Uncovering the Heteronormative Sexuality

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Men should not cry or should be “tough” enough. Women should not dress or play like a boy. People act like a man or woman and anything against this is thought of as unmasculine or unfeminine. One’s inability to hold fast to the relative gender role is appropriately rebuffed and definitely hushed in unwavering adherence to the heteronormative codes. This paper means to investigate the transsexual voices which are stifled by the standards of heteronormative codes and those that do not fit in with this binary are consigned to the edges and skilfully destroyed.

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The paper additionally talks about how society is confounded between the term sexual orientation. It also enquires into the role of power that characterizes “Truth” which can be comprehended as an orderly strategy which produces, disperses, manages and flows.

Individuals perceive the planet in dyads –proper/horrific, white/black man/woman hence on and finally forth. People who fail to comply with this twin make-up are relegated to the margins and eventually obliterated. Devdutt Pattanaik’s The Pregnant King is an exploration of society’s regular labour to silence the behaviours that record an implicit or explicit violation of this binary construct. Simone de Beauvoir distinctively observes that “one isn’t always born, but particularly becomes, a lady” (Beauvoir 301) implying, the establishment of the gendered individuality isn’t a biological phenomenon, but a socio-cultural concoction. This is acquired via “repeated stylization of the body.” (Butler 33). However, humanity sees gender characteristics to be an indistinguishable integrant of one’s anatomical constituents, collectively inclusive, in which there exists one to one correspondence among biological sex and its respective gender. Butler calls this cultural assimilation of the “punitive consequences”, that is, “those who bomb to sort out their gender absolutely are consistently punished.” (Butler 522).

The book is an awesome voyage into Indian mythology and the peculiarities that it contains. Devdutt Pattanaik has utilized Hinduism?s complex mythology to weave this story about Yuvanashva, the King who gave birth to a child. Yuvanashva?s confusion about his maternal feelings for his son and gender identities forms the rest of this extraordinary story. In the novel, many such cases are elaborated where one’s failure to stick to the corresponding role is penalised and inevitably suppressed.

Heteronormativity is the perception or concept that all individuals are hetero sexual or that heterosexuality is the default or typical condition of a person. This term is popularized by Michael Warner. Men and women are the only gender category in the common parlance. By means of delineation, they exclude, forget about, and oppress homosexual, intersex, bisexual, and transgender identities.

This paper is categorized as follows: the primary segment starts with a presentation of society’s perception of sexual orientation and heteronormativity. The second segment discusses the methodology used in this study. The third phase is an analysis of the mythological regulations and norms that hinder and alter the rights of non-binary characters in the light of Foucault’s theory of power and truth. It is further explained with pie charts. The fourth session studies the contemporaneity of how far have we moved from the issues discussed in the myths. It also delves in to the gender discrimination faced by the LBTQI members.


The analysis is done with the help of Foucault’s theory of power and truth. Pie charts and graphs are used to lay bare the present day reality across cultures and nations. All through the route of the research, the paper has encountered with certain questions and has tried to answer those questions which have appeared in the path of the study and evaluation of uncovering the heteronormative codes. The following are the questions have been encountered during the course of research.

  1. What is a patriarchal society?
  2. How does mythology support binary gender system?
  3. How is truth created and what is the role of power in it?
  4. What would it lead to after coming out of the binary gender system?
  5. How far have we moved from mythology/tradition?

Analysis with Pie-Chart Presentation

Patriarchy refers to an ethos of communal warrant shaped by men for men. Altogether the convention and shared norms favour the heterosexual male. The educational, legal, political, and economic systems contain a built-in bias that favours the heterosexual male. A patriarchal refinement attributes the heterosexual gentleman supreme power and naturalizes the negation civil rights to women. The novel centers on Yuvanahsva, the pregnant ruler who inadvertently slips into the grey spot between fatherliness and motherhood. As a result, the novel narrates a few other tales that explores the difficulty of understanding sex and gender and additionally the blatant suppression of voices that change their direction from socially allied codes of conduct. The novel, for instance, narrates the story of Arjuna’s disguise as Brihanalla, a eunuch in the square of queen Virat. Furthermore, the stories of Somvat who metamorphoses into Somvati and of Aruni (the spirit of dawn) who masqueraded as a female and was forced to take the seed of Indra and Surya; it also mentions Ila, who practiced fatherhood and motherhood. According to the bards Ila’s story “was secret to the rituals of the temple” (Pattanaik 316) Illeshwara the god/goddess is escalated to Divinity and is not seen or is excluded from human being history.

Yuvanashva unintentionally drinks a magic elixir intended to impregnate his spouses and in conclusion himself conceives an offspring that begins to mature in his left thigh. At this juncture begins his trial, his distressed attempts at negotiating with his splintered sexual and gender identity. His unrelenting struggle against society’s constant labour at camouflaging the fissures to uphold its “non-existence” which by inference is “an admission that there was nothing to say about such things, nothing to see, and nothing to know” (Foucault 4). Asanga, his physician relegates his pregnancy to the field of the unnatural, ascribing to it the status of otherworldly or non-human experience. Yuvanashva’s mother, Shilavati treats his pregnancy disparagingly. In disgust of this unnatural growth of life inside her son, she strips off her human side and decides to execute it. “What if it is a monster? A parasite…Cut it out. Pick up the monster out of his body.” (Pattanaik 193-194)

Moving away from the heteronormative, hegemonic body or sexual norms is an extreme violation that disqualifies him for the “human” status and is consequently silenced. Yuvanashva faces this discrimination at the hands of his own family members. He is denied the truth of having given birth to a child and when he comes to know about it, he is denied admittance to the child. On Shilavati’s harsh directions the child is taken to the woman’s accommodate and its access is closed to Yuvanashva and says “Let motherhood remain with the women” (202), in faithful obedience to the heteronormative codes. Heteronormativity, as Jillian Todd Weiss puts it “Power to define our place in the hierarchy, to control those below us, and to be controlled by those above us and to step out of the hierarchy is to lose power and control, to lose congruity. To separate sex and gender is to disassemble the coiled binary structure from which our power, control, and sense of congruity derives.” (Weiss 185)

The prioritization of prescribed gender roles deprives Yuvanashva the right to nurse his own child Yuvanashva is granted to his wish in secrecy. He desperately seeks for chronological instances to resolve the dichotomy he experiences between motherly and filial emotions but history that“organizes…distributes…orders…arranges… establishes series” (Foucault, The Archaeology of realization 6-7) hardly ever gives credentials to such cases and if it does renders them inappropriate within the circle of society.

The above pie chart demonstrates the crime rate of Philippines towards the members of the non-binary structure .In addition to the high rates of domestic and sexual violence, Gender minorities becomes the object of transphobic hate crimes and state violence. It is likewise discovered that sexual minorities, such as the transgender community, are vulnerable to physical and psychological well-being challenges due to exposure to constant life stress. The investigation further finds that the transgender community in the U.S. have pre-conceived thoughts of dismissal, hostility, and discrimination from gender identities outside their groups.

To elude a similar fate with regards to the prince Mandhata, tales are made-up at felicitation ceremony to facilitate his acceptance in public. Simantini pertinently points out “people see what they are shown” (231) Foucault observes, on the reverse, every circle has its apparent “regime of truth” (Rainbow73) engendered and sustained as the incarnation of fact. Therefore History as a consequence does not keep track of truths, but realities which are tampered for convenience.

The bard deliberately hides the story of Bhangashvana, who is addressed mutually as both father and mother by his children from Yuvanashva as they themselves reveal, such stories are in no way cherished as facts but treated as sheer spectacular constructs. Anxious to endorse his position, Yuvanashva attempts to collect every single data from Arjuna. Arjuna refuses this request and says “Some stories are not meant to be remembered” (Pattanaik 241). But a response to Yuvanashva’s anxious plea, he narrates his experience as Brihanalla and confesses his desire to annihilate it from his memory: “Please don’t ask me to remember that year”, comes his earnest exhortation, “…It is terrible to appear as a woman and still have a man’s heart” (242). Enforcing exact adherence to events and expressions deemed fit for the respective sex is consequently too large that any violation of it directs to infamy. Arjuna recounts, how Uttara, the teenag son of Virat, object to his sister Uttari’s inclination towards archery claiming it to be a manly feat, to which Uttari retorted that her brother’s inclination for dance must moreover be condemned which acquires a feminine status. Archery for gentleman and dance for a female is seen as what Butler calls “the various acts of gender” which “create the idea of gender” without which “there would be no gender at all” (Butler, Performative Acts and Gender Constitution 522). To pursue their desires, which are unruly of their prescribed do gender codes they practice it in secrecy.

The society has its own way to suppress the voices of those who snub voluntary submission. Once Yuvanashva, expresses his wish to be addressed as mother by Mandhata, Simantini warns him of its dire consequences. She cautions him against the scandal, positing his parental category as mother, which is feminine. It may jeopardize against his public role as a King which is indubiously masculine. Simantini negates Yuvanashva’s wish to be both as: “To be mother you must be a woman….. If you are a woman you have no right to sit on the throne.” (258 .This is the reason that Yama’s account book has no track of Shilavati as a competent ruler who aggravated their kingdom to opulence on the loss of her companion. She is described in her female roles as “the dutiful daughter of Ahuka…. and doting mother of Yuvanashva” (337). Simantini, implores Yuvanashva, “Let the world see you as it wants to see you….Virile and strong and obedient… Be a father. Leave motherhood to me.” (259). As Yuvanashva refuses to concede, Simantini cautions him against the punishments that await such flexible perverts like him, a destiny that he himself effectuated with regards to Sumedha and Somvati.

The above reference chart demonstrates the level of physical and verbal harassments experienced by LGBTQI students at school. Education Week reports that as per the overview, verbal provocation of transgender students increased during 2015 and 2017.Eventhough nearly everybody in the survey said that they had the help of one or two staff of their school, the greater part of LGBTQI students received homophobic remarks from the staff and school mates. Students who have been harassed face serious physical, emotional and social issues, including depression, anxiety, eating or sleeping impairments, lower academic achievement, lower attendance, a more prominent probability of dropping out of school, and drug or alcohol abuse. The GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) reports that almost 20% of LGBTQI students changed their schools as they found the atmosphere hostile and awkward. More than 33% of them missed at least one school day in the most recent month as they felt unsafe.

Here the story of Sumedha and Somvati requires mention. Somvati was primarily Somvat, a youthful Brahmin boy. Sumedha and Somvat’s wedding had already been arranged with the two daughters of Kaveri on one condition. They had to bring a cow for themselves. Though Sumedha managed a cow, Somvat couldn’t get one. As a solution the two made a plan to pose as a Brahmin couple at the cow giving ceremony of Yuvanashva. They were caught and were put into the prison. Their crime was scandalous as they tried to delude the noble family, but further terrible was their faking as a “married couple” of same biological sex. On the night of their incarceration Somvat appallingly lamented on his manhood if he was a woman they would have left him. Sthunakarna, a yaksha, came to Somvat’s rescue and took his manhood. But after that morning the situation worsened. Somvat’s transformation to a woman was against the biological sexual category to which he was born. Yuvanashva proclaims; “The dharma- shastra say that roles and responsibilities of a Manava are determined at birth by his biology… You are born a man…You are forever a man” (Pattanaik 159). It is ironical that Yuvanashva who has lived the gender role assigned to him by society cascades in its vicious frills and hence Simantini warns “The world must not know that you are an aberration. They will cast you into the same pyre into which you cast those two boys.” (259).

However, Yuvanashva is rejected by his son Mandhata, the same incredible lad for whom he was increasingly quick to put his reputation at stake. In rigid assertion of prevalent gender stereotypes he passionately dismisses Yuvanashva’s claim of maternal identity. He desperately tries to confirm its non-existence: “Nothing had changed. The conversation in the maha-sabha had not taken place. He tried hard to forget it.” (Pattanaik 294). Mandhata’s obsession to the public codes compels Yuvanashva to give up the world.However he never again asserts his identity as “mother”. After long years of self-imposed silence he utters the truth and the public stamps him mad. Shilavati, to safeguard the reputation of the noble family, joints hands with others in confirmation of her son’s intuitive derangement.

Pattanaik, however, does not stop with Yuvanashva’s story. The fact that many stories like this have been decided for a retelling bespeaks the changing view of sex and sexuality in the contemporary age. Eventhough women are still considered as the “field” (Pattanaik 18) owned by the husband it is fascinating to take note of how Yuvanashva, a male, turns into the “field” by taking in the potion (seed) concocted by two men. The position of a life giver is ascribed to women as it is Simantini who gives Mandhata the stability of normative life. Yuvanashva has both ‘fathered’ and ‘mothered’ children. His title as the King, a virile spouse and that of a supporting mother longing to suckle his child appear to be strikingly incongruent. The Pregnant King is, therefore, the story of a mother who rules and a ruler who mothers.

Thus, society’s recurring attempt is to silence distinct sexualities that confuse the sexual and gender binaries .The strategies employed to accomplish this end ranges from voluntary submission to influential forgetfulness and penalizing measures. Each individual is forced to sustain the potential power structure. In the gush of exploring the sexual and gender politics, Foucault maintains that the power is neither unidirectional “extending from the top down” (94), nor an “all-encompassing opposition between rulers and ruled” (94). It is rather a “complex strategic situation in a particular society, exercised from innumerable points” (Foucault 93-94). Not only commoners like Sumedha and Somvati but also the ones in the prominent chairs like Yuvanashva, finds himself at its mercy.

Devdutt Pattanaik’s work blurs all the distinctions between what constitutes male and female, masculine and feminine, thereby upholding the subtleties of terms like gender and sexuality. The real impulses behind Yuvanashva’s act of transgressing and re-constructing those gender values that he once maintained are perceived in his naming the crown ruler Mandhata: “I like him to be called Mandhata” which means “he who was nursed by me”(Pattanaik 205). The association here is with maternal instead of paternal, articulating Yuvanashva’s non-heteronormative existence. Through the postcolonial Indian English novelist, the mythological past takes special shapes. The novelist re-narrates the past but from a distinct angle that it demolishes authority, stereotypes, icons and sexist values. In the contemporary society retellings provide the subaltern a voice of chance to speak. Individuals of this present age limit their understanding of hegemonic notions of gender with layered meanings. Although People have made large strides in attaining equal rights, the battles of the LGBTQI members vary significantly across countries and cultures. There are many countries in which gay marriage are still a distant dream and in a few nations, gay relationship itself is a criminal offence. Culture is not static; it changes slowly in relation to many external and internal factors. Freedom could be achieved only through a genuine interaction and association between the mainstream and the marginalised. Gay or straight, male or female the identity of an individual is not formed only on the basis of gender and sexual orientation.


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Uncovering the Heteronormative Sexuality. (2021, Apr 03). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/uncovering-the-heteronormative-sexuality/