Heteronormativity #1


Uploaded by OrdinaryAnthropology on 19.04.2011

Transcript:
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\f0\fs24 \cf0 Hi and welcome to the Anthropology of the Ordinary. Today I am going to talking
about heteronormativity. Now, to begin with, normative is a 50-cent word that means pertaining
to norms. We could talk about normative child rearing practices, normative food traditions,
normative gender roles and, in any case, we are talking about what people in a particular
society would see as typical or normal or natural. Heteronormativity, then, is the series
of ideas and practices that position heterosexuality as normal and natural and, consequently everything
that is not heterosexuality as abnormal and unnatural, particularly in this case, homosexuality.
In looking at the origins and maintenance of heteronormativity, we could look at a number
of different institutions. The church and the field of psychiatry as well as related
mental health professionals have both been both responsible for shaping attitudes about
human sexuality and human sexual behavior. It is important to remember that heteronormativity
is not a characteristic of all cultures. There are many societies where a wide variety of
sexual behaviors or attractions are seen as typical or normal or expected among members
of the population.\ \
The challenge of things that are seen as normative is that they are taken for granted. We don't
spend a lot of times asking about the origins of things that are taken to be the norm. We
spend a lot more time asking about what the origin of disease than what the origin of
good health is. In the same sense, you are more likely to hear someone ask "Well, why
are some people are gay?" rather than asking "Well, why are some people straight?" The
presumption that everyone is naturally heterosexual is also the basis for a related concept that
many people are more familiar with: heterosexism. Heterosexism is the privileging of heterosexual
people over homosexual people. This incorporates both the beliefs and behaviors of individuals
and also the practices of institutions such as governments and religious bodies. Heteronormativity
is an important starting point when looking at such things as reparative therapy. Repartive
therapy is one of the names given to a variety of techniques that are designed to change
the sexual orientation of people with same sex attraction. Now clearly, this is predicated
on heteronormative viewpoints: that people are naturally and normally heterosexual and
that if they are homosexual something went wrong somewhere along the line went wrong.
Reparative Therapy only makes sense within a heteronormative framework, because if we
are going to see homosexuality as being part of the normal and natural variation of human
sexuality why would we offer therapy to correct it? Thank you for joining me on Anthropology
of the Ordinary. Hopefully this lecture provided some insight into heteronormativity and how
it might be useful in understanding the status of gays and lesbians in our society. If you
have any comments, please leave them below and I will see you again soon.\
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