Sexuality is a social construct. This means that it is just an idea created by society. Terms, ideologies, labels, all created to categorize humans into binary oppositions to tell us a part. If you didn’t already know, gender is one of the biggest social constructs. The idea that females come popping out of the womb loving pink and barbies. And that boys like the colour blue and enjoy playing with trucks and soldiers. This idea of sexuality and gender is so skewed that we do not even know what our true internal thoughts and emotions are anymore.
Females can like trucks and wearing baggy clothes and having short hair, and this doesn’t make them a ‘tom-boy’; this makes them human. Boys can like pink and like to dress up and paint his nails, and this doesn’t make him gay or feminine. This just means that he is a human expressing what he likes. What is so wrong with that? Why does our society insist on categorizing and labeling people to determine how worthy they are?
Human beings are so much more complex then what society makes us out to be. It makes us think that at a young age, we must decide which category to label ourselves into: gay or straight. Or bisexual. There is no other options really. And since heterosexuality is seen as the norm and what is accepted in our society (due to a patriarchal system that benefits upper class, white males), everybody believes (or chooses to be) heterosexual. Straight. “Normal”.
The term homosexual was actually created first. Then ‘heterosexual’ came afterwards so that people could have something to compare the terms; to understand the difference. Homosexual meant nothing if there was no other binary opposition to be related to. We understand the world through binary oppositions. I know I’m not a boy because I am a girl. I know I’m not black because I am white. I know I’m not gay because I am straight. This is how we comprehend things.
But as I was saying, humans are so complex. We aren’t supposed to be categorized into binaries. We are mean to express ourselves naturally, and that cannot be done when we are either 100% straight or 100% gay. I guess that’s why the term bisexual was created. Humans require much more fluidity within sexuality. When we see someone of the same sex that we think is attractive, that is a homosexual tendency. Of course I’m not saying you are homosexual if you think your friend is pretty, however, that just goes to show how we should not label ourselves this way. Because humans are neither 100% gay or 100% straight – we need so much more fluidity. And that is just natural, not something to be shamed or embarrassed about. If we were truly 100% heterosexual, we would never have these thoughts.
Due to gender roles and a patriarchal society, females are given more fluidity and leeway when it comes to expressing sexuality. We can wear dresses AND pants. We can kiss boys, AND girls, and that’s okay. In fact, guys are turned on by it. Males don’t have this same luxury as females do. They can only wear pants. Because if they wear a dress, they are gay. They can’t even say “damn that dude is attractive” without everybody turning their heads and saying, “are you gay!!!??????”
Why is being gay such a weird and shocking thing still? And why can’t males express themselves like natural humans without being criticized? Everybody is just assumed to be heterosexual, so unless you state otherwise, that is what you will be defined as. Everybody thinks you’re straight unless you come out and have to tell people otherwise.
Eve Sedgwick, who is one of the key founders in queer studies, had this idea involving the Essentialist viewpoint and the Constructivist viewpoint. Basically the essentialist approach sees sexuality as a biological thing. As Lady GaGa says, “baby you were born that way,” It is set in stone. You were born either gay or straight. And you can’t change that over time. If parents dress up their sons and paint his nails, they can’t TURN him gay. Right?
Well, the constructivists say otherwise. They believe that due to our history and culture, the majority of humans lean towards heterosexuality because that is what’s considered normal and accepted in society. We were born into a society with pre-existing ideas regarding sexuality, and that our own personal sexuality is basically pre-determined for us once we are born. If we lived in a society where there were no labels, history, or cultures that favour heterosexuality, everybody would express themselves as we naturally are, which demonstrates both homo and heterosexual tendencies.
Interesting to think about huh? We’ve been taught all our lives that sexuality is such an easy, cookie cutter thing. Girls like boys. Boys like girls. Girls like pink. Boys like Blue. But when you challenge those thoughts and dig deeper into you, you truly see how complex we truly are as humans, and how no one – especially not society – can tell us who we are or what we should think.