Week 6: Wednesday February 12 Sexualities & Queer Politics
§Overall, Heterosexuality and Feminist Theory (CK)
§Ingraham, One is not born a bride: how weddings regulate heterosexuality (CK)
§Lord, The Silencing of Sexuality (CK)
§Cohen, Punks, Bulldaggers, and Welfare Queens (CK)
Quiz Questions to prepare for the Feb. 12 Tutorial (0nly one will be asked):
• According to Ingraham, how are "weddings" an example of "heteronormativity? (Be sure to
explain the concept of "heteronormativity" in your answer.)
• heteronormativity: institutionalized heterosexuality constitutes the standard for legitimate
and expected social and sexual relations.
• Ensuring that the organization of heterosexuality in everything from gender to weddings to
martial status is held up both as a model and as normal
• heteronormativity to naturalize the institution of heterosexuality while rendering real
peoples relationships and commitments irrelevant and illegitimate
• all people are required to situate themselves in relation to marriage or hetereosexuality
including those who regardless of sexual affiliation do not consider themselves single
• one is not born a bride but to imagine oneself outside of this category is to live outside the
boundaries/margins of society — romancing of heterosexuality in the interests of capitalism
• weddings bc synonymous with heterosexuality
• women are taught from childhood that wedding is happiest day of their life
• one leads to comply with social and cultural messages that flow to and through the wedding
• rite of passage for appropriate heterosexual identity and membership
• media shows weddings as associated with normatively of heteronormativity and whiteness
• How does Cohen suggest that "heteronomativity" should be challenged by activists?
create confrontational political formation
• notice historical and current accepted heterosexual relationships
• who has power and who has access
• Heteronormativity: the practices and institutions “that legitimize and privilege
heterosexuality and heterosexual relationships as fundamental and ‘natural’within society”
• “Queer politics ... entails the possibility of change, movement, redefinition, and subversive
performance ...” .
• Anti-normativity: The problem of ‘categories’and single-issue identity politics – “queer
symbolizes ... [a] multisited resistance to systems ... That seek to normalize our sexuality,
exploit our labor, and constrain our visibility.”
• The ideal sexual citizen is heterosexual, but also white, male, able, middle-class: “The roots
of heteronormativity are in white-supremacist ideologies that sought (and continue) to use
the state and its regulation of sexuality . . . to designate which individuals are truly ‘fit’for
the full rights and privileges of citizenship.”
• “How do queer activists understand and relate politically to those whose same-sex sexual
identities position them within the category of queer, but who hold other identities based on class, race and/or gender categories which provide them with membership in and the
resources of dominant institutions and groups?”
• What does Overall mean by "the heterosexual institution" and "the ideology of heterosexism"
and why each is problematic for women?
• heterosexual institution is a systematized set of social standards, customs and expected
practices which regulate and restrict romantic and sexual relationships between person of
different sexes in late 20th century western culture
• doesnt leave an opportunity to create different customs , practices, or explore other types
of relationships as they've been normalized to the point of anything separating from the
norm shall be othered and set to margins of society
• women must conform to normalized ideal and expected standard
• ideology of heterosexism is heterosexual romance, dating and marriage. galling in and out of
• PROBLEM: primary benefit for men—easy sexual gratification, possession of women
• culture reproduced in nature of heterosexuality and positioning women as victims to men
and allowing exploitation of women
• According to Lord, how does the "closet" function in the lives of black lesbians?
• 1 - forced into a closet by white lesbians who focus on their sexual oppression but fail to
recognize how these oppressions and racism operates in the lives of lesbians of colour
• term lesbian without race automatically assumes white
• closet as protective skin from society at large and contributes to multiple oppressions back
• 2 - if black lesbians chose to be with white lesbians they are double act of betrayal: traitor to
black race and preventing its continuity
• 3 - being closeted (not coming out) is hard
Lecture: Sexuality & Queer Politics
• The discourse of modern sexuality is a historical invention: sexuality is socially and
historically constructed, not natural i.e. Our sexual identity and roles are shaped by our
histories and cultures and therefore change over time and place.
• Sexuality as Discursive Effect: We experience our bodies simultaneously as material and
discursive: the physical body is shaped and constrained by social and historical factors and can
only be made intelligible by means of available discourses of the body.
• Discourses about sexuality regulate bodies (through discipline and punishment).
• 19th century —notion of natural / innate sexuality
• it is actually a social construct
• Overall : ‘Why is there so much insistence ... That all women be heterosexual and learn
to be heterosexual, if that is what we are all naturally inclined to be anyway