Lecture by Jane Ward (UC Riverside): "The Tragedy of Heterosexuality"
In this work in progress, Jane Ward revisits early lesbian feminist theory to interrogate one of the basic premises of the gay rights movement—that heterosexuality is easier than queerness. Ward asks: for whom, and under what conditions, is straightness easier? Mapping the 20th century emergence of the “heterosexual repair industry”, she illuminates the seemingly obvious but unrelentingly ignored possibility that while being straight is largely beneficial for men, the same is often not true for women, for whom the institution of heterosexuality has been a site of violence, control, diminishment, and disappointment. Evoking rage as a queer methodology, Ward unmasks straightness as an institution that is erotically uninspired, given shape by the most predictable and punishing gender roles, emotionally scripted by decades of inane media, and outright illogical as a set of intimate relations anchored in a complaint-ridden swirl of desire and misogyny.