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Tumblrweed

Reading a book on heterosexuality

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Posted (edited)

More specifically, I'm reading Straight: The Surprisingly Short History of Heterosexuality by Hanne Blank. As the author points out time and again, you can't understand sexuality without looking at heterosexuality and what the so-called "standard" was considered to be, so I took a chance and borrowed the e-book. Even then, I never expected to find vindication in the written form! It's been a wonderful read all around so far. Just tonight, I got so excited when I reached "Chapter 4: The Marrying Type" and came across this paragraph that had me SCREAMING (emphasis my own):

"As difficult as it may be for us to believe today, particularly if we have had the seemingly involuntary, overwhelming experience of "falling in love," anthropological and historical evidence both suggest that falling in love is not actually something human beings are hard-wired to do but a behavior pattern that is learned. In cultures where there is no significant cultural pattern of experiencing romantic love, most people do not. Such a pattern did ultimately develop in the West, but for most of our history it was not part of the everyday experience of the average person."

The book was published in 2012 and makes no overt references to asexuality or aromanticism as of yet, but I got! so!! pumped!!! And wanted to share this quote somewhere. I will definitely be doing some digging into any references I can find to see what research in anthropology and history Blank has based this paragraph on. What does everyone else think?

Edited by Tumblrweed
Fixed the chapter title
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wow this is super interesting!! Do you think the rest of the book is worth reading?

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20 hours ago, aspecofstardust said:

wow this is super interesting!! Do you think the rest of the book is worth reading?

I just finished reading the book today, and I'm still glad I picked it up! Looking up information on the author confirmed for me that she has a worldview that jives with me (feminist, trans-friendly, fat positivity), which might be why I found the ideas in her book easy to digest. I think some ideas in the book will be difficult for different groups of people to agree with, for different reasons.

I think this book would interest anyone who wanted to explore the history behind how heterosexuality (and the rise of sexual orientation and sexual identity as concepts) became what it is today. Blank covers a wide variety of topics, including the origins of the terminology, the biological aspect (or lack thereof) of heterosexuality, sex, heterosexual marriage, gender relations, romance and courtship, and sexuality in general. This necessitates some talk genitals fairly regularly, so it might be hard to read if that makes you uncomfortable. Often, she goes over how all of these topics have changed from the industrial revolution until now. Even if you don't end up agreeing with all her assertions, I think Blank provides a new perspective on some things people take for granted.

And hey, if you're not sure whether it's something you're interested in, I'd say to give the introduction (or at least the end of the introduction, if the full intro is too long) a read, if you can!

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Interesting. Where can I find this book?

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Posted (edited)
On 5/22/2020 at 8:03 AM, Tumblrweed said:

"As difficult as it may be for us to believe today, particularly if we have had the seemingly involuntary, overwhelming experience of "falling in love," anthropological and historical evidence both suggest that falling in love is not actually something human beings are hard-wired to do but a behavior pattern that is learned. In cultures where there is no significant cultural pattern of experiencing romantic love, most people do not. Such a pattern did ultimately develop in the West, but for most of our history it was not part of the everyday experience of the average person."

It also notable does not appear at all in Western culture until recently. Though it's quite common for it to be retconned into earlier history and literature.
With amantonormativity being more recent. 

However there's also this kind of junk sceince which assumes romance is innate rather than a learned behaviour.

Edited by Mark

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On 5/24/2020 at 3:39 AM, Qim said:

Interesting. Where can I find this book?

It's on Amazon, but only in paper and audio versions.

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cool!  makes sense, considering, as @Mark pointed out, we didn't hear much of romance in the west until relatively recently either.  and i'm sure i'd be interested to read the book and consider from my perspectives as heterosexual, aro, feminist, 'non-traditional' woman, and all that.  hey, you know what would be neat?  if a few of us read it so we could have more discussions, maybe even chapter-by-chapter.  like a book club, or like we used to do in school 😄

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On 5/26/2020 at 7:15 AM, Mark said:

It also notable does not appear at all in Western culture until recently. Though it's quite common for it to be retconned into earlier history and literature.
With amantonormativity being more recent. 

However there's also this kind of junk sceince which assumes romance is innate rather than a learned behaviour.

Thanks for sharing, Mark! I've been trying to look up sources for where the assertion that love doesn't appear in Western society until recently is from, since I want to have a solid foundation when I try to explain it to the people around me, but I'm having mixed results when I try to look up love in anthropological studies. Do you have any links or titles of books/aticles that you can point me to that explore that idea?

On 5/28/2020 at 1:16 AM, aro_elise said:

cool!  makes sense, considering, as @Mark pointed out, we didn't hear much of romance in the west until relatively recently either.  and i'm sure i'd be interested to read the book and consider from my perspectives as heterosexual, aro, feminist, 'non-traditional' woman, and all that.  hey, you know what would be neat?  if a few of us read it so we could have more discussions, maybe even chapter-by-chapter.  like a book club, or like we used to do in school 😄

Hey aro_elise! If you wanted to read the book and have someone to discuss each chapter with, I'd be all for discussing it here!!

On 5/23/2020 at 7:39 PM, Qim said:

Interesting. Where can I find this book?

Sorry about the late reply, Qim ^^;; Like Mark said, you could buy it off Amazon. I'd like to add that most libraries also take requests for books to add to their collection, so you could try requesting it if your local library doesn't already have a copy.

With COVID-19, I know libraries are closed in most--if not all--areas right now. I'm pretty lucky to live in an area with robust library services, like an online e-book collection, and I recognize that not everyone has that. If you don't want to spend money on it, and if it's not possible to get it through the library right now, it might just be a title to add to a reading list for now. Hope you're doing okay!

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