Discussion: “(Dis)comfort and Norms”
Thoughts about the article “(Dis)comfort and Norms” by Sara Ahmed
“Heterosexuality as a script for an ideal life” states Sara Ahmed at the beginning of her article. Hence, heteronormativity could be described as all the repetition of protocols that we do unconsciously and that we perpetrate; how one should behave to be in the norms of heterosexuality, to be legitimate in a sense. Thus, gay rights movements are looking to establish a legitimacy of their way of life. Queer life is often caracterized by movement/fluidity/inconsistancy by opposition to the regulated heteorexuality. For instance with the same-sex marriage. To allow queers to act in a more “normative” way like getting married is a way for them to try to inhabit this heteronomative world while living their homosexuality. We could say, to be queer but on a heterosexual pattern.
How does this heteronormativity affect the physical body ?
We experience the world with our mind but also with our bodies. Heteronormativity has a direct influence on our environment. To realise that, just look at the Vitruvius body or open a Neufert book. Our environment is shaped on ideal images of ideal body proportions or on specific assigned role (for instance, woman in the kitchen so the measure are based on a woman body).
Vitruvius Man by Leonard da Vinci
Extract from Neufert
Those “hidden” rules can make us feel comfortable or uncomfortable. Thus, as architect, when we plan, we should always aks ourselves the question:
for whose comfort ?
Categories/Labels: are they avoidable ?
We also talked about groups or categories. Would it be possible to live only as oneself, detached from every kind of categories ? Why do we always have to be part of a group ? In an ideal world, this question may find an open answer. However, in a world where norms regulate interactions, it seems that belonging to a group is unavoidable. You cannot prevent people to put a label on you, whether you like it or not. As a matter of fact, who says script, says actor, and the play is already written.
Is discomfort limited to queers ?
Finally, we also mentionned the fact, that one doesn’t need to be “queer” to feel uncomfortable in this heteronormativity. Maybe this discomfort can explain why so many people get divorce or do not wish to marry to have kids for instance. Gently, some of those rules are being questioned. Why do we do that this way ? Do I really have to ? What if I would rather do it that way ?