What Is Heteronormativity? How Does It impact us?

Last Update on June 16, 2022 : Published on June 16, 2022
What-Is-Heteronormativity

Have you heard of the term heteronormativity before? Do you know what heteronormativity means? Well, heteronormativity is basically an assumption or belief that some people have, i.e. the entire human rare is supposed to be straight (the only accepted romantic or sexual relation is that of between a man and a woman).

In fact most of us have lived a heteronormatic life and many still continue to do so. Only those who are not homophobic or believe in the right of love whoever you want, do not accept the concept of heteronormativity, rest believe that heteronormativity is the only way of being.

To me, heteronormativity is not a belief we should be swearing by because homosexuality is as normal as heterosexuality. Did you know, other than humans there are 500 other species of animals who show homosexual behaviors like penguins and koala bears? This is proof enough, homosexuality is as normal and natural as heterosexuality.

Let’s get to the roots of heteronormativity, shall we?

What-Is-Heteronormativity

What Is Heteronormativity?

Heteronormativity is a belief that heterosexuality is the only right way of being. The people who practice heteronormativity disapprove of homosexuality or any other sexual orientation. Heteronormativity is an assumption that every human being is straight, leaving no room for other people who do not resonate with heterosexuality.

Michael Warner (a sociology theorist) was the one who coined the term ‘heteronormativity’ in the year 1991 in one of his papers and later added to his view on heteronormativity in one of his books called Fear of a Queer Planet (1993).

Heteronormativity is not just about believing that being straight is correct and rest are either having a problem or are in a phase. To be heteronormative is to also believe that your gender at birth is your true gender, if you feel otherwise, you need to correct your thoughts. According to heteronormative people, there are only two genders (male and female) and you can share an emotional or physical relationship only with the opposite gender.

If you are still confused about what heteronormativity means, let me explain it to you with the help of some heteronormativity examples…

Also read: This Pride Month Let’s Learn How To Support LGBTQ Community

Examples Of Heteronormativity

Examples-Of-Heteronormativity

By now you must have understood the basic concept of heteronormativity. Heteronormativity definition says that, “Heteronormativity is referred to as the idea which states that heterosexuality is the only normal and preferred type of sexual orientation.”

Here are a few examples of heteronormativity so that you can get a clear idea of this heterosexual concept;

1.Considering homosexuality as a phase/treatable problem: this is one of the best heteronormatic examples because you can easily identify this belief around you. Heteronormative people believe that homosexuality, bisexuality or having different sexual preferences and orientations are all just a passing phase and all must be heterosexually after all.

2.Social media/T.V./Cinema/Media representation of sexuality: mostly media only shows heterosexuality, which makes people more intolerant of other sexual preference. The media representation of heterosexuality is another good example of heteronormativity.

3.Using generally referred biological pronouns: this is one of the ways heteronormative people express their ideas and beliefs. It is when you address someone by your preferred biological pronoun even when they prefer to be addressed by some other pronoun.

4.LGBTQ+ children being disowned or disapproved by their family: many parents still cannot fathom the fact that their children belong to the LGBTQ+ community and that they do not abide by the heteronormative norms.

How Does Heteronormativity Impact Us? +

The belief that being homosexual or bisexual or having any other sexual preference is not normal and that heterosexuality is the only correct way of being can really have a negative impact on people who believe in the otherwise.

Not everyone is a follower of heteronormativity but such beliefs can hurt the feelings of LGBTQ+ community and definitely have an impact on their mental health. Let’s look at the negative consequences of heteronormativity;

  • Promotes homophobia
  • Emotionally torture for people with varied sexual preferences
  • Causes confusion and self-image issues in LGBTQ+ children and youth
  • Sexual, mental, emotional and physical abuse directed towards the LGBTQ+ community
  • Promotes non-acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community
  • Increased risk of depression, anxiety and other mental illness in the LGBTQ+
  • Heteronormativity leads to LGBTQ+ bullying
  • Low sense of belonging in the LGBTQ+ community
  • Makes discrimination based on gender references and orientation acceptable
  • Influences the society against LGBTQ+ community

What Can You Do?

It’s a very difficult job to help each heteronormative person to change their beliefs at the snap of your finger. Along with spreading awareness about the LGBTQ+ and the various gender and sexual preferences, you must know how to combat heteronormativity. Here’s how you can do that;

  • Always ask about other’s preferred pronouns
  • Don’t rely on assumptions, when in doubt ‘ask’ politely
  • Make sure you express your identify clearly
  • Use gender neutral terms

Also read: What Is the Importance of Celebrating Pride Month?

That’s All Folks!

I hope you found this blog interesting. Can I be assured that now you know exactly ‘what is heteronormativity?’ I hope the heteronormativity examples help you understand the term better. Do share this blog with your friends and family.

Thanks for reading.

Happy Pride!

Take care and stay safe.

About The Author

Kirti Bhati

I am an English literature (major) and psychology (minor) graduate from St. Bede’s College, Shimla. Postgraduate in Clinical psychology from IIS University, Jaipur. She has published a Research paper on Music therapy in the military population and Workplace stress in a national seminar conducted by Fortis hospital (gurugram) and international seminar conducted by St. Bede’s College, Shimla, Respectively. Authored a dissertation work on ‘effect of social media addiction on the mental and physical well-being in adolescents’ Currently working at calm sage as a writer.

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