heterosexuality


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Wikipedia.

heterosexuality

[¦hed·ə·rō‚sek·shə′wal·əd·ē]
(psychology)
Having sexual feeling toward members of the opposite sex.

heterosexuality

  1. (common usage) the desire for sexual relationships with persons of the ‘other’ or ‘opposite’ sex.
  2. (sociological usage) the privileged and dominant expression of sexuality in most known societies, which is often regarded as the ‘natural’ form of human sexual desire. In Western culture, heterosexuality has been normalized and prioritized over all other forms of human sexuality via institutional practices, including the law and social policy. Traditionally, sociologists have tended to take its ‘normality’ for granted, although, recently, sociologists such as MacIntosh have argued that heterosexuality should be regarded as sociologically problematic. Thus sociological theory should be directed at accounting for both the specific forms heterosexuality assumes in different cultures and its prevalence as the norm.
  3. (usage in feminist sociology) a primarily political institution which has served to further the subordination of women to men. Rich (1980) has used the term compulsory hetero sexuality to denote the social practices and prescriptions which ensure the continuance of heterosexuality as the privileged form of sexual orientation. Such practices penalize those who fail to conform, whilst ensuring the inferiorization of those women who abide by the norms. Dworkin (1976) has defined heterosexuality as one of the major means whereby the sexual and social dominance of men over women is legitimated and reinforced. This view of heterosexuality has given rise to the growth of separatism within the feminist movement, and is challenged by those feminists who identify themselves as heterosexual. From this latter perspective, heterosexuality is a sexual preference which does not necessarily reinforce the imbalance of power between women and men.
References in periodicals archive ?
In closing, I wish to offer some suggestions for future research on social welfare policies, with the aim of denaturalizing institutionalized heterosexuality and bringing LGBT communities to the center of research on poverty, families, and state policy.
The Tantrika's heroism, in other words, lies in his courageous refusal to renounce his adult heterosexuality before the mother and her individuality-denying, if sexually blissful and loving, presence.
The importance of the book is that it provides an intervention to dominant sexual discourse by interrupting our historically produced common sense notions about heterosexuality in the professional, political, and personal arena.
A unified, "normal" heterosexuality is exactly the sort of centre whose characteristics and boundaries can only make sense in relation to everything which is not "normal.
However, just as one should acknowledge the privileged status that comes from being white, she is mindful of the privileges of heterosexuality and acknowledges that she does not actually occupy a "queer space [in my] emotional outlook.
Because young children were essentially bisexual, the transition period to heterosexuality was extremely "unstable" and "fluctuating," with many opportunities for bringing about "prolonged homosexuality" [1934] (53) For some writers, then, cross-sex identification was a prelude rather than an obstacle to the development of heterosexuality.
I was seeing evidence in my research that leaving heterosexuality created need for a statement not necessarily linked to sexual acts, and I was ringing hotel after hotel, only to find that none were willing to provide two women with a disabled room with a double bed.
In both instances, an immersion in the clandestine world of heterosexuality serves as prelude to marriage--in Fauset's case to someone who would make her "demurely miserable" for the rest of her life, in Angela's, to someone who would--well, who knows, really?
Reading the novel through the lens of Adrienne Rich's essay, "Compulsory Heterosexuality and the Lesbian Continuum," provides a clearer view of the ways in which patriarchal social structures such as South American chattel s lavery and phallocentrism impact the lives of women.
From Foucault onward, scholars of sexuality have had to reckon with the fact that homosexuality and heterosexuality entered history and discourse together, and in that moment near the end of the nineteenth century "queer" acquired a sexual valence it had lacked in nearly four hundred years of usage.
Adams' study exemplifies the research Jonathan Katz called for in his pioneering work, The Invention of Heterosexuality (1995); that is, to examine not only categories culturally marked as problematically sexual-- all women as well as lesbians and gays -- but also the unmarked ones -- men and heterosexuals, thereby de-centring and exposing the normative status of the latter.
Nothing could better describe Adam's view of "normal" in English Canada as she illuminates the constricting boundaries of heterosexuality which emerged in the early 1950s.