Advertisement

Michel Foucault and Queer Ascesis: Toward a Pedagogy and Politics of Subversive Friendships

  • Nelson M. RodriguezEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Queer Studies and Education book series (QSTED)

Abstract

Stemming from a pedagogical interest in exploring ways of theoretically framing in classroom discussions the topic of gay-for-pay, this chapter is organized into two sections. In the first section, I engage with a close reading of Foucault’s (Michel Foucault: Ethics, subjectivity, and truth. The Free Press, New York, pp. 135–140, 1997a) interview “Friendship as a Way of Life,” considering passages that might be useful in helping to explicate and reflect on the concepts of ascesis and friendship, as well as other related ideas in the interview. In this first section, I especially explore the queer dimensions of Foucault’s ideas regarding homosexual ascesis and their entanglement with his reflections on gay politics. Drawing from the analyses and insights gleaned from this first section, and as a way to provide a contemporary example of what Foucault might have had in mind by “friendship as a way of life,” in the second section I examine an episode from a talk show that takes up the topic of gay-for-pay. By way of my analysis of this episode, I explore gay-for-pay as a strategy/technology of self-transformation, a queer ascesis (Halperin in Saint Foucault: Towards a gay hagiography. Oxford University Press, New York, 1995) that can be read as contributing to the cultivation of a “homosexual mode of life” (Foucault 1997a, p. 136), an art of living “at becoming homosexuals” that is eminently “desirable.” As a queer ascesis, gay-for-pay is necessarily relational—i.e., an ongoing ethical and transformative relation to oneself in relation to others that can engender new and creative and experimental forms of relationships and modes of being that are not beholden to the codes of institutionalized norms governing any number of relationships, including those between men (Kingston in Foucault Studies 7:7–17, 2009). In this way, given their potential to rupture “the normalisation of relationships” (Kingston 2009), these non-institutionalized relations based on a queer ascesis can be understood as “subversive friendships” (Kingston 2009).

Keywords

Gay-for-pay Queer ascesis Relationality Subversive friendships Pedagogy 

References

  1. Anderson, E., & Robinson, S. (2016). Men’s sexual flexibility. In N. L. Fischer & S. Seidman (Eds.), Introducing the new sexuality studies (3rd ed., pp. 250–260). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  2. David, C. (Director). (2016). I’m a pornstar: Gay4pay [Documentary]. Canada: Border2Border Entertainment.Google Scholar
  3. Escoffier, J. (2003). Gay-for-pay: Straight men and the making of gay pornography. Qualitative Sociology, 26(4), 531–555.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Foucault, M. (1983). On the genealogy of ethics: An overview of work in progress. In H. L. Dreyfus & P. Rabinow (Eds.), Michel Foucault: Beyond structuralism and hermeneutics (2nd ed., pp. 229–252). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  5. Foucault, M. (1985). The use of pleasure: Volume 2 of the history of sexuality (R. Hurley, Trans.). New York: Vintage Books.Google Scholar
  6. Foucault, M. (1986). The care of the self: Volume 3 of the history of sexuality (R. Hurley, Trans.). New York: Vintage Books.Google Scholar
  7. Foucault, M. (1997a). Friendship as a way of life. In P. Rabinow (Ed.), Michel Foucault: Ethics, subjectivity, and truth (pp. 135–140). New York: The Free Press.Google Scholar
  8. Foucault, M. (1997b). The social triumph of the sexual will. In P. Rabinow (Ed.), Michel Foucault: Ethics, subjectivity, and truth (pp. 157–162). New York: The Free Press.Google Scholar
  9. Halperin, D. M. (1995). Saint Foucault: Towards a gay hagiography. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Kingston, M. (2009). Subversive friendships: Foucault on homosexuality and social experimentation. Foucault Studies, 7, 7–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Morar, N. (2014). Homosexuality. In L. Lawlor & J. Nale (Eds.), The Cambridge Foucault lexicon (pp. 207–210). New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Taylor, C. (2017). The Routledge guidebook to Foucault’s the history of sexuality. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  13. UsaTvShows22. (2013, October 17). Gay for pay Tyra part 1 [video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOzV4id8H7Y.
  14. Ward, J. (2015). Not gay: Sex between straight white men. New York: New York University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The College of New JerseyEwingUSA

Personalised recommendations