Location and Address
602 Cathedral of Learning
Speaker: Jane Ward (University of California Riverside)
Although the U.S. media has recently been abuzz with commentary about sexual fluidity, most accounts have focused on “girls who kiss girls” for the pleasure of male spectators, or men of color “on the down low” who are presumed to be gay and in the closet. But where do white men—the dominant culture’s most normalized and idealized figures—fit in to these narratives?
In this provocative book, Jane Ward follows straight white men’s homosexual encounters across numerous sites—from biker gangs and public bathrooms to college fraternities and the United States military—illustrating the unique ways that whiteness and masculinity converge to circumvent the cultural surveillance applied to men of color. Ward shows that the homosexual contact of straight white men is hardly an accident; instead, it does a good deal of productive work for white heteromasculinity. When white men approach homosexual sex in the “right” way—when they make a show of imposing it and enduring it—it functions to bolster not only their heterosexuality, but also their masculinity and whiteness. By taking sex between straight white men as its point of departure, Not Gay offers a new way to think about heterosexuality—not as the opposite or absence of homosexuality, but as its own unique mode of engaging homosexual sex, a mode characterized by pretense, disidentification and racialized heteronormative investments.
Professor Ward will also give a lecture on her current book project on the fragility of heteronormativity on Thursday afternoon.
Cosponsored by the Humanities Center and the Year of Diversity.
Jane Ward is associate professor of Gender and Sexuality Studies at UCR, where she teaches courses in feminist, queer, and heterosexuality studies. She has published on a broad range of topics including: feminist pornography; queer parenting; gay pride festivals; gay marriage campaigns; transgender relationships; the social construction of heterosexuality; the failure of diversity programs; and the evolution of HIV/AIDS organizations. Her first book, Respectably Queer: Diversity Culture in LGBT Activist Organizations was named by The Progressive magazine as a best book of 2008. Her second book, published by NYU Press, is titled Not Gay: Sex Between Straight White Men, which she will discuss during this Humanities Center Colloquium.