Sexuality and Gender





Sexuality and Gender


Heteronormativity is one of the ideologies that bind the conventional and modern societies with respect to gender and sexuality. The institutionalization of this concept has resulted in esteemed social values and principles that equate heterosexuality to the ideal lifestyle that is the ultimate source of happiness in the social contexts. Subsequently, the queer theory criticizes this supposition by claiming that a single idealized lifestyle should not disregard the existence of dissimilar personal preferences with reference to sexual identities (Ingraham 72). It also incorporates biological elements that provide a scientific perspective to this debate. Accordingly, heteronormativity and the queer theory have conflicting yet valid arguments aimed at ending the social conflict between various sexuality cultures in the modern community.


Heteronormativity refers to the lifestyle norms promoted in the conventional society with reference to one’s sexual orientation. These informal rules portray heterosexuality as the ideal and only acceptable sexual identity with the roles of both genders being distinct and complementary (Solebello and Sinikka 294). This terminology is one of the major concepts of the queer theory substantiated by various theorists. Compulsory heterosexuality comprise of various expectations and restrictions especially with respect to the campaign against discrimination based on one’s sexual identity. Furthermore, the institutionalization of this subject matter has resulted in homophobia owing to the idealized version of one’s sexual orientation in a typical community. One of the social settings that have led to the stabilization of heterosexism is the family. This institution guides the physical and psychological growth of an individual since childhood. Based on this reason, the family setting has largely facilitated the reproduction of heteronormativity in other social settings and the subsequent increase in homophobia and bigotry directed towards non-heterosexuals (Ingraham 49).

            One of the major aspects that promote heterosexism from a family perspective is the concepts embedded in early childhood education. As parents discuss with their children on their sexual identity and gender roles, they hardly talk about the possibility of other sexual orientations especially in the modern society. A large portion of parents who adhere to conventional societal norms regard homosexuality and transgender as concepts that disregard moral values and the essence of the family unit (Queen, Kathleen and Nisha 92). Such ideologies are evident in the argument highlighted by Selebello and Elliot in Fathers Talk about Their Teens Children’s Sexuality. These writers illustrate how fathers in heterosexual marriages strive to establish a foundation of heteronormativity in their children’s lives from a tender age (Solebello and Sinikka 295). They embrace the responsibility of molding the sexual identity and gender roles for their sons as expected in the conventional society, which still perceive heterosexuality as the ideal lifestyle. Moreover, they see their daughters as vulnerable beings especially in the modern world. This results in the enforcement of homophobia and heterosexism through the approaches that they term as protective.

            Likewise, parents incorporate the concept of heterosexual marriages in the principles used to nurture the psychological growth of a child, an aspect that equates to heteronormativity. For instance, the guardians encourage their male teenagers to nurture their perceived attraction for members of the opposite sex. In most academic institutions, events such as prom are part of the esteemed romance perceived as universal (Queen, Kathleen and Nisha 90). Accordingly, adolescents have to search for a partner from the opposite sex in order to strengthen the foundation of the adored heterosexual marriage. As emphasized in the social norms, lack of interest in such relationships is a sign of psychological or physical malfunctions.

            The media is also one of the institutions that have facilitated the discrimination of individuals based on their sexual orientation. For example, the film industry produces numerous movies that portray the ideal heterosexual marriage as part of the ultimate source of happiness in a person’s life (Rupp, Verta and Eve 291). One such romantic fairytale is Cinderella Story. This film portrays a romantic affair in high school between a girl and a boy as an admirable event in every teenager’s existence. In addition, other social and mass media platforms including telecast, magazines, and social media sites constantly inform the general populace on celebrities and their relationships. Owing to the intense influence of the media on the lifestyle of the public, individuals find it hard to reveal their non-heterosexual identity (Rupp, Verta and Eve 292). Although modernity has facilitated the acceptance of other forms of sexual orientations in the society, the media and other relevant institutions are still skeptical about the idealism of these non-heterosexual identities. This is evident in the approaches used to scrutinize the lifestyle of such individuals especially those in the glare of publicity.

The organizational setting is also an institution that promotes heteronormativity in the modern world. Since this ideology on sexual identity and gender roles only recognizes the existence of females and males without considering other entities such as transgender, the policies in this institution are discriminative and oppressive (Rupp, Verta and Eve 291). To begin with, the campaigns that have resulted in major reforms in various commercial organizations at the local, national, and global levels aim at including a larger portion of women in influential positions.

This justifies the argument highlighted in the heterosexual imaginary with reference to the concepts of idealism incorporated in this subject matter (Morland and Annabelle 72). Based on the social norms and principles governing this institution, the two universal sexual identities are the females and males. This discriminative approach has resulted in the restriction of occupational growth among members of other sexual orientations or the adoption of tactics aimed at hiding their true sexual identity for the sake of accomplishing their ambitions in various fields of expertise (Rupp, Verta and Eve 290). In addition, homosexuals and transgender experience intense bigotry from their colleagues. Some of the most sensitive organizations in terms of the acceptance of non-heterosexual individuals include government bureaus.

            Similarly, the religious institution still esteems the values and principles promoted in other social contexts. They use conventional philosophies that idealize heterosexuality while condemning other forms of sexual identities (Stein and Plummer 12). This heteronormativity has resulted in a large number of homosexuals and transgender living a double life in order to fit in the normative society. This explains why a large number of people in heterosexual marriages engage in undisclosed sexual affairs with their homosexual partners. Based on these arguments regarding the institutionalization of heterosexuality and the related notion of heteronormativity, it is evident that various institutions in the societal context are responsible for the promotion of these discriminative and oppressive ideologies (Ritchie and Barker 601).

Queer Theory

The queer theory is the foundation of heteronormativity and other embedded notions. This theory comprises of critical analysis within the fields of feminism and the marginalized social groups of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender (LGBT). Based on the evaluations of feminism, the philosophers and supporters of this supposition argue that the challenges faced by women in various social contexts are in line with the essential elements of gender (Morland and Annabelle 51). In addition, the studies of LGBT issues aim at substantiating the social structure of sexual activities and identities. Unlike other ideologies that analyze the natural and perverted behaviors related to homosexuality and other sexual orientations, the queer theory puts emphasis on the differences between deviant and normative categories of sexual activities (Morland and Annabelle 48). Accordingly, this supposition is effective in challenging the notion of heteronormativity and the idealized lifestyle.

            One of the basic concepts of the queer theory is the radical subversion. This ideology highlights the misrepresented elements of heteronormativity. It entails the evaluation of the normalized gender roles as a way of comparing the existing social values to the natural aspects defining one’s sexual identity (Morland and Annabelle 75). This post-structural framework emphasizes that the natural categorization of gender roles uses a similar concept to the personalization of one’s sexuality. For example, the major role of a female involves nurturing her family. Similarly, one’s sexual preference is a personal affair that occurs naturally. This ideology has been effective in encouraging a large number of people to publicize their sexual identity without fear of condemnation (Frank 440). Philosophers of the queer theory indicate that idealization of a particular sexual orientation is unjustifiable owing to the personal nature of one’s sexuality.

            For example, the significant number of members of the LGBT community in arty fields such as the film industry and compilation of fictional works relates to the notions within the queer theory. This supposition acknowledges the essence of language elements in the stabilization of the homosexual, bisexual, and transgender sexual cultures (Frank 441). These writers use their skills to emphasize on the existence and naturalism of various sexual orientations.

The non-heterosexual studies also integrate biological concepts as a way of justifying the existence of homosexuals, bisexuals, and transgender in the society. These theorists argue that the interactions between the X and Y-chromosomes make it invalid to use genotypes as a means of classifying individuals into two distinct sexual categories (Morland and Annabelle 84). This biological notion embedded in the queer theory has been vital in the stabilization of the non-heterosexual cultures in the modern society with increased efforts aimed at suppressing heteronormativity. Moreover, supporters of this supposition aim at disregarding the social ideology linking homosexuality, bisexuality, and transgender to the increase in HIV/AIDS occurrences (Ritchie and Barker 600). Enlightening the general population on the misrepresentation of the AIDS crisis by esteeming heterosexuality is still one of the challenges faced by its adherents in their efforts to nurture the modern non-heterosexual cultures. These supporters emphasize that all sexual identities are major contributors to the AIDS menace.


Queer theory and heteronormativity are two vital notions that highlight different arguments regarding one’s sexuality and gender. On one hand, heteronormativity emphasizes that an ideal society comprises of two distinct genders with complementary roles in order to develop the community. Its institutionalization is responsible for the discriminative social values and policies that define the lifestyle of all individuals using similar suppositions. Some of the institutions that have strengthened the heteronormativity notion include the media, family unit, religious convictions, and commercial organizations. In contrast, the queer theory uses a modern approach to challenge the idealized heterosexual lifestyle and the integrated elements of homophobia and heterosexism. Its arguments include artistic contributions and biological manifestations as part of its comprehensive scrutiny and justification of naturalism in sexual identities.   

Works Cited:

Frank, Katherine. “`not Gay, but Not Homophobic’: Male Sexuality and Homophobia in the `lifestyle’.” Sexualities. 11.4 (2008): 435-454. Print.

Ingraham, Chrys. Thinking Straight: The Power, the Promise, and the Paradox of Heterosexuality. New York: Routledge, 2005. Print.

Morland, Iain, and Annabelle Willox. Queer Theory. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005. Print.

Queen, Mary, Kathleen Farrell, and Nisha Gupta. Interrupting Heteronormativity. Syracuse, N.Y: Graduate School of Syracuse University, 2005. Print.

Ritchie, A, and M Barker. “There Aren’t Words for What We Do or How We Feel so We Have to Make Them Up’: Constructing Polyamorous Languages in a Culture of Compulsory Monogamy.” Sexualities London. 9.5 (2006): 584-601. Print.

Rupp, Leila, Verta Taylor, and Eve Shapiro. “Drag Queens and Drag Kings: the Difference Gender Makes.” Sexualities. 13.3 (2010): 275-294. Print.

Solebello, Nicholas, and Sinikka Elliott. “”we want them to be as heterosexual as Possible”: Fathers Talk about Their Teen Children’s Sexuality.” Gender & Society. 25.3 (2011): 293-315. Print.

Stein, A, and K Plummer. “”I Can’t Even Think Straight”: Queer Theory and the Missing Sexual Revolution in Sociology.” Sociological Theory. 12.2 (1994): 178. Print.

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