chapter  5
31 Pages

Negotiating the Norm Speaking of Heterosexual Desire

Nowhere are these middle-class women’s narratives more eye-openingthan in their accounts of heterosexual desire. They effectively dispel myths about sexual conservatism, passivity, and dutiful but reluctant participation in heterosexual sex. Instead, their accounts indicate a range of discourses that shape the meanings of pleasurable participation in sexual activity and experimentation. These discourses are predominantly shaped by the links between heteronormativity, nationalisms, and transnational hegemonic codes. That the narratives appear to be colored by the lens of heteronormativity is reflected in that women seem to conflate sexuality with heterosexuality.1 What these narratives more explicitly indicate is how heteronormativity is inextricable from nationalisms and how the premise of heterosexuality is sustained through discourses of what is socially/sexually respectable. At the same time, transnational discourses-the fusion of love and sex and the use of English to tell the narratives-are so strong that they thrive across the accounts on aspects of heterosexuality. Women’s accounts of premarital and marital sexual activity indicate how they cast and recast these complex normative discourses of sexuality.