Heteronormativity

Heteronormativity is a term that is very common in women and gender studies and has been a common key word that has been coming up in our discussion in class. The definition of heteronormativity can best be described as the normative life style that people fall into in regard to gender roles and roles within society. It is an important keyword to recognize and be aware of because throughout the readings we are constantly dissecting and breaking down the concept of heteronormativity.

In the article, “All That Glitters” by Clare Sears, Sears discusses the cross-gender practices that happened during the gold rush migration. Sears says, “ I explore how some of the cross-gender practices did not pose a challenge to normative gender boundaries but somewhat paradoxically participated in producing heteronormative , white “American” masculinity”. (Sears 384).  In this context heteronormative is important to recognize as reinforcing the idea of white masculinity when something out of the norm is being done. During the gold rush, white men were having dances and some of them were cross-dressing as women.  The men who cross-dressed were trying to uphold white heteronormative practices by cross dressing and leaving people of color out of the equation. By white men cross dressing it made way for white masculinity to be held up and the men saw nothing wrong with the non-normative practices during the dances. It’s important to recognize heteronormativity in this way because even in scenarios that aren’t normative somehow heteronormativity is being held up.

The way heteronormativity operates is a very western concept. When reading “The Borders between Bakla and Gay” by Martin M.Manalansan, discusses what it means to Bakla, a man who has a female heart and may be gay. . Manalansan says, “I am arguing that gay identity and the cultural practices around it heighten anxiety around family and kin, and this anxiety in turn is enhanced if not further validated by mainstream American cultural values around individualism and commitment.” ( Manalansan 23). In this context we see Bakla as something that isn’t heteronormative in the western system but brakes away and creates another identity that is accepted in the Philippines. It is important to recognize ideas and concepts like Bakla and Tomboy that challenge heteronormative ideas of gender and sexuality. In this heteronormative western idea concepts like Bakla debunk that the norms are the same on a transnational scale.

As a women and gender studies major I have been plagued by this concept of heteronormativity. It is vital to deconstruct this concept because it oppresses those who don’t fit into the normative class,race,gender, or sexuality category. In this class I feel like it will come up often because it contributes to the ways the people who are transgender can move throughout spaces in the United States. It also gives us an interesting way to examine the ways gender is viewed in other countries in the United States and how heteronormativity isn’t the norm in every place. I like how in this class we have been able to look at transgender on a transnational scale and see how it varies from place to places and how gender and sexuality are different all over the world.

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