I hate the word heteronormative. Like "trigger warning" and "privilege", it rubs me up the wrong way. I did use it, very reluctantly, in my last post and it even rubbed me up the wrong way then. It does, however, sometimes serve a purpose.
Why, oh why, am I talking about a word that I really don't want to use? Because of this blog post from a supporter of the "Lose the Lad's Mags" campaign. It argues that "lad's mags" are heteronormative. I have to say in opposition that the blog post itself, and the entire "Lose the Lad's Mags" campaign is heteronormative. I argued last post that feminism can be very heteronormative and here we have a very clear example.
1) Not discussing, and laughing off any attempt to discuss, the covers and content of gay magazines within the overall debate IS heteronormative.
At this point in the argument defenders of the campaign state that gay magazines are nothing like "lad's mags" and the content is far more coherent than that your average copy of Nuts (agreed!), but this undermines two arguments the campaign use.
i) that the covers of "lad's mags" aren't acceptable viewing material for children (an argument that totally ignores the "sexist" content)
ii) the covers of lad's mags are demeaning to women working and shopping in places that sell them and could constitute sexual harassment. This is the main thrust of the legal argument Lose the Lad's Mags are using!
So yes we do need to discuss gay mags if simply because their covers are often just as sexual as lad's mags and should absolutely be treated in the same way as them.
2) The blog post insists on referring to lad's mags as porn (and finds the only reason one would not want to censor them is because men "need to access porn in a supermarket.", which again ignores the women and non-heterosexual men defending lad's mags [a heteronormative assumption if ever I've seen one]) and asks if porn is allowed in supermarkets where is all the gay porn?
I have to wonder at this point if the writer thinks gay men buy the Naked issues of Attitude and Gay Times just for the travel, fashion and music sections. Does the writer think that these magazines are "safe" because the writer thinks gay men are "safe"? The implications of considering half naked women to be porn but not the Naked issues of gay magazines are horrendous. It speaks to the "gay men aren't real men" meme and desexualises gay men. That is heteronormativity.
3) The post completely ignores the fact that bisexual men (and anecdotally I've seen bisexual/lesbian women mention this too) also read lad's mags. It is not just heterosexual men who read these magazines.
The post also then criticises how bland the range of sexuality offered by lad's mags is and then dismisses the idea that any other sort of sexuality should be allowed in a magazine either! No sexuality allowed in the supermarket, thank you very much. We should also remove condoms and lube from the lower shelves too.
The sanitisation and desexualisation of society continues. Puritans will obviously be overjoyed to hear of this. But as has been shown before, such efforts often have terrible results, especially against us sexual minorities. And it doesn't get much more heteronormative than that!