100 Sci-Fi & Fantasy Shop Costumes Learn more nav_sap_SWP_6M_fly_beacon Janet Jackson All-New Fire TV Stick with Voice Remote Grocery Introducing Handmade New Kitchen Scale from AmazonBasics Amazon Gift Card Offer redoaks redoaks redoaks  Amazon Echo Starting at $49.99 Kindle Voyage Nintendo Digital Games Shop Now STEM Toys & Games
Straight: The Surprisingly Short History of Heterosexuality and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more

Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.

FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Only 12 left in stock (more on the way).
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
Straight: The Surprisingl... has been added to your Cart
+ $3.99 shipping
Used: Like New | Details
Sold by bellwetherbooks
Condition: Used: Like New
Comment: LIKE NEW!!! Has a small black line on edge of pages. PA Sales Tax is included in purchase price. Tracking is not available for orders shipped outside of the United States.
Sell yours for a Gift Card
We'll buy it for $1.25
Learn More
Trade in now
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 2 images

Straight: The Surprisingly Short History of Heterosexuality Paperback – August 28, 2012

13 customer reviews

See all 3 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price
New from Used from
"Please retry"
"Please retry"
$9.99 $9.39

"The Last of the President's Men"
The untold story of the White House aide who changed history. More by Bob Woodward.
$18.00 FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Only 12 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.

Frequently Bought Together

  • Straight: The Surprisingly Short History of Heterosexuality
  • +
  • Zami: A New Spelling of My Name - A Biomythography (Crossing Press Feminist Series)
  • +
  • Black Skin, White Masks
Total price: $41.44
Buy the selected items together

Editorial Reviews


“Fascinating.”—Vanity Fair

“[An] amusing, readable synthesis . . . Blank darts from one intriguing, thought-provoking point to another. . . . [And she] offers the provocative solution that soon we will move on from our present fixation on the binary to a more fluid understanding.”—Abigail Zuger, New York Times

“Using wit and wisdom, Blank substantiates her argument that love and passion are not defined by biology.”—EDGE Publications

“A lively, accessible synthesis of decades of scholarship on the history and sociology of sexuality.”—CHOICE 

Wry, witty and thoroughly researched.”— Lavender Magazine

“Blank has produced a challenging, clear, and interesting study of how Western views of what it means to be ‘straight’ have changed over the past two centuries and continue to change.”—Library Journal

“Blank’s work reaches further and deeper into the history of heterosexuality…highly accessible.”—Lambda Lit

Straight …is accessible and engaging, often witty and penetrating in its insights.”—New York Journal of Books

“Blank’s tenacious research and insightful arguments make clear how malleable the attitudes of the world we live in really are.”—Michelle Kehm, Bust

“Blank writes with great erudition and humor, so that, even a skeptical (or anxious) reader will be hard-pressed not to find it enjoyable and thought provoking."—Haaretz

“Hanne Blank has rendered a meticulously researched romp through the history of ‘heterosexuality’—that pesky orthodoxy still looming over Western culture like smog. Her sweeping synthesis takes on everything from Freud to Larry Craig, expertly weaving this untold history with insight and a refreshing dose of irreverence.”—Lisa M. Diamond, author of Sexual Fluidity: Understanding Women’s Love and Desire

“The author uses wisdom and wit to substantiate her contention that love and passion are not definable by biology.”—Kirkus

“From its thorough but brisk explorations of sexual orientation’s intersections with sex, gender, and romance, this illuminating study examines our presuppositions and makes a powerful, provocative argument that heterosexuality—mazy, unscientific, and new—may be merely “a particular configuration of sex and power in a particular historical moment.”—Publishers Weekly

“With impeccable research and detail, Hanne Blank uncovers the fascinating, often hidden, history of heterosexuality. Straight is a marvelous cultural history that is as entertaining as it is profoundly enlightening and necessary for understanding the world in which we live.”—Michael Bronski, author of A Queer History of the United States

“What would it mean to dispense with our current categories of sexual identity? Writing with grace and wit, Hanne Blank demonstrates that what sounds like a radical proposition is also historically inevitable. This is a book that really shakes up an assumption or two!”—Laura Kipnis, author of How To Become a Scandal and Against Love
“Challenging our culture’s deeply entrenched, stubborn assumption of heterosexuality, Straight helps us to think newly and critically. Starting from her own experience, Hanne Blank creatively analyses the unexamined idea that heterosexuality is given, unchanging, ahistorical.”—Jonathan Ned Katz, author of The Invention of Heterosexuality and co-director OutHistory.org

From the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Writer and historian Hanne Blank is the author of Virgin:The Untouched History and seven other books that explore the intersections of sexuality, gender, the body, and culture. 

From the Hardcover edition.

See all Editorial Reviews

Best Books of the Month
Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 228 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press (August 28, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807044598
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807044599
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #378,987 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Hanne Blank is the author of "Straight: The Suprisingly Short History of Heterosexuality" (Beacon Press, 2012). She spends her time thinking, learning, writing, and speaking at the crossroads of bodies, self, and culture. Joyfully spanning the town/gown divide as well as the mind/body split, her books include the histories Straight: The Surprisingly Short History of Heterosexuality (Beacon Press, 2012) and Virgin: The Untouched History (Bloomsbury, 2007), the cult classic sex and body-acceptance book Big Big Love: A Sex and Relationships Guide for People of Size (and Those Who Love Them) (Celestial Arts, 2011), and numerous others.

Hanne's work has been featured in periodicals ranging from Penthouse to Bitch: Feminist Response to Pop Culture, and in anthologies ranging from Embodied Resistance: Challenging the Norms, Breaking The Rules to Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape.

A former Scholar of the Institute for Teaching and Research on Women at Towson University, Hanne has taught in various capacities on campuses including Brandeis and Tufts. She is also a popular speaker and guest lecturer, with appearances ranging from Harvard University to the inaugural Femme Conference in 2006.

Hanne lives in a 175-year-old stone mill cottage on a dirt road in the middle of Baltimore, and travels frequently to speak and teach. She is a passionate defender of the Oxford comma, is a tea and cider drinker who lives in a coffee and beer country, and has a nice tnettennba.

Photographer Copyright Credit Name: Kyle Cassidy, 2012.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Jeremy Colton on March 26, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'm putting this book on my very short list of works, including "The Selfish Gene" The Selfish Gene: 30th Anniversary Edition--with a new Introduction by the Author, Davies' "Deptford" Trilogy The Deptford Trilogy, and "The Nurture Assumption" The Nurture Assumption: Why Children Turn Out the Way They Do, Revised and Updated, that have fundamentally changed the way I view the world. It really doesn't matter whether one agrees completely with Blank or not as to the historical reason the term and concept came into our culture; those are interesting opinions. The incontrovertible fact is that "heterosexual" has a specific meaning, a meaning that changes over time, and a meaning that impacts ones understanding of all other aspects of gender and sex identity. The life-changing aspect of this book is, in other words, not so much Blanks specific explanation of what heterosexuality is and means but rather the underlying concept that its meaning is not self-obvious and is important to understand. From this point of view Blank's ideas become data in a personal analysis of an entire area of thought that had never occurred to me before.

Another reviewer likens "Heterosexual" to post-modern "everything is a social construct" fallacy. I think seeing it that way completely misses the point. Of course who I am sexually is a physical reality, founded in my genes, my gestation, and my life experience.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
24 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A Careful Reader on February 12, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Since I devoured her pioneering book on virginity, Hanne Blank has always been a writer that I seek out to unpack unpopular norms and concepts about the cultural traditions that we take for granted. This investigation of the making of heterosexuality does indeed unearth the short history of straightness and while this history isn't surprising to me, it's certainly freshly, deeply, persuasively and eloquently argued by Hanne Blank. Well done!
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jean Roberta on June 18, 2013
Format: Paperback
This new look at sexual orientation by the erudite and versatile Hanne Blank is not the first of its kind. Blank acknowledges her debt to Jonathan Katz' The Invention of Heterosexuality as a forerunner of this study. However, the evidence that "heterosexuality" was invented, not discovered--and quite recently at that--bears repeating. As Blank points out, if "the attribute we now call `heterosexuality' were a prerequisite for people to engage in sex acts or to procreate, chances are excellent that we would not have waited until the late nineteenth century to figure out that it was there."

It is Blank's contention that the parallel terms "heterosexual" and "homosexual" were coined, not in a scientific or medical context, as is generally assumed today, but in a quasi-legal context. To be "homosexual" was to have a particular sexual identity. When used by opponents of a drastic German law that criminalized sexual "deviance" in 1851, the term implied that legally persecuting "homosexuals" was irrational, since they were not sinners (as under earlier canon law) but were simply expressing unusual desires that were natural for them. Although Blank is not the first historian to discuss the development of the concept of sexual orientation, her explanation of the social context is intriguing. As she shows, medieval Christian definitions of sexual sin (non-reproductive or non-marital sex) had a great influence on later conceptions of "abnormal" erotic attraction, which could only be understood in contrast with the "normal" kind.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
15 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 23, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
From my perspective, though much of the material is fairly interesting, I find the book to be overly verbose and repetitive. I feel it also runs far afield of its stated topic. Much is about the stereotypical relationships that have existed over the years between men and women, but little about historical sexuality that would support the concept of heterosexuality as an artificial construct.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
By Cissa on August 5, 2014
Format: Paperback
This excellently written book looks into the history of "heterosexuality" as a Thing in and of itself. In so doing, Blank touches on may related issues, such as theories of male and female sexuality, the history of marriage, and many more. While I suppose these could be considered tangential, they also enrich and inform the overall points, and for me have put many things into a context of which I was previously unaware.

It is not exclusively about "straight"; in exploring how this concept came to be, and to be accepted, Blank touches on many other sexual realms; none would be possible without the others.

Do read the footnotes; while some are just cites, others have additional enriching commentary.

Very recommended, for anyone interested in how our cultural narrative of sex came to be, and how it can impact us.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Set up an Amazon Giveaway

Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more
Straight: The Surprisingly Short History of Heterosexuality
This item: Straight: The Surprisingly Short History of Heterosexuality
Price: $18.00
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com