Progressive. Queer. Feminist. Opinionated.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Adventures in Heteronormativity

As I've mentioned earlier in this blog, I have a lovely fiancee. Beth and I are planning to get married in about a year's time, so the time of Planning is upon us. Seeing as how, marriage-wise, we're about as femme as the femmiest femme that ever femmed, Planning definitely requires not only a great deal of time and effort, but also that capitalized 'P' -- we're going full-out Martha on this one.

The other day we -- this being Beth, myself, and Wherdragon from The Dyke Squad comment boards -- were traipsing about the mall and wandered into jewelry stores to look at diamond engagement rings. The first one we entered was a family-style business -- a few stores here and there, but largely local -- and we were attended to by two upstanding young men who were very intent on selling us things. After watching us for some small time, they said:

"So, is there any particular reason you're looking at diamond engagement rings?"

"Oh," says Beth and myself, "we're getting married."

"Ah," say the gentlemen. "Both of you?"

"Indeed," say we. "To each other."

And then, upon asking us when we were doing so (in a year's time to the day), began to tell us about their excellent year-long installment plan. All very delicate and well-behaved, with very little gap in their sales pitch.

Following this meeting -- and wishing to compare prices and so forth -- we head on over to a different, national chain store. This particular store is populated by women. The experience there was somewhat... different. The sales clerk who attended us did not handle us as deftly as the gentlemen did, and made her fatal error when, as we were attempting to leave, said:

"If you want, I can write down the number of that ring style..."

"No, no," say we.

"...so that he'll know which one to get when he comes to buy your ring," she finishes.

For those who haven't taken a parcel of sex+gender courses, "heteronormativity" refers to the idea that people sort of assume that heterosexuality is the norm. In this case, if a girl is going to get married, it's going to be to a guy.

I realize that we live in a heteronormative world -- that, in fact, heterosexuals do outnumber the homosexuals, and therefore the majority of women going to jewelry stores to look at diamond engagement rings are going to be heterosexuals (although why in the world you'd choose your engagement ring without your future hubby by your side, I certainly don't understand). And yet, one store managed to find a way to ascertain the truth of the situation, and one store went with the heteronormal theory.

The first store certainly did the better job, salesmanship-wise, but was the second store really wrong for assuming we were heterosexual? At the end of the day, I'm not really sure there's a bad guy here. Just a... less careful one.

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