June 6, 2008
A lesson in heteronormativity
from CNN.com (not to mention a slew of radio talk shows!):
Lesbian kisses at game ignite Seattle debate
The usher, Guerrero said, told them he had received a complaint from a woman nearby who said that there were kids in the crowd of nearly 36,000 and that parents would have to explain why two women were kissing […] The code of conduct — announced before each game — specifically mentions public displays of affection that are “not appropriate in a public, family setting.” Hale said those standards are based on what a “reasonable person” would find inappropriate […] “I would be uncomfortable” seeing public displays of affection between lesbians or gay men, said Jim Ridneour, a 54-year-old taxi driver. “I don’t think it’s right seeing women kissing in public. If I had my family there, I’d have to explain what’s going on.”
This is the very definition of heteronormativity. This is the kind of thing Queer Nation used its performances/demonstrations to point out. This kind of thing is not just a double standard but it’s evidence that “acceptance” of queer people does not mean social equality and does not mean that we have by any means had any sort of self-reflexive pondering of what sexuality means and about assumptions about sex, gender, and sexuality.
Why do we have to “explain” queer sexuality? Shouldn’t we need to “explain” any sexuality? Is it really time to pull out the Heterosexual Questionnaire to point out the lunacy of Jim Ridneour’s statement?
1. What do you think caused your heterosexuality?
2. When and how did you first decide you were a heterosexual?
3. Is it possible your heterosexuality is just a phase you may grow out of?
7. Why do heterosexuals feel compelled to seduce others into their lifestyle?
8. Why do you insist on flaunting your heterosexuality? Can’t you just be what you are and keep it quiet?
12. Why do heterosexuals place so much emphasis on sex?
The absolute invisibility of queer individuals in popular culture except as a niche market, or the ‘gay’ friend, or the coming of age sexual ambiguity, or the stereotype (butch/femme, ‘queens’)–all which lead to a kind of erasure of all sorts of queer people–is part of what feeds this. I have been noticing lately how sex or desirability is everywhere in advertising (of course it has been predominate for a while, but now, I don’t know if I’m just watching more cable TV or what), and it’s always put in terms of heterosexual desire/coupling/attraction. It’s as if queer people don’t exist, don’t buy products, or only watch Logo!
And addressing number 12 on the Het Questionnaire, I can’t help but mention this recent bit of news that irked me big-time. One Xbox online gamer had his gamertag “TheGayerGamer” revoked. From Lesbian Gamers:
When TheGayerGamer got a ban it was fair according to MS spokesman Stephen Toulouse because “Gamertags are visible to everyone and it would be hard for me to defend to a parent of a young child who saw it that the name did not contain content of a sexual nature.”
Microsoft saw the word “gay” to be “of a sexual nature.” Apparently, however, The StraightGamer, is not of a sexual nature, because the tag was tried and accepted.
In a heteronormative culture, queers are first about sex, queer affection is sexual and not “family friendly,” queer sexuality is not part of “talking about” sexuality with your kids, and heterosexuality goes without saying.
And I couldn’t leave this post without throwing out my favorite heteronormative-induced double-standard:
Lesbians kissing at a game out of affection? Deviant! Offensive! Threatening!
Two women kissing in a bar, ‘performing’ lesbian sexuality for an audience? Hot! Sexy! Desirable!
(close runner up: bisexuality is ‘hot’ for women (increases appeal!), not so acceptable for men.)
(cross-posted to The Reaction)