The idea I occasionally kick around with internalized heteronormativity is that maybe internalized heteronormativity/growing up in a heteronormative world makes people more likely to categorize desires for strong emotional connection that are gendered towards opposite-gendered people as romantic, and same-gender desires as friendships. I haven’t really taken the time to analyze this thing in depth, though. - [Sciatrix here]
This is tangential to the topic they were all discussing (the quote above was in parenthesis), so I’ve elected to make a new post instead of reblogging, but I wanted to add my two cents that this was 100% true for me. Because I had no feelings of my own to guide me, I took onboard wholesale everything people had been telling me about How Adult Relationships Worked. I think it’s very easy to just honestly believe you’re straight for a good while, especially because, you know, it was always different when a boy called; there’s just this presumption even for straight people that any interaction with the “opposite” sex is clearly either in Romanceland or Leading There.
I have to say, it wasn’t even right away I got rid of this stuff either. I had always sort of had an idea once physicality entered my dating-type relationship that what I wanted from my boyfriend and what I wanted from my best friend weren’t different, and obviously this caused a lot of distress, but it never occurred to me that maybe I was gay. And then, after many years of wishing I was gay, I realized I was asexual but ID’d as heteroromantic. I went back over my past relationships and realized that I had loved a LOT more women than men, but I still couldn’t really open myself to thinking of my preference as one for women. It was probably two or three years before I finally was like, “this is ridiculous, you like ladies, just roll with it.”
The strangeness of this all is, even though I knew I wasn’t gay, it never occurred to me that I might not be straight! I’d had ONE boyfriend, you see, so… clearly….? And, you know, I don’t mean to downplay my feelings for him. I was serious about him, and he was serious about me back (for a while); I am not a Kinsey 6*. But given that he is the exception in the long list of people I have found swell, you’d think I’d have clued in faster. But no, it persisted: the exact same feelings were romance towards men and friendship towards women and that’s just how it was, except how it clearly wasn’t.
This whole debacle was clearly due to internalized heteronormativity, 100%. Every breakthrough or realization I had, every set-back I met, it was all because I had gone my life thinking I was straight and even when I knew I wasn’t, all the junk was still there, gumming up my mind.
….Not that this a scientific study makes, but if you are looking to amass anecdotal evidence, Sciatrix…?
[Note: I do not identify as any (a)romantic orientation, so please do not assign me one. Many thanks]
Well, mostly I just wanted to throw it out as a potential topic of conversation. I don’t really have the energy to write a long, in-depth post right now, but it was something that occurred to me as I was reading the conversation I was remarking on so I thought I might mention it.
Speaking for myself—I have never, at any point in my life, identified as straight. (Seriously, within a few months of thinking about it I had “asexual” and was fairly comfortable with that.) And yet when I was beginning to go “Well, how could I tell what romantic feelings are, what if I’m crushing on a friend and not knowing it?” in high school I was way more likely to freak out about this about my friends who were male—and I was much less emotionally invested in those friendships than I was in my friendships with ladies. It took me something like three, four years to work through the internalized heteronormativity and get to the point where I am at now, where I go “yep, there’s a gender difference about the kinds of people I end up feeling really really strongly about; yep, that difference is skewed well away from dudes; yep, the things I want aren’t necessarily normative friendships.”
And I am a Kinsey 6*, as far as that goes; I’ve never done the Schroedinger’s crush thing with a dude. I tend not to actively pursue friendships with guys I don’t know well, and I tend to want to keep my friendships with guys less close than my friendships with ladies. So… given how strong my gender skew is, I think it’s maybe a bit telling that I didn’t even notice it and start thinking about it until four years after I started identifying as asexual—four years in which I knew very well I wasn’t straight. I think those heteronomative ideas about how relationships get categorized can be very hard to notice and work out.
*Insofar as I have a romantic orientation, anyway; I’m pretty much like you in that I don’t find it a very useful concept and tend to not want to be categorized that way. Also in that Kinsey’s kind of simplistic in terms of gender, but I am still very firmly in the Uninterested in Dudes category.