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Richard Dyer’s Five Characteristics of Heterosexuality

The sexual classification has been analyzed differently by psychologists. In the recent past, most scholars have critically analyzed and studied the development of lesbianism and gays. Studies of the two sexualities have laid a basis to study the heterosexuality characteristics. By definition, heterosexuality is the sexual attraction between a man and a woman (Wittig, 1992). In accordance with the sexuality classifications based on their characteristics, heterosexuality implies to be right and a natural phenomenon. However, there is more in the justification as compared to the gay and lesbian studies which have been identified beyond gender and race. Ideally, the major sexuality categories known are the homo, the bisexuals, and the heteros. This form of classification articulates both cultural and historical aspects. However, the classification has two shortcomings: first, the system fails to acknowledge the acts involved and is based on physiologies. Secondly, it is based on the Western society’s mania for compartmentalization. As heterosexuality is perceived as a way of procreation, its normalization and classification justification can be analyzed through the general characteristics portrayed by Richard Dyer.

Difference is at the Heart of Sexual Object Choice

According to Richard Dyer (1997), the heart’s choice is the determining factor in selecting the sexual object. Heterosexuality is an attraction as well as the intercourse between two people of the opposite sex. The two people are differentiated by gender; male and female. However, in a practical perspective, the heterosexuals choose sexual partners based on other factors rather than gender only. In reality, the heterosexuals consider the race, the age, nationality as well as the ability of the other partner. In this aspect, it is evident that the heterosexual choose partners who are more alike to them. Conversely, the term “like” is controversial in this aspect. In this generation, attraction to someone and choosing a partner is sustained by the feeling of love (Dyer, 1997).

People’s lifestyle has changed with globalization effects as diversity has been acknowledged by many communities apart from some who still hold on to their values and cultures (Dyer, 1997). Nowadays, in most communities race, class or nationalities are factors that are not considered in choosing a partner. Racism and discrimination have been eradicated slowly in most communities. This has led to intermarriages of different races and nationalities. Additionally, people’s perception towards the diversity of other cultures has drastically changed. A majority acknowledges and appreciates the different cultures and backgrounds and this results to choosing a partner based on gender.

Homosexuality is the attraction to the same sex (Dyer, 1997). This implies that the partners’ choice is based on the attraction itself rather than a concrete distinction of gender. In homosexuality, it is plausible to say that the partners are alike as they are either two males or two females. As each human being is different from each other, the abilities too differ. However, the ability of females and males are diverse. Masculinity is characterized by power, strength among others, while feminine is characterized by weakness as a female, is seen to be an inferior and is weak in nature (Dyer, 1997). Therefore, heterosexuality is natural and right as it does not distort the purpose of sexuality and cannot be compared to homosexuality based on the factors considered in the choice of the partner.

Sexuality and Procreation

Procreation is based on sexual intercourse between a male and a female. Heterosexual sex may lead to conception hence fulfilling the main purpose of God creating sexuality. Sexual reproduction is a right and noble thing as articulated by many religions as well as moral traditions. Sexual reproduction is the key reason as to why God created the male and female gonads. Dyer argues that even if heterosexuality is God given and may not necessary lead to conception, heterosexuality is boring when conception is controlled. In accordance to the argument, it is plausible to say that sexuality and procreation are correlated hence they are natural. However, when conception is avoided, it does not portray a tiresome part of heterosexuality life. Contrary to the argument, the homosexuals fail to obey the law of nature as homosexuality life does not lead to procreation. The outcome of sexual activity in homosexuality is just but the fulfillment of the sexual desire.

With respect to that, reasons to the avoidance of conception are justifiable. Even if the core purpose of sexuality is conception, the current lifestyle limits procreation as family planning is considered due to various reasons such as: financial factors, economic factors, social cultural factors or biological factors. Some cultures prohibit the use of family planning as it is said to interfere with God’s plan to fill this universe (Wittig, 1992). Further, diseases may also interfere with the ability to conceive of both man and woman but in most cases, treatment can be used to induce the ability to conceive. Financial constraints may also influence the avoidance to conceive. It is the human right to conceive and man has to obey God’s law of procreation, but the ability to conceive is subject to human purpose and environmental factors (Wittig, 1992). Even if conception can be controlled in heterosexuality, homosexuality sexual intercourse does not result in conception. Therefore, it is controversial to say that activities involved in heterosexual are tiresome to some extent.

Sexual Practice is an Affirmation of One’s Identity as Normal

Heterosexuality is regarded as the normal way of sexuality. Human beings do have the desire to be regarded as normal. The notion of normality creates pressure as every individual wants to be regarded as normal and powerful. Additionally, according to the Western culture, a person’s sexuality gives an identity of who we are. Through the identification of a person in terms of sexuality, heterosexuality is seen to give a sense of belonging to human as it is associated with normality (Rich, 1980). Heterosexuality has been recognized from the past and hence makes it difficult to accept that heterosexuality is the cornerstone for the development of bisexuality. Heterosexuality is inevitable as it is the sexual order of the society.

Different scholars have perceived heterosexuality differently. For instance, Rich (1980) emphasizes on compulsory heterosexuality. Conversely, Wittig regards heterosexuality to be merely a social relationship that occurs between a man and woman. Rich argues that if heterosexuality is the norm and it is the right thing, then there would not be challenges in threatening and punishing the lesbians and the gays for not practicing the norm. Additionally, t heterosexuality is based on the thought of the Western society. The differences and normality of a situation are simply founded on universality (Rich, 1980). It is believed that the world constitutes all differences which are the differences from straightness. Therefore, everyone strives to show how others are different from themselves.

Similarly, Richard Dyer supports the identity associated with sexuality. As every human strives to justify their straightness in sexuality, other sexual classes are often oppressed. The straight mind of heterosexuals oppresses not only the gays but also the hermaphrodites (Rich, 1980). Many scholars argue that culture has played a major role in enforcing the naturalness associated with heterosexuality. In this perspective, the history of heterosexuality invention argues that sexuality has been molded both socially and culturally. Gayism and lesbianism can be traced periodically from the drastic changes in the culture of the Western society.

The argument sexual practice is the affirmative of identity, can be nullified in its justification in that, in physiology the human body is created in such a way that the sexual desires come naturally and the sense of belonging is automatically generated by the feelings towards something. For instance, women are created in such a way that they feel and always want to belong to a man. Women are believed to have a sense of belonging towards a man. This feeling is inevitable. Moreover, the identity of human may also be based on other factors such as a person’s citizenship or nationality. A common disguise in identity is based on gender/sex male or female or rather the changes in lifestyle and radical changes in the societal cultures, heterosexuality is still a natural phenomenon. Contextually, another character defines heterosexuality as oppositeness. The heterosexuals are said to be complementary to each other in the sense that the gonads fits to each other. Additionally, the body structure of a man and that of a woman differs. Masculinity is defined to be active while feminine is said to be passive due to the difference in characters. The oppositeness of the two genders makes them compatible and thus constituting a perfect form relationship. Moreover, the compatibility of both male and female does not only make heterosexuality right but also makes it natural.

In conclusion, heterosexuality is argued differently, as a performance that is supposed to fix the gender as well as the suppression of the other sexualities. The gender roles that are underwritten by heterosexuality require a proclamation about the naturalness and the normality associated with heterosexuality. Sexuality especially the heterosexuality has been circulating in most cultures and portrayed in different cinemas and soap operas. However, even though other sexualities exist, there is need to appreciate the fact that that heterosexuality is natural as it is a product of procreation.


Dyer, R., 1997. Heterosexuality. Lesbian and gay studies: A critical introduction, pp.261-273.

Wittig, M., 1992. The straight mind and other essays. Beacon Press.

Rich, A., 1980. Compulsory heterosexuality and lesbian existence. Signs: Journal of women in culture and society5(4), pp.631-660.