Binary, Hegemony & Heteronormativity


I found some interesting excerpts from books in the library and journals online describing what this means. In the book ‘Masculinities in Theory: An Introduction’ by Todd W. Reeser I found a good definition for the word. “The hetero-normative imperative (the injunction to be and appear heterosexual).” The idea that the norm in society is to be heterosexual. From looking into it I have found that heteronormativity “within the ideological structure of patriarchal culture, heterosexual masculinity has traditionally been structured as the normative gender” (page 1, Constructing Masculinity), its the idea that society is built upon strict norms of two separate genders and that heterosexuality is the norm. – This article discusses everyday heteronormativity that we accept as normal. The idea that people don’t question standards, for example “men love sports and women love getting their nails done (but that women don’t love sports and men don’t like getting their nails done) is a gendered expectation based on the gendered binary.” – these things are passed off as whats normal or natural, the essence of heteronormativity.



The dominance of one social group over another, legitimising the norms and ideas of society. Dominant social roles over another group, for example masculine hegemony – men maintaining dominance over women. “Heterosexual hegemony is the dominance and control of one group over another, namely, the LGBT community. The norms and values of straight people are institutionalized and imposed upon gay and transgendered women and men. It is the assumption that there is only one way of being.” – this links to heteronormativity also.



More interesting ideas from the everyday feminism article, discussing how gender binary is the term used to describe only recognising two genders. Society norms can be disrupted when genders fall outside of male and female as it destroys the concept of a binary. Binaries don’t allow for anything in between.

‘Masculinities in Theory: An Introduction’ – “if we were to ask people what masculinity is, they might tell us it is something that men have and it is the opposite of femininity. This use of language is an assumption of binary opposition, an assumption that masculinity and femininity function together as a set of opposed terms.” – good example of gender binary.

“I know that I am masculine because I am not a woman, but I need a woman to know that I am a man.” – links back to Lauler, opposites that are unable to be combined and that rely on disidentifications.

“Why do most cultures tend to assume the idea of sex, to assume two sexes, and to assume them as opposite? The heteronormative imperative requires two opposite sexes.” We assume what the norms are, we should question them.


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