Heteronormativity is a belief that people fall into two distinct gender categories (being a man or a woman) with “naturalised” roles that automatically comes with being a boy or girl. An example would be that boys play with cars and girls plays with dolls and that this comes “naturally” to them.
Heteronormativity also asserts (usually aggressively) that heterosexuality is the only “natural or normal” sexual orientation which exists. It states that sexual and marital relations occur only between a man and woman and the only “natural” and “normal” sex is with a penis and a vagina. Anything else is deemed “abnormal”, “unnatural” and “immoral”.
Heteronormativity is enforced through the state, through the education system, through religious institutions, through healthcare systems. These strict gender roles are heavily monitored by society and sometimes results in forms of violence, discrimination, stigma and sometimes murder being committed against those who are different.
Heterosexism is a system of oppression which gives heterosexual people privileges to the disadvantage of those who are not. The problem is that heterosexual people do not have to think about their sexuality, or think about heterosexual relations because it is “endorsed” by the state, religious bodies and written into law.
Examples of Heterosexism are:
- Heterosexual people can get married but gay people can’t and have to fight for marriage equality rights.
- Heterosexual couples can freely walk in communities, in churches, in social places holding hands and showing affection to their partners but when sexually diverse and gender diverse people displays the same kinds of affection to their same sex partner it is very quickly frowned upon.
- Automatic acceptance in society whereas many sexually and gender diverse people are rejected, excluded, discriminated against in society for who they are.
- Police do not invade the privacy of a heterosexual couples but they do invade the privacy of sexually diverse and gender diverse couples through raiding their homes and arresting people particularly in countries which have very restrictive laws.
- Some heterosexual people would verbally insult, physically assault, harass, destroy property such as the cars or homes of those who are sexually and gender diverse.
- The worst form of hatred towards LGBT persons is when some heterosexual men rape or murder lesbian, gay men and transgender persons.
- Heterosexual people have legal protection from the law to protect their bodily integrity, to protect their homes, to respect their privacy, to go to school, to be employed but for most LGBT persons in Africa they are criminalized and not protected.
- Heterosexual people are not ex-communicated or excluded from the church, mosque, and traditional practices of worship.
- Heterosexual people have access to the law and healthcare and many times LGBT persons are excluded from the law and healthcare.
Discrimination and Stigma
Discrimination is described as prejudice and power. It occurs when members of a more powerful social group behave unjustly or cruelly to members of a less powerful social group. Discrimination can take many forms, including both individual acts of hatred or injustice and institutional denials of privileges normally accorded to other groups. Ongoing discrimination creates a climate of oppression for the affected group.
What is a Hate Crime?
Any incident that may or may not constitute a criminal offence, perceived as being motivated by prejudice and hate. The perpetrators seek to demean and dehumanise their victims, whom they consider different from them based on their actual or perceived race, ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, disability, health status, nationality, social origin, religious convictions, culture, language or other characteristic.
The systematic subjugation of a group of people by another group with access to social power, the result of which benefits one group over the other and is maintained by social beliefs and practices.
Are you being Heteronormative? 20 Common Examples
- When you ask a lesbian woman if she has a boyfriend or if she is married to man
- When you want to know the causes of homosexuality
- When you believe that there is a cure for homosexuality and that cure is religion or someone of the opposite sex
- When you assume that a bisexual man or women dates the opposite sex when they date both men and women.
- When you want to force people in a box and force them to identify as either male of female
- When you assume that someone who is lesbian must want to be a man
- When you are uncomfortable when you can’t place someone in a gender box of male or female
- When you believe that a man who is dressed as a woman is a demon
- When you assume that all lesbian women can’t be pretty or attractive When you believe that a gay man, lesbian woman or transgender person will rape your child
- When you don’t want you children to engage with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people
- If you share a room with a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender person you fear that they will want to have sex with you
- When you believe that lesbian women only “became” lesbian because she was hurt by a man and the right man will “fix” her
- Being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender is a phase that people will grow out of.
- You think that lesbian women hate men.
- You think gay men hate women
- You only think of gay men in terms of anal sex, you can’t see anything else about them
- You think lesbians do not have real sex because there is no man’s penis involved.
- You think that bisexual women is just going through a phase and they must make a choice.
- When a man thinks that only if he has sex with a lesbian women she will turn “straight”