The most common definition of heterosexuality is that of a sexual identity of somebody who is sexually attracted to the opposite sex. According to Richardson, [Heterosexuality] is constructed as a coherent, natural, fixed and stable category; as universal and monolithic. But what does natural mean? I think that in order to answer this question properly, we should start by examining the different meanings of the word natural. First, we will see how heterosexuality could be seen as natural, in the sense of normal, that is, in accordance with nature, neither determined socially, nor economically, nor technically, nor religiously etc.: heterosexuality being a good thing (heteronormativity). Secondly, we will see to what extent the adjective natural can be defined in opposition to culture, which is something acquired, artificial and sociologically constructed. Thirdly, we will have a look at mid 1970s feminist writings and how they tried, each in their own way, to challenge heterosexuality, because they perceived it as a compulsory institution. Finally, we will examine the impact of Queer Theory on the question of the natural' status of heterosexuality and look at how it puts the very notion of sexual identity into question.
[...] For Plato, “homosexual men couples” are more intimately bonded together than any heterosexual couple, because their is not a mortal one: they engender ideas. However, there might be another way of challenging compulsory heterosexuality. For Judith Butler, sexual identity is beyond the question of gender and as she points out in Gender Trouble, gender does not automatically follow from sex, there is no reason to believe that there are inevitably only two genders.” In her most influential book Gender Trouble (1990), Butler argued that feminism had made a mistake by trying to assert that 'women' were a group with common characteristics and interests. [...]
[...] Furthermore, other supporters of heteronormativity argue that heterosexuality is ‘natural' because only heterosexual relations allow procreation. This view limits sexuality to the biological need to reproduce. However, biological factors are not sufficient to determine the sexual behaviour of the human body because from birth, he/she is influenced by outside factors and although heterosexual intercourse enables procreation, and although people claim that sex exists only for reproductive purposes, heterosexuality should also be seen as socially constructed, either by monotheist religions in order to produce more believers or by governments to maintain the economy via the creation of consumers, tax payers etc. [...]
[...] Butler's approach (inspired in part by Foucault) is basically to smash the supposed links between these, so that gender and desire are flexible, free-floating and not 'caused' by other stable factors. This idea of identity as free-floating, as not connected to an 'essence', but instead a performance, is one of the key ideas in queer theory. So, if it is not possible to talk about heterosexuality as a fixed identity, how can it be The arguments that heterosexuality is “natural” ignore [...]
Online readingwith our online reader
Content validatedby our reading committee