Book on heterosexuality receives prestigious award

Author: Holly Ober
February 11, 2021

Gender and Sexuality Studies professor Jane Ward has received a 2021 PROSE Award for her book, “The Tragedy of Heterosexuality,” from the Association of American Publishers. The book was honored for exceptional scholarship and significant contributions to the social sciences, particularly in the fields of anthropology and sociology. The Association of American Publishers represents the leading book, journal, and education publishers in the United States on matters of law and policy, advocating for outcomes that incentivize the publication of creative expression, professional content, and learning solutions.

The award puts Ward’s book in the running for the Association of American Publishers’ prestigious R. R. Hawkins Award. This award recognizes outstanding scholarly works in all disciplines of the arts and sciences and will be announced this month.

Jane Ward
Jane Ward

The Tragedy of Heterosexuality” examines marriage manuals, self-help books, and “dating science” seminars, concluding that for over a century these products have tried, and failed, to solve the problem Ward argues is at the heart of heterosexuality: Men and women don’t like each other very much. The dislike is not rooted in biological difference but patriarchal gender dynamics. Ward asserts that men require sexually yielding female partners who make few demands of their emotions or time and women hate the demeaning, manipulative, even painful roles they must accept to make their relationships work.

Looking in on heterosexuality as a queer outsider and ally, Ward rejects the commercialized self-help tactics she examines and proposes a more radical approach, adapted from queer and feminist writers and personal conversations, which she calls “deep heterosexuality.” Straight couples don’t need to learn more clever and more subtle ways to manipulate each other, she writes: they need to find ways to relate that don’t depend on patriarchy and misogyny.