humour, music, life, sociology. friendly agnostic.

Is It May Already?

Posted by spritzophrenia on May 5, 2011

Hi all, and a special welcome to the new subscribers. It seems like an age since I last wrote from the land of Spritzophrenia.

Some personal goings-on first. It’s less than 8 weeks until our baby is born. Happygirl is getting extremely round, and is somewhat physically uncomfortable, but all is well and as normal as these things go.

I found out two weeks ago that my younger sister Carol has cancer. She’s not quite forty years old, and it’s serious. It’s colon cancer, with some nodes in the liver and a tumor has spread to one ovary. She goes into surgery tomorrow to remove the growths, and within three weeks they hope to start 9 months of chemotherapy. Things are not good, but the doctors have also said it’s potentially cure-able. All is not lost. Needless to say, I was quite upset after she rang me. (You might want to go back to my short series on sickness and pain.) Strangely, in the last week I’ve become very confident that she’ll be able to beat this thing, and I feel peaceful. I don’t know how much stock to put in such feelings, but those of you who pray are welcome to do so. (Yes, I did.)

My postgrad sociology study is going very well, however there’s a huge workload which doesn’t leave me with much energy to blog. I do have a lot of thoughts, theories and mental meanderings to share with you, it’s just a question of when. I’ve just finished my thesis proposal on “Why Stay if You’re Gay?” (Homosexual Participation and Identity in the Church). Would you like me to put it up here for you to read?

sunrise woman

Among other things, I’ve been reading up on Queer theory. You may or may not know that the word “heterosexual” was only coined a couple of centuries ago. Some people (notably a chap called Foucault) argue that the conception of heterosexuality was very different before this. As part of les-bi-gay studies, the study of heterosexuality has emerged. Given that I’m studying gay Christian men for my thesis I find it enlightening to look at things from the other side, so to speak.

Here’s some thoughts from one writer (Richard Dyer, in a 1997 paper, for what it’s worth). What do you think of these?

Dyer considers heterosexuality and homosexuality are not acts, or an identity, but what we desire. “Heterosexuality is not man-woman coitus, but the desire for it and/or the fact of being identified by the desire for it.”

Here’s his list of five attributes of heterosexuals:
1. Difference is at the heart of sexual object choice.
2. Difference is conceptualised as oppositeness.
3. Difference is, in fact, power imbalance. (Eroticised power imbalance)
4. Sexuality has something to do with procreation. (For many religions sexual reproduction is the purpose of sexuality.)
5. Sexual practice is an affirmation of one’s identity as normal.

The notion of race is profoundly heterosexual. Race is a way of categorising bodies that reproduce themselves.

Society enforces a “compulsory heterosexuality” (Adrienne Rich).

So there we go. How do those of you who are hetero feel about these? Identify with any of it?

Till next time,



? What do you think?
Please subscribe (top left) 🙂

Please share this article:

Tori Amos | Crucify

24 Responses to “Is It May Already?”

  1. Chrisi said

    Would LOVE to read the thesis proposal! Best wishes for yous sister- I’ll keep her in my thoughts and send some positive vibes in her general direction. Nice to see you’re back, though it sounds like you have a ton going on! Take good care of “Happygirl” 🙂

  2. Lydia said

    I’d be very interested in reading it as well.

    Sorry to hear about your sister. My aunt was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer last year. Her prognosis isn’t good but her oncologist is doing everything possible to keep her with us. As terribly corny as this may sound I’m grateful for every extra day. I’m praying that your sister and my aunt go into full remission, though! 🙂

  3. Tammy said

    I’d enjoy reading your thesis proposal also. And your further thoughts on queer theory and the culture of heterosexuality. The longer I live, the less I know anything for certain.

    My sister in law is currently finishing a year of various treatments for breast cancer. May your sister and my husband’s sister both find peace and healing.

    • Thanks 🙂 As of today, we have good news from the surgery. Will update everyone in a new blog at some point. Looks like I’ll be posting the proposal at some point too.

  4. Lisa said

    First of all, I’m so sorry to hear about your sister. My thoughts are with her and your family over the next few months as she starts all the surgeries/chemo.

    Congrats on the soon-coming baby! 🙂 How exciting. Boy? Girl? Will we get to see pictures when the little one arrives?

    As for your thesis, I’d LOVE to read some of it. It sounds extremely interesting, as do the texts you’ve quoted and have been reading. I’m extremely interested in that subject, too. And your title sounds like I’d be interested in hearing your informed opinion on the matter. I’ve often wondered about why my (gay) friends stay in a church that doesn’t accept them, although some of them are pastors kids, etc. so that’s one reason.

  5. I’d love to read yr thesis, too! Also, check this out: http://theanarchistlibrary.org/HTML/Jamie_Heckert__Love_without_borders__Intimacy__identity_and_the_state_of_compulsory_monogamy.html

  6. Anne said

    So happy on one hand to hear about your soon-to-be baby (and looking forward to the news!) and on the other hand, so sorry that your sister Carol is going through cancer. Treatments are changing all the time and I am praying for her.

    Fascinating thesis and hope you’ll share more when you can. A few personal thoughts on what Dyer says:

    [1. Difference is at the heart of sexual object choice.] If he’s saying that it’s about feeling “different” from the gender norm, I have heard people say that about themselves but have also known heterosexual people to become gay in midlife and they were comfortable as a heterosexual before. If he’s saying it’s all about sexual object choice, I disagree in that I think there’s more to it: emotional, spiritual, lifestyle desire.

    [3. Difference is, in fact, power imbalance. (Eroticised power imbalance)] I think there is some of that, sometimes a lot of that. But I also think there is a lot of power and eroticism in either role.

    [4. Sexuality has something to do with procreation.] I think that can be in a symbolic sense; procreation as making something powerful through intimacy.

    [The notion of race is profoundly heterosexual.] I assume he means the “human race”? I have thought about that too, and wondered where being gay fits–or if it needs to.

    Society enforces a “compulsory heterosexuality” (Adrienne Rich). She is in some ways brilliant but I’ve always felt her work comes from a rather large chip on her shoulders.

    Thanks, Jon.

    • Thanks Anne, and great to hear from you 🙂 I was aware in putting up very brief summaries of his thought it might not be clear what he means. But I figure, this is a popular blog and hard-core academic stuff might bore people.

      In regard to “race”, he’s meaning race as in racism. So the idea of (say) the Native American race is inherently heterosexual, as only heteros can reproduce.

      Hee hee, I think you’re right about Adrienne Rich 🙂

      • Anne said

        Thanks, Jon, for taking the time to reply and explain his “racism” idea. Interesting to me that religion isn’t mentioned there, but maybe he is speaking only of biological responses.

        Re: Carol- So glad that she’s out of surgery and there is some optimism. Keeping you all in my thoughts–and prayers, too.

  7. Siannaphey said

    Nice to see more of your writing, and sending love and blessings to your sister Carol, and much joy on the approaching birth of your little girl :).

  8. Nicole said

    I wonder about that difference is at the heart of sexual object choice. There does seem to be biological drivers for mate choice, choosing those whose genes are different from your own increases the chances of having successful offspring. There have been studies where the more genetic difference there is between a men and women the more a women will like the mans smell.

    It is not like you don’t see this difference in the homosexual world either, when you look at a lot of lesbian couples they are often very different from each other. Perhaps this difference is a human trait rather than a heterosexual one.

    I propose that couples that end up looking like each other probably don’t have as much sex as those that look very different.

    Just one other though – If you live in a committed platonic relationship with someone without desire then people will still define that in terms of sexuality. If we take this a step further, could we define almost all relationships in this way? So that I could say I have a heterosexual relationship with my dad?

    Oh one other thing, is heterosexuality come from a standpoint of physical difference or social difference, or identity difference? I just ask because when I was pre-op (as a transexual), would my lesbian relationship be considered heterosexual? My desire has not changed since then, but now my genitalia have. If I desire a straight woman is that the same as if I desire a lesbian woman? If I desired a man, which I have once, does that make me heterosexual in that instance?

    • Great thoughts Nicole. “I propose that couples that end up looking like each other probably don’t have as much sex as those that look very different.” Hee hee 😉

      Looking forward to catching up with you in person again

  9. Must not have paid attention about you having a kid or you just kept it private; either way’s understandable. Congrats on that.

    Cancer thing sucks, but a joking approach to it might be found in Code Monkeys Season 1, Episode 7, where the CEO of the game company in the series has what they call “butthole cancer”. Gets very weird after a while, but the whole series is pretty weird.

    I think what you’ve communicated on grad school education is what’s making me not desire it, not to mention that I’m getting rejected left and right this second time around applications.

    The idea of heterosexuality as a new term is already cool to consider, not to mention the implications of the dichotomy created by the equally new term of homosexuality, if I’m not mistaken. But it doesn’t seem like it has the same implications of co existence of mutual opposites/contrasts as, say, homogenity and heterogeneity in chemistry, if I still remember my high school education in it. Heterosexuality as the “norm” does seem to generate those qualities you put forward from your studies, I have to wonder about parallel considerations of difference and opposite that exist with homosexual relationships.

    It’s not like you are attracted to yourself per se (homo or hetero), unless we’re talking the Greek (?) theory that your soulmate was literally your other half and it could be homosexual or heterosexual in terms of coupling. The fact that you see qualities of yourself doesn’t negate that you also see qualities that complement yourself. The only thing that might really diverge from homosexuality qualities is procreation. Even affirming yourself as normal could exist in that you are still a sexual being even if you are homosexual. The asexual/nonsexual people would be the ones that could be considered ‘abnormal’ in the model where being sexual is normal, even if you’re homosexual.

    • It’s true, I do keep a lot of aspects of my life private, eg I often don’t use real names of friends. (Although the baby was mentioned a few posts back.) Spritzophrenia is more about ideas that me personally, although I’ve realised I can’t keep myself out of the conversation given my interests (eg https://spritzophrenia.wordpress.com/2010/07/19/this-is-hard/ )

    • I must check out Code Monkeys, thanks – I’m always on the lookout for good things to watch. Recently “Archer” has been a favourite, along with “Lucy, Daughter of the Devil”.

      I think you have fair points re: sexuality. The idea of “normal” is generally problematic for sexuality studies, as you can probably imagine.

      For myself, I don’t identify with all of his list of 5 attributes. Some of them don’t seem to quite ring true.

  10. Reiko said

    Hi Jonathan, always great seeing what’s going on in your world. My best to you and your “Happygirl” – delighted for the three of you! 😉

    Also my thoughts and prayers for your sister today. Wishing her the best for a quick recovery. *♥*

    Re: Heterosexuality: I think Dyer’s conclusion is half right — heterosexuality is just a desire for man-woman coitus, regardless of being identified by the desire for it. You are (whoever) turns you on. There’s nothing wrong or right about it – it is who you are.

    I disagree with the notion of race being profoundly heterosexual. Honestly, I really don’t see anyone’s race; I see the person before me. A person’s race to me is like what a person is wearing. I’m not sure why I see people this way, or even if it’s anything unusual.

    • Lovely to have a comment from you Reiko, thanks 🙂

      Post-operation the news is a lot better about Carol – I’ll post about that soon.

      One strand of sociology of sexuality (queer studies) does focus a lot on what you *desire*, rather than some kind of “identity” as a heterosexual, homosexual, etc.

  11. […] Is It May Already? […]

  12. […] Is It May Already? […]

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

%d bloggers like this: