Jonathan Ned Katz's The Invention Of Heterosexuality

1489 Words 6 Pages
In the current state of our society, as well as in much of human history, an individual’s gender and sexuality, in addition to their expression thereof, determine much of their social standing. Men and women face vastly different realities, as do cisgender and transgender people, and heterosexual and non-heterosexual people (to whom I will hereto refer as queer individuals, as a reclamation of the slur). Exactly how separate are gender and sexuality, though, and how do they correlate? While carried by each of these facets of identity are much different implications for one’s life, gender and sexuality in all their forms are deeply intertwined. The separate groups of people who break the cisgender, heterosexual norm are even combined in one …show more content…
Just as with gender, sexuality involves a set of norms and roles which do not act independently of gender. The norms of heterosexuality were predicated in the Victorian era, then stating that sexuality ought to be a means of procreation and nothing further for both men and women. Of course, these have evolved over time and now have transformed into entirely separate experiences of sexuality for men versus women. Men are largely encouraged to freely express their heterosexuality and often in aggressive means, whereas women’s heterosexuality revolves centrally around anticipating the sexual advances of men in order to become desirable objects (Katz, 1990/2010). These separate norms of heterosexuality contribute significantly to the media portrayal of women as men’s sex objects first and foremost, which in turn perpetuates restrictive gender roles for women in all forms of media (Loreck, 2016; Callero, …show more content…
For instance, queer men and women are not pressured by the same sorts of roles as their heterosexual counterparts. While straight men are encouraged to be the active party in pursuing a significant other (i.e. the one who is to initiate), gay men are not given a clear role here. Much of this is due to homophobia and heteronormativity, which usher LGBT+ people to stay closeted and keep any relationships out of the public eye, or even to internalize the widespread homophobia and deny their own sexuality. Additionally, the traditionally enforced heteronormative roles for men versus women persist beneath the surface in queer individuals, which can complicate the narrative of their relationships (Katz, 1990/2010). Part of the way heteronormativity complicates other sexualities is by enforcing their taboo status, such as how queer people, especially the questioning youth, are told that their sexuality is impermanent – “just a phase” – because it is not the norm. Further, the way in which relationships are portrayed in media is vastly different when considering gay versus straight relationships for protagonists of the same gender. With a male protagonist, as is most commonplace in television and film, heterosexual love stories are almost always shown in a relatable, empathetic fashion; meanwhile, homosexual love stories (on the occasions when they do exist in media) are more

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