking for Weiner’s body and chuckling over the embarrassing fact that he has one, that he has an erotic relationship to it, and an erotic relationship to our broadcast culture. Shame on him??
Maybe in a few years, this sort of thing will be no big deal. Not because we think that what’s in those briefs is meaningful, but because maybe by then, we’ll have seen so much political crotch that these images will come to nothing.
(All puns intended.)