The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and the Ethics of Queer Life

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Harvard University Press, 2000 - Social Science - 227 pages
31 Reviews
In this lively and surprising essay on the dangers of normalcy, Michael Warner sends a warning shot to the gay rights movement, which has cleaned up its image in order to blend in with the mainstream. By taking as its raison d'etre the fight for gay marriage, gay politics has abandoned its historic fight against the stigmatization of sex. But, as Warner shows, when gays agree to separate their 'sex' from their 'identity,' they are only rewarded with oppressive trends like stricter zoning of gay clubs and businesses, the 'Don't Ask/Don't Tell' policy in the military and, ironically, the 'Defense of Marriage' act. Warner presents a piercing and cogent analysis of the politics of shame and the stigma of sexual identity. He offers an alternative ethical vision that proclaims sex is as varied as the people who have it, and honesty and morality are not limited to those with a marriage license. His powerful indictment of all that's wrong with the trend to 'normalize' will spark heated debate among all readers; gay and straight, liberal and conservative.

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Review: The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and the Ethics of Queer Life

User Review  - Gina - Goodreads

this book changed the way i view so many things- from the institution of marriage, to the politics of sexual shame, to the direction of the gay rights movement. it blew my mind. i would say it's a must read (especially) for queer people. Read full review

Review: The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and the Ethics of Queer Life

User Review  - Toby Wiggins - Goodreads

Good introductory text to key ideas around how queerness challenges the normalizing push of lgbt movements (through sexual shame, marriage, and the policing of public sex). Unfortunate lack of intersectional analysis, and definitely overly cis gay male and american focused. Read full review

All 10 reviews »


The Ethics of Sexual Shame
Whats Wrong with Normal?
Beyond Gay Marriage
Zoning Out Sex
The Politics of Shame and HIV Prevention

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About the author (2000)

Michael Warner is Seymour H. Knox Professor of English and American Studies at Yale University. He is the editor of American Sermons: The Pilgrims to Martin Luther King and Fear of a Queer Planet. He also writes for The Nation, The Advocate, The Village Voice, and other periodicals.

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