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Feminism, the Family, and the Politics of the ClosetLesbian and Gay Displacement$
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Cheshire Calhoun

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780199257669

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0199257663.001.0001

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Introduction: Centering Sexual Orientation Politics

Introduction: Centering Sexual Orientation Politics

(p.1) 1 Introduction: Centering Sexual Orientation Politics
Feminism, the Family, and the Politics of the Closet

Cheshire Calhoun (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This introductory chapter lays the groundwork for future chapters by suggesting that feminist theorizing must make a methodological shift from thinking that heterosexism is just a by‐product of sexism, to thinking of lesbian and gay subordination as a separate axis of oppression that intersects with gender, race, and class axes of oppression. It also introduces the two central features of lesbian and gay subordination. The first of these is that the principal damaging effect of a heterosexist system is that it displaces lesbians and gays from both the public and private spheres of civil society so that they have no legitimated social location. The second is that the principal ideologies rationalizing lesbian and gay displacement are that there are only two natural and normal sexes/genders; that lesbian and gay sexuality is excessive, compulsive, and disconnected from romantic love; and that, for a variety of reasons, lesbians and gays are unfitted for marital and family life. The last part of the chapter makes general remarks on how the book fits into the essentialist–constructionist controversy.

Keywords:   constructionism, essentialism, feminism, feminist theory, gay men, heterosexism, lesbians, oppression, sexual orientation, sexual politics, subordination

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