In the United States and many other countries throughout the world, societal structures have been created to place some in a position of power and others into oppressed positions. These systems often remain unchallenged and force the oppressed into silence for fear of becoming outcasts. These systems affect everyone and can even go as far as making the oppressed internally believe that they are supposed to stay in their second class state. One of these many systems is heterosexism. This paper will cover what heterosexism is, the effects of heterosexism, how heterosexism relates to other forms of oppression, and what can be done to stop heterosexism from being perpetuated.
Julie Fish (2008) defines heterosexism, in her article, as the dominant standard that everyone is measured up to. Everyone is assumed to be heterosexual unless proven otherwise which then leads to sometimes being labeled as corrupt and of a lower status. Heterosexism is perpetuated through societal forces such as language, religion, and the media. This is heterosexism in a nutshell, but we must venture deeper for greater understanding. There are more complex issues that are part of heterosexism that affect people on both grand scale and individualistic levels. The following paragraphs will discuss these facets in more detail.
Heterosexism has many effects on people of both heterosexual and non-heterosexual orientations. First our focus will be on the oppressed group. Fish (2008) writes in her article that heterosexuality is made superior in two ways. The first way is defining heterosexuality as the correct sexuality and second by labeling anything but heterosexuality as immoral, unsafe, and abnormal. These two components are the bases for creating all sorts of assumptions that negatively impact lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) people. People commonly take these ideas as truth without even considering their validity. Fish (2008) states some of these assumptions such as same sex couples cannot provide the appropriate gender role models, same sex parents will raise their children to be gay, and children will be bullied because they have parents who are both of the same gender.
Brennan, Craig, and Thompson (2012) state in their study that there is a link between gay and bisexual men’s obsession with thinness and muscularity and internalized homophobia. In their study they linked gay and bisexual men to depression, eating disorders, and internalized homophobia. Their experiment was based around the theory that people adopt certain characteristics to have access to privileges in a society and be accepted by the dominant group. Brennan et al.’s (2012) results showed that of the men who showed higher levels of internalized homophobia they also exhibited higher drives for muscularity. This relates to heterosexism because gay and bisexual men are not considered the “norm.” This is why many gay and bisexual men have this obsession over being thin and muscular, partly because of...