NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
ERIC Number: EJ871548
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 18
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1047-8248
We're Here, We're Queer, but We're Just like Heterosexuals: A Cultural Studies Analysis of Lesbian Themed Children's Books
Esposito, Jennifer
Educational Foundations, v23 n3-4 p61-78 Sum-Fall 2009
Heteronormativity creates heterosexuality as the quintessential ideal of sexuality, as the most natural state of being. This normalization, in turn, marginalizes homosexuality so that it becomes viewed as unnatural and immoral. Berlant and Warner (1998) go on to argue that one way heteronormative forms of intimacy get reinscribed is through love plots. This idea is important because the storylines of lesbian families in children's picture books often represent heteronormative love plots. As Rofes (1998) argues, often "a lesbian couple simply serves to replace a heterosexual couple as the source of knowledge and authority within the family" (p. 18). Such a substitution of a lesbian couple for a heterosexual one means that social issues like homophobia do not have to be addressed. The lesbian family, in this instance, lives and loves just like the heterosexual family. Thus, in the world of children's picture books, the lesbian family becomes insulated from its own marginalization. It is, therefore, important to understand how lesbian families are represented in a heteronormative society. To examine such representation, five children's picture books that include lesbian mothers and their children are analyzed in this article: (1) "Is Your Family Like Mine?" by Lois Abramchik; (2) "Asha's Mums" by Rosamund Elwin and Michele Paulse; (3) "Molly's Family" by Nancy Garden; (4) "Heather Has Two Mommies" by Leslea Newman; and (5) "The Daddy Machine" by Johnny Valentine. Using evidence from the picture books, four themes are examined: (1) Problematizing of not having a daddy; (2) De-queering; (3) "Don't ask, don't tell" policy; and (4) Catalyst for heterosexual growth. The texts examined here have posited that lesbian families are "just like" heterosexual families. The intended message seems to be that because lesbian families mimic heterosexual families, they should be accepted.
Caddo Gap Press. 3145 Geary Boulevard PMB 275, San Francisco, CA 94118. Tel: 415-666-3012; Fax: 415-666-3552; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A