Publication details [#67739]

Raynaud, Juliette. 2014. How to construct your sexuality according to French magazines. Social Semiotics 24 (2) : 243–258.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Language as a subject


Gendered magazines are a major contemporary form of mediation, (re)production and organization of (hetero)sexuality. They illustrate how sexual activity and performance become the concern and responsibility of individuals who are able to invest time and resources in the construction of a sexually-skilled self. Drawing on contemporary research, the article seeks to promote a dialogue between media and communications research, analysing French media narratives on sexuality through the reading of a selection of articles from the best-selling summer magazines aimed at 18- to 25-year-old readers. The article uses a semiodiscursive analysis to understand how didactic models are made to (re)produce specific knowledge on sexuality and to ascertain that this knowledge is coded in an expertise discourse. Through the hypothesis of a didactic ambition, three didactic models are identified, and attention is here focused on the short-coming/reparative model, that simultaneously creates a dysfunction and a fix. The analysis eventually reveals that didactic models are made to organize social life by strictly dividing sexual and therefore social roles between “men” and “women”. The moral criteria called upon regulate the ideal treatment of those didactic modalities and the discourse in magazines ends up shaping sexuality as a contemporary moral economy, a problem that should be pragmatically treated through the use of a certain type of knowledge.