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Narrating Heterosexual Identities: Recollections, Omissions and Contradictions

By Angela Meah, Jenny Hockey and Vicky Robinson


This paper draws on narratives of heterosexual identity gathered from among\ud the members of different generations within extended families in East\ud Yorkshire. Within single life history interviews we therefore have data which\ud constitute memories of the past and narrative accounts of the present. What we\ud explore in this paper are the contradictions and omissions evident in our\ud material. Thus, for example, some interviewees recall the value they placed on\ud freedom to explore their sexuality during their adolescence yet, speaking as\ud parents, emphasise the importance of regulating their children’s sexual\ud experience. Others attribute chastity, monogamy and sexual restraint with an\ud unquestionably high moral status, yet openly endorse the vagaries of sexual\ud practice between particular individuals, including themselves. In some cases\ud these contradictions become apparent to the interviewee and we therefore\ud explore their reflections on this kind of dissonance. In others contradictions are\ud apparent only to the researcher. We analyse these narratives as aspects of the\ud ways in which heterosexuality, as an institution, is produced and reproduced.\ud Of particular interest are the continuities of heterosexual strategy which may\ud underpin apparently disparate practices. In addition we concern ourselves with\ud the ways in which individuals evaluate the ‘givens’ of heterosexuality,\ud amending, resisting or transforming the practices through which it is\ud constituted

Topics: H1
Publisher: University of Huddersfield
Year: 2004
OAI identifier:

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