The Charmed Circle

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Gayle Rubin’s article “Thinking Sex: Notes for a Radical Theory of the Politics of Sexuality” describes the idea of the “charmed circle”. Referring to sexuality Rubin begins to illustrate her idea of the “charmed circle” by challenging sexual essentialism (the idea that sex is a natural force) by saying that it is or can be socially created and that it is not transhistorical or eternally unchanging. This idea of the “charmed circle” creates certain ideas of femininity through advertising and movies, and puts great pressure and impact of the lives of people who do not fall into the “circle”. In this paper I will discuss how the media reinforces Rubin’s idea of the “charmed circle” through magazines such as Vogue or Glamour and through movies like Sleeping Beauty.

In her article Rubin describes that there is considered to be ‘good’ sex and ‘bad’ sex. ‘Good’ sex is accepted if it is heterosexual, married, reproductive, in a relationship, and non-commercial. It even goes as far to describe how you can or can’t do it, according to the “circle” ‘good’ sex must also be vanilla, bodies only, in pairs, same generation, in private, and without pornography. Whatever lies outside of these characteristics is considered to be ‘bad’ sex and is seen as a result of some kind of mental disorder. Some things that lie outside the “charmed circle” are homosexuality (although it is slowly becoming more acceptable if in a long term relationship), alone or in groups, non-married, and sadomasochistic. Hierarchies are also created within the “charmed circle” describing the most acceptable sex as married, heterosexual, procreative, and for love. The ideas of femininity, especially those in Western society, that support the “charmed circle” are those of heterosexuality, women being passive or submissive, virtuosity, and being chaste.

Through the media in Western society these ideas of femininity and the “charmed circle” are very closely linked. As you can see in the following...
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