The Tragedy of Heterosexuality

The Tragedy of Heterosexuality

by Jane Ward


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Winner, 2021 PROSE Award in the Cultural Anthropology & Sociology Category

Finalist, 2021 Lambda Literary Award in LGBTQ Studies

A troubling account of heterosexual desire in the era of #MeToo

Heterosexuality is in crisis. Reports of sexual harassment, misconduct, and rape saturate the news in the era of #MeToo. Straight men and women spend thousands of dollars every day on relationship coaches, seduction boot camps, and couple’s therapy in a search for happiness.

In The Tragedy of Heterosexuality, Jane Ward smartly explores what, exactly, is wrong with heterosexuality in the twenty-first century, and what straight people can do to fix it for good. She shows how straight women, and to a lesser extent straight men, have tried to mend a fraught patriarchal system in which intimacy, sexual fulfillment, and mutual respect are expected to coexist alongside enduring forms of inequality, alienation, and violence in straight relationships.

Ward also takes an intriguing look at the multi-billion-dollar self-help industry, which markets goods and services to help heterosexual couples without addressing the root of their problems. Ultimately, she encourages straight men and women to take a page out of queer culture, reminding them “about the human capacity to desire, fuck, and show respect at the same time.”

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781479851553
Publisher: New York University Press
Publication date: 09/01/2020
Series: Sexual Cultures Series , #56
Pages: 216
Sales rank: 290,502
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Jane Ward is Professor of Gender and Sexuality Studies at University of California Riverside, where she teaches courses in feminist, queer, and heterosexuality studies. She is the author of Not Gay: Sex Between Straight White Men (New York University Press, 2015), and Respectably Queer: Diversity Culture in LGBT Activist Organizations.

Table of Contents

1 Let's Call It What It Is: The Tragedy of Heterosexuality 1

2 He's Just Not That into You: The Misogyny Paradox 33

3 Pickup Artists: Inside the Seduction Industry 75

4 A Sick and Boring Life: Queer People Diagnose the Tragedy 113

5 Deep Heterosexuality: Toward a Future in Which Straight Men Like Women So Much That They Actually Like Women 155

Acknowledgments 175

Notes 177

Index 199

About the Author 207

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