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Sex Magic: Teen Vogue’s Latest Effort to Derail Young Girls

The magazine tells tweens they can achieve their goals and change the world through self-pleasure.

Orgasms can be pretty powerful things, but are they magic? In a new article, Teen Vogue, that bastion of wisdom for preteen girls, offers some odd advice. In “How to Use Sex Magic to Manifest Your Best Self,” resident bruja Lisa Stardust details how to harness the power of self-orgasms to “shift the universe…to use mystical forces from within to attain our hopes.”

Teen Vogue is great at steering young girls in weird directions. From advocating prostitution as a valid career choice to providing info on how there’s no such thing as boys and girls, the magazine has its branding down. And just when we thought it couldn’t send its readers any further off the rails, it said hold my beer:

Sex magic can be an amazing way to start to implement goals and manifest dreams—all by concentrating and releasing one’s personal energy into the world….

The idea that the power of the orgasm can be externalized and projected out into the universe in order to have an actual and effectual impact on real world events is absurd. That they are telling tweens (their core audience) to masturbate to get what they want is downright creepy.

Lisa Stardust would cast young women as complete narcissists who believe that they can alter the physical world around them using nothing but the power of their minds. This encourages a level of self-delusion that even Teen Vogue should be ashamed of. Masturbation will not help you get an A in algebra, stop your parents from splitting up, get you the lead part in the school play, supersize your Instagram following, or keep Becky off your back. What’s next: launching successful social justice reforms through orgasms?

Young girls often have little control over their world. From homework to parents to teen cliques and Instagram impressions, they feel like they’re at the mercy of circumstance. We’re all for recasting girls as major players in their own stories, but deluding them into thinking that they can obtain power through magic is a lie.

Sex magic is an old concept, and like many old ideas about correlations between completely unrelated things, it doesn’t amount to anything beyond basic neuroscience. That doesn’t stop Slutist’s Kristen Korvette from telling Vice that she fully attributes her first book deal to ritual sex magic. “It happened to be a full moon on the evening I submitted my proposal, so I engaged in my usual practice—which consists of ‘listening to my favorite erotically-charged music (which is always glam metal: Motley Crue mostly), lighting a candle that has been carved to symbolize my goal, and unsheathing my crystal dildo to consummate the spell’—and exactly one month later, on the full moon, I received word that I was in.”

Here are Stardust’s suggestions for how to do it: spell yourself, not others, because if you don’t have consent from someone to perform sex magic on them, it’s a witchcraft no-no. Visualization: fantasize about the thing you want and then maybe the universe will send it back to you. Carve a sigil into a candle and look at it while bringing yourself to climax. Use crystal sex toys, and charge them under the moon, even though they don’t have batteries—apparently moonlight has powers it can impart to quartz yoni eggs. It’s a wonder there isn’t a cross-marketing campaign with Gwyneth Paltrow’s GOOP.

A woman being confident in her own body can have positive effects, but sex magic is not rational by any means. Belief in magic has always been superstitious, a way for our ancestors to feel like they had some control over the natural world. They wanted to believe that there were things they could do—spells, incantations, rituals—that would have some impact on what was around them. In The Golden Bough, James George Frazer catalogues the magical practices of both the ancients—going back to the days of Roman ritual—and those that he encountered contemporaneously, in tribes and indigenous peoples before they were brought into the modern age. He details a ritual in a seafaring community in the South Pacific that begins when a boat is launched:

…all the time that the voyage lasts three or four young girls, specially chosen for the duty, are supposed to remain in sympathetic connexion with the mariners and to contribute by their behaviour to the safety and success of the voyage. On no account, except for the most necessary purpose, may they quit the room that has been assigned to them. More than that, so long as the vessel is believed to be at sea they must remain absolutely motionless, crouched on their mats with their hands clasped between their knees. They may not turn their heads to the left or to the right or make any other movement whatsoever. If they did, it would cause the boat to pitch and toss….

Like sex magic, this is a magic of manifestation. The idea is that by performing a certain ritual that bears a seeming applicability to what you want, you will get it. Somehow, as with the tribal seafarers and so many totally bats rituals in old Europe about manifesting fertility by marrying trees, Teen Vogue recommends that girls do weird things in the hopes that they fish their wish from the great big magical ocean of the universe.

If the magic being touted were less sexy and more like Frazer’s description above, would Teen Vogue be so apt to advocate for it? One doubts it. It would be equally hard to imagine the magazine invoking the power of prayer. The intro to Stardust’s column advises readers to “always remember that magic is for believers,” but there’s no power in believing old superstitions. Manifesting one’s desires through drive, dedication, and not taking no for an answer is one thing, but it’s repulsive to tell young women—children, considering the target age group—that they can masturbate themselves to success.

Libby Emmons is a playwright living in Brooklyn, New York. She has written for The Federalist, Quillette, and Arc Digital, among other publications. You can follow her on Twitter @li88yinc.