Sunday, 31 May 2015


norm nörm, n a rule; a pattern; an authoritative standard; a type; the ordinary or most frequent value or state; an accepted standard of behaviour within a society; adj nor'mal according to rule; not deviating from the standard; regular, typical, ordinary; adj nor'mative of or relating to a norm; establishing a standard; prescriptive.
(source: The Chambers Dictionary, 1993, hard copy)

1: of, relating to, or determining norms or standards (normative tests);
2: conforming to or based on norms (normative behavior; normative judgments);
3: prescribing norms (normative rules of ethics; normative grammar).
(source: Merriam-Webster Online, based on Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition, 2003)

Normative (social sciences subheading)
In the social sciences, the term “normative” (...) may also relate, in a sociological context, to the role of cultural ‘norms’; the shared values or institutions that structural functionalists regard as constitutive of the social structure and social cohesion. These values and units of socialization thus act to encourage or enforce social activity and outcomes that ought to (with respect to the norms implicit in those structures) occur, while discouraging or preventing social activity that ought not occur. That is, they promote social activity that is socially valued.
(source: Wikipedia)

— is the belief that people fall into distinct and complementary genders (man and woman) with natural roles in life. It asserts that heterosexuality is the only sexual orientation or only norm, and states that sexual and marital relations are most (or only) fitting between people of opposite sexes. Consequently, a “heteronormative” view is one that involves alignment of biological sex, sexuality, gender identity and gender roles.
(source: Wikipedia)

— refers to the establishment of heterosexuality and traditional gender roles as the norm in society. In other words, it assumes that “normal” people are by default straight and everyone else is willfully deviant. This can lead to the marginalization of and prejudice against those in the LGBT community, kinky folk, or anyone else who does not identify with traditional sexual identities or gender expression. The term was coined by social critic Michael Warner in 1991.
(source: Rationalwiki)

Gender Normative
The expectation that one’s gender identity and expression fits society’s constructions and expectations of what it means to be a girl/woman or a boy/man.
(source: HRC Foundation Welcoming Schools Project)

Why am I quoting all these definitions? I suppose because I'm tired. Heteronormativity makes me tired. Gender normativity makes me tired. Gender normative people make me tired – sometimes anyway.

Okay, I can't really complain about any individual being gender normative. Indeed, I'd explicitly support the rights of a gender normative person (supposing they needed support) to be gender normative, to present how they like, to be how they like. I just wish there weren't so very many of them. Or at least that they weren't so culturally ubiquitous. So that when I turn on the television, for instance, I wouldn't only see them, and nobody but them, hyper-normative versions of them, even enforced hyper-normative versions of them (as per the recent high heels débâcle at Cannes). I don't want to see these images, these strictly binary – exaggerated binary – images of people, and nothing but these images, all day, every day, forever.

Where's the rest of us?!

But of course that's what normativity is. It's all-pervasive, self-perpetuating, monotonous; and it makes me tired.

I think I'll go lie on my bed and stare at the ceiling.


  1. That is why I won't go anywhere that has a dress code or a suggested fashion on the invitation. The only dress code I can abide by is the "No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service" near the beach.

  2. Hi Jamie. Thanks for dropping by :)

    Yes, I avoid dress codes as well. The last time I even wore a suit was at my father's funeral almost nine years ago – and I don't have that suit anymore. No room for it now anyway; my wardrobe is full of furry coats.

  3. Hi Jonathan, I found your compact collection of definitions thought-provoking and was of course very moved by the heartfelt and oh-so-articulate anecdotal second half of your piece. I wonder if it would be ok to have your email? The website I sub-edit, Prancing Through LIFE, is shifting the minority voice(s) that is (are) the genderqueer community, into the majority next week, and we would be honored to have your involvement, even in the form of a republication. Much obliged, Hannah

    1. Hi Hannah. Glad you like my grumble :)

      Email? Sure. My twitter handle is @malefemme . Follow me there and I'll DM you. Prancing sounds like fun :)

      Incidentally, regarding genderqueer minorities and the mainstream, this post by CN Lester is very much worth reading (if you haven't already).

      Jonathan x