What Is Heteronormativity?


Quick Answer

Heteronormativity is the consensus that heterosexuality is normal and same-sex relationships are abnormal. Proponents of the theory believe in specific gender roles of male or female and that sex is appropriate only between opposite-sex couples. Heteronormativity is biased against lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender or intersex identity and is associated with homophobia.

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Full Answer

Heteronormativity sets up a sex hierarchy in which good sex is equated with monogamous, reproductive intercourse between a man and a woman, and bad sex is equated with all other sex acts. This standard enforces stereotypes and can encourage people to value heterosexual relationships while devaluing homosexual relationships. It may also be partially responsible for the view that gays participate in activities considered sexually deviant, such as having sex in public, even though some straight people participate in the same activities.

Heteronormativity is considered a cultural bias and can be expressed in varied ways, including religious bias against homosexuals and discriminatory laws that target same-sex couples. Other examples of heteronormativity include same-sex couples being underrepresented in advertisements and entertainment and anti-gay hiring practices in the workplace. Heteronormativity critics say the belief system stigmatizes and marginalizes sexuality that is thought to be deviant, and it makes self-expression difficult for anyone considered abnormal.

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