“The Norm”

Here are the top ten things you didn’t know about Heterosexuals.


“Hetero” derives from the Greek word, which translates to “other party” or “different.” The term heterosexual is defined as a person relating to or characterized by a tendency to direct sexual desire toward the opposite sex. Therefore, a heterosexual relationship is a sexual


relationship between a man and a woman. It refers to a person’s sense of identity based on those attractions, related behaviors, and membership in a community of others who have the same attractions.[1] Someone who is heterosexual is commonly referred to as straight.



[1] “Heterosexuality,” Merriam-Webster, 1892, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/heterosexual.




Heterosexuality is old as procreation, ancient as the lust of Adam and Eve. The first lady and gentlemen perceived themselves, behaved, and felt the exact same as heterosexuals today. In fact, the concept of heterosexuality is one historical way of perceiving, categorizing, and imagining the social relations of the sexes.[2] Historically, the heterosexual idea in regards to analysts of sex has been labeled as “normal” and “natural.” However in the early nineteenth-century the United States, from about 1820 to 1860, heterosexuality did not exist. “Middle -class white Americans idealized a True Womanhood, True Manhood, and True Love, all characterized by “purity.'” Since the 1860s the term “heterosexuality” was in the making, but did not appear until the late Victorian America and in Germany, from around 1892 to 1900. This was the eight key years in which the idea of heterosexual was initially and tentatively formulated by U.S. doctors. The earliest-known American use of the word “heterosexual” occurs in a medical journal article by Dr. James G. Kiernan of Chicago. Dr. Kiernan defined heterosexuals by a medical condition, “psychical hermaphroditism,” meaning a person whose general mental state is of the opposite sex. In 1892, Dr. Krafft-Ebing’s offered the modern world a new norm that came to dominate ones idea of the sexual universe. The heterosexual category highlighted a consumerist pleasure principle and institutionalized pursuit of happiness.[3] This new standard model “heterosex” provided the master sex from which all others deviated was deeply authoritarian. As a result, the term came to use by a doctor’s definition because it was already viewed as a given.

[2] Jonathan Ned Katz, The Invention of Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007), chap. 28.

[3] Katz, chap. 28.

How The Term Changed 

The definition hasn’t changed but the weight of the word has changed and been giving a lot more power. The power of the word has increased as other words have developed around the term heterosexual. For instance, homosexuality makes heterosexuality seem as the norm. The word represents the social standard. It is not how the term changed it is how it has made other words become what they are today.

The word heterosexual first appeared in the New York Times on April 20, 1930. Later, following WWII, women were associated with the home, motherhood, and child-care whereas men were characterized with fatherhood and wage work outside the home,  which was a period when the predominance of the hetero norm was unchallenged. In the 1940’s the idea of the feminine female and the masculine male became prominent.[4]

A history of sexuality in America refers to a variety of substantial changes in ones sexual activity and emotions. For example, the widespread use of contraceptives in the nineteenth century, the twentieth-century incitement of the female orgasm, and the recent sexual conduct changes by gay men in response to the AIDS epidemic.[5]

[4] Katz, chap. 28.

[5] Katz, chap. 28.

Famous Academic Readings 

The thesis in authors Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English book, The Sexual Politics of Sickness, is that the advice given to American women by male health professionals, specifically in the areas of martial sex, maternity, and child care, has echoed dictates of the economic marketplace and the role of capitalism needed women to play in both production and or reproduction. The expert’s advice has either been scientific evidence or women-oriented, reflecting on the male needs, male fantasies about women, and male interest in controlling women.[6]

Author Nancy Chodorow and Dinnerstein have written about women and how only women are responsible for child care in the sexual division of labor, which has led to social organization of gender inequality and that men as well as women must become primary careers for children if that inequality is to change. Further, Chodorow argues that women want children because their heterosexual relationships lack richness and intensity that in having a child a woman seeks to re-create her own intense relationship with her mother. She assumes that women who have chosen women have done so simply because men are oppressive and emotionally unavailable.[7]

The function of pornography is an influence due to the fact a multibillion-dollar industry has the power to publicize increasingly ignorant, women-degrading visual images. Even the advertising of soft-core pornography depicts woman as objects of sexual appetite devoid of emotional context, without individual meaning or personality, therefore being a sexual commodity to males. The main message of pornography is that women are natural sexual prey to men and love it. Pornography played out in heterosexual pairing has been labeled as sexually “normal” while sensuality between women is “queer,” or “sick.” As a result, pornography does not create a climate in which sex and violence are interchangeable, it widens the range of behavior viewed as acceptable from men in heterosexual intercourse, which strips women of their autonomy, dignity, and sexual potential.[8]


The Kinsey Scale was invented by Dr. Alfred Kinsey, which changed the world’s understanding of human sexuality. In the 1940’s and 1950’s Alfred Kinsey and his team of researches documented what American men and women did in their sexual lives and determined that sexual behavior consists of more than simply physical contact. In 1948, Dr. Kinsey developed the Heterosexual-Homosexual Rating Scale “The Kinsey Scale,” which highlighted the spectrum of sexual orientation and desire. The Heterosexual-Homosexual Rating Scale is a seven-point scale ranging from 0 to 6. The scale runs from exclusive heterosexuality (0) to equally heterosexual and homosexual (3) to exclusively homosexual (6). However, in Kinsey’s research him and his team discovered most people fall in the middle categories, 1-5, indicating that bisexuality is more of the norm than a rarity. For the majority, one’s sexual behavior and one’s sexual arousal and desire were congruent. This was a guide rather than a rule, to illustrate the continuum that exists between different-sex (heterosexual) and same sex (homosexual). This scale was purely invented for one to self-evaluate based on individual experiences and to justify that sexuality is not fixed or static from birth to death.[9] The test showed that not as many individuals who thought they were heterosexual truly were and that there are different types of heterosexuals.

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[6] Adrienne Rich, “Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence,” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 5, no. 4 (1980): 633, http://www.jstor.org/stable/3173834.

[7] Rich, 636.

[8] Rich, 641.

[9] The Trustees of Indiana University, “The Kinsey Scale,” Kinsey Institute, 2017, https://www.kinseyinstitute.org/about/index.php. 


Identifying as a heterosexual has also been known as straight privilege. Heterosexuals may not consciously think about of acknowledge it, but straight people have more rights, power, and freedom. The top ten facts are reasons straight privilege comes into play. Here is the link, which provides the top 10 reasons straight privilege is prevalent in todays society: https://everydayfeminism.com/2015/03/examples-straight-privilege/

In todays society a lot of millennia’s when they here of “couples” they automatically assume it is a heterosexual couple. For instance, famous stars David and Victoria Beckham have been married since July 4, 1999. David is a soccer star while Victoria was a part of the famous music group, Spice Girls. Many individuals envy this couple and view them as the perfect match. Not only are they both perceived as


attractive from both an appearance and physical standpoint, but they have three children who are viewed as picture-perfect as well. The Beckman’s in addition to many other famous heterosexual couples throughout history prove that two hearts are better than one when it comes to altering the course of history.





Modern/ Social Media


Social media continues to portray both men and women in stereotyped ways that limit ones perception of human possibilities. However, an extremely popular use of social media in today’s society is dating apps. There are many different dating apps catered to different individuals. A dating app that has been launched called Rightly; this app is strictly catered to heterosexual individuals, aiming at the straight single market. Rightly allows users to sign up as a man looking for a woman or to sign up as a women looking for a man. In addition, Rightly has a team monitoring the app everyday, making sure no rules are broken. The Personal Relations director of Rightly, Arianna, said “Many LGBT sites already have tens of millions of members already. While this is great, straight people have been ignored and most of them do want to meet LGBT people in a general dating app.”[10] This app shows how society is separating people based off of their sexual preference, making heterosexuals the normal couples, while isolating both homosexuals and bisexuals. An example of a dating app strictly made for homosexuals is Grindr.

[10] Anna Pulley, “Rightly Is an Explicitly Straight-Only Dating App,” SF Weekly, January 3, 2018, http://www.sfweekly.com/culture/rightly-is-an-explicitly-straight-only-dating-app/.

Confusion/ Misuse


A large amount of confusion is shaped around the fact that sexual orientation and gender identity are unrelated. For instance, people with gender identity issues will self-identify as heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual, just as people who are perfectly comfortable with their birth sex tend to self-identify their sexual orientation, but gender identity does not influence who or what one finds romantically and sexually desirable.[11]

[11] Robert Weiss, “Heterosexual, Homosexual, Bisexual, Gender Dysphoric,” Psychology Today, March 27, 2014, https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/love-and-sex-in-the-digital-age/201403/heterosexual-homosexual-bisexual-gender-dysphoric.



The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is a law that prohibited married same-sex couples from collecting federal benefits. It was overruled on Jun 26, 2015 by U.S. Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges. In 1996, U.S. Congress passed DOMA under President Clinton’s administration. DOMA stated in part that, “No state, territory or possession of the United States…shall be required to give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other State, territory, possession or tribe respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other State, territory, possession, or tribe, or right or claim arising from such a relationship.”[12]

In February 2004, President George W. Bush called for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage nationwide. President Bush stated the only way DOMA would not be struck down by “activist courts” is through an amendment that would fully protect marriage, while leaving the state legislatures free to make their own choices in defining legal arrangements other than marriage.[13] However, ending DOMA did not mean that all states in the union would suddenly have marriage equality.

[12] W. Scott Lamb, “20 years ago, Bill Clinton Signed Defense of Marriage Act,” Washington Post, September 21, 2016, https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/sep/21/20-years-ago-bill-clinton-signed-defense-of-marria/.

[13] Lamb.



“Straight Pride” marches first started in the nineties, which were associated with people who were against gays and gay rights. People view Heterosexual Pride Day as an attempt to mock and belittle the LGBT pride movement. In June in New York City there was a Straight-Love Celebration with men dressed in their khakis and J. Crew shirts and women drinking their Starbucks marching throughout the streets. Heterosexual Pride Day was a timed 72 hours after the LGBT community marched on the same Fifth Avenue in celebration of their right to love and be themselves. The men and women walked hand-in-hand to display affection with those who are like them. The men and women wanted to show their love in public and “just feel normal about it.”[14] The participants created a social media hashtag (#HeterosexualPrideDay) to celebrate the fact they are attracted to members of the opposite sex.

[14] Kevin Fallon, “Happy Heterosexual Pride Day, a Rare Moment for Straight-Love Celebration,” Daily Beast, June 29, 2016, https://www.thedailybeast.com/happy-heterosexual-pride-day-a-rare-moment-for-straight-love-celebration.



A society’s sexual norms can be linked to religious beliefs. The separation of church and state expresses an understanding of the church staying out of the state’s business and the state staying out of the church’s business. However, the Catholic Church teaches that marriage is limited to the union of one man and one woman for the purpose of procreation, mutual support, love and that the civil law should reflect this definition/ Therefore, in the Catholic religion, being married is sacred and necessary because marriage is more than a natural institution, it was elevated by Christ himself.[15]

[15] Scott P. Richert, “The Sacrament of Marriage,” Thought Co., March 6, 2017, https://www.thoughtco.com/the-sacrament-of-marriage-542134.






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