Last Updated: March 23, 2020

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Definition - What does Heteronormative mean?

Heteronormative is a term used by social theorists to describe the viewpoint that heterosexual relationships are the most normal or natural, rather than simply one of many options. The term was popularized in 1991, when American social theorist Michael Warner used it in Introduction: Fear of a Queer Planet, a pioneering work of queer theory.

Heteronormative viewpoints are commonly expressed in the law, popular culture, and society in general. As heteronormative views present heterosexual relationships as preferred, LGBT relationships are seen to be different or unusual. Because of this, heteronormativity is often linked to homophobia and heterosexism.

Kinkly explains Heteronormative

We see heteronormative viewpoints and attitudes in a variety of places. People make heteronormative assumptions when they think a young boy will grow up and marry a woman, or that a little girl will marry a man when she's old enough. Heteronormative laws prevent homosexual couples marrying or adopting children in many parts of the world. Children's books are typically heteronormative, as they tend to only show heterosexual relationships.

While representations of relationships in television programs and films are changing, the majority of pop culture products are also heteronormative, with LGBT relationships still under represented. It's commonly believed that heteronormativity has led to many gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer, and asexual people feeling marginalized within their community and social spaces, including schools and churches.

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