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Heteronormativity, a term coined by Michael Warner in 1991, is the social theory that heterosexuality and gender as biological sex are conditioned as normal, while a sexual or gender identity that oustide of these norms are conditioned as abnormal. Warner argues the systemic normalization of heterosexuality is a “site of violence.” Heteronormativity points to the systemic, compulsory nature of heterosexuality and cisgender identity; heteronormativity is perpetuated through political, social, and familial systems in order to continue family lineages and uphold “family values.” Critics of heteronormativity point to queer poltics, or the resistance of normative sexual and gender identities, as necesary for disrupting these social and conditioned systems that enact violence upon queer people and women.
Heteronormativity also requires upholding and normalizing binary gender roles, notions of masculinity and feminity, in gender identity and presentation. This binary replicates hierarchical systems of power in which one gender is dominant over another; misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia is a requirement to uphold heteronormativity. However, as Judith Butler (1990) argues, “gender is not always constituted coherently or consistently in different historical contexts,” meaning that gender presentation and performance are not “natural” as biological sex argues; instead, gender is performative, a series of acts and aeshetic presentations that are socially, politically, and culturally constructed. Butler’s notion of gender as performative invites for fluctuating gender and sexual presentations, acts, and identities.
Ideology has a long, complicated history of conflicting definitions. This project defines ideology through the lens of social construction and rhetorical genre studies. Ideology is philosophical and political beliefs that encompass notions of citizenship, identity, and power as well as how these beliefs are enacted, reinscribed, or challenged through policy, culture, and everyday individual subject’s actions. Pare defines ideology as a “a process, a socially organized activity, as the daily practices of a society’s cultural, economic, and political institutions--practices that favor a dominant minority” (p 58). Pare’s definition brings several important aspects of ideology. First, ideology is a “social organized” process, implying it is ever-fluctuating, contextualized, and recurring. Second, ideology is about power, especially how power is replicated and reified across institutions (cultural, economic, political, and educational). Finally, ideology is about “daily practices,” in that our everyday acts reinscribe or resist these dominant ideologies. In the context of other glossary terms in this dissertation, heteronormativity and white supremacy are both ideologies that require constant maintenance through individual and social actions.
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Site created by Cara Marta Messina, 2019
Contact: messina [dot] c [at] northeastern [dot] edu