During the second wave in the 1970s, feminists closed in on what could possibly be the source of women’s oppression (Ingraham, 2017). Chrys Ingraham elaborated on the theory feminists proposed during this time to what is the central fountainhead of women’s oppression :heteronormativity. Ingraham summarizes what most feminists during this time period understood heteronormativity. She states, “They maintain that heterosexuality is really a normalized power arrangement that limits options and privileges men over women and reinforces and naturalizes male dominance” (Ingraham, 2017). Meaning, heteronormativity is a force that reinforces stereotypes about women essentially aiding the fallacy superiority of men over women in all social aspects of life. Heteronormativity forces society to believe that heterosexual behavior is ‘right’ or ‘normal’ behavior and anything other should not be accepted.
Due to the various social structures such as religion, historically, has inflicted fear into the lives of those who identify as a part of the LGBTQ+ community. Many notions of being non-heterosexual as deviant had been moving throughout our social systems for generations. Globally, many ritual practices were passed down from our collective ancestors and are still practiced today. Weddings are ritual practices viewed as a contributor to the furthering oppression amongst both women and members of the LGBTQ+ community. The roles used in weddings comes with gender specific aspects that hold people to specific standards if they wish to practice the ritual. For example, the husband must be a man and the wife must be a woman, and both parties have to follow cis-gendered norms. These norms include wearing a suite for the man and wearing a bridal dress for the woman. One article by the name of “Remaking the White Wedding? Same-Sex Wedding Photographs’ Challenge to Symbolic Heteronormativity” talks about how a photographer uses their photographs to juxtapose the dress wear of a non-heteronormative wedding versus a traditional wedding with participants following cis-gender roles (Katrina, 2012). These expectation often in-closes people into a box in which not all people may feel they belong. The very idea of the participants of a wedding having to follow the heterosexual structure automatically discriminates against people who are not a part of such category.
Research has found that those who experience discrimination in regards to their sexual identity can cause great harm to the victim’s mental health. This impact is worsen when a person is confronted with discrimination based on the intersection of both sexuality and race (Sutter, 2016). In most cases, people who are faced with the harsh punishment of being ostracized due to their identity often go through stages of depression. Ann article was written to convey the limited, but useful ways to combat depression especially on college campuses (Kulick, 2017). In this work, the author discusses some of the social impacts people of color who also identify as members of the LGBTQ+ community face while also stressing different ways those individuals can cope and find a space of healing on their college campus.
The school system is where most negative stereotypes live and can be brought to rest. This is why it is extremely important for members of the school system to aid educating students on identifying what heteronormativity and the harmful effects it has on people in our society. The article, “Forecasting an Inclusive Future: School Counseling Strategies to Deconstruct Educational Heteronormativity,” speaks on the issue of heterosexuality and gives reason as why these ideas outside of the heterosexual norm are negative and therefore should be combatted, discredited and erase from our social atmosphere. The article states, “Although people create regulatory practices through values and beliefs, these practices sustain over time and begin to shape the thoughts, behaviors, and beliefs of individuals (Strear, 2016). Heteronormativity is one such regulatory practice influencing social systems and individuals’ lives. Critical theories also ignited a paradigm shift from studying diversity by learning about individuals or groups, to the examination of regulatory practices that privilege some over others “(Watson, 2005). Through multiple different mediums, media acts as an additional educator. If the conclusions children come to are not explained in a manner that makes the social world one where reason and understanding is used a way to guide cognition, then the generation to have come before them will have failed them. There is content indented to bash and discriminate against those who are willing to fight against heteronormativity. The best way to fight against this oppressive nature is to properly educate the children. Debunking existing notions some students may have is crucial work in the field of academia. This is why this article successfully illustrates the need for school counselors to part take in the fight against the heteronormative nature of our society.
KATRINA, K. (2012).Remaking the White Wedding? Same-Sex Wedding Photographs’ Challenge to Symbolic Heteronormativity. Gender And Society, (6), 874.
Kulick, A., Wernick, L. J., Woodford, M. R., & Renn, K. (2017). Heterosexism, depression, and campus engagement among LGBTQ college students: Intersectional differences and opportunities for healing. Journal Of Homosexuality, 64(8), 1125-1141. doi:10.1080/00918369.2016.1242333
Strear, M. M. (2017). Forecasting an Inclusive Future: School Counseling Strategies to Deconstruct Educational Heteronormativity. Professional School Counseling, 20(1a), 47-56. doi:10.5330/1096-2409-20.1a.47
Sutter, M., & Perrin, P. B. (2016). Discrimination, mental health, and suicidal ideation among LGBTQ people of color. Journal Of Counseling Psychology, 63(1), 98-105. doi:10.1037/cou0000126
Image Attribution: Image 1 “Fuck Heteronormativity” by Wouldpkr TB CC BY-SA 2.0; Image 2 “Wedding. Reheaume : Bickerdicke” by Conrad Poirier is in the public domain
Written by Isaiah Reese, 2018