Envisioning the World We Make, Social-Historical Construction, a Model, a Manifesto, 2 The Model

2  The Model
So let’s begin by playing naïve -- for just a moment of course -- and take the social construction idea literally. Social construction, I suggest, is not a metaphor, it’s a claim about the basic character of the human-created world. That human world is constituted by a number of fundamental elements, and these elements compose a structure historically organized in different ways.

Applied to heterosexual history, the particular social construction model I offer suggests that we ask: 1) If heterosexuality was socially and historically constructed, who were its constructors? 2) What were their aims? 3) Out of what pre-existing materials did they construct heterosexuality? 4) What means did they use? 5) When did they construct heterosexuality? 6) Where did they construct it? 7) What acts constructed heterosexuality? 8) What, exactly, was/is this construct’s character? 9) What were some of the most influential relationships between the basic elements of this construction process? 10) And what sort of system was produced when heterosexuality was constructed?

1)  Constructors
Men Attracted to Men, Women Attracted to Women
Among the initial constructors of what became the twentieth-century’s hetero-dominant regime were, paradoxically, men sexually attracted to men, and women sexually attracted to women, and their supporters. These early resistors and reformers responded to and rejected their societies’ dominant words, concepts, socially promulgated morals, and institutionalized laws -- “sodomy,” “buggery,” “crime against nature,” “mutual onanism,” “unnatural fornication,” “sapphism,” “sin.” These early activists searched for and created positive, new ways to rename and reconceptualize their intimacies, and, sometimes, to reform society’s institutionalized response.

In the U.S., for example, in 1855, 1856, and 1860, in the first three editions of Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman, gave eloquent, deeply-felt, public, poetic voice to erotic and affectionate desires of men for men, and of women and men for each other.[1] His Leaves of 1860 first provided powerful, public words expressing the sensual, “adhesive” love of men for men, and a parallel set of erotic, “amative” intimacies of men and women. But Whitman’s amative/adhesive distinction was not identical to the later heterosexual/homosexual dualism. Whitman advocated for a man-man, man-woman erotic. He did not distinguish a different-sex erotic from a same-sex sexuality that logically includes the erotic relations of women with women.

In Germany, in 1862, the scholar, student of law and medicine, Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, began to publish journalism and pamphlets in defense of the group of persons he called urnings.[2] These were, he wrote, people, born one sex but who possess the soul and feelings of the other sex – in our terms, persons sexually attracted to their own sex.

Ulrichs also named and defined a group of “dionings,” persons born one sex with the soul and feelings proper and natural to their sex -- men and women whose sexual desire was directed toward a different sex. This may  sound like an early new name for persons later defined as heterosexuals, but that’s not quite the case. Ulrichs frequently assumes that a dioning may sexually partner an urning. But he doesn’t imagine that the dioning’s sexual act with an urning thereby compromises the dioning’s status as dioning. But, if a heterosexual man, for example, has sex with a man, the heterosexual is thought to have endangered his hetero status.[3]

Changing the conceptual focus from criminal acts to natural feelings and desires, Ulrichs denied that the yearnings of urnings were unnatural. Urnings were born, he argued, with the usual, natural desire for a different sex. But that desire inhabited a body of the “wrong” sex. For example, the male urning was born with a female desire for a male, a biological, medical problem, not, properly, a legal issue or crime. Ulrichs acted on two fronts, discursively, creating terms and formulating concepts, as well as agitating among lawyers and lawmakers.

In 1865, Ulrichs and a supportive friend moved beyond publishing acts and began to publicly agitate for the reform of Germany’s “unnatural fornication” law, the statute that criminalized sex acts between men (sex acts between women were not criminalized). They asked the leading group of German lawyers, judges, and legislators to discuss the decriminalization of sex between men. The group refused to discuss their scandalous proposal.

But the stubborn Ulrichs refused to drop the issue. Two years later, on the morning of August 29, 1867, in Munich, he stood before the same group of 500 jurists and did what no one in history had done before. Ulrichs publicly championed a "class of persons" subjected "to an undeserved legal persecution for no other reason than ... nature has planted in them a sexual nature that is the opposite of that which is ... usual." His advocacy caused a great furor, and the discussion of decriminalization of unnatural fornication was not permitted.

In 1868, in Germany, Ulrichs was joined in his sexual reform efforts by journalist Karl Maria Kertbeny[4]. That year, in a private letter to Ulrichs, Kertbeny, in German, coined the terms “homosexual,” “heterosexual,” and “normalsexual” (and a few other sexual terms that didn’t make it). The naming of the heterosexual and normalsexual served the cause of homosexual law reform, ironic in terms of the later political use of the terms in the service of heterosexual supremacy. At stake in this renaming and rethinking of earlier categories was the essential character of the phenomena so named and rethought, and the individual, social, political, and legal implications of that discursive reconstruction.

In England, the upper-middle-class John Addington Symonds began to quietly, privately proselytize for “sexual inversion” and, later, for the reform of Great Britain’s “buggery” law. In 1883 he published A Problem in Greek Ethics (a history of ancient Greek pederasty), and in 1891, A Problem in Modern Ethics, a study of his own time’s “sexual inversion.” His inversion posited a non-inverted sexual instinct directed at a different sex.[5]

In 1894, the pioneering English homosexual emancipationist, Edward Carpenter, published a pamphlet on Sex-Love and Its Place in a Free Society. This named and argued for the free expression of the “sex-desires” of  “every man and woman” – a manifesto for a new sexual ethic.[6] The following year Carpenter privately circulated a defense of Homogenic Love, his term for affectionate and sexual relations between same-sex partners.[7] In 1897, his essay “An Unknown People” (lovers of the same sex) implied the existence of a “known people” (lovers of a different sex). In 1906 that essay was revised as “The Intermediate Sex,” a term expressing Carpenter’s understanding of same-sexers as a group located metaphorically between men and women.[8]

Sexual relations between women were referenced in Sexual Inversion, the book initiated by Symonds and published under the name of his collaborator, Havelock Ellis, in 1897.[9] There, a young, American “inverted woman,” “Miss S.,” is quoted as writing to a woman friend: “I am exercising my right in loving you as I do—with a love which I know has God’s sanction and blessing.” Citing the Lord’s backing, this woman equated sexual inversion with “love,” an affection to which she had a “right.” Defending her right to sex-love for a woman, her conceptual move also implicitly validated a right to its counterpart, the non-inverted sex-love of women and men for each other.[10] Defending a right to “love,” as opposed to a right to erotic pleasure, would become one of homosexual law reformers' chief tactics in the twentieth century.

These reformers’ words, ideas, speeches, and publications were, explicitly or implicitly, political acts on behalf of urnings, sexual inverts, and homosexuals. These activists contributed to a new, public consciousness of sexuality, in general, and of same-sex and different-sex sexuality, in particular.

The Married, White, American-Born, Protestant Middleclass
The behavioral changes and subjective concerns of married, white, American-born, Protestant, middleclass men and women played a  major role in constructing the heterosexual-homosexual order in the U.S.

The demographic record suggests that, starting in the late-1700s, over the course of their marriages, such couples began having fewer and fewer children. By the late-nineteenth century, the fruit of these couples’ loins was down to the surprisingly low number of two or less per family.[11] Many factors converge to explain this decrease, most prominently among them these couples practicing some form of birth control. If they were not abstaining as a contraceptive measure they were indulging in intercourse to enhance marital stability, intimacy, and pleasure, not reproduction.

For women, especially, the behavioral and mental change that transformed their bodies from reproductive vessels to means of pleasure and intimacy production represented a revolutionary repurposing, the effects of which we are still living out. This was indeed a revolution for women, a radical, substantial, qualitative shift in their role in the mode of production of human beings, a major sector of the economy. This was also a society-wide shift in the construction of intimacy and sexual pleasure in, and, later, outside of marriage.[12]

This white, middle-class shift in practice from married sex for procreation to married sex for pleasure constituted a radical, epochal, social-historical change in the objective interactions and subjective relationships of women and men – a major shift in the social system. From conceiving and using their bodies primarily as means of human reproduction, these women and men employed their bodies as means of pleasure production and intimacy enhancement. Their behavioral change helped to replace a bodily economy dedicated primarily to human procreation with a system devoted primarily to enjoyment and couple connection. This revolution in middle-class practice created this class’s need for a legitimation of that practice. That new norm was called, yes, heterosexuality. 

Medical Doctors, Psychiatrists, Psychologists, and Neurologists
The white, Protestant, middle-class of the late-nineteenth-century U.S. included a group of medical professionals who used their authority as health experts, body gurus, and knowledge producers to promulgate the new heterosexual norm. Prominent among these middle-class professionals were the doctors who took up the study of sexuality and came to be identified as sexologists. This group of medical doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, and neurologists provided themselves and other members of the middle class with a respectable rationale for their own and their class’s non-reproductive pleasure sex.

These American doctors were inspired by two especially influential European medical authorities on sexuality, the German, Richard von Kraft-Ebing, and the Austrian, Sigmund Freud – two early, prominent  promoters of the new heterosexual norm. Kraft-Ebing’s Psychopathia Sexualis, first published, in German, in 1886, and first translated and published in the U.S. in 1892, transported the term heterosexual into English.[13] Freud lectured on sexuality to an audience in 1909, at Clark University, in Worcester, Massachusetts, and by the mid-1920s his ideas on heterosex and homosex were being discussed in mainstream American newspapers and books. His first published use of the term heterosexual appeared, in German, in 1905, in his Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, first translated into English in 1910.[14] 

Entrepreneurs of Desire
Another middle class group that contributed substantially to the making of the modern hetero-homo system consisted of those capitalist entrepreneurs who helped lead the U.S. economy (and the economies of other developing nations), from agricultural production to industrialization, urbanization, and the production of a substantial consumer goods sector.[15] This transformation brought working class women and men together in rapidly growing cities, providing anonymous spaces that allowed for sexual experimentation away from the prying eyes of family members, friends, and neighbors. The new capitalist consumer culture also placed a positive value on satisfaction, fun, entertainment, happiness, pleasure, and, specifically, sexuality. Among the new entrepreneurs of desire were tavern and dancehall owners, movie and popular music producers, theatrical play producers, cosmetics and clothes manufacturers, advertising and marketing executives, and mainstream magazine, newspaper, and book publishers. In addition, the lifestyle of the wealthy, as reported in the sensation mongering popular press, allowed those publications to flaunt the old ethic of spiritual true love, and offer models of the new, enthralling heterosexually.

The Working Class
Working class men and women, white and African American, American-born and immigrant, groups unencumbered by the middle-class ideology of respectability, were another group of modern heterosexual system makers. This working class pro-sex culture is documented in the bawdy lyrics of black blues songs and white erotic folksongs of the Osarks. This class of white, black, and immigrant people participated in a sex-affirming culture before sex-affirmation and heterosexuality were constructed as respectable middle-class, marital values. The middle-class borrowed working class sexual morality to affirm their own class’s right to a pleasurable heterosexuality.[16]

Sex Radicals
Another group which contributed to the creation of the hetero-homo system were sex radicals, “advanced,” “bohemian” women and men interested in breaking free of the restrictions of nineteenth-century “true love” and middle class respectability. In the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries these radical men and woman began to forge new, equalitarian, companionate sexual and intimate relationships. They began to advocate for such new, modern relationships in organizations, pamphlets, newspaper and magazine articles, fiction and non-fiction books. This groups’ modernist revolt against “Victorianism,” “Puritanism,” and the nineteenth century’s asexual sentimentality constructed the new heterosexual culture in a war waged against the earlier regime of spiritual True Love.

Among these sex radicals two stand out as representative. One is the birth control campaigner Margaret Sanger. In fighting single-mindedly and courageously to provide women and men control over reproduction, Sanger also furthered the acceptance of a the new different-sex sexual norm. The second sex radical is the popular, influential, socialist, feminist, modernist writer Floyd Dell, who, in 1930, published a popular handbook of heterosexual normality, Love in the Machine Age.[17]

Federal Officials
U.S. Government officials were responsible for two, early, key moments in the institutionalizing of the normal/abnormal, hetero/homo distinction in federal policy, and for putting that policy into operation on a national scale.

The first move in the federal state’s institutionalization of normal/abnormal sex occurred on March 15, 1942. On that date a revision of U.S. Army mobilization regulations, titled "Sexual Perversion," established the Army's anti-homosexual screening procedures during World War II.18] This regulation for the first time explicitly defined the "normal" man: he had a "conventional attitude toward sexual problems." In contrast, Army officials listed three visual markers identifying the abnormal man: "feminine bodily characteristics," "effeminacy in dress and manner," and a "patulous [expanded] rectum." The normal man was implicitly "masculine" in bodily characteristics, dressed and acted in a masculine manner, and sported a tight rectum.

Within this sexual ideology the term “normal” implied its unnamed abnormal opposite. The conceptual construction and institutionalization of a “normal” sexual man, and a “normal sexuality,” was accessory to the invention of heterosexuals and heterosexuality. The exact relation between the installation of the “normal” and “heterosexual” is a history needing detailed research. Without explicitly mentioning heterosexuality, U.S. Army directors installed a sexually normal man as the ideal from which unfit men deviated. The adoption by the U.S. Government of this new normal/abnormal discourse resulted in bureaucratic dismissals effecting thousands.

The second key moment in the U.S. Government’s institutionalization of the hetero/homo dualism occurred in April 1945.[19] That month officials at the U.S. Veterans Administration singled out vets with an “undesirable,” blue-discharge – those found guilty of “homosexual acts or tendencies” – as ineligible for the GI Bill’s extensive benefits provided honorably discharged veterans.

These officials’ institutionalized a federal government distinction between the economic benefits denied discharged homosexuals and those due honorably discharged, and still unnamed heterosexuals. Again, the marked group, homosexuals, defined the unmarked, nameless, hetero group, as happened often during the history of heterosexuality’s institutionalization.

The Subjects are Alive and Kicking
The social construction model of heterosexual history that I offer starts with and stresses human constructors: thinking, judging, feeling, desiring, goal-making, tool using, human subjects, who act, use materials, and build things, objective and subjective. These subjects are alive and kicking.[20] This model focuses on particular individuals and classes of similarly positioned humans, and their constructive acts. Human constructors never exist in the abstract, but as a variety of different, historically specific actors. Acting on their aims, constructors use means organized in particular ways, creating objects and effects, intended and unforeseen. These constructors’ productions express a historically particular, human idea about the world, a value judgment about that world, and an aim concerning a desired future.

All humans act as constructors, making something, creating some effect. All constructors are enabled and constrained by their ability to imagine, judge, and desire goals, by their access to materials, and especially by their access to and control over more or less effective means of action. Within historically specific, given arrangements of means, humans act on their aims, employing particular materials, using particular means, with the aim of constructing specific objects.

But among constructors, some humans are provided the power to act as prime movers. Their access to and control over the use of particular means gives these specific humans the ability to initiate action and set means in motion. These persons' power distinguishes them from other constructors.

Constructors may identify themselves and be identified by others in a great variety of ways: in terms of class (capitalist entrepreneur, wage worker), income (poor, middling, rich), type of employment (office worker, factory worker, farm laborer, academic, artist), skilled or unskilled, physical strength and/or intellectual ability, knowledge, age, sex (female or male), femininity or masculinity, sexual preference, skin color, race, religion, nationality, town or city residence, ethnicity, native-born or immigrant, etc.

Though all human constructors make things they may not consciously recognize themselves or others as constructors. They may not perceive themselves and other constructors as a class of similarly situated makers. How the intersections of constructors’ various self-conceptions, identities attributed by others, and group memberships effect constructors’ persons and actions is a major subject for empirical research and analysis. Such identity analysis is not complete unless it locates subjects’ subjective self-conceptions within the objective, social-historical context defined by subjects access to possible aims, materials, and means. Identities are not just psychological constructs, but express relationships between subjects and their bodies, their external means of action, and their intimacies with, and alienation from other humans.

Constructors are born into a historically specific, already-made social-historical world. Their situation both limits and provides possibilities to which they respond in a variety of ways. Constructors are constructed by that already-made world, and self-constructed as particular kinds of people by their interactions with other humans and the social universe they encounter.

2)  Aims
The varied aims of men attracted to men, women attracted to women, the white, Protestant, middle class, medical doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, and neurologists, entrepreneurs, sex radicals, the working class, and federal officials coalesced to effect the construction of heterosex as the dominant, institutionalized, good sexuality.

The aims of constructors, variously conceived as appetites, desires, goals, intentions, motives, needs, objectives, passions, purposes, or wants, conscious or unconscious, are a basic, subjective element of every construction process.

Every constructor’s action is aimed at an end. A constructor’s aim not to aim, an actor’s desire not to desire, cannot be realized while the actor lives. Human constructors’ aims, explicit or implicit, necessarily precede all constructive activity, and are an inseparable part of that activity.

Constructors’ aims involve a complex of ideas about the ordering of the world, the objects in it, and judgments about the value of different ends. Constructors’ formulation of an aim involves a tri-part practice: (1) a fact judgment about the objects in and structure of the world; (2) a value judgment about the positive or negative worth of particular ends; and (3) an assessment of the materials out of which to effect desired ends, and the means of action available to achieve them.

The ability to imagine particular ends is produced by individuals interacting with their particular historical culture. The aims of constructors are deeply influenced by historically specific religious and secular moralities, judgments about sin and salvation, heaven and hell, the natural and unnatural, normal and abnormal, the normative and deviant, the good and bad. Constructors’ aims are influenced by political and economic ideas, concepts of military and police power, of fate and human determinism, and theories of society and history. Socially constructed and distributed scripts, etiquette manuals for the masses, lay out approved and disapproved, proper and improper behaviors, and a hierarchy of valuable and less valuable ends.

The basic, initiatory role of subjective aims in the human construction process -- the importance of the ideas, judgments, and feelings that inform all action -- should not blind us to the difference between these subjective, internal actions occurring within human minds, and the actions of human bodies in the external world. In that world the ability to realize one’s subjective aims depends on one’s access to and control over particular, objective means.

3)  Materials of Construction
Each contributor to the construction of heterosexuality built on, with, and often against, existing laws, religious rules, moral edicts, or supposed science. Walt Whitman, for example, created his distinction between the “amative” love of women and men and the “adhesive” love of men and men on the basis of preexisting publications by phrenologists. These popular pseudo-scientists, inspired by an anatomical style of thought, located the source of different emotions and character traits in specific parts of people’s heads.[21] As early, public advocate of an adhesive erotic of men with men, Whitman formulated a pro-sex ethic that also supported a new, positive, male-female, amative erotic.

Whitman wrote and published against his society’s advocates of pure, sensuality-free, true, sentimental, love. Whitman’s pro-sex poetry, and his pro-sex prose manifesto of 1871, “Democratic Vistas,” were pioneering attempts to transform a then traditional, dominant, nineteenth century true, spiritual love into a positive, new love. This linked the sensual body and subjective spirit. His new ideal, later formulated as “sex-love,” a radical new hyphenate, first began to appear in the 1890s.[22]

Karl Heinrich Ulrichs’ theory of urnings, like Whitman’s ideas about adhesive men, built upon a preexisting style of thought in which anatomy equals affect. According to Ulrichs, the souls (or psyches) of urnings have a physical sex, male or female. Ulrich’s constructed his ideas on the basis of a popular conception of the “sexual instinct” conceived as having one, built-in, nature-given, God-endowed end -- human reproduction. This instinct posited a reproductive desire with but one, single object, a human of a different-sex than the desirer. In today’s terms there was only one sexual orientation, a desire directed at a different-sex. But a “female desire” for a male sometimes “mistakenly,” inhabited a male body, and a “male desire” for a female sometimes “mistakenly” inhabited a female body.

In contrast to Ulrich’s theories, Karl Maria Kertbeny’s terms heterosexual and homosexual defined sexual desires by the different-sex or same-sex of the persons to whom desires were directed – a new idea.[23]

All constructors employ pre-existing materials in their productive activity.  Constructors of cars use steel and electricity, agricultural producers use seeds, makers of ideas build on, with, and against earlier ideas. Producers of value judgments build on and against earlier moral and aesthetic systems.

Materials consist of nature given objects used by humans (like air and sunlight), and human-made objects (like donkeys and concepts). Materials may be external to the constructor (like iron), or internal to the constructor (like ideas, judgments, and emotions). The materials of construction are both objective and subjective. When external things or internal ideas are considered “materials” humans have already placed them, in imagination, within a productive order.

The transformation of existing materials is the basis for all new constructions. All making transforms, modifies, consumes, or destroys existing materials to create new objects or effects. Construction involves deconstruction, production involves consumption. The existing materials help to constitute the reproduction of the old or aid in the construction of the new.

The ability to imagine an existing thing as, specifically, a material of construction -- as transformable -- is an important preliminary step in the process of producing a transformed object or effect. So education suggesting the possibility of transformation, the possibility of change, is an important aspect of creative innovation, political development, and societal remaking. Access to materials out of which to construct new products or effects is as important to constructors as access to means of construction.

4)  Means of Construction
The middle class construction of heterosexuality as the new, normal eros used this class’s access to and control over particular means to create and distribute this new standard. In particular, doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, and neurologists with access to means of networking, publication and distribution, constructed and began to publicize the new heterosexual norm. First, quietly and tentatively, in papers presented only to other doctors at medical conferences, then in articles published in medical journals, then in books addressed, ostensibly, only to doctors, then in tomes directed to the general public, then in popular newspaper and magazine articles, they adapted the term and concept heterosexual, to the needs of their class, and promoted it publicly. Mobilizing the authority of doctors, speaking in the name of sexual science, medical men elevated heterosexuals to the pinnacle of the good-normal, and presented homosexuals as the incarnation of the bad-abnormal, the bisexual as defective in-between. Later, the U.S. Government military bureaucracy began to distinguish normal and abnormal men in their distribution of material benefits and punishments.[24]

Means of construction include human bodies, extensions of human bodies, and all the technologies and techniques that humans use to make objects and create effects. Means include, in addition to the bodies and brains of humans and other animals, tools, machines, instruments, technical knowledge, farms, factories and offices. They include means of corporate administration and state bureaucratic regulation, means of military might and police action, means of law making, judging, and jailing. They include means of energy creation and consumption, and capital and consumer goods production. Means include the apparatus of intellectual, moral, scientific, religious, artistic and cultural production – the means of constructing and distributing norms, regulations, scripts, and value judgments.  

Means of construction are objective and subjective. Humans use means external to themselves, and humans use their own and others’ brains to perform and incite internal, mental actions: thinking, judging, and feeling. Among the means of mental construction are words and concepts, language tools for understanding, appraising, and changing the natural and social worlds. Among these subjective means are also moral and aesthetic systems, means of asserting and judging values. But mental constructs only become operative publicly when constructors use external means to distribute these ideas, judgments, and feelings.  

In one society control over the means of military might allows a particular group to dominate the character of that society, and its people. In another society the crucial, effective control resides in the means of political rule, the means of surveillance, the means of industrial or agricultural production and consumption, or the means of transportation and distribution. In yet another society control resides in the means of idea construction (ideas about determinism, fate, or revolution, for example). Crucial in one society is the control of the means of emotional appeal (calls to anger against economic inequality, climate destruction, subversives, Jews, homosexuals, or blacks, calls to defend the white race, the family, or patriotic calls to defend the nation).

Within each historically specific society there exists a hierarchy of more or less influential means. The people who control the most influential, effective means of construction in a particular society control that society’s mode of construction, and other humans. Central to understanding a particular historical society’s construction is an investigation of its most effective, influential means, and what groups of people control their use. The division of control over means of construction among different human groups, like the historically specific division of labor between wage laborers and capitalists, is a major conceptual tool for analyzing historically specific societies. 

The division of human control over the use of particular means of construction divides people into classes. Some humans have the power to determine the ends for which particular means are used and can set those means in motion. Some humans have no control over the ends for which means are used, even as their work with these means contributes crucially to the construction process.

Human agency resides in control over particular means of construction. Using means, humans maintain society as it is or change society more or less substantially, always making and remaking the world-in-process. Because of their greater mental capacity, humans have slowly distinguished themselves from other animals, and from nature, establishing particular social-historical worlds, each with its own structure and rules.  

Means of construction are means of determining. Control over particular means, in a particular society, at a particular time, constitute the means of determining the character of that society. The particular historical arrangement of means establishes the particular historical mode of determination dominant in each historically specific society. Those people who control a particular society’s major means of construction play a determining role in creating that social world. Other humans have no or little ability to activate the major means of construction for particular ends. They do have the means, in local, limited circumstances, to accept or resist, acquiesce or protest, construct or destroy. Sometimes the local resistances they initiate inspires movements for change far beyond the local. The militant, organized gay and lesbian liberation movement that began in New York City in June 1969 is a striking example of rebellion by the damned that in just a few years had inspired similar resistance world-wide.[25]

Means of construction are means of power. In each historically specific society a particular group of humans possesses the power to initiate the use of particular means (to call out the army or police, to call an election). The power to call means into action is unequally distributed among humans. The struggle for the democratic control of means is a struggle for the equitable distribution of social and productive power.

Means of power and construction never act on their own. Apart from humans, means are inert. Machines do not determine the ways humans use these instruments. The idea that technology determines obscures the humans who set these means in motion. Though humans may keep expanding the degree to which non-human machines act to realize human ends, it’s always human initiators who start the machines, programing them according to human ends. Particular human groups always stand behind the machines, particular people’s aims activate the mechanisms.

Humans’ means of construction are not limited to their means of economic production, their means of producing means of sustenance, means of production, and a surplus. Means are not limited to profits or losses, wages or salaries, interest or dividends, money, prices and markets, capital and consumer goods. Humans use means in all our making processes. If we distinguish as economic and productive, effective, influential, and important, only the means humans use to directly accumulate capital, cash, and other quantitative, monetary returns we ignore the significance of the means we use to make all kinds of objects and effects. We need to extend our limited idea of society as an economic, money making system to include society as a whole as a productive, constructive order.

5)  Time of Construction
The heterosexual was first formulated as idea and word in 1868, and first institutionalized as "normal" man by the U.S. Government in 1942.[26] That temporal movement of the heterosexual and normalsexual norm is striking for its velocity. It’s remarkable how swiftly between 1868 and the 1940s, the hetero-homo distinction traveled from the discourse of a tiny, marginal group in Germany to a specialized group of medical professionals, then into a modern, global discourse on sexuality in England, the U.S., France, Italy, Spain, Argentina, Africa, and Japan (those are the nations in which I know the history of this medical discourse to have been studied.).[27] The relatively fast distribution and acceptance of hetero-homo as the standard, dominant distinction indicates that this coinage served a pressing social interest: the time was ripe for heterosexuality. 

The fast distribution of hetero/homo, and the slow fadeout of other, early, term-concepts – “sexual inversion,” “contrary sexual feeling,” “third sex” – reflect, I suggest, those terms’ lack of clear, “good” opposites.[28] Heterosexual is a more efficient legitimating term than “non-invert.” The opposite of “contrary sexual feeling,” “sexual feeling,” doesn’t clearly uphold male-female pleasure sex.  If inverts are an “intermediate” or “third sex,” women the “second sex,” men are the “first sex,” but that phrase doesn’t explicitly legitimate heterosexuality. Some terms and concepts vanished from use, I suggest, because they didn’t meet the middle class need to legitimize non-reproductive, pleasure-sex acts between women and men. 

Hetero history is a study of the institutionalization over time of historically specific practices, and relationships, as well as of words, ideas, and understandings. The idea of heterosexuality as a time-limited phenomenon contests the reigning idea of heterosexuality as a timeless, objective, scientifically defined phenomenon, a neutral, scientific term for all female-male sexual relationships. 

Every human construction process takes place at a specific time, in a historically specific society. On the simplest, most primitive level, the human process of constructing objects and effects creates a linear, chronological sequence of events, a before and after. Karl Maria Kertbeny’s invention of the word and concept heterosexual in 1868 made possible Richard Kraft-Ebing’s first use of that word and concept in 1889, and its introduction into American English in 1892.[29] Linear chronologies provide revelatory insights into the temporal travels of human constructs.

To be sure, critics of a monolithic, linear history have a point. The histories of male and female heterosexuality, for example, have different temporal trajectories. Each has a history of its own apart from the general history they share.[30] The normalization of  heterosexuality among African Americans and Asian Americans has a timing, meaning, and impact different than that of white people because of the American slave past and persistent racial and sexual stereotypes.[31] Te idea and the term heterosexual were first distributed among the white, educated, professional, middle class on a different time schedule than among working class Americans.[32] Changing divisions of labor among human females and males, and changing norms of femininity and masculinity, provide the feminine and masculine a history distinct from the history of sexuality. The linking and de-linking of gender and sexuality has its own history.[33] Changes over time in the mode of human reproduction (the construction of new human beings) were experienced in radically different ways by women and men, as were changes in the valuation of bodily pleasure, and the institutions that validated it.[34] No single, linear chronology fits all. The temporal trajectories of each element of the construction process need to be investigated in each specific case.

Changing, historically specific ways of measuring, marking, perceiving, and anticipating time via factory time-clocks, town clocks, and railroad timetables provide time with its own constructed history, as do such divisions as labor time, leisure time, spending time, and gay people’s time. E. P. Thompson’s “Time, Work Discipline and Industrial Capitalism” (1967), was an early study of time history in relation to the mode of production.[35] The divisions summer, fall, winter, and spring, seconds, minutes, hours, days months years, decades, and centuries, reflect particular social-historical constructions of time, as do ways of marking time by publicly honoring growing seasons, birthdays, dates of births and deaths, ends of wars, and other major events. Historians’ distinctions between epochs, eras, or periods is one way of pointing to significant continuities within a particular time, and important discontinuities, changes, and breaks over time.

Social constructionist historians have stressed and documented discontinuity over time in the social organization of human sexuality. That was a necessary part of our struggle against the earlier, powerful, continuity-asserting, time-denying essentialism. But social construction analysis can just as well account for continuity as well as discontinuity, lack of change, as well as change over time. 

Time conceptions have political meanings. Sigmund Freud’s positing of  heterosexual desire as the final, mature result of a developmental process, and homosexual desire as fixated at an immature stage is a time-dependent theory. Historians of colonialism point out that references to indigenous peoples as “primitive,” “backward,” “behind,” or “pre-modern” are time categories with derogatory or, at least, questionable moral and political meanings.[36] Gore Vidal’s reference to “the United States of Amnesia,” points to Americans’ lack of a temporal, historical consciousness, constituting a left-liberal critique of our failure to recall the U.S. history of slavery, imperialism, police violence, labor exploitation, and labor organizing struggles.[37] Karl Marx’s stress on capitalism as just one, time-bound way of organizing production, explicitly opposed the idea of capitalism as timeless, natural, necessary, and eternal.[38] Social constructionist historians’ stress on heterosexuality, homosexuality, and bisexuality as just one, peculiar, human, social way of organizing bodies, desires, acts, and persons is associated with a left politic that stresses the possibility of radical change that values the welfare of all. It’s a politic that appreciates human diversity, and envisions the possibility of a fully realized political, civil, and economic democracy.

History, as that intellectual discipline specializing in documenting, understanding, and theorizing the organized actions of people over time, assumes that temporality is central to human social life, and its study. Time is fundamental in the empirical, interpretive, and theoretical analysis of historians in a way that it has not necessarily been fundamental to the work of sociologists, anthropologists, or philosophers (though some major toilers in these disciplines have made time a central focus). Whether historians research social stasis or social change, continuity or discontinuity, long periods of stability or abrupt, revolutionary disruptions, they are centrally concerned about the changes humans make over time.

6)  Space of Construction
The temporal movement of the heterosexual word and idea out of Germany, into England, France, the U.S., Japan, and Africa, was also a spatial move.[39] Why and how human groups within each of these nations welcomed or resisted the modernization of sexuality represented by the hetero/homo binary is a history only beginning to be studied and told.[40]

Space is one of the basic elements of every construction process: all constructions are site-specific. Constructors always inhabit particular geographic locations. What aims are imaginable by particular constructors are spatially specific: visions of a social democratic society, for example, are created and consumed in particular geographic places. The materials used in making particular objects or effects exist nearby, or must be transported into the construction area. The means of construction used in any process inhabit a specific location. Each constructed object or effect exists in a historically specific space. Each construction process is organized in a specific setting.

Historians of human construction need to analyze and understand the various characteristics and implications of human space divisions, just as they do our time divisions. Historians need to assess the spatial importance of divisions into nation states, and within them, states, counties, towns, villages, and cities; areas of the world, and the whole world as a global, international space of human activity. They need to assess divisions of space into urban and rural, agricultural and industrial, and distinguish the space of large corporate mega-farms from small family farms, home-located production from work performed in offices and factories. They need to investigate class and race divided living spaces: working class and racial ghettos, workers’ houses, billionaire mansions, and gated communities. They need to analyze the segregation of art in museums, and the location of police in stations, armies in barracks, politicians in capitals, entrepreneurs in business districts, and education in public or private schools. They need to examine sexual spaces like bedrooms, whore houses, redlight districts, public baths, gay ghettos, gay gentrification, and area-specific practices like sexual tourism.

We need to better understand the implication of spatial distinctions like the division of society into separate male or female “spheres,” and the economy into “levels,” “fields,” “sectors,” and “areas.” We need question the idea of the economy and the polity, society and nature, the public and private, as existing in different locations. We need to envision different, simultaneously existing modes of construction as overlapping in the same space. The geography of action, the location of production, the space of construction are basic elements of every making process. 

7)  Acts of Construction
In the 1980s, early in the development of sexual history analysis, it was commonplace to describe heterosexual and homosexual acts as socially and historically universal – everywhere the same.[41] In contrast, hetero and homo identities were said to be historically specific – they varied greatly over time. According to that assumption about acts, two mouths kissing, a hand caressing a nipple, a finger or penis in a vagina, a penis in a mouth or anus, was the same behavior in the American colonies in the 1680s as in the U.S. in the 1980s. The particular body parts that connected during an act defined that conduct as identical across time and cultures.

But that distinction between ahistorical acts and historical identities was too simple. As early as 1973, in their book Sexual Conduct, the pioneering sociologists of sex, John H. Gagnon and William Simon, stressed that the basic “meaning” of acts changes historically. The sociologists cite examples of acts involving the same body parts whose “social meaning” varies based on context: “the palpitation of a breast for cancer, the gynecological examination, the insertion of tampons, [and] mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.”[42] In one social context these acts are not sexual, in another setting the same body parts connecting constitute a sexual act. Transformed social “scripts,” they argue, define the norms or rules that tell us that an act is “sexual” or something else, whether the act is hetero, homo, bi, or something else, whether the act is good, bad, natural or unnatural, or something else. 

Gagnon and Simons’ “scripting theory,” focusing on “sexual conduct,” argues that the “meaning” of acts can be understood only by viewing them in their larger social-historical context. That context, I suggest, is best understood as a historically particular social organization of human activity, a mode of construction. Even though body parts remain the same, the embedding of acts within different modes of action creates fundamentally different acts.

Gagnon’s and Williams’ action theory is based on a theatrical metaphor. Changing historical scripts, they say in 1973, provide an “internal rehearsal,” “defines the situation, names the actors, and plots the behavior.” Their scripting theory anticipates Judith Butler’s idea, published in 1990, in Gender Trouble, that humans enact or “perform” gender and sexuality -- we create our femininities, masculinities, and erotics by doing them.[43] Scripting theory also anticipates queer theorists’ stress on “normativity” -- the social value judgments that define heterosexuals as normal, homosexuals as abnormal.[44]

Gagnon and Williams’ scripting theory formulates a social model of sexual activity. The model of social-historical construction that I offer, like their model of “conduct,” is also a theory of human action. It’s in the tradition of social action theory formulated by sociologist Talcott Parsons in 1937 (though he only rarely mentioned sex acts).[45]

Parsons’ The Structure of Social Action argues that “action systems” consist of an actor, an end envisioned by the actor, action, and a situation in which the action occurs. An actor’s means of action, Parsons defines as those means which the actor controls. So actors control of the means with which they act is assumed, and the control of means is thereby sidestepped as an issue. Means of action not controlled by the actor are defined by Parsons as part of the situation of action. The relation between the actor’s means and envisioned ends are extensively discussed by Parsons. But he says nothing about the unequal social distribution and control of means of action. His self-styled “voluntaristic theory of action” stresses actors’ free choice of ends. That actors’ chance of actually achieving their chosen ends depends on their control over means of action is not discussed.

As elaborated in 1951 by Parsons and Edward A. Shils, the Parsonian theory of action has four basic elements: 

(1) Behavior [action] is oriented to the attainment of ends or goals . . . . (2) It takes place in situations. (3) It is normatively regulated. (4) It involves expenditure of energy or effort or “motivation.”[46]

The example provided, “a man driving his automobile to a lake to go fishing,” assumes, significantly, that this singular male actor owns and controls his means of action, his car, and that he’s had the cash to fill up the gas tank (or has robbed the gas station). Means of action, in this version of Parsonian theory, are part of this individual’s “situation,” and his theory focuses on the influence of ends, norms, and motivations.[47] Parsons’ theory of action ignores actors’ control over means of action, control that I stress is crucial to effective action. 

As Gagnon and Simon demonstrate, humans apply different social-historical criteria to distinguish sexual and non-sexual acts. In the twentieth-century U.S., for example, we began to distinguish sexual acts by their partners’ different or same sexes, as hetero or homo, or a bi combination. But heterosexual/homosexual/bi is just one, historically specific way of organizing sexual acts. So historical researchers have learned now to inquire into the structuring of sexuality in past societies, rather than assume a universal hetero/homo/bi arrangement.

Historical researchers are also learning not to assume a different-sex/same-sex ordering of acts, as if that binary was everwhere a native form of sexual organization. For example, did colonial era Native Americans distinguish between different-sex and same-sex sexual relations in just the way we do? Did they consider the sexual relation of a normatively gendered male with a male-bodied, gender-bending, so-called “berdache” a “same-sex” relationship?[48] Colonial era European-Americans distinguished acts primarily as reproductive or non-reproductive, not primarily as different-sex or same-sex.[49]

Human societies distinguish sexual acts as properly masculine or feminine, or differentiate sexual acts based on their participants’ appearance and deportment. Sexual acts are differentiated as freely willed or violently coerced, or by the degree of kinship of actors. Sexual acts are commonly distinguished by their numbers of participants, the “race” or age of partners, by partners’ marital status or lack of it, or by whether the acts involve toys, make use of fetish objects, or satisfy sadists or masochists.

Non-sexual acts are commonly distinguished as a division of labor between sexes, or a division of labor and activity between classes: slaves and slave owners, workers and capitalists, for example. Acts are also commonly distinguished by whether their participants  are immigrants or American-born, or represent different religions. Acts are distinguished by their location (house work, farm work, factory work, office work), by the amount of time they occupy (“slam, bam, thank you m’am”), or as work or play.

How humans distinguish kinds of acts is crucial to the version of social construction theory presented here. This rejects the distinction between constructive acts and non-constructive. All acts construct something, I argue, even if that something is destruction. I therefore contest the universal application of the capitalist distinction between productive and non-productive acts. Within that dominant framework, productive acts produce profit for a capitalist. Traditionally women’s “housework,” for example, was not considered work because it did not directly produce profit. Within this capitalist framework the productive economy differs essentially from the polity, the culture, the family, society, and private life, and each of these is imagined as distinct fields or separate spheres.

One old version of Marxist theory distinguished an economic, productive, material “base” of acts from a non-productive (or not directly productive) “superstructure” of ideological, idea-making, political and cultural acts.[50] Marx himself, analyzing the capitalist economy in the first volume of Capital, distinguished acts productive of profit from acts productive of “use-values” – things useful to humans. Focused on understanding the particular working of the capitalist economy, Marx did not  pursue his brief discussion of the human making of useful things. But it’s precisely that making that forms the basis of the social construction model I formulate here. This model extends Marx’s analysis of changing, historical systems of production to all kinds of human construction.[51]

8) Object/Effect Constructed
What kind of object was constructed when heterosexuality was produced? What sort of phenomenon was this? Earliest in its making, heterosexuality was a discourse that legitimated the pleasure-sex acts of the respectable middle class as a normal, natural, good heterosexuality.

This historical explanation moves from a class practice to the rapid distribution and adoption of the discourse on a positive heterosex, and negative homosex. And that argument raises a question. If proto-heterosexual desires and acts existed before the heterosexual category, what happened when men and women party to those lusts and behaviors first discovered the category? How, exactly, did people come to identify themselves, their desire, and their acts as, specifically, heterosexual? And what was the effect of making that identification? Future researchers of heterosexual history should be able to find empirical data documenting the collision of actors with the discourse on heterosex, and the residue of revelatory sparks that meeting  provided. I’m thinking here of evidence, like the report by the Englishman, J. R. Ackerley, who in his early twenties, around 1918, first encountered a momentous question: “Are you homo or hetero?” Different-sexers must also have for the first time confronted the hetero category, and thereafter understood and experienced themselves in a new way.[52]

This historical argument posits that by about 1930, in the U.S., the object, heterosexuality, was defined by a dominant set of meanings. This ascendant heterosexuality included (1) a new, positive “sexuality,” (2) the desires and acts of “opposite-sex” (or “different-sex”)  partners, and (3) the assertion of this sexuality’s “normality.” That normality allowed a positive moral judgment to be imported surreptitiously into the supposedly scientifically defined, biologically determined, bodily caused heterosexuality.

That heterosexuality came to have a dominant, tri-part definition, does not rule out that it also had (and still has) a variety of non-dominant, conflicting definitions. If anyone doubts the existence of this messy history of heterosexual definition, consider the various, contradictory ways that the phenomenon heterosexuality has been and is now understood. Heterosexuality, we all know is:

  1. essential, unchanging, always the same,
  2. diverse; there are many social and historical varieties of an essential heterosexuality (for example, ancient heterosexuality, modern heterosexuality,  post-modern heterosexuality),
  3. monolithic, one singular thing,
  4. residing in society and time but not itself social and historical, eternal, ahistorical,
  5. natural, an “orientation” you are born with, and having a nature-given developmental end,
  6. acquired after a long, hard struggle (Freud),
  7.  motivated by the need for species survival; identical to human reproduction,
  8.  motivated by an essential pleasure principle (Freud),
  9.  motivated by on an essential “oppositeness” of the biological sexes,
  10.  motivated by on an essential “difference” of the biological sexes,
  11.  motivated by an essential opposition of masculine/feminine appearance and deportment,
  12. a theological phenomenon, given by god, to be explained by religious leaders with a direct line to the Almighty, and taken on faith by the rest of us,
  13. a philosophical phenomenon to be explained by idea experts,
  14. a psychological phenomenon to be explained by mind experts,
  15. a physiological, medical phenomenon to be explained by doctors and scientists,
  16. a social and historical phenomenon to be explained by anthropologists, sociologists, and historians, 
  17.  a moral issue to be explained by ethicists,
  18.  not an issue involving value judgments,
  19. superior in value to homosexuality,
  20. equal in value to homosexuality,
  21. the opposite of homosexuality,
  22. the same as homosexuality except for the sex of the participants,
  23. specifically about sexual relations between women and men,
  24. specifically about love relations between women and men,
  25. always romantic, ideal
  26. often troubled, but always happily concluded,
  27. in serious crisis because of feminists, homosexuals, communists, immigrants, black people, Jews, and Muslims,
  28. oppressive to women,
  29. liberating for modern, assertive, pleasure seeking women,
  30. the sexuality of a statistical majority,
  31. the sexuality of nice, respectable, normal people,
  32.  a matter of identity,
  33. a matter of desire and pleasure,
  34. a matter of categories, concepts, ideas, labels, names (discourse),
  35. a matter of bodies, not of names and ideas (discourse),
  36. only superficially a matter of names and ideas (discourse),
  37. essential to the nation’s family life,
  38. light-weight, superficial (unlike like the economy),
  39. boring, not interesting to think about (unlike the economy),
  40. superstructural, not structural and important (like the economy),
  41. assumed; not, therefore, subject to inquiry and critique (like the economy),
  42. fun and sexy to think about, but not serious (like the economy),
  43. private, not public (like the economy),
  44. private, not political (like the economy),
  45. subjective, not objective (like the economy),
  46. ideal, not material (like the economy)
  47. etc. 

I began this section by asking about the character of the construct heterosexuality as an object. But is heterosexuality an object? Is it not more enlightening to ask, as this model suggests, about the character of the distinct elements that comprise this imagined object? I refer to the constructed character of heterosexual people, desires, acts, and relationships, and the particular system in which heterosexual people have been favored.

This social construction model is a tool for asking questions. It suggests that heterosexuality, and the other the objects and effects constructed by people, are fundamentally different from those produced by nature. Nature-caused objects are human-independent, they’re caused by natural laws indifferent to humans, and so differ in important ways from human-dependent constructs. Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann, in The Social Construction of Reality (1966), discuss the distinction between naturally existing and human-made objects in reference to “biology,” the human “body,” and “heterosexuality,” “homosexuality,” and “sexuality.”[53]

Human produced constructs include objective things that exist in the world external to people: consumer goods and services, food, housing, jobs, medical care, social security, environmental destruction and protection, taxes. These human-made objects also include past and present social-historical systems – economies, polities, judiciaries, executive bodies, societies, cultures, families.

Human produced constructs also include subjective things that exist in people’s minds and psyches: ideas, judgments, feelings. These constructs include self-conceptions, attributed identities, aesthetic and moral responses, and emotions: intimacy and alienation, contentment and discontent.  

It’s often suggested now that nature-caused objects are “real” and  socially constructed objects are not real -- or not as real. “Artificial,” human-made things are not as good, as if human constructs they’re less authentic, less valuable, than those caused by nature.[54] Social constructionists affirm the existence and the value to humans of both nature-caused and human-made objects. 

We now often confront human-made objects as facts-of-life, ready-mades, obstinate, implacable, mystified things whose human-made character has vanished in the process of their making. We encounter this already-made world as our “family,” the “educational system,” “the economy,” “society,” or our “condition of life.” Already-made, human-made objects confront humans with their solid, stolid, stubborn, static reality until people decide to reform them or to make a radically new construct. One aim of this model is to suggest that, however mystified, the human-made world is just that, human made, and so susceptible of transformation. 

9)  Relations of Construction
By the mid-twentieth-century the sexual relationship of married, male and female heterosexuals was constructed as perfection. The relationship of heterosexuals to their bodily means of sexual activity was produced as normal. The relation of heterosexuals to the results of their sex acts was ideal: always satisfying orgasms, perfect progeny, unproblematic intimacy, marital cohesion, and the profound experience of normality. The reality of heterosexual relationships, like the complexity of all human relationships, included anxiety about sexual performance, worry about deviant desires and acts, imperfect offspring, intimacy difficulties, boredom, and divorce. The particular relationships of human constructors to their action and its constructs reveals a socially specific world.

Each of the ten basic elements of the historical construction process exists in active relation to the other elements of the process. So, analyzing one of this model’s elements necessarily refers to one or more of the other elements. Human actors, and their means of action, are always enmeshed within a complex, historically particular set of relationships.

The relation of human to human, and of human to means of action is a central aspect of subjects’ particular historical experience. In the U.S. today, social surveyors report that the great majority of people devote their lives to work that holds no deep, passionate interest.[55] That alienation, and the competition of worker against worker for jobs, creates a society in which the estrangement of people from people is common. Countering such division, the intimate relations of people with people in couples, marriages, families, friendships, and as lovers take on an extraordinary, deep importance as a primary site of solace, a central site of meaning.

The relation of constructors to their own bodily means of action, and to their external means of action, their means of work and power, is basic to humans’ experience of being in the world. The alienated relation of people to their bodies, and to the external means of action which they create but don’t control, is one of the great, traditional themes of Marxist analysis.[56] The constructor-constructor relation, and the constructor-means relation are basic to understanding any historically specific construction process, and identifies the particular character of that world.

10) Mode of Construction
Guided by the particular social construction model offered here, I’ve traced the making of heterosexuals as the dominant subjects of one, historically specific sexual system, a new mode of sexual pleasure production that came to dominance in the mid-twentieth century, in the U.S. The system of heterosexual supremacy, I’ve argued, arose when the white, married, Protestant, American-born, middle-class found itself practicing pleasure-sex without a license, constructed a rationale for its behavior, and called it heterosexuality.[57] Middle-class women’s and men’s repurposing of their bodies, from means of generation to means of sensual enjoyment, constituted a new, epoch-defining, modern, mode of constructing eroticism.

An early step in analyzing the social ordering of sex was taken fifty-five years ago. In a sociological essay on homosexuals, published in 1961, Albert J. Reiss Jr. formulated one of the earliest-known references to the “the social organization of sexual activity.”[58] The idea that sexual acts were socially organized, and constituted what Reiss called “a complex social system” was revelatory for those of us who, by the late-1970s, were beginning to inquire into the changing historical forms of social-sexual organization.

The publications in the mid-to-late 1960s on the sociology of sexuality by John H. Gagnon and William Simon also inspired us.[59] As we understood it then, an essential, unchanging sexuality was remolded under different, changing forms of social-historical organization.  In an essay published in 1966 on “Homosexuality: The Formulation of a Sociological Perspective,” Simon and Gagnon, criticized sociologists’ treatment of “heterosexuality” as one of the “unexplained, residual categories” of sexual research. They said: “the problem of how people become homosexual requires an adequate theory of how they become heterosexual.” They added: “The concern of nonhomosexuals with the purely sexual aspect of the homosexual’s life is something we would not allow to occur if we were interested in the heterosexual.”[60]

In the late-1960s a group of radical women in New York City, The Feminists, named and criticized “the institution of heterosexual sex.”[61] That heterosexual desires and acts constituted an “institution” was a new and startling idea. In 1970, in Sexual Politics, Kate Millett criticized “a rabid sort of heterosexual activism,” a “heterosexual orthodoxy,” and a “heterosexual caste system” that gave men more power than women.[62]  In the early-1970s, radical feminist Margaret Small spoke of “heterosexual hegemony” (the social dominance of heterosexuals via control of institutions and ideas).[63] In 1971, Christopher Isherwood denounced “the heterosexual dictatorship.”[64] In 1975, Gayle Rubin named and analyzed a “'Political Economy' of Sex’,” a “sex/gender system,” and challenged “the idea of a primordial heterosexuality.”[65] In 1980, Adrienne Rich named a system of “compulsory heterosexuality.”[66] That’s the social system which, in 2003, the U.S. General Accounting Office said provided heterosexuals with 1,138 more marital “benefits, rights and privileges” than were then accorded homosexuals.[l67] That’s the institution that, in 2003, historian Margot Canaday dubbed “The Straight State.”[68] Clarifying the character of that historically specific institution is one major aim of the mode of construction theory presented here.

Understanding that heterosexuality is embedded within a changing, structured, hierarchical system of relationships between dominant and subordinate social groups or classes – a “social organization” -- was a first step towards analyzing that system as a mode of construction, an early step in the development of social construction theory.

In 1966, Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann published The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge. Their naming and explicating of “social construction” focused on the collective making of human understanding.[69] The later development of social construction theory has also stressed the production of mental activity and subjective constructs – the production of aims, common sense, concepts, categories, desires, discourses, experience, ideas, ideologies, judgments, knowledge, labels, learning, meaning, mores, norms, psychologies, scripts, standards, representations, rules, and individual and group consciousness and identities.[70] 

The model I offer does include the making of subjective aims and internal, mental constructs – the production of discourses and identities, for example. But this model also stresses the creation of particular, objectively existing, social-historical means and structures of action external to their human creators – an objective system ordering the practice of heterosexuality, for example, distinguished from the idea of heterosexuality, the discourse on heterosexuality, the value of heterosexuality, or the identities, feelings, or meanings experienced by or attributed to heterosexuals.[71]

Because I and other social constructionists have in the past stressed the making of discourses, identities, and subjectivities, I now emphasize that the history of heterosexuality, for example, is not just about the making of subjective phenomena.[72] It's also about ways of socially positioning people’s physical bodies within institutions as controlling and coercive as prisons, mental hospitals, armies, police forces, legislatures, judiciaries, health care systems, houses, the job market, the food market, religious institutions, the mass media, political parties, lobbies, schoolrooms, college and university lecture halls, families, organizations for youths, and groups for the old,. Social construction is about the making of starvation and plenty, illness and health, homelessness and homes, environmental destruction and protection, coercion and freedom, war and peace, poverty and wealth, political dictatorships and democracies, and a variety of economies (feudalism, slavery, capitalism, and socialism, for example), along with  systems of human reproduction and modes of sexual expression. Clarifying the character of those systems is a central aim of mode of construction theory. 

Despite that emphasis on the objective institutions in which humans live and act, we cannot realistically distinguish a wholly material, objective, productive, economic “base” from an ideal, ideological, subjective “superstructure.”[73] The productive acts of human constructors are always necessarily and simultaneously subjective and objective. Every action, every construction, expresses a particular aim of a specific constructor. So subjective elements – ideas, feelings, and value judgments -- are basic elements of every construction process. Doing justice to this dual character of human social life – it’s simultaneously material and ideal, objective and subjective, fleshly and mental in character– is one goal of the mode of construction model offered here.  

Mode of construction refers to the historically specific, systematic way that humans organize every construction process, the way they order the relations of humans to humans, and the relation of humans to the basic, non-human elements of the construction process. Each social-historical system of elements and relations form a particular structure. Each mode of construction exists as a particular, time-bound phenomenon. No mode of construction exists in the abstract. Mode of construction is a universal concept manifested empirically in historically specific, infinitely complex, contradictory, changing forms of capitalism, slavery, feudalism, and the straight state.

The mode of construction names and conceptualizes the particular historical system in which human constructors aim, act, use available materials and means, with the aim of realizing their ends. This model posits that human society is, in its most general character, a collection of different, co-existing, over-lapping modes of construction, some dominant in influence, some subordinate. We need to analyze the particular historical relations between simultaneously existing, historically particular modes of construction of sexuality, sex, gender, race, class, human reproduction, law, ability, culture, identity, discourse, and knowledge. Human society, as such, is one, large, world-encompassing mode of construction.

Usually, now, we think of the capitalist economy alone as a mode of production. We commonly conceive of the governmental, political, judicial, policing, civil, ideological, intellectual, cultural, artistic, personal, domestic orders as “other” -- separate, distinct, and subsidiary. I suggest, instead, that each of those orders is a productive system, an arrangement of constructive activity, a system of construction, organized in particular historical ways, and productive of different objects and effects. For example, the economy is the system in which humans produce means of production and consumption, objects for sale, wage workers and capitalists, interest, and profit, satisfaction and dissatisfaction, equality and inequality. The polity is the system in which humans produce policies and laws, law makers and law breakers, politicians and payoffs, voters and non-voters, citizens and aliens. The judiciary produces lawyers, judges, bail bondspersons, juries, trials, prisoners, jails, and punishments. The military/policing system produces armies, soldiers, police, arrests, torture, wars, and peace. The culture produces songs, singers, movies, painters, sculptors, dancers, entertainers, emotions, ideas, moral and aesthetic judgments, beauty and ugliness. The mode of human reproduction produces new humans who produce the social order. The mode of feeling produces human solidarity and alienation, pleasure and displeasure, security and insecurity, relaxation and anxiety, love and hate, satisfaction and dissatisfaction, cooperation and competitiveness, generosity and greed. 

In its original, twentieth-century formation the mode of organization of the hetero-homo-bi system was explicitly hierarchical, with heterosexuals occupying the superior, dominant position. Today, the U.S. Supreme Court’s declaring sodomy statutes unconstitutional, along with heterosexual-only marriage laws, marks a major, formal, legal change in the sexual system. Those rulings legally and formally equalized the position of heterosexuals and homosexuals as citizens of the state. The future social effects of this formal equalization are potentially vast, as is its effect on the hetero-homo division itself. For, if heteros and homos actually achieve social equality the distinction between them will come to seem less necessary, less urgent, less clear. If heterosexuals are the same as homosexuals, except for the sex of the person they sexually desire, the social rationale for the hetero/homo distinction loses its reason for being. A distinction between greedy people and generous people, or mean people and caring people, is likely to seem more salient than the sex of the persons to whom people are sexually attracted. The hetero/homo division of persons is likely to be replaced by other ways of making up people, just as it was once invented.[74]

A precedent for a universal, conceptual model of the basic elements and structure of the human-made world is Karl Marx’s theory of different ways of ordering  human productive activity, different “modes of production.”[75] His concept “mode of production,” and its basic elements, Marx claims, refers to universal characteristics of every society.[76] But, these universal elements never exist in their abstract, universal form, only in historically specific manifestations. Without such world-views, without Marx’s mode of production theory, we would not be able to distinguish between capitalism, feudalism, and slavery, for example. Marx’s universal theory of modes of production helps historically-oriented researchers document, detail, and analyze historically specific modes of production. Marx’s modes of production theory inspired my thinking about different historical “modes of construction,” and their basic, universal elements, manifested in socially particular forms.

Like capitalism, the hetero/homo system was once purported to be eternal, not historical, changing, and time-bound. Like capitalism, hetero/homo was purported to be naturally given, not human-made. Like capitalism, hetero/homo was supposed to be necessary to the welfare of humanity. Those old certainties are now in question, all that is solid melts into air.

Next: 3 Conclusion

[1] Jonathan Ned Katz, Love Stories: Sex Between Men Before Homosexuality (University of Chicago Press, 1st edition December 14, 2001).

[2] On Karl Heinrich Ulrichs see Jonathan Ned Katz, “The First Gay Revolutionary,” The Advocate, April 25, 1989, Issue 523, 47+, citing Hubert C. Kennedy, Ulrichs: The Life and Works of Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, Pioneer of the Modern Gay Movement (Alyson, 1988); and Katz, The Invention of Heterosexuality, 51-52. 

[3]  I thank Robert Deam Tobin for clarifying the meaning and implications of Ulrich’s understanding of “dioning.” Email: Robert Deam Tobin to Jonathan Ned Katz, November 5, 2015 8:42:48 AM EST

[4] On Karl Maria Kertbeny see Katz, The Invention of Heterosexuality: 52-54.

[5] On John Addington Symonds see Katz, Gay American History, 340-58 ; and Katz, Love Stories (on A Problem in Greek Ethics): 244, 261-62, 272, 310, 385 n. 4; (on A Problem in Modern Ethics): 286, 287, 310, 363 n. 31.

[6] On Edward Carpenter’s Sex-Love in a Free Society see Shiela Rowbotham, Edward Carpenter: A Life of Liberty and Love (Verso, 2008), 189-90, and Carpenter, Sex-Love in a Free Society (Manchester, England: The Labor Press Society, 1894, Second Edition, 4, accessed January 12, 2016 from https://archive.org/details/sexloveanditspl00carpgoog

[7] On Edward Carpenter’s Homogenic Love see Rowbotham, Edward Carpenter, 185, 188, 190-95, 199, 204, 268, 284. 

[8] On Edward Carpenter’s “An Unknown People” see Rowbotham, Edward Carpenter, 280; on “The Intermediate Sex” see 282-85, 286, 287, 328, 330, 332, 363-65, 447, 448, 450.

[9]  On Havelock Ellis and John Addington Symonds, Sexual Inversion (first English edition, London: Wilson and Macmillan, 1897; photographic reprint NY: Arno Press, 1975).

[10] On “Miss S.,” see Katz, Gay American History, 374, quoting from Ellis and Symonds,  Sexual Inversion (1897), 88.

[11]  On the birth rate decrease of married, white, American, American-born, Protestant, middle class see John D’Emilio and Estelle B. Freedman, Intimate Matters: A History of  Sexuality in America (3rd. edition Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012), 174, citing Paula S. Fass, The Damned and the Beautiful: American Youth in the 1920s (Oxford University Press, 1st edition May 5, 1977), 60-61. See also Fass’s extensive source notes starting on 386.   

[12] On women and the change from a dominant mode of reproduction to a dominant mode of pleasure see D’Emilio and Freedman, Intimate Matters, 145, 151, 155, 165; Chapter 11, “Beyond Reproduction,” 239-242; “The Contraceptive Revolution,” 242-55.

[13] On Richard von Krafft-Ebing, Psychopathia Sexualis: eine Klinisch-Forensische Studie (Sexual Psychopathy: A Clinical-Forensic Study, 1st edition, Stuttgart: Verlalg Von Ferdinand Enke, 1886; Psychopathia Sexualis, with Especial Reference to Contrary Sexual Instinct: A Medico-Legal Study (first U.S. publication in English translation by Gilbert Chaddock: Philadelphia, F. A. Davis, 1893). The U.S. Copyright Office received and registered this edition on February 16, 1893 (Copyright Office to Katz, May 25, 1990). This American edition’s date of publication is confused because its copyright page says 1992, and its preface is dated November 1892, while its title page lists its date of publication as 1893.

[14] On Sigmund Freud see Katz, The Invention of Heterosexuality: 65-67.

[15] On entrepreneurs of desire, capitalist consumerism and sexuality: D’Emilio and Freedman, Intimate Matters, 278-80; 302-06, 323, citing Elaine Tyler May, Great Expectations: Marriage and Divorce in Post-Victorian America (University of Chicago Press, first edition December 1, 1980), 60-72, and Robert S. Lynd and Helen Merrell Lynd, Middletown: A Study in Contemporary American Culture (Harcourt, Brace, 1929),  251-71. See also: D’Emilio, John. “Capitalism and Gay Identity,” in  Snitow, et al, eds. Powers of Desire: 100-113;reprinted in John D'Emilio, Making Trouble: Essays on Gay History, Politics, and the University,  NY: Routledge,1992; Nancy Frazer, “Heterosexism, Misrecognition, and Capitalism: A Response to Judith Butler.” Social Text 52-53, 1997:279-89; Rosemary Hennessy, , Profit and Pleasure: Sexual Identities in Late Capitalism. NY: Routledge, 2000; Jameson, Frederic. Postmodernism, or The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. London: Verso, 1991. Matthaei, Julie. “The Sexual Division of Labor, Sexuality, and Lesbian/Gay Liberation: Toward a Marxist-Feminist Analysis of Sexuality in U.S. Capitalism.” Review of Radical Political Economics, June 1995 vol. 27 no. 2 1-37; Pearce, Frank, and Andrew Roberts. “The Social Regulation of Sexual Behavior and the Development of Industrial Capitalism in Britain,” in Roy Bailey and Jock Young, eds., Contemporary Social Problems in Britain (Westmead, Saxon House, 1973): 51-72. Soble, Alan. Pornography: Marxism, Feminism, and the Future of Sexuality. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1986. (See, especially: “4 Male and Female Sexuality in Capitalism”: 55-102); Weeks, Jeffrey. “Capitalism and the Organization of Sex.” In Gay Left Collective, ed. Homosexuality: Power and Politics, London: Alison and Busby, 1980.

[16] On working class sexuality as a source of the new heterosexual norm see D’Emilio and Freedman, Intimate Matters, 167, 183-88, 241. See also: Peiss, Kathy, “'Charity Girls' and City Pleasures: Historical Notes on Working Class Sexuality, 1880-1920," in Snitow, et al. Powers of Desire: 74-87; and in Kathy Peiss and Christina Simmons, with Robert A Padgug, eds. Passion and Power: Sexuality in History. (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1989): 57-69; Kathy Peiss, Cheap Amusements: Working Women and Leisure in Turn-of the Century New York (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1986); Kevin White, The First Sexual Revolution: The Emergence of Male Heterosexuality in Modern America. (NY: New York University Press, 1993): in index see, especially: “Working class sexuality.”

[17] On sex radicals Margaret Sanger and Floyd Dell see D’Emilio and Freedman, Intimate Matters, 229-35; and Floyd Dell, Love in the Machine Age (Farrar & Rinehart, 1930). See also: Sears, Hal D. The Sex Radicals: Free Love in High Victorian America. (Lawrence, KS: The Regents Press of Kansas, 1977).

[18]  For the March 15, 1942 revision of U.S. Army mobilization regulations titled "Sexual Perversion," which established the Army's anti-homosexual screening procedures during World War II, see Allan Bérubé, Coming Out Under Fire: The History of Gay Men and Women in World War II (The Free Press, 1990), 19.

[19] For the April 1945 decision by officials at the U.S. Veterans Administration to single out vets with an “undesirable,” blue-discharge – those found guilty of “homosexual acts or tendencies” -- as ineligible for veterans benefits under the postwar GI Bill, see  Bérubé, Coming Out Under Fire,  230, and Canaday, The Straight State, 138-141, 164, 169, 171-172.

[20] I am denying here “the death of the subject” as proposed by a number of postmodern thinkers. See, for example: James Heartfield, “Postmodernism and the ‘Death of the Subject’,” accessed January 29, 2016 from: https://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/en/heartfield-james.htm#n13

[21] For Whitman and the phrenologists see Katz, Love Stories, 109, 110, 365 n. 48. See also Michael Lynch,  “'Here is Adhesiveness': From Friendship to Homosexuality,” Victorian Studies 29 (Autumn 1985): 68–96. For analysis of the “anatomical style of reasoning” see Arnold Davidson, The Emergence of Sexuality: Historical Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001).

[22] For Whitman’s pro-sex poetry, his pro-sex prose manifesto of 1871, “Democratic Vistas,” and “sex-love,” a hyphenate, that first began to appear in the 1890s, see Katz, Love Stories, 173-74, 269, and Katz, The Invention of Heterosexuality, 87. Edward Carpenter used “sex-love” in the title of a pamphlet published in 1894. See Rowbotham, Edward Carpenter: 189-90, on his Sex-Love in a Free Society (Manchester, England: The Labor Press Society, 1894, Second Edition, 4, accessed January 12, 2016 from https://archive.org/details/sexloveanditspl00carpgoog

[23] For the theories of Karl Heinrich Ulrichs about a female soul in a male body and a male soul in a female body, see Katz, The Invention of Heterosexuality, 51-52, and the sources on Ulrichs cited in note 50 on 215 of that book. 

[24] For doctors, neurologists, psychiatrists, and psychologists, speaking with the authority of scientists, with access to means of networking, publication and distribution, and constructing the new heterosexual norm see Katz, Gay/Lesbian Almanac, 137, 147-50; for doctors Krafft-Ebing and Freud, see Katz, The Invention of Heterosexuality, 21-32, 57-82. See also: Jeffrey Weeks, Coming Out: Homosexual Politics in Britain, from the Nineteenth Century to the Present (Quartet Books, October 27, 1977).

[25]  Barry D. Adam, Jan Willem Duyvendak, Andre Krouwel, eds. The Global Emergence Of Gay & Lesbian Politics (Temple University Press, March 16, 2009).

[26i] For the first formulation of heterosexuality as idea and word in 1868, and the first institutionalization of normal sex by the U.S. Government between 1942 and 1945 search this essay for those dates.

[27] For the spatial spread of the discourse on heterosexuality and homosexuality within and from Germany, Great Britain, the U.S., France, Italy, Spain, Argentina, Japan, and Africa, see the following:

J. Hutter, “The Social Construction of Homosexuals in the Nineteenth Century: The Shift from the Sin to the Influence of Medicine on Criminalizing Sodomy in Germany.” Journal of Homosexuality, 24, ns. 3-4, 1993: 73-93; Harry Oosterhuis, Step-Children of Nature: Krafft-Ebing, Psychiatry, and the Making of Sexual Identity (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003). (See “heterosexuality” in index, especially 22, 44, 50,  57,  66-67, 69, 71, 269.); Robert Deam Tobin, Peripheral Desires: The German Discovery of Sex (University of Pennsylvania Press, October 1, 2015).

Great Britain:
Crozier,  I. D. “The Medical Construction of Homosexuality and its Relation to Law in Nineteenth-Century England.” Medical History, 45 (2001), 61-82; Roy Porter and Lesley Hall. The Facts of Life: The Creation of Sexual Knowledge in Britain, 1650-1950 (Yale University Press, 1995). (Does not list “heterosexual” in its index; lists “homosexual.” Under that heading there are a few comments about heterosexuality: see, for example, 11.) Weeks, Jeffrey, Coming Out: Homosexual Politics in Britain, from the Nineteenth Century to the Present (London: Quartet Books, 1977): “The Medical Model”: 23-32, and 49,54, 64, 157-59.

Bert Hansen, "American Physicians' 'Discovery' of the Homosexual, 1880-1900: A New Diagnosis in a Changing Society." In Charles Rosenberg and Janet Golden, eds., Framing Disease: Studies in Cultural History (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1992): 104-33; Bert Hansen, “American Physicians Earliest Writings About Homosexuals, 1880-1900.” The Milbank Quarterly, 67, Supplement 1, 1989: 92-108; Jonathan Ned Katz, The Invention of Heterosexuality, see “Krafft-Ebing” and “Freud” in index.

Robert Nye, “Sex Difference and Male Homosexuality in French Medical Discourse, 1830-1930.” Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 63, 1, 1989: 32-51; Robert Nye, “Sex and Sexuality in France Since 1800.” In F. X. Eder, Lesley Hall, and Gert. Hekma, eds., Sexual Cultures in Europe. National Histories (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1999): 91-113; Vernon A. Rosario, The Erotic Imagination: French Histories of Perversity (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997); Louis-Georges Tin, L'invention de la culture hétérosexuelle (Editions Autrement, 2008; translation as The Invention of Heterosexual Culture (The MIT Press, 2012). (Claims “heterosexual culture” is historical, heterosexual acts are universal. Focuses on French history.)

Derek Duncan, Reading and Writing Italian Homosexuality: A Case of Possible Difference (Ashgate, 2006); Chiara Beccalossi, Female Sexual Inversion: Same-Sex Desires in Italian and British Sexology, c.1870-1920. (Palgrave Macmillan, October 26, 2012).

Richard Cleminson and Francisco Vazquez Garcia, ‘Los Invisibles’: A History of Male Homosexuality in Spain. (Cardiff, Wales: University of Wales Press, 2007). (See especially: “Introduction,” 1-28; “The Birth of the ‘Invert’: a Truncated Process of Medicalization,” 29-94.) Richard Cleminson, “The Review Sexualidad (1925-28), Social Hygience and the Pathologisation of Male Homosexuality in Spain.” Journal of Iberian and Latin American Studies, 6, 2 (2000), 119-29. Ricahrd Cleminson, “The Significance of the ‘Fairy; for the Cultural Archaeology of Same-Sex Male Desire in Spain, 1850-1930. Sexualities, 7, 4 (2004, 412-29. Richard Cleminson, “Medicine, the Novel and Homosexuality in Spain.” In A. Carling, ed. Globalization and Identity: Development and Integration in a Changing World (London: I. B. Tauris, 2006), 201-20. Richard Cleminson, “Spain: the Political and Social Context of Sex Reform in the Late- Nineteenth and Early-Twentieth Centuries.” In F. X. Eder, L. Hall, and G. Hekma, eds., Sexual Cultures in Europe. National Histories (Manchester: Manchester University Press,1999: 173-96. 

J. Salessi, “The Argentine Dissemination of Homosexuality, 1890-1914.” Journal of the History of Sexuality, 4, 3, 1994: 337-68.

Sabine Fruhstuck,. Colonizing Sex: Sexology and Social Control in Modern Japan (University of California Press, October 7, 2003), 6, 197; Gregory M. Pflugfelder, Cartographies of Desire: Male-Male Sexuality in Japanese Discourse (University of California Press, March 19, 2007), 5, 25, 214, 252.

Mark Epprecht, Heterosexual Africa?: The History of an Idea from the Age of Exploration to the Age of AIDS (Ohio University Press, 1st edition September 23, 2008), especially 1-33. Epprecht oddly criticizes the idea of an essential, ahistorical homosexuality and implicitly posits heterosexuality as essential and ahistorical.

[28] For use in the U.S. of the terms “sexual inversion,” “contrary sexual feeling,” and “third sex” see Jonathan Ned Katz, Gay American History index on “homosexual(s)” “names for,” 675, and Gay/Lesbian Almanac index on “terms, specific” 758.

[29] Karl Maria Kertbeny’s invention of the word and concept heterosexual in 1868 was discussed earlier in this essay. Richard Krafft-Ebing’s first use of the word and concept in Psychopathia Sexualis, appeared in 1889. See “1889: Richard von Krafft-Ebing: ‘Heterosexual,’” on OutHistory.org accessed October 26, 2015 from http://www.outhistory.org/exhibits/show/heterohomobi/krafft

[30] In The Invention of Heterosexuality (152-53), I briefly touched on the fact that the female heterosexuality and male heterosexuality have different histories, just like the histories of female and male homosexuality. Adrienne Rich’s "Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence," Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, v. 5, n. 4: 631–660, focuses on the effect of heterosexual history on women. See also the revised version of Rich’s essay in Blood, Bread and Poetry: Selected Prose, 1979-1985 (Virago, 1986), and Rich’s "Reflections on "Compulsory Heterosexuality," Journal of Women’s History, v. 16, n.1: 9–11. For an essay that begins to discuss white, male, heterosexual history see Daniel Wickberg, “Heterosexual White Male: Some Recent Inversions in American Cultural History,” The Journal of American History, v. 92, n. 1, June 2005, 136-157.

[31] On the normalization of heterosexuality among African Americans having a history, meaning, and impact different than that normalization did on white people because of the American slave past, and persistent racial and sexual stereotypes see Mattie Udora Richardson, “No More Secrets, No More Lies: African American History and Compulsory Heterosexuality,” Journal of Women's History, v. 15, n. 3, Autumn 2003, 63-76. On compulsory heterosexuality and Asian-American history see Judy Tzu-Chun Wu, “Asian American History and Racialized Compulsory Deviance,” Journal of Women's History, Volume 15, Number 3, Autumn 2003, 58-62.

[32] That the term and idea of heterosexuality was first distributed among the white, educated, middle class seems evident from the middle class, professional origins of those who first spoke and wrote about its existence. It seems that only in the 1930s did talk of heterosexuality began to appear in newspapers, books, and articles read more generally by the working class. See Jonathan Ned Katz, “Constructing the Heterosexual, Homosexual, Bisexual System” accessed October 27, 2015 from http://outhistory.org/exhibits/show/heterohomobi

[33] The changing division of labor among human females and males, and changing norms of femininity and masculinity, makes gender history distinct from but often complexly intertwined with sexual history. This is a major theme of D’Emilio and Freedman’s Intimate Matters.

[34] For changes over time in the mode of reproduction (the construction of new human beings), the division of reproductive labor, and the radically different experiences of women and men, see D’Emilio and Freedman, Intimate Matters, which also discusses changes in the valuation of bodily pleasure, and the institutions that legitimize those values.

[35] Thompson, E. P. “Time, Work Discipline and Industrial Capitalism.” Past and Present, No. 38, December 1967: 56—97.

[36] For developmental and temporal conceptions such as “primitive,” “backward,” and “behind” derogating cultures and civilizations see , for example, Faye D. Ginsburg, Lila Abu-Lughod, Brian Larkin, eds., Media Worlds: Anthropology on New Terrain (University of California Press October 7, 2002), 177.

[37] Gore Vidal, Imperial America: Reflections on the United States of Amnesia (Nation Books, May 7, 2004).

[38] On capitalism as one of a number of historical ways of organizing production, see, for example, Karl Marx, Grundrisse, “Production,” accessed October 29, 2015 from https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1857/grundrisse/ch01.htm 

[39] For the temporal movement of the heterosexual word and idea out of Germany, Great Britain, the U.S., France, Italy, Spain, Argentina, Japan, and Africa, see the above backnote on the “spatial” spread of the discourse.

[40] For a queer geographer focusing on heterosexuality see: Phil Hubbard, “Here, There, Everywhere: the Ubiquitous Geographies of Heteronormativity.” Geography Compass, v. 2, n. 3, 640-658.

[41] For example, the influential historical sociologist Jeffrey Weeks, in 1983, says: “it is essential to distinguish between . . . homosexual behavior, and . . . homosexual roles, categorizations  and identities.” He argues that “attitudes” toward and “meanings” of homosexual behavior have changed historically, but behavior has been relatively unchanging and stable: “The physical acts might be similar, but their social implications are often profoundly different.” See his Sex, Politics and Society: The Regulation of Sexuality since 1800 (London: Longman, 1983): 96-97. 

[42] John H. Gagnon and William Simon, Sexual Conduct: The Social Sources of Human sexuality (Chicago: Aldine Publishing, 1973), 23. This is a major text in the historical development of social theories of sexuality. Michel Foucault is known as the progenitor of social construction theory in regard to sexuality. A later, alternative, general, sociological theory of sexuality is offered by Adam Isaiah Green, ed. Sexual Fields: Toward a Sociology of Collective Sexual Life. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014.

[43] Judith Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (NY: Routledge, 1990). (See especially “The compulsory order of sex/gender/desire,” 8-10, and “Prohibition, Psychoanalysis, and the Production of the Heterosexual Matrice,” 47-106.)

[44] See, for example, Michael Warner, The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and the Ethics of Queer Life (NY: Free Press, 1999). See, especially, “Why Normal?”: 52-61.

[45] Talcott Parsons, The Structure of Social Action, A Study in Social Theory with Special Reerence to a Group of Recent European Writers. Volume I: Marshall, Pareto, Durkheim.  Volume II: Weber  (NY: McGraw-Hill, 1937), especially Volume I, 43-51, and on the “voluntaristic theory of action,” 439.

[46]  Talcott Parson and Edward A. Shils, Toward a General Theory of Action: Theoretical Foundations for the Social Sciences. With  a New Introduction by Neil J. Smelser (originally published 1951 by Harvard University Press; this edition: New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 2001): 53-56.

[47] Yet another theory of human action was formulated by the free market economist  Ludwig von Mises in Human Action: A Treatise on Economics (first published in 1949;  republished in a “Scholar’s Edition” by the Ludwig von Mises Institute, Aburn, AL, 2008). See also his Theory and History: An Interpretation of Social and Economic Evolution (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1957; reprinted Auburn, AL: Ludwig von Mises Institute, 2007).

[48] On the colonial era Native American sexualities see Jonathan [Ned] Katz, Gay American History: Lesbians and Gay Men in the U.S.A. (NY: T. Y. Crowell, 1976), section on “Native Americans/Gay Americans”: 281-92.

[49] For the colonial era distinction between reproductive and non-reproductive acts see the analysis in Jonathan Ned Katz, Gay/Lesbian Almanac: A New Documentary (NY: Harper and Row, 1983): “Part I . . . The Age of Sodomitical Sin, 1607-1740.” 

[50] The British Marxist historian E. P. Thompson criticizes the deterministic, mechanical Marxist theory of an economic based distinguished from an ideological and cultural superstructure in his introduction to The Making of the English Working Class (London: Victor Gollancz Ltd. 1963; 2nd edition Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1968), and in The Poverty of Theory and Other Essays (NY: Monthly Review Press, 1978), see, for example, 166. In an essay titled “Merely Cultural” Judith Butler also critiques Marxists who conceptualize the “material” and the “cultural” as existing in separate social spheres, a material, economic “base” and an ideological, cultural “superstructure,” a “political economy” distinct from a culture that includes sexuality, sex, and gender.[267-68]  She argues that the Marxist idea of a “mode of production” needs to include “forms of social association”[271], and for “an expansion of the ‘economic’ sphere itself to include both the reproduction of goods as well as the social reproduction of persons.”[272[ She asserts that if  “the mode of production” is the “defining structure of political economy,” then “sexuality must be understood as part of that mode of production.”[273] She praises scholars who “explain how the cultural and the economic . . . became established as separable spheres—indeed, how the institution of the economy as a separate sphere is the consequence of an operation of abstraction initiated by capital itself.”[274].)  See Judith Butler, “Merely Cultural.” Social Text, n. 52/53, “Queer Transexions of Race, Nation, and Gender,” Autumn-Winter, 1997: 265-77.

[51] This discussion is continued in section 10: “Modes of Construction.”

[52] Re J. R. Ackerley see Jonathan Ned Katz, The Invention of Heterosexuality (NY: Dutton, 1995), 91.

[53] Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann, The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge (NY: Doubleday, 1966; Anchor Books paperback July 11, 1967) discuss “biology”: 17, 47-52, 136, 140, 180-83; the human “body”: 36, 134; and “heterosexuality,” “homosexuality,” and “sexuality” in general: 49, 55-56, 58, 63, 64, 77, 83-84, 113-15, 181.

[54] Ian Hacking contests the common idea that socially constructed objects are not real -- or not as real – as other kinds of objects. See his The Social Construction of What? (Boston: Harvard University Press, 1999): 28-29. For an example of the opposition between real and constructed see: James Weinrich, "Reality or Social Construction?" In Sexual Landscapes: Why We Are What We Are, Why We Love Who We Love (NY: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1987), reprinted in Stein, Forms of Desire (1990, 1992): 175-208. 

[55] Beth Stebner, “Workplace morale heads down: 70% of Americans negative about their jobs, Gallup study shows.” NY Daily News, June 24, 2013. Accessed January 23, 2016 from  http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/70-u-s-workers-hate-job-poll-article-1.1381297  The report says:

 “An alarming 70% of those surveyed in a recent Gallup poll either hate their jobs or are completely disengaged, and not even incentives and extras can extricate them from the working man's blues.  [New paragraph.] The other findings of Gallup's 2013 State of the American Workplace report were grim; at best, 30% of the 150,000 full and part-time workers surveyed honestly enjoyed their jobs and their bosses.” 

[56] The alienation of people from the means and mode of action which people create, but don’t control, called “reification,” is one of the great themes of Marxist analysis. For one discussion of reification see Berger and Luckmann, The Social Construction of Reality (1966; Anchor Books, 1967), 89-92, 186, 187.

[57] The change from a dominant mode of human reproduction to a dominant mode of heterosexual pleasure-sex is one of the major themes of D’Emilio and Freedman’s Intimate Matters, where this change is detailed and documented. 

[58]  Albert  J. Reiss Jr., “The Social Organization of Queers and Peers.” Social Problems , v. 9, n. 2,  1961, Autumn: 102-20.  Reiss refers to “the social organization of sexual activity in a complex social system,” the “social organization” of  sexual relations between “young male” hustlers and “adult male fellators,” the “social organization” of sexual activity in prisons, and “the social organization of female prostitution.” For another early reference to the “social organization” of sexuality see also Martin S. Weinberg and Colin J. Williams, “Gay Baths and the Social Organization of Impersonal Sex,” Social Problems, 23, December 1975: 124-36.

[59] Major publications of John H. Gagnon and William Simon are listed in the bibliography published with the present essay.

[60]  William Simon and John H. Gagnon, “Homosexuality: The Formulation of a Sociological Perspective.” Journal of Health and Social Behavior, September 1967, v. 8, n. 3, 177-185. The quotes are on pages 177, 179. 

[61] Re The Feminists’ reference to “the institution of heterosexual sex” see Sue Wilkinson and Celia Kitzinger, eds., Heterosexuality: A Feminism and Psychology Reader (SAGE Publications, April 14, 1993), 172-73.

[62] Millett quoted in Katz, Invention of Heterosexuality (1995), 125.

[63] Re Margaret Small’s “heterosexual hegemony” see Katz, Invention of Heterosexuality (1995), 149.

[64] Christopher Isherwood, Kathleen and Frank: The Autobiography of a Family (Simon and Schuster, 1st edition 1971), 380.

[65] Gayle Rubin, "The Traffic in Women: Notes on the 'Political Economy' of Sex." In Rayna R. Reiter, ed., Toward an Anthropology of Women (NY: Monthly Review Press, 1975): 157-210; reprinted in Gayle S. Rubin, Deviations: A Gayle Rubin Reader (Duke University Press, 2011). The quote from Rubin is on page 48.

[66] Adrienne Rich, “Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence,” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 5, no. 4 (Summer 1980): 631-60.

[67] Dayna K. Shah, Associate General Counsel United States General Accounting Office to The Honorable Bill Frist, Majority Leader, United States Senate, January 23, 2004, accessed October 20, 2015 from http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d04353r.pdf

[68] Margot Canaday, “Building a Straight State: Sexuality and Social Citizenship und the 1944 G.I. Bill,” Journal of American History 90, 3, December 2003: 935-57. See also Canaday’s later book: The Straight State: Sexuality and Citizenship in Twentieth-Century America (Princeton University Press, 1st edition July 26, 2009). 

[69] Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann, The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge (Doubleday, first edition 1966; 1st Anchor Books  paperpack July 11, 1967.)

[70] In addition to Berger and Luckmann’s pioneering study, other major books on social construction theory stress the production, in particular, of mental activity and subjective constructs – aims, concepts, desires, discourses, ideas, knowledge, meanings, mores, norms, standards, scripts, representations, rules, and individual and group consciousness and identities.

Prominent among this work are the invaluable, ground-breaking publications of sociologists John H. Gagnon and William Simon, gathered in Sexual Conduct: The Social Sources of Human Sexuality (Aldine Publishing, 1973). These focus on the changing  “sexual scripts” and “norms” associated with sexual acts, as does Gagnon in An Interpretation of Desire: Essays in the Study of Sexuality.(University of Chicago Press, 2004).

Philosopher John R. Searle in The Construction of Social Reality (The Free Press, 1995), focuses on “states of consciousness,” “speech acts,” a “theory of mind,” “mental reality”). In Searle’s Making the Social World: The Structure of Human Civilization (Oxford University Press, 2010), language is said to form the foundation of human society.

In philosopher Ian Hacking’s The Social Construction of What? (Harvard University Press, 1999), he distances himself from social construction theory, focusing on clarifying distinctions between “facts,” “truth,” and “knowledge.” 

Two psychologists, Andy Lock and Tom Strong, in Social Construction: Sources and Stirrings in Theory and Practice (Cambridge University Press, 2010), claim  that “human reality . . . is located and constructed within the conduct of conversation.”

Sociologist Dave Elder-Vass, in The Reality of Social Construction (Cambridge University Press, 2012), focuses on “linguistic constructionism,” “discursive constructionism,” “norm circles,” cultural “rules,” and divides sections into “Language,” “Discourse,” and “Knowledge.”

[71] One might likewise distinguish the system ordering the practice of wage labor from the idea of wage labor, the discourse on wage labor, the value of wage labor, or the identities, feelings, or meanings associated with wage labor. One might similarly distinguish the system ordering the practice of private capital accumulation from the idea of private capital accumulation, the discourse on private capital accumulation, the value of the capitalist’s work of private capital accumulation, and the identities, feelings, or meanings associated with private capital accumulation. 

[72] In The Invention of Heterosexuality I told the history of heterosexuality by focusing on the discourse on heterosex, a stress intended to engage general readers, as well as scholars. I did point out that heterosexuality, as coercive, hierarchical institution was not just a discursive system, but a mode of construction of people and their life prospects as influential as the economic mode of production. However, that point could be overlooked. In Invention, for example, I compared the hetero/homo system to the master/slave system: “Heterosexual and homosexual refer to a historically specific system of domination—of socially unequal sexes and eroticisms. It makes as much sense, then, to look for the cause of heterosexual or homosexual feelings in biology as it does to look for the physiological determinants of the slave’s mentality or the master’s” (Katz, Invention [1995], 189).

[73] I agree with the Marxist historian E. P. Thompson about the impossibility of distinguishing, in any particular empirical instance between a wholly material economic base, and a purely ideal, ideational superstructure. See E. P. Thompson, The Poverty of Theory and Other Essays (NY: Monthly Review Press, 1978), especially Thompson’s questioning the separation of “economic” acts from all other kinds of human acts on page 65.

[74] Re “making up people” see: Ian Hacking, "Making Up People." In Thomas Heller, and others, eds., Reconstructing Individualism: Autonomy, Individuality, and the Self in Western Thought (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1986): 222-36; reprinted in Stein, ed.

[75] On Marx’s “mode of production” theory see, for example, Jairus Banaji, Theory and History: Essays on Modes of Production and Exploitation (Brill: March 22, 2010), and Annette Kuhn and AnnMarie Wolpe, eds. Feminism and Materialism: Women and Modes of Production (Routledge, November 9, 1978). The model I present here expands the mode of production concept beyond the specifically “economic” to suggest that human society as a whole is composed of a variety of simultaneously existing, historically specific, human modes of production, though some may have more influence than others in particular areas of social life.

[76] See Marx on modes of production and their basic elements as social universals in Capital, Volume I, Marx, Karl. Capital. Volume I. First published: in German in 1867; First English edition of 1887 (4th German edition changes included as indicated) with some modernization of spelling; Progress Publishers, Moscow, USSR; First Published: 1887; Translated: Samuel Moore and Edward Aveling, edited by Frederick Engels; Online Version: Marx/Engels Internet Archive (marxists.org) 1995, 1999. See especially: Section 1. The Labour-Process of The Production of Use-Values,” accessed November 1, 2015 from https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/ch07.htm  My understanding that society as a whole is a productive order, not just the “economy,” derives from my reading, around 1962 or ’63, of the above section of Capital.