Rubin examines fundamental basis of sexual ideology and sexual value system. According to the text, many assumptions about sex have existed without being questioned. And those assumptions have been reinforced by both scientific researches and cultural traditions.
Sexual essentialism suggests that biological aspects of sexuality explain everything about individual. It ignores roles of environment such as social structure and culture. Many studies were conducted in various areas including medicine, psychiatry, and psychology to support such perspective. Another important thought is sex negativity. It is mainly derived from Christian tradition which implies that sex is sinful. The statement that "sex is presumed guilty until proven innocent" (Rubin, 11) is basis of such axiom, which produces hierarchical system of sexual value. According to this criterion, sexual behaviors beneficial to reproduction are valued the most.
'Charmed circle' depicts this hierarchical system nicely. As mentioned in the text, "individuals whose behavior stands high in this hierarchy are rewarded with certified mental health, respectability, legality, social and physical mobility, institutional support, and material benefits." (Rubin, 12) Again this circle is reinforced by both religious traditions and medical and psychiatric opprobrium, establishing strict standard for sexual morality.
Rubin says the main concern of existing sexual morality is not true ethics. Rather, it gives virtue to the dominant groups and relegate vice to the underprivileged. Also we can see most of existing thoughts of sex lack of empirical evidences in the text. Thus, it can be said that these thoughts are closer to sexual ideologies than real 'theories'.
Questions: What can be differences between those ideologies and theories of sex? What maintains sexual oppression and hierarchical system? And what is needed to establish rich theories of sex and overcome limitations in existing notion of sexuality?
On the other hand, Wilkerson talks about how medical information reflects and reinforces cultural norms by mainly focusing on queer or disabled people. The text examines more specifically how medical studies became a powerful source of reason and basis of norms and standards of sexuality.
Wilkerson explains why she brought up queer perspectives and disability perspectives to discuss sexuality. "Queer perspectives have helped us to understand and resist regimes organized around controlling a variety of sexual identities and practices. Disability perspectives reveal the broad array of cultural norms with privilege an illusory ideal mind and body at the expense of our actual bodies of all shapes and sizes, [...]. Together, queer and disability perspectives help to reveal why sexual agency must be understood as an important, and in some ways, key component of the liberation struggles of all disenfranchised groups, rather than a luxury to be addressed after achieving goals that might be perceived as more basic."(Wilkerson, 37)
Also she claims that sexual democracy should be established based on various kinds of oppressive social relations such as racism, ableism, capitalism, and sexism rather than merely on political forces that stigmatize some sexualities as perversions.
Questions: How can bodily image of particular sexuality be shaped and reinforced? What maintained Erotophobia? And does it still exist and play powerful role in reinforcing sexual oppression?