Thursday, June 05, 2008

A lesson in heteronormativity

By LindaBeth

From (not to mention a slew of radio talk shows!):

Lesbian kisses at game ignite Seattle debate

The usher, Guerrero said, told them he had received a complaint from a woman nearby who said that there were kids in the crowd of nearly 36,000 and that parents would have to explain why two women were kissing.


The code of conduct -- announced before each game -- specifically mentions public displays of affection that are "not appropriate in a public, family setting." Hale said those standards are based on what a "reasonable person" would find inappropriate.


"I would be uncomfortable" seeing public displays of affection between lesbians or gay men, said Jim Ridneour, a 54-year-old taxi driver. "I don't think it's right seeing women kissing in public. If I had my family there, I'd have to explain what's going on."

This is the very definition of heteronormativity. This is the kind of thing Queer Nation used its performances/demonstrations to point out. It is not just a double standard but it's evidence that "acceptance" of queer people does not mean social equality and that "acceptance" does not mean that we have by any means had any sort of self-reflexive pondering of what sexuality means and about assumptions about sex, gender, and sexuality.

Why do we have to "explain" queer sexuality? Shouldn't we need to "explain" any sexuality? Is it really time to pull out the Heterosexual Questionnaire to point out the lunacy of Jim Ridneour's statement?

1. What do you think caused your heterosexuality?

2. When and how did you first decide you were a heterosexual?

3. Is it possible your heterosexuality is just a phase you may grow out of?


7. Why do heterosexuals feel compelled to seduce others into their lifestyle?

8. Why do you insist on flaunting your heterosexuality? Can’t you just be what you are and keep it quiet?


12. Why do heterosexuals place so much emphasis on sex?

The absolute invisibility of queer individuals in popular culture except as a niche market, or the 'gay' friend, or the coming of age sexual ambiguity, or the stereotype (butch/femme, 'queens') -- all which lead to a kind of erasure of all sorts of queer people -- is part of what feeds this. I have been noticing lately how sex or desirability is everywhere in advertising (of course it has been predominate for a while, but now, I don't know if I'm just watching more cable TV or what), and it's always put in terms of heterosexual desire/coupling/attraction. It's as if queer people don't exist, don't buy products, or only watch Logo!

And addressing number 12 on the Het Questionnaire, I can't help but mention this recent bit of news that irked me big-time. One Xbox online gamer had his gamertag "TheGayerGamer" revoked. From Lesbian Gamers:

When TheGayerGamer got a ban it was fair according to MS spokesman Stephen Toulouse because "Gamertags are visible to everyone and it would be hard for me to defend to a parent of a young child who saw it that the name did not contain content of a sexual nature."

Microsoft saw the word "gay" to be "of a sexual nature." Apparently, however, The StraightGamer, is not of a sexual nature, because the tag was tried and accepted.

In a heteronormative culture, queers are first about sex, queer affection is sexual and not "family friendly," queer sexuality is not part of "talking about" sexuality with your kids, and heterosexuality goes without saying.

And I couldn't leave this post without throwing out my favorite heteronormative-induced double-standard:

Lesbians kissing at a game out of affection? Deviant! Offensive! Threatening!

Two women kissing in a bar, 'performing' lesbian sexuality for an audience? Hot! Sexy! Desirable!

(Close runner up: bisexuality is "hot" for women (increases appeal!), not so acceptable for men.)

(Cross-posted to
Smart Like Me.)

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  • Sorry, you're dealing with 10,000years of human instinct, nOt American homophobia. You'll just have to get used to the fact that while liberal judges may give you all sorts of "rights," you are the one and only universally mocked group IN THE WORLD, and it will never change. I really don't care what you do - but, please, not in front of me.

    By Blogger QueersOnTheRise, at 7:18 AM  

  • I'm not sure what's larger, TDN, your bigotry or your stupidity.

    It's not "human instinct," it's manufactured fear of the Other. You think because homosexuals are widely "mocked" that it is somehow justified precisely because the mocking is wide (or universal, as you put it, which is simply wrong)? And how will it never change? Has there not been extraordinary progress in the area not just of toleration but of genuine acceptance of difference over the past several decades? You might as well have argued back during the '50s and '60s that segregation was eternal, the way it's always been, the way it always will be. Your little libertarian qualifier at the end doesn't cut it. Why not in front of you? Is it just that whatever you don't like should be kept out of sight? But then why should the rest of us be subjected to, say, what we don't like about you?

    By Blogger Michael J.W. Stickings, at 9:56 AM  

  • I'm not stupid, but I am a bigot. Nevertheless, I find homosexuality, particulalrly among women, to be absolutely unnecessary.

    Amazingly, in Iran, they do not have this "phenomenon."

    By Blogger QueersOnTheRise, at 12:05 PM  

  • I see that you wrongly reduce queer sexual identities and people with queer sex acts. Otherwise, saying homosexuality is "unnecessary" is akin to me saying your love for, your emotional connection with, your support of, your respect for, your mutual (?) pleasure with your partner is "unnecessary." surely you don't mean that?! You mean that you find their sexual activity "unnecessary." Your first problem is that you reduce queer sexual identities to a series of sex acts. Do you see your intimate relationship that way? Unlikely.

    I'll follow your sex act=sexual identity faulty assumption and further assume that lesbian "sex" is "absolutely unnecessary" more than gay male "sex" is because there's no "natural" organ for penetration? (since I can think of no other reason for making such a ludicrous statement). This just demonstrates how much heteronormativity has skewed how you conceive of women's sexuality.

    And this is absolutely beside the point (although it speaks to how heteronormativity affects hetero people's sex lives!): Do I really have to be the one to tell you that vaginal orgasms are very rare, and penetration is absolutely unnecessary for women to orgasm? That women have faked for years before the opening of knowledge about women's sexuality in the 60's because if they didn't they were considered "frigid" but sexual education insisted that penetrative sex was THE defining sex act (well, it's half right: it is for men), and that women continue to fake because as a culture we are so freakin invested in penises? That an awful lot of heterosexual women don't find penetration all that physically pleasurable although there's a huge emotional component to it? If penetrative sex defines heterosexuality or heterosexual relationships, or the sexual pleasure of people in heterosexual relationships, then color me a lesbian.

    And while we're at it, "procreation of the species" entails only a heterosexual sex act or a use of technology to assist in conception--it does not require heterosexuality itself! Therefore, I find heterosexuality absolutely unnecessary.

    Oh, and I love how you assume I'm a lesbian because I care about queer issues and heteronormativity. Just...typical.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:42 PM  

  • Oh, are you also lindabeth? Well, who the hell knows? Thanks, but I already got reeducated at a liberal university in the 1980's. Actually, I think a lot of people, for whatever reason (good, bad, or indifferent) just don't like PDA, be it hetero or homosexual. Hence the cliched phrase: "Get a room!!!!!!!!!" All of that said, gays and lesbians are a TINY minority of the population, although everyone does have at least one gay "cousin." Makes all of us so, ya know, cooooool!

    By Blogger QueersOnTheRise, at 3:06 PM  

  • My blog's on wordpress so my comment login uses my blog name, not my actual name.

    If you don't like PDA, then whatev. But it's not against the law, so deal. But your issue isn't with PDA as you've made abundantly clear. You don't want queer folk to exist "in front of you."

    Just remember how much you hate PDA the next time you give your partner a kiss on the cheek or lips or forehead, hold their hand, cuddle up next to them at the movies, or rub their back in public. these women were doing no more.

    For the record, the ballpark was trying to say this is a sexuality-less rule but as significant footage of heterosexual couples kissing AND making out in the ballpark was able to be produced, there's clearly an uneven application of rules going on. Not to mention that heteronormativity is so pervasive we hardly notice heterosexuals kissing but same-sex persons kissing becomes an outrage! horror! gross!

    In addition to your bigotry, you may also hate PDA. But your objection clearly arises out of the former, not the latter.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:09 PM  

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