The Tragedy of Heterosexuality
Jane Ward, University of California Riverside
In this work in progress, Jane Ward revisits early lesbian feminist scholarship to interrogate one of the basic premises of the mainstream LGBT rights movement: that heterosexuality is easier than queerness. Ward asks: for whom, and under what conditions, is straightness easier? Drawing on 20th and 21st century examples of the failure and dysfunction of heterosexuality, she illuminates the seemingly obvious but unrelentingly ignored possibility that while being straight is largely beneficial for men, the same is often not true for women, for whom the institution of heterosexuality has been a site of violence, control, diminishment, and disappointment. To document the tragedy, Ward focuses on the 20th century emergence of a “heterosexual repair industry”—a self-help empire designed to romanticize and ease heterosexual misery while eliding attention to heteropatriarchy and the queer, feminist interventions poised to undo it.
Wednesday, May 16 at 3:00pm to 5:00pm
CHASS Interdisciplinary South, 1113
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