In this article I will revisit the question of what I term the continuum of heteronormative sexual interactions, that is, the idea that purportedly ethically acceptable heterosexual interactions are conceptually, ethically, and politically associated with instances of sexual violence. Spurred by recent work by psychologist Nicola , I conclude that some of my earlier critiques of Catharine MacKinnon's theoretical linkages between sexual violence and normative heterosex are wanting. In addition, neither MacKinnon's theory nor my critique of it seem up to (...) the task of providing an ethical account of the examples of “unjust sex” that Gavey has described. I come to the conclusion that an ethical analysis of sexual interactions requires a focus on sexual desire, but that desire cannot take on the by now heavily criticized role of consent. Rather than looking for the presence or absence of sexual desire prior to sexual encounters as a kind of ethical certification of them, we ought instead to focus on the efficacy of that sexual desire, that is, its ability (or lack thereof) to shape an encounter in substantial and meaningful ways. (shrink)
Was hat der Staat mit sexueller Orientierung zu tun? Eine ganze Menge, meint Gundula Ludwig, denn durch staatliche Macht in Form von „heteronormativer Hegemonie“ würden wir zu Subjekten gemacht – und zwar ‚normalerweise‘ zu männlichen bzw. weiblichen und heterosexuellen. Dabei betont Ludwig die Gegenseitigkeit des Verhältnisses von Staat und Geschlecht: Nicht nur wirke staatliche Macht konstitutiv und vergeschlechtlichend auf Subjekte, sondern der Staat selbst werde im „Prozess der vergeschlechtlichen Subjektkonstitution erst hervorgebracht“. Deshalb seien weder der Staat noch Heterosexualität natürlich gegeben, (...) sondern ihre Konstruktion sei eine Regierungstechnologie, und nicht zu trennen vom ökonomischen (Neo-)Liberalismus. Mit ihrem Buch möchte die Autorin eine Leerstelle in der Forschung füllen: Einerseits sei die Staatstheorie geschlechtsblind, andererseits ließen queer-feministische Arbeiten zur Konstruktion von Geschlecht den Staat aus. Ludwig verspricht eine poststrukturalistisch antiessentialistische Theorie, die beides beobachten kann und so den Zusammenhang von Staat und Geschlecht erklärt. (shrink)
For many of us, entry into motherhood involves an ambiguous visibility and intelligibility, where our acceptance into mainstream spaces as mothers entails a loss of lesbian difference. Mann explores this loss using the work of two philosophers of lesbian difference, Monique Wittig and Judith Butler. She argues that the figure of the lesbian mother is deployed on a broad cultural scale to reinvigorate and renaturaUze the myth of the happy, natural, heterosexual mother.
: In this essay, Miriam argues for a phenomenological-hermeneutic approach to the radical feminist theory of sex-right and compulsory heterosexuality. Against critics of radical feminism, she argues that when understood from a phenomenological-hermeneutic perspective, such theory does not foreclose female sexual agency. On the contrary, men's right of sexual access to women and girls is part of our background understanding of heteronormativity, and thus integral to the lived experience of female sexual agency.
Hundreds of thousands of students in introductory human sexuality classes read text-books whose covert ideology reinforces dominant heteronormative narratives of sexual dimorphism, male hegemony, and heteronormativity. As such, the process of scientific discovery that proposes to provide description of existing sexual practices, identities, and physiologies instead succeeds in cultural prescription. This essay provides a feminist, queer content analysis of such textbooks to illuminate their implicit narratives and provide suggestions for writing more feminist, queer-friendly texts.
In this essay, Riggs demonstrates how heterosexism shapes foster-care assessment practices in Australia. Through an examination of lesbian and gay foster-care applicants’ assessment reports and with a focus on the heteronormative assumptions contained within them, Riggs demonstrates that foster-care public policy and research on lesbian and gay parenting both promote the idea that lesbian and gay parents are always already “just like” heterosexual parents. To counter this idea of “sameness,” Riggs proposes an approach to both assessing and researching lesbian and (...) gay parents that privileges the specific experiences of lesbians and gay men and resists the heterosexualization of lesbian and gay families by focusing on some potentially radical differences shaping lesbian and gay lives. (shrink)
This paper argues that participating exclusively or predominantly in heterosexual romantic or sexual relationships is prima facie morally impermissible. It holds that this conclusion follows from three premises: (1) gender norms are on-balance harmful; (2) conforming to harmful social norms is prima facie morally impermissible; and (3) participating exclusively or predominantly in heterosexual romantic or sexual relationships is a way of conforming to gender norms.
At first sight, homosexuality has little to do with reproduction. Nevertheless, many neo-Darwinian theoreticians think that human homosexuality may have had a procreative value, since it enabled the close kin of homosexuals to have more viable offspring than individuals lacking the support of homosexual siblings. In this article, however, we will defend an alternative hypothesis - originally put forward by Freud in "A phylogenetic phantasy" - namely that homosexuality evolved as a means to strengthen social bonds. Consequently, from an evolutionary (...) point of view, homosexuality and heterosexuality have entirely distinct origins: there is no continuum from heterosexuality to homosexuality. Indeed, the natural history we propose shows that the intensity of the homosexual inclination has little or no predictive value with regard to the intensity of heterosexual tendencies. In fact, this may be a sound Darwinian way to understand sexual ambivalence. But if sexual ambivalence is a biological datum, one has to conclude that psychodynamic mechanisms are often needed in order to explain exclusive heterosexuality or exclusive homosexuality. (shrink)
This paper on Ofelia Schutte's work discusses five main themes: gender oppression in the context of Latin American theories of social liberation; normative heterosexuality in Beauvoir and Irigaray; Schutte's analysis of women and capitalist globalization processes; her work on cultural identities; and the possibility of feminist transnational identities. I conclude with a comment on her postcolonial epistemological method in addressing cultural incommensurability and the possibility of a common agenda for transnational feminism.
This article raises the question of ‘normality’ today and the fracturing of health ideals along new lines of enablement and function. In particular the study asks if ‘functional’ and ‘dysfunctional’ are displacing ‘normal’ and ‘pathological’ as master biopolitical binarisms, and if so, what distinctions can be drawn between them. The discourse of ‘function’ and ‘dysfunction’ is certainly ubiquitous in two areas of research and practice: gerontology and sexology. In the former case ‘functional health’ is linked to successful aging represented by (...) technical tests around activities of daily living (ADLs) and risk-assessment profiles. In the latter case, sexual function and dysfunction have become all-encompassing markers of heterosexual competence, now largely detached from reproductive imperatives, but refashioned as integral to responsible and successful self-management. Presenting examples from both cases, the article concludes that functionality, circulating under the signs of ‘normal’, ‘natural’ and ‘healthy’, furnishes economic, technological, educational, professional, pharmacological and policy fields with a rich intellectual, practical and regulatory resource. (shrink)
This article proposes an analysis of the social process of unsilencing in the specific context of heterosexual relationships. Unsilencing is the process in which an individual woman becomes empowered to the extent of voicing what is silenced by structural hierarchies that shape her experiences of the heterosexual relationships she is involved in. I connect the process of unsilencing to the sociological notion of “negotiated order” and a feminist notion of the self as fragmented and continually changing. Unsilencing is conceived as (...) a response to power operating on three levels: emotional connection that empowers a contesting meaning structure; a process of distancing that empowers the individual in overcoming positioning processes; and an increased sense of authenticity in relation to the set of emotional management, language and beliefs embedded in the contesting meaning structure. (shrink)
Drawing on several feminist and anti-racist theorists, 1 use the trope of the vampire to unravel how whiteness, maleness, and heterosexuality feed on the same set of disavowals—of the body, of the Other, of fluidity, of dependency itself. I then turn tojewelle Gomez's The Gilda Stories for a counternarrative that, along with Donna Harauiay's reading of vampires, retools concepts of kinship and self that undergird racism, sexism, and heterosexism in contemporary U.S. culture.
Reprinted in German translation as "Lesbische Perspektiven in bezug auf Women's Studies" in Renate Duelli-Klein, Maresi Nerad & Sigrid Metz-Göckel (eds.), Feministische Wissenschaft und Frauenstudium. Hamburg, Germany: Arbeitsgemeinschaft Hochschuldidaktik. pp. 303-310. (1982).
In this address, I outline my “Exotic-Becomes-Erotic" theory of sexual orientation (Bem, 1996) , which provides the same basic account for both opposite-sex and same-sex erotic desire—and for both men and women. It proposes that biological variables do not code for sexual orientation per se but for childhood temperaments that influence a child’s preferences for sextypical or sex-atypical activities. These preferences lead children to feel different from opposite-sex or same-sex peers—to perceive them as “exotic.” This, in turn, produces heightened physiological (...) arousal that subsequently gets eroticized to that same class of peers: Exotic becomes erotic. The theory claims to accommodate both the empirical evidence of the biological essentialists and the cultural relativism of the social constructionists. I also discuss sex differences in sexual orientation and the political implications of trying to explain homosexuality. (shrink)