Day Six: February 7


THE CONCEPT: Sex, gender and desire/sexuality are linked and ordered through a logic of naturalized heterosexuality that we are compelled to follow in order to be recognized as normal.

note for writing about this concept: See assignment here

  • Explain this concept in your own words (200 or less)
  • List and properly cite 2 texts that discuss this concept. Briefly describe (with quotations/examples from the text) how your 2 texts support your explanation of the concept. 
  • Provide example (media, your experiences, other readings) that illustrates concept.

An overview of section one (SYSTEMS): In this first main section of the course, we will closely examine this logic and its implications for the "politics of sex." This examination will include discussions of how this logic is used to shape and regulate what appears to be "normal" and natural (2.9), how the normal becomes (hetero)normative through rituals and repeated practices, like those for/on Valentine's Day (2.14), and how our meanings of the "normal" are predicated on the oppressing of certain experiences, identities, bodies and the privileging of others (2.16). The purpose of this section is to introduce you to this overarching logic and provide you with one tool for making sense of our understandings and experiences of sex, gender and desire.

Section Reading Schedule:

feb 7 Sex/Gender/Desire 

  • Butler, Judith. Excerpt from Gender Trouble 
  • Pascoe, C.J. "Becoming Mr. Cougar: Institutionalizing Heterosexuality and Masculinity at River High" 
  • Lorber, Judith. "Beyond the Boundaries: Depolarizing the Categories of Sex, Sexuality and Gender"
feb 9 Normal, Normalization, Normativity  
Film Clips: Toilet Training 
feb 14 Heteronormativity  
feb 16 Privilege and Oppression 

THE CONCEPTSexgender and desire/sexuality are linked and ordered through a logic of naturalized heterosexuality that we are compelled to follow in order to be recognized as normal.

Here is a more detailed version of my notes. 

To aid in our understanding of this concept, let's break it up into four main parts:

1. What are sex, gender and desire/sexuality?
  • Sex and bodies
  • Gender and cultural/social practices
  • Desire/sexuality as what is erotic/pleasures/desiring practices
2. What is the logic that links and organizes them?
Heterosexual matrix/hegemony/imaginary

Sex (bodies)    Gender (rules/roles/social practices)    Desire
male Man desires Women
female Woman desires Men

Bodies labeled as male at birth/prior to birth grow up to be Men who desire Women
Bodies labeled as female at birth/prior to birth grow up to be Women who desire Men
Only bodies and practices of gender and desire that follow this logic are recognized as normal.

some examples: Can you think of examples of this logic/framework? How does heterosexuality shape the experiences of the students in Straightlaced or in "Becoming Mr. Cougar"? What about in your "what's sex...examples"? What happens to people/bodies that fail to properly follow this logic? 

3. What is meant by "naturalized heterosexuality"?
The appearance of being natural/normal conceals (and leaves uninterrogated) the heterosexualizing process that orders and regulates bodies, experiences and practices. 

Heterosexuality as invisible: How does the process work? What are the effects of this process? How are these processes shaped through specific gendered and racialized norms and expectations? For example, according to Pascoe, how do masculinity and femininity shape the heterosexualizing process differently (in classroom spaces, when discussing safe sex and condoms, for example)? What about black masculinity? 

Explain: "Heterosexuality depends upon and produces gendered identities, meanings and practices" (28). Example: Sarah Lindstrom and Desiree Shelton, Champlin High School, and the Snow Days Pep Fest. How is heterosexuality functioning in this example? 

See link for transcript of video. 

4. How/why are we compelled to follow this logic?
  • How and why are bodies and gender/sexual practices shaped, regulated, policed?
  • Where does this policing come from?
  • What are the consequences of not following the logic?
  • particular racialized and gendered processes of heterosexualizing
Policing of sex/gender/desire at school dances. Who decides what counts as too sexual? As inappropriate? Check out the recent controversy about "grinding" in Rochester, MN at school dances. Here's a statement about the official policy. 

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