The monthly installment

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Post by Conrad Smith

Many of you, who live in the dormitory, cannot help but notice the monthly installment of “The Monthly Installment.” It is posted there by RA’s and printed by the UHS. While these postings provide helpful information about many aspects of life at Eastman/ the University of Rochester, the most clearly target the topic of sex and sexuality. This seemingly innocent attempt to offer important information is in face riddled with forms of power described by Foucault. Are these publications helpful to students or are they creating new structures of power to control students?

The most recent April publication was themed “get yourself tested.” It was filled with statistics of people who are sexually active and people who are infected with Sexually Transmitted Infections. The publication quietly hinted that there is no safe sex, and then quickly began decribing STI’s, treatments and places students could go to get tested and treatment.

The UHS intention to diminish STI’s may seem innocent but in fact it could be argued to be counter productive. The publication immediately assumes certain things that create a system of power over students reading the publication. It forms pressure on the student to evaluate his or her sex life. The publication speaks as though all students are having sex. It gives students who are having sex the idea that they are doing something dangerous that needs to be fixed. They clearly paint sexual intercourse negatively by putting pictures of bombs next to “High-Risk activities.”

Instead of eliminating or at least reducing it’s prominence, the UHS has flooded the thoughts of students with sexuality and STI’s. Through these publications they are reforming the thoughts and actions of students. A form of “bio power,” as described by Foucault as a power to reform life, is creating personalities as the sexual deviant and the sexual ideal person. From these personalities, structures of power are developed that divide people. This divide is manifest through judgement between students over who is sexually active or not, or who may have an STI. Sexuality then becomes a major factor in someone’s character and personality. As the publication describes, many STI’s are curable or at least treatable, but according the power structure created by the publication, people with STI’s engaged in dangerous acts and are sexual deviants. As soon as the distinction is made between whether or not a person is a sexual deviant or not, the human race naturally tries to detain or change that person.

Is the Monthly Installment helping students find the help they need? Perhaps, but it is also creating forms of power over students and limiting their freedom. This attempt to give students the help they need is also flooding the society with sexuality. This flood is pushing students who aren’t in sexual relationships to think about it, and evaluate their sexual activity, and even write blog posts about sexuality. Thus the Monthly Installment seems to create more insecurity than it does security.


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