The Trouble with Normal: Postwar Youth and the Making of Heterosexuality; Mary Louise Adams

By Tittle, Peg | Herizons, Summer 2001 | Go to article overview

The Trouble with Normal: Postwar Youth and the Making of Heterosexuality; Mary Louise Adams


Tittle, Peg, Herizons


THE TROUBLE WITH NORMAL: POSTWAR YOUTH AND THE MAKING OF HETEROSEXUALITY; MARY LOUISE ADAMS

Mary Louise Adams makes some very intriguing connections between youth and sex, sex and delinquency, and youth and delinquency -- each of which, she argues, are social constructions of the postwar period.

Part of the trouble with `normal' is that it used to be just a statistical label; if your hair colour didn't fall within the norm, it just mean that more people had hair coloured not like yours. However, in the postwar period, deviation became deviance and `within the norm' became `normal'; `normal' became not just descriptive, but prescriptive (and thus, controlling) -- to be normal was to be healthy, to be morally correct.

The postwar `cold war' made deviants suspect -- for some reason, this meant not only political deviants but sexual deviants as well. And because of the postwar drive to reproduce (which resulted in `the baby boom'), reproducing couples were preferred homosexuality was thus deviant (and probably unpatriotic to boot which might be why they were included with the dreaded `commies'). Such are the broad strokes of Adams' connection between sexuality and delinquency/deviance.

During the war, kids grew up largely without adult supervision; dad was away fighting and morn was at work. And this was not a problem. Then suddenly the war ended -- mom came home from work and stayed there (and dad went to work `the nuclear family' was born and gender became quite dichotomized). …

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