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Invention of Heterosexuality

Invention of Heterosexuality - Katz/The Invention;lass...

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Katz /The Invention of Heterosexuality 55 :;lass, Gender, and Sexuality ing question. But I do not think it will be answered by measuring our hormone levels or by trying to unearth our earliest affectional ties. As women begin to speak freely about our sexual experiences, we are getting a varied range of information with which we can reexamine, reevaluate, and change ourselves. Lately, increas- ing numbers of women have begun to acknowledge their "bisexuality"-the fact that they can love women and men in successionor simultaneously. People fall in love with individuals, not with a sex. Gender need not be a significant factor in our choice, although for some of us it may be. buted to particular persons and came lations with someone of the same sex lal"; a person who had sexual relations a "heterosexual." I the hitIierto accepted fact that many Iy with persons of one or the other sex. ~have sex with a person.) This catego- Jpularized by the sex reformers, such tho biologized the "difference." "The ~nt by nature and therefore should not eviance. This definition served the pur- ve been slow to change), but it turned e tr,eated by doctors rather than pun- but not acceptance or liberation. ... Model of Sexuality Jonathan Ned Katz ley were born "different" and have al- strongly attracted to members of their :>lescents.But many women who live rosexual also had strong affective and ,re growing up. If they were now in lov- ook back on their earlier loves as proof ~e now involved with men, they may be 'puppy love" or "crushes." If us feel a greater affinity for certain man will do. No one has seriously sug- lp makes us light up in the presence of ink it absurd to look to hormone levels >r our preference for a specific "type" to ask what in our psychosocial experi- rences. We assume it must have some- rents or with other experiences, but we he "wrong" sex. Then, suddenly, scien- Heterosexuality is old as procreation, ancient as the lust of Eve and Adam. That first lady and gentleman, we assume, perceived themselves, behaved, and felt just like today's heterosexuals. We suppose that heterosexuality is unchanging, univer- sal,essential: ahistorical. Contrary to that common sense conjecture, the concept of heterosexuality is only one particular historical way of perceiving, categorizing, and imagining the social relations of the sexes. Not ancient at all, the idea of heterosexuality is a mod- em invention, dating to the late nineteenth century. The heterosexual belief, with its metaphysical claim to eternity, has a particular, pivotal place in the social uni- verse of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries that it did not inhabit earlier. This essay traces the historical process by which the heterosexual idea was created asahistorical and taken-for-granted. ... cal experiences, feminists1end to reject ality develops. Many women who have much of their life and who have been en in love with a woman (or women) link, refeel, and restructure their lives.
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