Money, Sex and Power 2011-12. Term 2. Week 13 Discourses of heterosexuality. Outline. Introduction Heterosexuality as the cornerstone of patriarchy Deconstructing heterosexuality --heterosexuality as lifestyle --heterosexuality as identity --heterosexuality as discourse
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Term 2. Week 13
Discourses of heterosexuality
--heterosexuality as lifestyle
--heterosexuality as identity
--heterosexuality as discourse
--heterosexuality as sexual practice
Two analytical/ political perspectives on heterosexuality–
As Stevi Jackson and Sue Scott say in their new book, Theorizing Heterosexuality (2010) ‘institutionalized heterosexuality’ is ‘implicated both in the perpetuation of gender hierarchy and in the marginalisation of alternative sexualities’ (p.75)
In this module we will take these aspects of heterosexuality in turn.
1) This week– feminist critique, concentrating on
heterosexuality as a gender relation, a power relation between men and women. Look at heterosexuality through the lens of gender.
2) Week 19- Marginalisation of alternative sexualities, and a theoretical framework which has evolved to understand this. Queer Theory— problematises the foundational categories of second wave feminism. In particular it sees gender not as the lens through which to examine social or sexual life, but rather as something which is itself produced through -- necessitated by- heterosexuality.
‘Sexuality is to feminism what work is to Marxism: that which is most one's own, yet most taken away.’ C. McKinnon ‘Feminism, Marxism, Method and the State’ Signs, 1982, 7 (3): 2.
'constraints and assumptions that, historically, have enforced or ensured the coupling of women with men and obstructed or penalized our coupling or allying in independent groups with other women. 216
‘of course there are differences in the qualitative experience of individual women in relation to men, but this depends on chance or luck; women lack the collective power to determine the meaning and place of sexuality in their lives’. (237)
Both of these see heterosexuality as organising social life, not just sexual relations.
How far are these separable in practice? Can one aspect change without change in the others?
Is it difficult/ problematic to identity as ‘a heterosexual’? Why?
Should we recognise the existence of multiple ‘heterosexualities’?
Can we identify discourses that construct different heterosexualities/ heterosexual selves?
1) male sex drive discourse
‘When a bloke gets turned on, it takes a while to calm down again doesn’t it?...where with a woman it takes a lot longer…They can stop, but they have to be told to stop…(quote from teenaged girl, Holland, et al. The Male in the Head.
2) to have-and-to-hold discourse choices?
3) permissive discourse
Women are active agents, not puppets of compulsory heterosexuality, and can manipulate these discourses to their advantage (e.g. invest in becoming an attractive object of male desire), act as moral guardians
Hollway argued that women could manipulate these discourses but had not yet constructed an alternative permissive discourse around female sexual pleasure in women’s own terms.
Media ‘postfeminist’ constructions of women’s position within heterosexuality- do they re-circulate these older discourses or develop new ones that really empower women? Who is free to adopt them?