Remember when I said I had a good deal more to say about hegemonic heterosexuality? I hope you didn’t think I was kidding.
Look, I downright love SMBC Theater. Never mind that they’re nerdy, progressive, and innovative, they did the best “Who’s On First?” parody I’ve ever seen, including the Kids In The Hall one. But they also did this other one, which is basically a literal fucking diagram of hegemonic heterosexuality. Note that it ends with a “victory” by the woman, phrased specifically as “Relationship Acquired”, and that the move that gained her victory was willingness to perform kinky sexual acts in which she is presented as having no personal interest. I don’t want to claim that’s exactly what I said, but that is, exactly, what I said. Note also that the guy at the end seems unhappy and defeated at the idea of holding hands with his girlfriend. Think about what a depressing and grim definition of “being in love” you would have to have for that to be acceptable.
Likewise, I’ve talked before about how I enjoy Cracked.com and their wacky, factoid-based gender enforcement. And now they can help me out again, because some of you reading this are thinking “Gosh, I still don’t understand hegemonic heterosexuality, and that thing you described as a literal diagram was not literally a diagram. Could you diagram things a trifle more literally?” You got it, buddy. Actual, no-comedic-license diagrams of hegemonic heterosexuality. You’re welcome.
You may think I’m kidding. Did I seriously just cite two comedy websites, two good comedy websites, as examples of a real social phenomenon? You’re damn right I did. Comedy exists within societal context. One of the most difficult barriers to understanding the jokes of the past is that it’s hard to decode which set of offensive stereotypes they’re using. I had a hell of a time understanding dirty jokes from the 1920s until I figured out that “drummer” and “travelling salesman” were the same job. Comedy tells you a lot about the stereotyped assumptions of the era it’s from. Look at how gay jokes have evolved just in the last few decades.
So these jokes I cite, which are quite explicitly that-always-happens jokes, are observable symptoms of an ugly societal phenomenon, the set of bullshit assumptions we call hegemonic heterosexuality. Without those assumptions, the jokes don’t make sense. They’re as reliably diagnostic as deducing a virus by the presence of antibodies to that virus.
Now here’s the fucked-up part. The two actors in that “Date Wars” video? They’re married. To each other. On, presumably, purpose.
Think about that. There are three possibilities here. Possibly Zach Weiner literally does think of his marriage as being founded on his defeat, his knuckling-under to a relationship he does not want, and his brilliant wife Kelly agrees with that assessment of their relationship. Possibly they know that their relationship is based on mutual love and respect, but assume that everyone else’s relationship is based on a vicious struggle between stupid and crazy. Or, and for the sake of my sanity I have to assume this is the case, they know that it’s basically bullshit, but figure since that’s the model everyone else seems to take for granted, and it’s what all the other comedy seems to be based on, why not just go with the flow, run with the obvious assumptions the audience will understand, and basically not rock the gender-role boat?
It is a bitter condemnation of our culture that the third one is the least depressing possibility.