A Short History Of Heterosexuality

Straight, a new book by Hanne Blank, examines the “short history of heterosexuality” — a term that was not widely used until the “growth of the metropolis.” “[I]t was coined in Germany only in the second half of the 19th century and was first used in English several decades later with the classical sense of “hetero” (“other, different”), making it initially a term of opprobrium. Only in the first decades of the 20th century did it settle into its present niche, cushioned with overtones of romance, pleasure, health and normalcy,” a New York Times review notes. “Specific sexual behaviors, to be sure, were named, categorized and judged…[but] [s]exual misbehavior was not a marker of some sort of constitutional difference but merely evidence of temptation unsuccessfully resisted.” Straight comes out tomorrow from Beacon Press.