borders

by rantywoman

From Straight: The Surprisingly Short History of Heterosexuality by Hanne Blank, pp. 118-119:

What was love then? How did it work? What did it mean? Was it voluntary or involuntary, strategic or spontaneous? Was it universal, paying no heed to silly things like gender and sex, or was it rooted in biology? Did it obligate certain behaviors– like marriage and children– or was it complete in and of itself?

As a culture, we are fairly sure that heterosexuality is natural, normal, and desirable, and that heterosexual love is among life’s most validating and positive experiences. We organize heterosexuality around the principle of love now more than we have at any time in the past– the experience of romantic love is what legitimizes not only marriage, but separately legitimizes sexual activity and the having of children as well. Yet this love experience, this inherent part of heterosexual existence, it seems, can also be as anarchic, as fleeting, and as prone to slip out of our control as our ancestors warned us it would be. Perhaps this, as much as anything, explains the enduring fantasy allure of the happily-ever-afters of the Wonderful World of Disney, the moody sparkly-vampire love and angst of the blockbuster Twilight novels, and the shelves upon shelves of romance novels in every bookstore. Only in fiction and fantasy is the heterosexual “love adventure” something we can genuinely control, and therefore trust, regardless of how hard we try to make our real-life heterosexuality in its image.

And, p. 146:

But old habits, and old doxa, endure. It is not surprising that our present landscape of heterosexual pleasure is a mixed bag of libidinous experiment and anxious rules-lawyering: the border between freedom and control is an uneasy, highly political place… What it seems we really want is a heterosexuality in which we can enjoy all the thrills of riding the tiger of the libido while simultaneously being kept safe from its teeth and claws.

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