Language and Sexuality

By Deborah Cameron; Don Kulick | Go to book overview

Chapter 3
What has gender got to do with sex? Language,
heterosexuality and heteronormativity

In her essay 'Compulsory heterosexuality and lesbian existence' (1980), Adrienne Rich pointed out that heterosexuality and lesbianism are not just 'different but equal' choices women can make; one of them – heterosexuality – is 'compulsory', the other – lesbianism – forbidden. 'Normal' development for women is equated with movement through a set of life stages defined largely in terms of heterosexuality (dating, one or more serious 'steady' relationships, marriage or cohabitation, having and bringing up children). This trajectory is not simply left to happen 'naturally', even though it is always portrayed as a natural phenomenon. Rather it is aggressively promoted in every part of the culture. The other side of that coin is the persecution of women who refuse compulsory heterosexuality, especially if they show a positive preference for sexual and emotional relationships with other women. 'Lesbian existence', Rich notes, is a precarious and risky business; and she documents the point with many historical and contemporary examples of women being oppressed because they chose other women, rather than men, as their lovers and most cherished companions.


HETEROSEXUALITY AS A PATRIARCHAL INSTITUTION: THE
RADICAL FEMINIST ANALYSIS

The idea of heterosexuality as a norm rather than simply one option among others is still part of feminist thinking, and is also current among queer theorists and activists.1 But in the Women's Liberation Movement of the 1970s and early 1980s, that idea was connected to a particular set of arguments about the relationship of sexuality to gender. According to those arguments, compulsory heterosexuality is not just bad because it denies individual women, and indeed individual men, the freedom to define and express their own sexual preferences. Rather, heterosexuality is a political institution, and the 'compulsory' status of heterosexuality has a key political

-44-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Language and Sexuality
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Language and Sexuality iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Chapter 1: Making Connections 1
  • Chapter 2: Talking Sex and Thinking Sex 15
  • Chapter 3: What Has Gender Got to Do with Sex? Language, Heterosexuality and Heteronormativity 44
  • Chapter 4: Sexuality as Identity 74
  • Chapter 5: Looking beyond Identity 106
  • Chapter 6: Language and Sexuality 133
  • Notes 156
  • Bibliography 163
  • Index 173
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
/ 176

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.