Lecture by Jane Ward (UC Riverside): "The Tragedy of Heterosexuality"

March 16, 2017 - 4:00pm to 5:30pm

Location and Address

Humanities Center 

602 Cathedral of Learning 


Speaker: Jane Ward (UC Riverside)

In this work in progress, Jane Ward revisits early lesbian feminist theory to interrogate one of the basic premises of the gay rights movement—that heterosexuality is easier than queerness. Ward asks: for whom, and under what conditions, is straightness easier?  Mapping the 20th century emergence of the “heterosexual repair industry”, she illuminates the seemingly obvious but unrelentingly ignored possibility that while being straight is largely beneficial for men, the same is often not true for women, for whom the institution of heterosexuality has been a site of violence, control, diminishment, and disappointment. Evoking rage as a queer methodology, Ward unmasks straightness as an institution that is erotically uninspired, given shape by the most predictable and punishing gender roles, emotionally scripted by decades of inane media, and outright illogical as a set of intimate relations anchored in a complaint-ridden swirl of desire and misogyny.


Sponsored by GSWS, 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