While a majority of people identify as "heterosexual" if asked about their sexual identity, what does that really mean? How did identifying as "straight" arise, particularly in relation to identifying as "queer," "lesbian," and "gay"? How are individuals socialized to view themselves and others as straight, even when many people are sexually fluid? How do institutions like government bodies, the educational system, and the family reinforce heterosexuality? This collection introduces the field of Critical Heterosexualities Studies and key lines of inquiry within the field.

Like Masculinity Studies and Whiteness Studies, Heterosexualities Studies critically examines the dominant category and identity group in order to illuminate the taken-for-granted assumptions that surround heterosexual identities. This critical perspective questions the idea that heterosexuality is natural, normal, and biologically driven. A recurring question throughout this Handbook is: what does it mean to say that there are multiple forms of heterosexuality? The answer is provided by cases showing how straightness varies between men and women but also across different racial groups, social classes, and one’s status as trans or cisgender.

Organized around key themes of inquiry including heterosexualities across the life course, straight identities and their intersections, the power of straightness in state politics, and the changing meaning of heterosexualities in the context of sexual fluidity, this collection provides readers with an introduction to Critical Heterosexualities Studies through important theoretical statements, key historical studies, and current empirical research. Featuring both classic works and original essays written expressly for this volume, this collection provides a state-of-the-art overview of this exciting new field in sexualities studies.

chapter |17 pages

Introduction Thinking straightness

An introduction to Critical Heterosexualities Studies

part I|70 pages

Origins, histories, theories

part II|125 pages

Heterosexualities across the life course

chapter 5|22 pages

Normalizing heterosexuality

Mothers' assumptions, talk, and strategies with young children

chapter 6|9 pages

"Your father wouldn't like it"

The social construction of heterosexuality in early childhood

chapter 7|17 pages

"Coming out"

Gender, (hetero)sexuality and the primary school

chapter 8|20 pages

The ambiguity of "having sex"

The subjective experience of virginity loss in the United States

chapter 9|13 pages

Hooking up

Hot hetero sex or the new numb normative?

chapter 10|32 pages

"Speaking as a heterosexual"

(How) does sexuality matter for talk-in-interaction?

chapter 11|10 pages

A heterosexual life

Older women and agency within marriage and the family

part III|88 pages

Straight identities and intersections of race, class, and gender

chapter 12|22 pages

Prisons for our bodies, closets for our minds

Racism, heterosexism, and Black sexuality

chapter 14|18 pages

Straight women

Doing and undoing compulsory heterosexuality in post-closeted American culture

chapter 15|8 pages

"Guys are just homophobic"

Rethinking adolescent homophobia and heterosexuality

chapter 16|12 pages

"Sprinkle some gay on my straight"

Hybrid hegemonic masculinities in a post-gay era

chapter 17|17 pages

Doing gender, doing heteronormativity*

"Gender normals," transgender people, and the social maintenance of heterosexuality

part IV|38 pages

Straight states

chapter 19|10 pages

Uganda's anti-homosexuality bill

Reflections from a transnational frame

chapter 20|5 pages

One is not born a bride

How weddings regulate heterosexuality

chapter 21|10 pages

Promoting marriage for America

The intimate relationship between the state and heterosexuality

part V|78 pages

Rethinking sexual fluidity, straight privilege, and allyship

chapter 22|9 pages

Straight girls kissing

Heteroflexibility in the college party scene

chapter 24|15 pages


Constructing normative masculinity among rural straight men that have sex with men*

chapter 25|15 pages

'Straight with a pinch of bi'

The contours of male heteroflexibility*

chapter 26|12 pages

No homo*

chapter 27|15 pages

"With allies like these..."

Toward a sociology of straight allies