Why this book?
I love the subversive title of this book. If there is no “heterosexuality” then there is no “homosexuality.” A challenging read, because of the subtle and complex reasoning Katz uses to untangle early erotic/procreative/love relationship concepts that were very differently structured from our own homo/hetero dichotomy. He uses history to show the slow development of the concept of heterosexuality, and that it is not “an essential, eternal, normal.” Katz draws on Michel Foucault regarding ancient Greece, on the Puritans, the Victorians, on Krafft-Ebing, Freud, and Alfred Kinsey, showing how language reveals the changing ways of conceptualizing and valuing differing modes of sexual expression. The critiques of Freud are a revelation.
Why should I read it?
What is this book about?
"Heterosexuality," assumed to denote a universal sexual and cultural norm, has been largely exempt from critical scrutiny. In this boldly original work, Jonathan Ned Katz challenges the common notion that the distinction between heterosexuality and homosexuality has been a timeless one. Building on the history of medical terminology, he reveals that as late as 1923 the term "heterosexuality" referred to a "morbid sexual passion" and that its current usage emerged to legitimate men and women having sex for pleasure. Drawing on the works of Sigmund Freud, James Baldwin, Betty Friedan, and Michel Foucault, "The Invention of Heterosexuality" considers the effects…