In “We ‘Other Victorians,'” Michel Foucault skillfully speaks of sexual repression, power, and defying the norm, without directly addressing any of those issues. In his opening chapter to The History of Sexuality, he criticizes how Victorian values have bled into modern day values of sexuality without describing the specific ways in which Victorian values are in any way similar to today’s, instead choosing vast generalizations and accusatory judgements.
Starting off, Foucault explains Victorian values effectively, contrasting them with the earlier, more open values and using the historical context of industrialization to support its origins. As he moves into the modern era, however, he not only fails to explain the nature of repression today, but also continually contradicts himself. Foucault claims that society today is repressed, but his major support for that is how many people enjoy talking about sexuality in order to defy social norms. By his own definition, he refutes his own claim without ever backing it up.
Foucault also dodges his way around other points that he brushes over, specifically power dynamics and non-traditional sexuality. He frequently mentions the role of power in sexual repression, but never explains what he means by it. Historically, the largest power dynamics in sex often relate to either gender (repressing women through marriage, rape, or both) or race (in Western history slavery and rape went hand-in-hand). Without him clarifying, Foucault does not make his positions clear in either regard, or make it clear if he meant something else entirely. Similarly, he mentions Victorian mental hospitals in his “other Victorians” point without elaborating. In general, those hospitals held non-conforming individuals such as people attracted to the same sex, among others. By skimming over these points, Foucault himself refuses to talk about the effects of repression on many people in society.