Dirty Talk discusses heteronormativity, the patriarchies and you?

Chapman W. and Tatiana Parafiniuk-Talesnick

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by the Collegian or its editorial board.

This week your favs (or least favs… or maybe two commentators who you don’t know or don’t care about) are talking heteronormativity. What is heteronormativity you ask? According to our favorite spunky teens, Teen Vogue, (the power rangers are a close second) “it’s the idea that binary gender identity and heterosexual orientation (meaning, there are only two sexual orientations and genders) are the norm.”


The problem with heteronormativity is that it hurts people. The assumption that all people are straight is plain wrong. We’re not going to source this claim, watch Glee or Will & Grace or Queer Eye, queer people are out here. Beyond making people who have existed for the entire history of humanity explain themselves, heteronormativity sets up gender to be a binary. 

So, if you subscribe to the idea that there are only two genders, you’re probably wondering what the problem is. If your political framework is outside the heteronormative paradigm, then you’re probably annoyed with how slowly this article is moving ( ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ sorry).

Profound and witty T-shirts that proclaim “there are only two genders” have been a popular fashion staple among hip, young provocateurs. We don’t claim to be geniuses, these shirts could be a display of cutting-age commentary, and we just missed it. But we think the phrase proliferated from a place of ignorance, and then an odd thing happened where the ignorance was celebrated… and literally printed on a shirt??

According to the American Psychological Association, an estimate 1 in ever 1,500 babies is born with genitals that cannot easily be classified as male or female. This number is debated among experts – it’s hard to define exactly what qualifies intersex and many government agencies do not collect statistics about intersex individuals. Intersex is generally understood as atypical physical sex characteristics. This can mean external genitals that can’t be classified as male or female, incomplete development of the internal reproductive organs or abnormalities of the sex chromosomes, to name a few.

So it would appear that there are not two genders, but heteronormativity puts pressure on parents and doctors to force intersex babies to fit into a gender binary via early genital surgeries, and this can have serious consequences. One study suggests 47 percent of intersex people grow to be dissatisfied with the function of their genitals after surgery 37 percent dissatisfaction with overall sex life. A 2013 report by the United Nation’s Special Rapporteur on Torture called on the world’s nations to outlaw “genital normalizing” surgeries on intersex individuals.

This is so important to understand as it challenges assumptions of what is “natural.” When it comes to sexuality, what’s “natural” looks to be variation. When it comes to gender, what’s “natural” looks looks to be variation. And what in the heck does this have to do with you? Expectations based in arbitrary values attributed to arbitrary binaries can affect your relationships with your friends, family, lovers and yourself.

Listen to this week’s show: Tatiana argues that you’re more complicated than you think you are, phenomenal guest Zelle Moore shows us what White Supremacy has to do with this all and we all discuss Susan Striker, Teen Vogue and how live our best lives.

Questions? Comments? Tatiana Parafiniuk-Talesnick can be reached at managingeditor@collegian.com and Chapman Croskell can be reached at CCroskell@Collegian.com. Or find Chapman and Tati on Twitter: @Nescwick and @TatianaSophiaPT.