Amatonormativity, similar to “heteronomativity”, captures the conservative societal expectations of romance.
It is the assumption that the ultimate goal in everyone’s life is to gain a partner of the opposite sex that you spend the rest of your life with, have children with, and fullfill your assigned gender roles with.
“Amatonormativity” puts pressure not only on LGBTQ people that do not fit into these societal standards, but also reinforces the patriarchy by assuming that all women want to be housewives, caretakers and mothers, while men are supposed to be out building the world.
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The term was coined in 2011 by philosophy professor Elizabeth Brake at the Arizona State University.
On her blog, she defined the term as ‘the assumption that everyone is better off in an exclusive, romantic, long-term coupled relationship, and that everyone is seeking such a relationship.’
It is made up of the terms “amato”, which means “beloved”, and “normativity”, meaning “determined norms or standards”.
Spread and Usage
The difference between the long-existing term “heteronormativity” and “amatonormativity” is that “heteronormativity” builds on heterosexual relationships, excluding all forms of other orientations.
In 2017, Drake Baer from The Cut published an article named “There’s a Word for the Assumption That Everybody Should Be in a Relationship”, where he discusses how “amatonormativity” causes people to stay in bad relationships and live unfulfilled lives.
In 2019, Bella DePaulo Ph.D. published an article in Psychology Today named “Should Marriage Be Abolished, Minimized, Or Left Alone?”, taking inspiration from Elizabeth Brake’s book and her newly coined term.
She explains how marriage and the old perception of love is outdated, and supports Elizabeth Brake’s proposal of a “minimized marriage”.