Sexuality as we know it has always been bipolar in its categories: the masculine and the feminine. People are then placed in these categories according to their anatomy, with pre-set expectations placed on them on how they would act and eventually mature. For example, it is unacceptable for women to smoke cigars, repair cars and wear moustache while men are not supposed to be doing housework, carry purses, wear nail polish and cry in public (Kunkel 283). Yet what we take for granted is our knowledge that sexuality is not bipolar and the practices that seem innocent yet oppressive, limiting and binding on our insights.
For example, if one would look at a greeting card section, one will find that most of the cards are focused mainly on two categories, for mothers, sisters, aunts and grandmothers for the feminine category and fathers, grandfathers, uncles and brothers for the male. The only remotely gender neutral cards were for friends yet even they weren’t entirely neutral since their colors and design corresponds to what is viewed by society as acceptable for what males and females would like, i. e. , cards directed at women receivers tend to receive cards that are pink or pastel colored with a flowery or “cute” design.
Male receivers on the other hand mostly receive blue and other masculine colors with a sporty motif. Most cards dealing with relationships depict heterosexual couples and labels such as husband and wife, girlfriend and boyfriend and such. On the other hand, depictions of homosexual couples are virtually invisible; a few cards brandishing love quotes are the only ones who are gender neutral. If a homosexual wishes to buy a card for his/her partner, his /her only option is to focus on the love section and a few of the romance.
He/she would have to take care to choose the depictions on the cards as well. The reason for the invisibility of the other forms of sexuality is due to the fact that society views heterosexuality as the norm and homosexuality is deviant (Cruz 1012). Homosexuality is viewed as biologically abnormal, pathological, and anti-nature since its very principle clashes with the idea of pro-creation. Society has created labels and borders to prevent the homosexuals from being visible. One example is the categories of relationships with heterosexual anniversaries, marriages and such.
In a marriage, there is a label of “husband” and “wife”, the male taking the former and the female the latter; same-sex marriages, while still being debated whether it should be legalized or not, possesses no such labels in the relationship. In contrast, the idea heteronormativity has labeled same-sex couples with derogatory names, to mark them as inappropriate behavior and be categorized as sexually deviant. (Kunkel 289). In effect, people tend to reject and persecute them, giving the deviants neither room nor niche to challenge the status quo.
In one hour of television, commercials always show images of heterosexual couples in their respective niches in the crowd. Although homosexuals are portrayed in reality shows, there is no hint of their relationships with the other characters on screen. If there is a hint, it is usually downplayed and censored. Heterosexual couples however, are celebrated and objectified. There is virtually no same-sex couple that is depicted even if the media is one of the most influential driving forces in forwarding awareness of these same-sex couples.
It is interesting to note that even if people are claiming that they are tolerant and accept same-sex couples, same-sex couples are still “invisible”. Heteronormativity is driven by gender roles that are imposed by society’s bipolar expectations. Its pervasiveness can be attributed to the fact that since a community is held together by unwritten laws such as norms and taboos, it is safe to assume that society is threatened by these sexually deviant individuals thus heteronormativity is more pronounced and enforced.
Heterosexism, in a way, is a cord that binds our society together, yet in return it sets boundaries and insists that it is the norm. Heteronormativity itself does not empower heterosexuals and robs the power from same sex individuals; rather, it limits both parties and disempower them since they are stuck in their labels and categories, with no room to maneuver about. People believe that it is so since other forms of sexuality are invisible and are conditioned to think in the bipolar manner.
Heteronormativity is everywhere since society has its own set rules and status quo that is hard to neither displace nor challenge and heteronormativity has been present ever since the formation of such communities. WORKS CITED Cruz, David B. “Disestablishing Sex and Gender. ” California Law Review Vol. 90 (2002): 997-1086 Kunkel, Charlotte A. and Nielson, Joyce McCarl and Walden, Glenda. “Gendered Heteronormativity: Empirical Illustrations in Everyday Life. ” The Sociological Quarterly. Vol. 41 (2000): 283-296