The "repressive hypothesis" states that the relationship between power and sex has been expressed for the past three hundred years as repression. That is, sex has been treated as something unwanted, something not to be spoken about, not to be enjoyed, something that does not exist. It associates this repression with the rise of the bourgeoisie, who saw sex as a waste of precious energy that should be expended more productively. The repressive hypothesis concludes that we must liberate ourselves from this repression by being more open about sex, by speaking about it, doing it, and enjoying it. This reading espouses a Marxist view of class repression. It also bears a rather simple reading of history that places sexual liberation in a position of political significance. More problematically, it conducts a reading of history that sees power as solely repressive and sees the call for sexual "liberation" as being outside the confines of this repressive power.

Popular pages: The History of Sexuality, Volume 1