Sociology, Department of


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Published in Gender & Society 23 (June 2009), pp. 315–336; doi:10.1177/0891243209335635 Copyright © 2009 Sociologists for Women in Society; published by SAGE Publications. Used by permission.


This article examines accounts of heterosexuality in media for children. The authors analyze all the G-rated films grossing $100 million dollars or more between 1990 and 2005 and find two main accounts of heterosexuality. First, heterosexuality is constructed through hetero-romantic love relationships as exceptional, powerful, magical, and transformative. Second, heterosexuality outside of relationships is constructed through portrayals of men gazing desirously at women’s bodies. Both of these findings have implications for our understanding of heteronormativity. The first is seemingly at odds with theories that claim that heterosexuality’s mundane, assumed, everyday ordinariness lends heteronormativity its power. In fact, the authors suggest heterosexual exceptionalism may extend the pervasiveness of heterosexuality and serve as a means of inviting investment in it. The second offers ways to begin to think about how heteronormativity is gendered and racialized.

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