Image of two men kissingA Critique of Social Constructionism and Postmodern Queer Theory by Rictor Norton


The social constructionists believe, as did Freud, that the ancient world experienced a generalized sexuality or sensuality rather than specific types of sexuality. That is, the instinct of sexual pleasure itself is claimed to have been more important than specific gendered objects of that pleasure. Modern homosexuals identify themselves with reference to the gender of the object of their sexual desires, that is, an ‘orientation’, and supposedly few ancient people thought of themselves that way or were so viewed by others. Robert Padgug supports this view by citing the example of Plutarch’s Moralia in which a series of love stories are provided in pairs, one about male–male love followed by one about male–female love. Padgug seems to think that the fact that they are accorded equal weight somehow proves that Plutarch believed there was just one single sexual passion. But this example proves just the opposite: that Plutarch recognized that there were two different sorts of passions, for which the gender of the beloved object was important.

This formalistic pairing of straight and queer is very common in Hellenistic literature, e.g. Philostratos (c. 170–245) wrote a series of rhetorical love letters, about half addressed to boys and half addressed to girls, and the medieval debate dialogues provide the same sort of indication that an awareness of opposing orientations is not anachronistic.

Demosthenes’s wife complained bitterly when her husband shared his own bed with his boyfriend Cnossia – until she seduced him herself. Classical literature is full of jokes about men who like boys as well as women. Humorous literature from ancient China through medieval Europe is full of tales about wives who are anxious or jealous about their husbands’ boyfriends. In a very large body of satirical literature, bisexuality is not so much the norm as a subject for humour. The key feature of ‘bisexuality’ is invariably its homosexual component.

Much has been made about the coexistence of institutionalized homosexuality and heterosexuality, as if to suggest that a dichotomy between them was not recognized in the ancient world. The representative model used to illustrate the difference between ancient and modern conceptions is that of Crete, where a twenty-two-year-old youth ‘mock abducts’ a twelve-year-old youth, gives him bride-gifts and effectively marries him and they live together for ten years, after which the older man marries a woman and the younger man, now an adult, ‘mock-abducts’ his own younger companion and another cycle begins. It is held that the transition from ten years of homosexuality to ‘a life of heterosexuality’ is possible only because the homosexual/heterosexual binarism did not exist, and there is no real transition because the erotic relationship remains structured along the same lines of gender/power.

But the Cretan model is more problematical than that. After marrying a woman, the Cretan man nevertheless continued to live in the male barracks; ‘It is thus most likely that even if an adult male had both a male "partner" and a wife, he would actually live with the former rather than the latter, at least until he was relatively old’ (Boswell 1994). It is quite possible to consider the Cretan model as evidence for predominant homosexual relationships with temporary and minor heterosexual interludes. Several studies of institutionalized homosexuality in Melanesia have also found that the transition from homosexual youth to heterosexual adult is not so abrupt and easy as it is often portrayed; for example, among the Marind once the youth achieves adult status and becomes the dominant inseminator of a younger partner ‘he is in no hurry to marry as he finds much gratification in his status’, and even after marriage Marind men continue to engage in homosexual affairs throughout their lives (Creed 1994).

It is not strictly true that the ancient Greeks assumed that all men were bisexual. It is more accurate to say that they assumed that all men were capable of homosexual desire. Philosophically these may add up to the same thing, but the focus is significantly different. In individuals, and often in groups, preference rather than capacity is the key issue. It might be correct to say that the Etruscans were bisexual, as they did have wives and courtesans, but according to the fourth-century Greek philosopher Theopompus ‘They certainly have commerce with women, but they always enjoy themselves much better with boys and young men.’

In Rome in the second century it seems ‘that most young men had male lovers’ (Greenberg 1988). Sextus Propertius in the first century BC ‘prayed that his enemies would fall in love with women, and his friends with boys’. But Greenberg really overstates the case when he says that ‘Indifference to the sex of a sexual partner’ is manifest in the works of Martial, Catullus, Philostratus, Horace, Plautus, Tibullus, and Meleager. Virtually all readers, scholarly and ordinary, straight and gay, would agree that the love poetry addressed by Horace and Philostratus is artificial whereas their love poetry to boys and young men has the ring of truth and sincerity. Their works have formal bisexual balance but passionate queer content. Martial is often cited as an example of ‘the bisexual norm’ of the ancient world, but the love of boys predominates in his works. The social constructionist claim that ‘bisexuality was the norm’ in ancient and indigenous cultures is a careless use of language: bisexuality has never been a normative category in any culture.

It is an overgeneralization to say that ‘the Greeks assumed that ordinarily sexual choices were not mutually exclusive, but rather that people were generally capable of responding erotically to beauty in both sexes’, but in any case a so-called ‘ambisexual capability’ (Greenberg borrows this term from Freud) does not disprove preference. In fact a passion for boys is common in the satiric literature and lyrical poetry of ancient Greek, Roman and Arabic civilizations. Throughout history men who are technically labelled bisexual are noted for preferring boys. A queer preference is very clearly implied in many older sources of gay gossip. George Turberville on a diplomatic mission to Moscow in 1568 recorded that ‘Perhaps the muzhik hath a gay and gallant wife / To serve his beastly lust, yet he will lead a bugger’s life. / The monster more desires a boy within his bed / Than any wench’.

In indigenous cultures where institutional homosexuality has been documented, ethnographers point out the usual fact that these relations are integrated within larger heterosexual relations and then conclude that they both are part of a larger nonspecific category of sexuality. But a closer look at such societies often reveals not only the existence of the hetero/homo dichotomy, but a preference for homosexual relations. For example, ‘Lower-class women and female prostitutes are readily available to the men of the Swat Pukhtun of Northwest Pakistan, but they consider the most satisfying form of sexual gratification to be anal intercourse with a bedagh (passive male partner).’ Among the Swat, pederasty has declined mainly because they can no longer afford to have several bedaghs in their retinue, though adult men nevertheless continue to have young male lovers (Greenberg 1988). The bisexual net is similarly cast over the ancient Celts because they had boys as well as wives, but what Diodorus Siculus actually said, in the first century BC, is that ‘the men are much keener on their own sex’.

Since the 1970s bisexuality has been held up as a ‘liberating’ goal, a ‘pansexual’ state to be achieved. But throughout queer history it is not so much a status as a transitional phase from confused heterosexuality to confirmed homosexuality. Show me a man who before the 1970s ‘aims for bisexuality’ – as D. H. Lawrence is said to have done – and I will show you a tormented man who is unable to admit his homosexuality to himself. The black American writer James Baldwin is a classic example of the modern so-called ‘bisexual’ type. Homosexuality was his natural bent: his brother David said, ‘Honey, I knew when Jimmy was a little boy. Of course we just knew.’ Baldwin nevertheless was not quite clear about his sexual identity until about seventeen or so. He told his friend Sol Stein that he got gonorrhoea from a girl in his late teens, but Stein nevertheless said ‘I assumed from day one of knowing him that Jimmy’s preferences were gay.’ Another friend said that ‘He wasn’t decided about that sort of thing until later. When he was eighteen or nineteen, girls were all over him.’ His first gay experience was with a Harlem racketeer soon after he turned sixteen, which he referred to many times in his life: ‘I will be grateful to that man until the day I die.’ By the age of twenty he had decided he was definitely a homosexual; according to his friend Emile Capouya: ‘I thought he was a man who had flirted with homosexuality, but I had it the wrong way round’ (Weatherby 1989). Baldwin is still classified as ‘a bisexual’, but that is true in only the most unenlightening technical sense.

The nearly universal requirement that people get married has led to the assumption that married people who engage in homosexual relations are bisexual. But to apply the term ‘bisexual’ to many of these cases is to use the term so strictly and in such a minimalist technical sense that it ceases to be useful for the social historian. In many cases it is more accurate and more informative to employ the term ‘married homosexuals’. Heterosexual marriage is so much a part of life in India that most lesbians are married. As lesbianism becomes slightly more visible as a result of the activities of the lesbian activist group Sakhi (sakhiyana means ‘woman-to-woman bonding’), it is important to note that virtually all of these women do not call themselves ‘bisexual’ but use the phrase ‘married lesbians’ (Thadani 1996).

The concept of a bisexual lesbian is not too difficult to grasp, partly because it is a very frequent phenomenon – e.g. from Djuna Barnes and the chic women of the Left Bank in 1920s Paris to the black female singers of 1930s Harlem – and partly because there is no obvious linguistic conflict between ‘bisexual’ as a sexual term and ‘lesbian’ as a cultural term. The phrase ‘bisexual homosexual’, though it would be perceived as linguistically contradictory, accurately describes a phenomenon that certainly exists.

Oscar Wilde was married and had two children. That does not mean he was bisexual. As far as we can determine he had sex with more than a hundred young men, and only one woman, his wife. Even putting aside the issue of self-identity (and Wilde clearly identified with the love that dare not speak its name), it is obviously more accurate to call Wilde a married homosexual than a bisexual. In more recent times, The Right Reverend Derek Rawcliffe, retired Bishop of Glasgow, became involved in the activities in Gloucester Cathedral at the age of fourteen through his first boyfriend (ten years older than he), and during his thirty-two years in the South Pacific from 1947, fell in love with a young Solomon Islander when he was fifty. He became a bishop in 1974, and fell in love with an invalid woman on leave to England, and was happily married for ten years until her death in 1987. During his marriage he felt he was no longer gay, but looking back he realizes that was not true. ‘I have never been attracted to a woman before or since then. I remember when I was with her, walking down the street, I wouldn’t look at the pretty girls but at the men passing by. But I finally realised I had these feelings and accepted myself again as a gay man’ when he retired. He came out as gay in 1991 at the age of seventy: ‘I have always been a gay man’ (interview in Gay Times, December 1995). (In 1996 he was suspended from his post as an honorary assistant bishop for having conducted same-sex blessing ceremonies, but he has no regrets (Gay Times, December 1996).)

Questionnaires filled in by 388 homophile men for ONE Institute in 1961 revealed a high ratio of significance between homosexuals in heterosexual marriage and homosexuals in upper-level careers, the obvious conclusion being that marriage is important to a conventional career structure even for homosexuals (Legg 1994). It was very common in mid-twentieth-century Western societies for queer men to get married as a cover or as an attempt at cure, a trend which was becoming popular in the later nineteenth century. John Addington Symonds (1840–93) was a queer and knew it, but early in life was distressed by it. Like countless men, he consulted a doctor, who advised marriage as a cure. He married and had two children; he enjoyed sexual relations with his wife (though she did not enjoy sex, and eventually they ceased having intercourse). But his wife was the only woman he had sex with, whereas he had relations with a great many men and even sometimes brought them to live with him in the matrimonial home. It makes no sense to call Symonds bisexual: he was a married queer.

Similarly in an earlier period, William Beckford (1760–1844) married primarily as cover to mitigate the scandal over his affair with William Courteney. He had two children, but had no sex with a woman after the early death of his wife in childbirth. He characterized himself as a Barzaba, the Arabic word for ‘pederast’. It is not meaningful to call Beckford ‘bisexual’. The notoriously effeminate ‘Monsieur’, Philippe de France, duc d’Orléans (1647–1701), married twice and had three children, yet surely we have to agree with his wife Sophie that he was a ‘pederast’, not a ‘bisexual’. The composer Jean-Baptiste Lully (1632–87) got married and had ten children specifically to avoid scandals over his homosexual liaisons. But after becoming director of the Paris Opera and achieving a secure financial position, he again publicly flaunted his liaison with his page Brunet. Contemporaries who called Lully a sodomite were more correct than we moderns who call him a bisexual libertine.

Well before the medicalization of homosexuality it was relatively common for queer men to get married as cover, or for other social advantages. In 1870 (just at the time when ‘the homosexual’ was supposedly being 'constructed') John Fiske wrote from Edinburgh to his lover and ‘darling angel’, the transvestite Ernest Boulton:

Let me ask your advice. A young lady, whose family are friends of mine, is coming here. She is a charmingly-dressed beautiful fool with £30,000 a year. I have reason to believe that if I go in for her I can marry her. You know I never should care for her; but is the bait tempting enough for me to make this further sacrifice to respectability? Of course, after we were married I could do pretty much as I pleased. People don’t mind what one does on Ł30,000 a year.

Paris police archives reveal the declaration of a lawyer in 1724 that ‘he had a wife but hardly ever made use of her, that his marriage was a stratagem, cover-up, and that he had no taste for women, that he preferred an arse to a cunt’. He tried to persuade a young man – unfortunately a police decoy – to live with him, ‘that we would live together like two brothers’ (cited by Rey 1985). A Dutchman investigated in 1730 for having seduced more than a hundred men, and who had lived with another man for two years, was not convicted, but after repeated allegations he contracted a (childless) marriage to avoid further prosecution (Noordam 1989).

A satire published in 1707 purporting to be written by Abigail Hill Masham, Queen Anne’s bedchamberwoman and allegedly her lover, establishes an early awareness of the use of marriage as a strategy for avoiding lesbian stigma. Abigail confesses to being ‘rather addicted to another Sort of Passion, of having too great a Regard for my own Sex, insomuch that few People thought I would ever have Married; but to free my self from that Aspersion some of our Sex labour under, for being too fond of one another, I was resolv’d to Marry as soon as I cou’d fix to my Advantage or Inclination.’ I doubt that male libertines were as equitably bisexual as they are made out to be by literary historians; in any case there are virtually no female ‘bisexual’ libertines. Some of the members of the ‘new Cabal’ in Delarivière Manley’s New Atalantis (1709) are bisexual, but in this group – contrary to a misreading by Trumbach – ‘bisexuality is a deviation from the lesbian norm’ (Donoghue 1993).

There is hardly any period in history for which we can safely say that being married is a clear indicator of sexual identity. The history of homosexuality reveals that quite a few wives were virtually abandoned or cruelly ignored by their queer husbands. Usually the outcome of ‘lavender’ marriages is not happy, unless some compensation is found. In the fourteenth century, we read in Boccaccio’s Decameron the story of the man who marries in order to dispel rumours that he is queer. The inevitably unsatisfying nature of his marriage is resolved when he makes love to a young man who makes love to his wife. The young man is the bisexual in this relationship, not the husband. Juvenal satirized passive adult men who hired bisexual men to satisfy both them and their wives.

Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson present the not-uncommon phenomenon of a lesbian married to a gay man. They are called ‘bisexual’, but in fact their sexual relations with one another ceased after a year or two, while remaining quite active with others of the same sex. The ‘lavender’ marriage of Natacha Rambova and Rudolph Valentino was unconsummated (Rambova’s lover was Alla Nazimova). Like perhaps most lesbians, Mercedes De Acosta married as she was expected to do, and she remained married for fifteen years, but her husband was the only man she ever had sex with, and they spent hardly any time together (Collis 1994).

China, ancient and modern, is a kinship-based society in which marriage and children are important at all levels, from the use of children as agricultural labourers to the dynastic linking of families in the courts. Men we now call ‘bisexual’ usually married a woman simply to bond two lineage groups. Nearly all the rulers of ancient China were ‘bisexual’ in this sense, but homosexual favouritism was nevertheless almost universal and in very many cases was the primary love relationship of the ruler. It was common for the emperor to have sex with his concubines in their quarters, but his male favourite would sleep in his room every night and would be his most intimate companion. (But despite this norm, homosexual monogamy was not inconceivable in China; exclusive homosexual relationships between students are portrayed as early as the third century BC). The ancient Chinese saw no contradiction in maintaining a heterosexual marriage and a homosexual romance: ‘Since this seeming sexual dichotomy between duty and pleasure resulted from the kinship-based tradition, it would survive for as long as kinship continued to provide the foundation for social structure. . . . Some men undoubtedly had sexual intercourse with women because they were expected to do so, not because they desired it’ (Hinsch 1990).

Spencer’s (1995) history of homosexuality is a good corrective for those of us who too glibly subsume people who are more-or-less bisexual under the category homosexual and who fail to mention the fact that many people we call queer also had relations with the opposite sex. He says:

It is clear that we are discussing bisexuality, though writers constantly fall into the trap of talking about ‘homosexual’ Renaissance artists. Although Benvenuto Cellini was charged with sodomy three times, he also had affairs with women and eventually married. . . . Caravaggio openly painted his boy models for a patron, Cardinal Francesco del Monte, who himself had homosexual interests. Caravaggio was notorious in his passion for boys but also had relationships with women. Aretino seduced a married woman but also chased boys.

But neither Leonardo da Vinci nor Michelangelo had sexual relationships with women. Greenberg (1990), determined that gay identity and gay subculture cannot arise except in the context of exclusive homosexuality, misleadingly claims that Renaissance ‘sodomites’ were also ‘actively heterosexual’, but, as with Spencer, the examples he cites seem to be men who were predominantly homosexual but who had either some limited affairs with women or who married for convenience: e.g. Cellini suppressed knowledge of his homosexual affairs and married, Caravaggio had an affair with one woman but ‘lived for years with one of his male models’, Pietro Aretino seduced women but really seems to have preferred boys, whom he actively chased. Greenberg also emphasizes that during Elizabethan and Jacobean eras homosexuality was seldom exclusive, but he cites as an example the marriage of Francis Bacon – which was a late marriage, and it is clear from letters by Bacon’s mother that he preferred his menservants.

While it is true to say that many of the so-called ‘great queens of history’ in fact were seldom exclusively homosexual, the lists are nevertheless full of rulers such as Grand Prince Vasily II (father of Ivan the Terrible), who got married for reasons of state and was able to fulfil his conjugal duties only when a naked guardsman joined the royal couple in bed. Most public figures – virtually all rulers and ministers – have to marry for reasons of state, and such marriages hardly indicate bisexuality except in the most arid academic sense. To then go on to say that ‘This lack of exclusivity was an obstacle to the formation of a homosexual personal identity, or the creation of a subculture organized around homosexual choice’ is utterly without foundation.

Bray (1982) characterizes the typical libertine of the seventeenth century, John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, as having ‘his mistress on one arm and his "catamite" on the other’ – a phrase that has been repeated verbatim in all social constructionist homosexual histories. But it is characteristic of libertine literature to express the superiority of homosexual relations, not the equality of heterosexual and homosexual relations, nor even to praise bisexuality as such. A satirical poem of 1703 describes James Stanhope as one ‘who thinks no Pleasure like Italian Joy, / And to a Venus Arms prefers a Pathick Boy’. The libertines deliberately provoked and shocked the public not by expressing bisexual tastes, but by expressing a preference for homosexual tastes. For example, a character in the anonymous Wandering Whore (1660) says he would ‘fayn be buggering some of our wenches, if the Matron could get their consent, but had rather be dealing with smooth-fac’d prentices.’

Like many historians of homosexuality, Spencer quotes some famous lines by Rochester (1647–80) as evidence of libertine bisexuality: ‘Nor shall our love fits, Chloris, be forgot, / When each the well-looked link boy strove t'enjoy / And the best kiss was the deciding lot / Whether the boy fucked you, or I the boy.’ Spencer says that this demonstrates the view that going with a boy is ‘more or less like going with a girl’. But Rochester also wrote lines such as the following: 'Love a Woman? You're an Ass! / 'Tis a most insipid Passion. / . . . / There's a sweet, soft page of mine, / Does the trick worth forty wenches.' What these lines explicitly claim is a forty-to-one preference in favour of queer sex – which by any standards, such as Kinsey’s seven-point scale, must characterize the author as being almost exclusively homosexual by inclination!

Spencer also emphasizes, for example, the well-documented phenomena of the younger receptive boy in a homosexual relationship being the active partner in heterosexual relationships, as with male servants in ancient Chinese households. Nevertheless he misleads us when he speaks of Chinese young male prostitutes as being part of ‘a bisexual tradition’, for that implies that the prostitutes as well as their clients were bisexual, when in fact we know that male prostitutes were almost exclusively homosexual in ancient China and Japan and this should therefore be called ‘a queer tradition’.

It is indicative that Spencer, like most theorists, almost always sees the bisexual man as active, i.e. as a libertine who penetrates girls and boys fairly indiscriminantly. The passive male bisexual hardly exists as a concept, which points up the extent to which the word ‘bisexual’ is really a code word for ‘non-passive homosexual’. Some evidence of bisexuality, however limited, provides the saving grace for men who would otherwise be labelled with the same term used to stigmatize passive catamites. Trumbach’s influential theory about the ‘gender revolution’ that he supposes took place around 1700 depends heavily upon the stereotype of the ‘bisexual libertine’. But the libertines chosen to illustrate the case are not meaningfully bisexual by my reckoning, and most of the quotations cited to illustrate ‘indifferent bisexuality’ in fact, like the quotation from Rochester, are prima facie evidence of preferential homosexuality.

It is curious that something approaching bisexuality is more common among women than among men. We hear of many reports of women who leave their husbands, become part of a lesbian culture for a long period, then go back to a heterosexual relationship. This occurs often enough to be the subject of several studies and continuing research. Such cases – i.e. women who are exclusively heterosexual for a long period and then exclusively homosexual for a long period, and then maybe exclusively heterosexual for a long period, which we cannot dismiss by alleging 'confusion over sexual identity – are often treated as evidence for the importance of cultural factors in directing sexuality, and as evidence for the view that sexuality is malleable (rather than 'fixed' in an 'orientation'). But there are some interesting interrelated characteristics of this phenomenon, which actually support the essentialist or constitutional argument, that I would highlight:

This transitional phenomenon is experienced far more often by women rather than by men. Perhaps there may be cultural reasons for this apparent limitation to one sex/gender. But again, the reasons may also be biologically grounded in ways that female sexual arousal differs from male sexual arousal and that the female sex drive is more diffuse than the male sex drive. In most cases the transition moves in a fixed direction: the first stage is almost always straight, and the second stage is almost always lesbian – the reverse seldom occurs. And in most cases the movement comprises only two or three stages – from straight, to lesbian, and sometimes back to straight. Very rarely is there a constant shifting back and forth, which would be necessary to illustrate the malleability argument. There may be cultural reasons for this seemingly fixed directional pattern. Or, again, there may be non-cultural reasons, arising from an inborn sex 'drive' which knows where it's going and gets there despite cultural pressures and despite temporary deflections. Most of the women in the group who go from straight to lesbian and then back to straight will ascribe their motivation to cultural factors. Most of the women in the group who go from straight to lesbian and who stay lesbian will ascribe their motivation to essential factors, usually by claiming that they discovered their real self.

It seems to me that these very characteristic patterns raise the probability of such things as inborn sex drives and orientations. That is, they suggest the probable importance of essential factors that really cannot be so easily dismissed by the typical claim of queer theorists that 'The lives of women such as these invite us to abandon western systems of logic grounded in binary oppositions such as hetero/homo.' That claim is far too simplistic, and depends more on political ideology than on either history or observation.

Lillian Faderman in her book Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers: A History of Lesbian Life in Twentieth-Century America (1991) dicusses the phenomenon of the large numbers of American women who 'chose' to become lesbians during the 1970s in the wake of radical feminism: 'the 1970s offer a prime example of sexuality as a social construct. It was demonstrated in that decade how the spirit of an era could influence sexual behavior in large numbers of people at least as much as those other factors that had long been regarded as determining sexuality.' However, Faderman acknowledges that the lesbian choice was partly made possible for large numbers by the radical redefinition of lesbianism, a definition that practically erased sexual desire and replaced it with the political identification of 'woman-identified-woman', whereby a 'lesbian' became a woman who fought against heterosexual hegemony rather than a woman who had raunchy desires for women.

Faderman then relegates to a footnote a reference to a study by Elizabeth Wilson (1983) which suggests that 'many of the young women who elected to become lesbians through radical feminist dogma were doomed to disillusionment and eventually returned to heterosexuality'; and to another study by Zira Defries (1976) which showed that 'two-thirds of the lesbian-feminist students Defries treated returned, more or less, to heterosexuality.' This 1970s phenomenon is the strongest support that Faderman offers for the constructivist model of sexuality. It seems clear to me, on the contrary, that those women who remained in their 'choice' of lesbianism were pretty much lesbians to begin with, either because they exploited radical feminism as an opportunity to come out, or because they discovered their 'true selves' through consciousness-raising and so on.

This whole phenomenon of 'straight to lesbian to (maybe) straight again' suggests not only that there is an underlying orientation at the biological level that can sometimes, during periods of great stress or cultural pressure, be overlain by an artificially constructed orientation, but that the pull of the biological-level orientation often proves too strong to resist indefinitely.

A queer theorist will typically assert that 'The historian's task is to track the shifting meanings of sex and gender through a genealogical study of political, social, economic (etc.) power.' There is a strong tendency for gay and lesbian historians, like Faderman, to privilege change and to marginalize resistance to change (hence, in the cases mentioned above, to avoid acknowledging the existence of 'reversion'). I would counter that it is also the historian's task to document the repeated patterns and recurrent meanings of sex and gender and the struggle of the human bearers of sex and gender against the imposition of meanings upon them – whether these meanings are imposed by society at large or by queer theorists.

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CITATION: Rictor Norton, A Critique of Social Constructionism and Postmodern Queer Theory, "Bisexuality", 1 June 2002, expanded 22 August 2002, updated 19 June 2008 <>

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