Study Questions for “Not Gay: Sex between Straight White Men”

In progress

Chapter one:

  1. What does the author challenge? What does she argue? How effectively does she make her point?
  1. What does she say previous scientists, researchers, thinkers, and writers have gotten wrong? have gotten correct?
  1. How does she say culture defines heterosexuality? How does it explain “gay” behavior? How should we understand straight men’s homosexual behavior? How does she see sexuality as a social construction? How does she connect heterosexuality with homosexuality? Why is this important?
  1. Thus far, what does Ward mean about “gay” and “not gay”? What makes someone “gay” or “not gay”? How have notions of sexuality changed and categories changed or not changed? Who and what has helped drive this change? What does she say about the “born this way” polemic? How does this help us address, “Is there an LGBT History?”
  1. How would someone committed to essentialism respond to this work?
  1. How is her work interdisciplinary? What kind of evidence does she use?
  1. What surprised you about this chapter?
  1. What were some particularly thought-provoking passages?

Chapter two:

  1. What does this chapter argue, and how does it do that? Can you think of ways to possibility build a similar case or counter case?
  1. How do gender, race, and class connect and interact with sexuality and being “gay” or “not gay”? (Don’t forget being “White” is also a “race.”) How do notions of science relate to all of this?
  1. Is there a “straight” History? When and why were “straight White men” created? In your opinion, how is this more than or only an issue of semiotics?
  1. How did people explain and justify homosexual behavior? What is the gap between “identity” and “behavior”?
  1. How have terms describing sexuality shifted? When and why?
  1. What responsibility do Queer people have when it comes to shaping heterosexuality/heteronormativity and rigid binaries?

Chapter three:

  1. How and why does Ward criticize scientific “origins” of sexuality? When and why did these explanations emerge? What is the status of such research?
  1. What is the distinction between sexual identity, desire, and behavior?
  1. What three reasons does Ward articulate for why straight men have homosexual sex? Can you think of any other reasons? How do these relate to heteronormativity?
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