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Produire, diffuser et contester les savoirs sur le sexe

Une sociohistoire de la sexualité dans la Genève des années 1970


Sylvie Burgnard

Héritière de 1968, la décennie 1970 est couramment pensée comme celle de la libération sexuelle. A l’encontre des interprétations simplificatrices, cet ouvrage apporte un regard critique sur l’idée d’une libération de la sexualité. Il décortique les manières de dire et de penser la sexualité durant ces années en étudiant divers points de vue : celui de la sexologie, du planning familial, de l’éducation sexuelle et des mouvements féministes et homosexuels. Leur confrontation montre que s’il existe bien de la part des mouvements féministes et homosexuels un appel à renverser les normes sociales en matière de couple, de famille et de sexualité, cet appel reste étranger aux structures institutionnelles de la sexologie, du planning familial et de l’éducation sexuelle. En retraçant l’histoire d’un passé proche, cet ouvrage éclaire la construction sociale et historique des enjeux actuels en matière de sexualité et rappelle les liens étroits qu’entretiennent politiques de la sexualité et maintien de l’ordre social.
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This research investigates the ways sexuality was seen and thought during the 1970s in the city of Geneva. The focus is drawn on five specific areas involved in the production of knowledge and discourses on sexuality : sexology, family planning, sex education, feminist movements and homosexual movements. Our analysis relies on a wide range of archives and unfolds the complexity of the post-68 years and the variety of points of view on sexuality. As a consequence it leads to discuss and criticize the idea of a sexual liberation that is frequently associated to this period. The positions and paths of the different arenas and actors taken into consideration shape a deep gap between two main trends. On one side, institutional, pedagogical and preventive discourses, relying upon medical and scientific theories, are based on the central concept of the heterosexual couple. Sexology, family planning and sex education work to inform, teach, protect and cure sexuality, with a special concern about the sexuality of young people. In this sense they produce and spread knowledge that establishes conjugality as a pre-requisite to “good sexuality”. These discourses, highly legitimate, oppose and relegate to the margins those produced on the other side by anti-establishment movements. Feminist and homosexual movements situate conjugality and family at the core of the oppression system they wish to destroy and criticize the elaboration and transmission processes of knowledge for symbolizing and reinforcing power relations. The configuration we analyze is a contribution to the history of a still unknown period...

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