SexEd: Heteronormativity

Heteronormativity. It sounds like this big scary word that isn’t even recognized by Microsoft or Outlook as an actual word. But it holds a lot of context for todays culture and is often thrown around like a buzz word. It is so much more than that.

So let’s break it down. Hetero means a relationship of the romantic kind, between a man and a woman. Normative means what it sounds like; normal. We exist in a heteronormative culture.

The majority of relationships replicated in movies romantically are between men and women. Sexualized advertising, which is a complete other issue, often shows women being sexually objectified by a male figure. That’s just the media and outside sources.

Parents can be overheard saying, “he’s such a little ladies man” to a one year old. Some of these parents are the same ones getting angry for those educating their children on all types of relationships, claiming they’re raising their child “gay." This is just one example. Heteronormativity is the pressure that a society or overseeing group puts on its population that everyone should identify as straight and practice male/female romantic relationships only.

Attraction and feelings aren’t a snapshot decision. They make up who we are as people, and it’s not something that one person can decide for someone else. Yet it is attempted everyday by the high ups in society that do not make up the majority of the population.  

When people ask, “why is there a Netflix category for LGBTQI+” or “why do they need their own clubs," it’s about more than just some movies or a bar. It’s about building a safe way for someone to be themself and to be accepted. The way the world is run right now puts those who identify at risk because there is this inherent pressure to be cisgender and straight.

There are parts of the world, this country in particular, that are improving. Lawfully creating the right to marry, the overwhelming support for PRIDE, the movement to make sure everyone can use the bathroom safely and comfortably. These are happening in our generation.

Yet we need not forget why these movements needed to happen in the first place. The story of Matt Shepard, the rarity of success stories like Laverne Cox, the fact that there are more youths becoming homeless because they are not welcome in their own home because of who they find attractive. We still do not live in a world of tolerance.

We’re getting closer, but the way to breaking down heteronormative culture is a process. It won’t get there until we’re all in. Until we’re all accepting. Not accepting because we have to be, but because we believe that it is what’s right and fair.


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