Before taking the course, I braced myself for a course that merely discusses sexual intercourse/sexual assault and how those elements impact society in general. I was definitely not prepared for the depth of the concepts, where ideas of sex were linked to heavily conceptualized theories like Marxism and Essentialism. From discussing LGBT politics to discussing the idea of asexuality, a common theme always seemed to resonate with me: heteronormativity is a concept that has a profound effect on our everyday life. It is a concept that we too often see and hear, yet it has become so apart of everyday living that it only has become apart of the norm.
This concept has been greatly engrained into our heads throughout the semester, but it was during a specific excerpt by Kristen Barber that I started to find a link between the construction heterosexuality and the power that ultimately comes with it. She states that “sexuality is a social construct…hetero-sex in general is a mechanism by which men dominate women…in order to understand the subordination of women in the United States, one must analyze the practice of heterosexuality (NSS 45).” Another excerpt of our reading discusses expectations based on gender, where males are expected to maintain a masculine composure while females are expected to act in a feminine manner. Moreover, it largely expected that these two gender roles come together to form a companionship hence the male and female relationship is the most suitable way to fulfill this expectation according to society. In this aspect, this expectation perpetuates the ideologies that are established by heteronormativity.
When turning on different movies or watching different shows, it has become extremely difficult for me to not notice how the media highly favors heterosexual relationship and almost marginalizes gays and lesbian relationships. The latter relationships are not seen as the ideal “American dream” family, and this only fosters an environment that sees being gay or lesbian as inferior. For example, in the most popular love story films, men and woman are considered perfect according to the expectations of society. In “the notebook”, for instance, the male has a hyper-masculine personality that seems to only compliment the feminine female character. In “the vow,” these same gender roles are maintained throughout the entire film. These movies, in essence, contribute to the socially constructed idea of heterosexuality and what defines a man and woman in a relationship.
Love movies are not the only source of heteronormativity in the American society. As aforementioned in an earlier post, advertisement adds to the idea of what constitutes an ideal straight man’s sexuality and straight woman’s sexuality. We often see fit men who have an immense amount of sex appeal surrounded by females with perfect skinny bodies because that’s societies overall perception of an ideal heterosexual male.
So why is this such a important concept in our society? Because it is a concept that surrounds us everyday and, sadly, sexuality is indeed something that determines people’s worth in the American culture.
The moral to the story is that this class changed my life. It is not life changing in the sense that I am able to walk away with a large body of knowledge, but I am also actually able to see the concepts come to life on a daily basis. I am actually able to see how heteronormativity is played out and im