heteronormative love



from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Of or pertaining to the practices and institutions that legitimize and privilege heterosexuality, heterosexual relationships, and traditional gender roles as fundamental and "natural" within society.


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

hetero- +‎ normative



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  • Heteronormative. This pertains to heterosexuality as in -- males who like females and females who like males. It relates to sexuality in the same way as above. It relates to the genre of fiction I write as Valentine Bonnaire. I follow a line of writers in this genre -- Literary Erotica -- which is not smut and not pornography. xxoo!

    February 16, 2013

  • Heteronormativity refers to the state of expectations regarding social performance that anticipates that individuals will behave in ways that cleanly corresponds to contemporary understandings of masculinity and femininity. Heteronormativity supports the notion that heterosexual orientations are the most appropriate and that men and women will relate in ways that reflect this and also reflect a binary understanding of gender. Wikipedia is currently the only reference source I have found that contains an adequate definition of this term, and I'd love for you -- or us -- to be on the same bandwagon!

    June 6, 2009

  • Unless I'm riding, in which case I tend to sport jodhpurs.

    May 5, 2009

  • This is a very interesting and informative conversation. Thanks everyone, for your thoughts. :)

    P.S. I didn't know John wore knickers. *ponders*

    May 5, 2009

  • Oh, I'm sorry, I don't mean to get my kickers in a twist--I hate to be a hater.

    There's nothing wrong with the word per se. It's just that there was a period in the nineties when it was in heavy rotation with a certain type of person, pseudo intellectual kids from the Northeast U.S. who went to a certain set of schools, read (or pretended to have read) a certain set of books, who dressed disturbingly alike, and who repeated certain words and phrases with a knowing glance, like they were occult signifiers to be shared only between initiates. "Heteronormative" was one of those words, and it just left a bad taste in my mouth.

    May 5, 2009

  • I'm with bilby. This one's new to me.

    May 5, 2009

  • I'd never seen the word until 3 minutes ago and can't quite see what all the hate-mail is about. Dare I say moist? Still, I thank our commentators for putting their thoughts down at such length.

    May 5, 2009

  • Usually, when I hear this class of jargon, it's a sure sign that the discussion will turn to more-oppressed-than-thou nitpicking and veer away from meaningful understanding of marginal communities and their issues. Then again, I went to a university with a wretched English department with a serious bone for more-oppressed-than-thou nitpicking, and the academics therein may simply have been fond of abusing such terminology.

    May 4, 2009

  • I've heard too many pseudo-intellectual poseurs use this word to not dislike it--I buy the Valse hypothesis. All apologies to Rick Moody, but it has been ruined by semiotics majors from Brown, wearing clunky glasses and knit scarves and babbling about Derrida and reeking of smug.

    So maybe it's not the word I dislike, but everyone I've ever met who has used it, up until now :-) Rolig, I very much appreciate your measured tone. You are Obama-like (Obamaesque? Obamian?) in your ability to speak dispassionately about topics that are sometimes combative or incendiary.

    And knitandpurl, I agree it's useful to differentiate some of the trappings this word has acquired (pretention, smugness), from its original meaning, which certainly describes a real phenomenon.

    May 4, 2009

  • Like I said, I'm not crazy about this word, because at first glance it seems to mean "different from what is normative" (compare heterodox v. orthodox), but I wouldn't out-and-out attack it, since the social theoreticians who use it understand what it is supposed to mean. The idea it describes is not hard to grasp, since almost all of us encounter it everyday: the assumption that the heterosexual model of society is properly privileged (if not the only acceptable model).

    May 4, 2009

  • Thanks for saying what I'd been thinking, rolig :)

    Maybe the word does get too much traffic in contexts where it's not appropriate--say, in casual speech by people who wanna look smart using fancy-shmancy words--but I've only ever seen it used in sociology papers. I may have felt like the word sums up my general frustration with the implicit norms in mainstream cinema and TV or in political discourse or whatever, but I wouldn't use it except in some specific academic discourse.

    May 4, 2009

  • I like the word, and I do use it. Hallo too, rolig!

    May 4, 2009

  • This is a useful term for theoreticians, and there is no reason to disdain it, any more than one would disdain specialized nautical terminology. It's curious the way people seem to admire the specialist jargon from certain fields (military, medical, astrophysical), but get upset when they hear words that convey nuanced notions from the humanities and social sciences (social theory, literary criticism, aesthetics, anthropology, etc.), perhaps from a kind of anti-intellectual populism. The scholars in these fields study ordinary things, like family structure, social prejudices, the workings of the imagination, and while it is true that everyone deals with such things, and hence in a way are also experts on them from a practical perspective, very few people think about these things with any depth or rigor. Those who make it their business to understand the workings of such phenomena do need to develop special terms. I would be the first to agree that these special terms can get out of hand, turning into abstractions that seem to lose all connection with the reality they seek to describe, but in many cases they are useful. I prefer simple, understandable words, but as K&P points out, words like heteronormative are a succinct way to express a fairly complex concept.

    I am not a big fan of this word, particularly because here the prefix hetero- means "heterosexual" not "differing" (just as homo- in "homophobia" means "homosexual" not "same"). But within the discipline of cultural theory, this has become an acceptable use. I would, at least in some contexts, prefer the word heterosexualist, but heteronormative has the advantage of sounding neutral, whereas heterosexualist is a more loaded term.

    May 4, 2009

  • I can see how the academic righteousness can be annoying -- it's like any buzzword, like saying "weltaunschauung" instead of "worldview" just to be pretentious. But the concept of "please don't assume everyone is straight, and please don't assume everyone believes in a binary system of gender, and please don't ignore my identity/relationships just 'cause they're not like yours" seems a useful one.

    May 3, 2009

  • Nice job unpacking that, MM :-)

    Seriously though, I agree. It's a loathsome word and my new least favorite.

    May 2, 2009

  • I don't even know what it designates; it's so fumbled up in its self-referential, decadent academic righteousness. I hate the tone and atmosphere of it.

    May 2, 2009

  • The word? Or the concept that it designates?

    April 12, 2009

  • one of the despicable words in the English language

    April 11, 2009

  • This word was thrown out semi-accusatorily at me in a late night conversation. I had to ask what it meant.

    Apparantly, in heteronormative thinking there is an assumption of a dichotomy that does not exist.

    March 12, 2009