Judith Butler refers to the concept of “institutionalized heterosexuality” on page 34 of Subjects of Sex/Gender/Desire. Now, one of the primary things that has always fascinated me about the subject of “Gender Studies” is that it is so interdisciplinary. That’s almost one of those Gender catch-phrases, isn’t it? Anyway, that off-handed mention of heterosexuality as something that is institutionalized made me think about how exactly sexuality is formed or how categories of sexuality are formed. With education, religion, and governmental institutions, there are physical institutions that correspond to each abstract institution. And, these physical spaces–schools, churches, the Pentagon, and so on–all serve as a primary site for passing on the values of these institutions. What if there were an actual physical structure in which sexuality were taught, preached, and regulated? What would that look like?

Yeah, I’m just picturing walking into a giant penis-shaped tower right now… Maybe through doors that look like labia… Man, I am going to have some weird dreams tonight. Or, great ones, I guess, depending on your point of view…

The humor in imagining sexuality in such blatant terms is that lessons about sexuality, gender, and desire are supposed to be innate and natural, when really these categories of identity are socially constructed to such a degree that it become easy for us men on the ground to even recognize this. These categories are formed by many, many institutions, including those already mentioned and many others that are also maybe a bit harder to pin down–family, media, and so on. And, more than that, they are formed by human agency, the choices individuals make, day in and day out.

On one hand, I can see how it may be sort of… tempting–from a socialist’s sort of perspective, maybe–to essentialize a person or group of people. But, when you think about how incredibly complex people are and how much the institutions in our lives shape who we are, I actually find it hard to believe that it happens. Although, seeing ourselves as being only socially constructed totally ignores free will…

Like the free will to take this test! “This test will determine if you are gay or strait…”

http://www.nerdtests.com/mq/uttake.php?id=1112

You better hope you pass, so you can make it into Hetero School. So, you can be more like this…

http://teenymanolo.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/perfect-family.jpg

Night ya’ll! Have a good week!

Lynn Beavin

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