Compulsive Heterosexuality

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C.J. Pascoe, in her book Dude, You’re a Fag, argues that heterosexuality and dominant masculinity are inextricably linked. In order for boys to assert their masculinity, they must comply with the social processes that Pascoe calls “compulsive heterosexuality.” Compulsive heterosexuality builds on the concept of compulsory heterosexuality, a theory coined by researcher Adrienne Rich which refers to heterosexuality as political institution that enforces heterosexuality on women as a means of ensuring male dominance through “physical, economic, and emotional access” (86), and constructs alternative sexualities as “the other.” Compulsive heterosexuality encompases a myriad of sexualilzed gender performances and rituals, not merely to affirm one’s …show more content…

Pascoe claims that “masculinizing discourses and practices extend beyond male bodies,” and that the fluid practices, rituals, and discourses that make up masculinity can be enacted by and affect males and females, and a multiplicity of institutions (9). Masculinity and compulsive heterosexuality are immutably linked, creating a reciprocal situation in which boys will assert their masculinity to prove their heterosexual and dominant identity, as well as prove their heterosexual dominance in order to affirm their …show more content…

To profess their heterosexual identity, boys enact the ritual of performative sex talk. With a profusion of sexual bravado, boys fight to one-up each other in their stories of sexual prominence and prosperity. Pascoe states that “expressing heterosexual desire establishes a sort of baseline masculinity” (87), in part to distance themselves from the feminine identity of a “fag,” but also to establish masculine dominance. These discussions center around how these boys are able to enact their subjectivity and control on the world around them, with women as the objects of their control and puppets of their desires. Furthermore, the masculine dominance is established through compulsive heterosexuality when boys engage in specific patterns of opposite-sex touching. Whereas as same-sex touching is acceptable only in certain situations, such as the male-dominated world of sports or in the assertion of masculinity through mocking “fag” touch, opposite-sex touch takes on the role of normalizing heterosexuality as a predatory and sometimes violent social relation between boys and girls. In the same way that a superior is able to touch a subordinate, invade their space, and assert their control, so to are boys able to touch girls in this high school setting. Often played off as flirting by teachers who might otherwise

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