Archives for posts with tag: heteosexual matrix

After reflecting on the “safe places” exercise (referencing Rubin) we did in class, it seems to me that we have the largest potential to experience the most comfort when we’re by ourselves. Perhaps this position sounds cynical, but look at it this way…

1: Society spends a good deal of time discouraging attitudes and behaviors that make sense and encouraging flawed and narrow logic. (See Butler)

2: Society discourages internal reflection and getting to oneself on an intimate level. (This happens in several ways, including objectifying women, tabooing masturbation, medicalizing EVERYTHING so we’re ignorant of our bodies, etc)

3. Social conventions and expectations permeate every facet of society, even if a group is deliberately rejecting those conventions.

4. So basically, if society tells us NOT to spend time alone and learning about ourselves, we should probably stop whatever we’re doing and do just that.

This, of course, is not to say that basic human interaction isn’t necessary and fulfilling, but regardless of with whom we’re spending out time, we are constantly shifting and shaping our identities, even if we’re unaware of doing so.

To illustrate this point, it is beneficial to examine some of the most obvious “safe places.” A few of these include: spending time in a group of like-minded/identified people, using anonymous avenues to express ourselves (i.e. Post Secret), and sharing things with family and close friends. While each of these provides innumerable benefits, each has its shortcomings as well.

It should be said that feminism’s internal critique is one of its greatest strengths in the “big picture,” but that very critical eye cane sometimes be turned on the individual. Thus, even if certain parts of one’s identity are in a “safe space,” other parts (or the ways in which one expresses them) are clearly not.

One of the best examples of this discomfort around the people with whom we’re closest is illustrated in this card sent to “Post Secret.” The postcard read, “She sent me this 3 weeks after she told me I couldn’t come to her wedding because I’m a lesbian and my family doesn’t want ‘to see me use their wedding as a giant “coming out” affair. Thanks sis, YOU save us the date.” The other side reads…

We’re supposed to be close and comfortable with our families,but obviously that’s not how it works for this woman.

I guess the point is that at the end of the day, the only person you have is you. So, ya better start defying those social conventions and deciding that you (whoever you are) are just fine.

-Mika Baugh

For 9 years of my life I played competitive softball, of which the last four were in high school.  The stereotype of softball player stated that all softball players are lesbians. The softball team was also known as the “lesbian club” unfair as that may seem. Although I was the starting pitcher and the number 2 hitter in the lineup, I am not a lesbian. That stereotype is actually far from true, in both ways. Yes, it is far from true for people that are straight, but the point I am really trying to make, is what about those other players you automatically assume are lesbians? What about bisexual’s?

My catcher caught for me all of high school and not only was the top catcher in the state, but quite a person. Her name was Brit and she was known far and wide. Brit was the first lesbian in all of my high school to come out. She was also the main talk of the school as she openly dated another girl. When I say main talk, it was actually all positive as Brit was a great person, amazing athlete, and one that had life-changing beliefs when it came to gender and sexuality topics. The greatest thing about Brit, is before she was a lesbian she considered herself a bisexual.  She said she preferred to go both ways, and did not have a preference. Until, one day one something just clicked when she realized she was a lesbian.

I was lucky enough to share this conversation with her as we traveled to an away game an hour and a half away. She put it perfectly, sexuality is produced and declared as one lives, it is not a biological decision, the decision lies within yourself, and not only that, but once you think you may have decided that can also subject to change. Which is why, I relate most of this course to what Brit has told me and what she believed. In Gayle Rubin’s article, she quotes Michael Foucault as “ ‘He argues that desires are not pre-existing biological entities, but rather they are not constituted in the course of historically specific social practices.’ He emphasizes the generative aspects of the social organization of sex rather than its repressive elements by pointing out that new sexualities are constantly produced.”  This line reminds me exactly of Brit. From experiencing first hand, she believes , just as Rubin that biology is just the deciding factor of our bodies and appearances and it is not linked to preference or sexuality.  Having a mother who is also a lesbian, she said that it also opened her up to the possibility of choosing to follow in her footsteps which first brought her to experiment and find her true self. Rubin also touches on that as she points out “Sexuality is constituted in society and history.”

Brit shared many of her opinions and beliefs with me which really did change my views and what were actually taught in school. I decided to write about her because everything that we are learning Brit had previously taught me. The heterosexual matrix we also talked about in class was something she first had told me, aside from using the term heterosexual matrix obviously. She said that she is proud to break the stereotype of being a feminine female and that she considers herself masculine. She also said she has an appreciation for those who are proud enough to represent how they feel regardless of their gender. The second I walked off the bus I never just assumed that every girl that looked feminine is straight and every girl that had a masculine demeanor was a lesbian. Brit is a real life example of what we are currently learning in class.

-Christy Praljak

When I hear right wing conservatives make sense of gay people, I assumed their rationality belonged to a different plane of thinking. After Tuesday’s class, I realized that they subscribed (inflexibly) to a an essentialist view of a heterosexual matrix. For review:


  Gender   Sexuality/Sexual desire


Masculine ——-> Loves women
Female ——> Feminine ——-> Loves men


Within this framework, there just simply isn’t a way to make sense of gay people. Instead of creating a new framework that works to legitimize the existence of all people in our society, Michelle Bachmann says something like this,

“It isn’t that some gay will get some rights. It’s that everyone else in our state will lose rights. For instance, parents will lose the right to protect and direct the upbringing of their children. Because our K-12 public school system, of which ninety per cent of all youth are in the public school system, they will be required to learn that homosexuality is normal, equal and perhaps you should try it. And that will occur immediately, that all schools will begin teaching homosexuality” Senator Michele Bachmannn, appearing as guest on radio program “Prophetic Views Behind The News”, hosted by Jan Markell, KKMS 980-AM, March 6, 2004.

According to Bachmann’s thinking, if we legalize gay marriage, then we are legitimizing the identity of GLBTQ.  This is correct. For some, this sounds like a wonderful next step for gay marriage advocates. But Bachmann sees a conflict with the heterosexual matrix and simply can’t process behind that. Instead of being read books about heteronormative families in grade school, children may be exposed to families that have two mommies or two daddies. *GASP!* And goodness, what a problem for it to be if children were raised to believe that all families were ok.  For a child to be welcomed in the school system, and realize that his or her parents are nothing to be ashamed of.  If I have to give Bachmannn credit for anything, it’s realizing that schools “teach” children how to behave in society, and right now, most schools teach children that only straightness is ok. Does that mean she is slightly, just slightly, a constructivist?

Unfortunately, complicating the matrix to allow for more sexual desires in the last column is beyond Bachmann’s capacity. I’m not sure she has anything much to say about transgender folks because she doesn’t want to process just how screwed up her basis of thinking, the heterosexual matrix, is!

-Jenna Graham