Gayle Rubin’s “Thinking Sex”

December 17, 2012 § Leave a comment


Our reading for next week is Gayle Rubin’s “Thinking Sex: Notes For a Radical Theory of the Politics of Sexuality,” found at

A short description:

In her 1984 essay “Thinking Sex”, Rubin interrogated the value system that social groups — whether left- or right-wing, feminist or patriarchal — attribute to sexuality which defines some behaviours as good/natural and others (such as pedophilia) as bad/unnatural. In this essay, Rubin also discusses a number of ideological formations that permeate sexual views. The most important is sex negativity, in which Western cultures consider sex to be a dangerous, destructive force. If marriage, reproduction, or love are not involved, almost all sexual behavior is considered bad.

Rubin’s discussion of all of these models assumes a domino theory of sexual peril. People feel a need to draw a line between good and bad sex as they see it standing between sexual order and chaos. There is a fear that if certain aspects of “bad” sex are allowed to move across the line, unspeakable acts will move across as well. One of the most prevalent ideas about sex is that there is one proper way to do it. Society lacks a concept of benign sexual variation. People fail to recognize that just because they do not like to do something does not make it repulsive.


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You are currently reading Gayle Rubin’s “Thinking Sex” at Austin Anarchist Study Group.