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Why Are Interactions Between the Opposite Sex Sexualized?

Updated: Aug 30, 2022

Written by Chloe Gordon

Are men and women able to be friends? It’s the age-old question. Movies from 1980s “When Harry Met Sally” to more current flicks like “Flipped,” often explore this complicated question. Most often, these movies skip friendship in favor of oversexualized interactions.

So why are interactions between males and females oversexualized? When asking various SOAR students, we can understand distinctive perspectives to answer these questions.

According to senior Miranda Brandt, the male/female friendship is frowned upon because there is an assumption that they must like each other in some fashion.

“Typically, people of the same sex befriend each other. When we see two people of the opposite sex together, there is the assumption they are a couple. However, that may change due to people finding new ways to express their gender identity. Since there was the assumption that relationships between men and women are sexualized, with new gender identities, that norm may change since people of varying identities can be in a relationship with one another. This way, interactions between males and females will be less sexualized.”

This shows how heteronormative standards influence how others view friendships between those of the opposite sex or gender.

Fellow senior Zahyra Washington agreed, adding: “I think it’s because there is this expectation that men and women being involved with each other means something is going on. Whether it is dating or so on. Society expects there to be something more going on since it is the opposite gender. I am not sure why there is this expectation; however, that is the expectation I noticed society has.”

It seems as if the common reason for the sexualization of opposite-sex interactions is the expectation that people of the opposite sex will come together to continue the human race, which forces us to live in a heteronormative society. However, as new gender expressions and sexualities become even more normalized, the expectation of procreation will decrease since not every couple can do so. Therefore, it will lead to these opposite-sex interactions being less sexualized.

“I think generally the assumption stems from the fact that the only sexuality that heterosexuality had been normalized. And, society expects the opposite sex to get into a relationship to continue the human race. Especially as people get older, this expectation is put onto them, so any interaction they have with the opposite sex will be sexualized. Also, most people befriend people of the same sex, so these interactions may be further sexualized. It is normal for people to want to get into a relationship too, which furthers this stigma. And because other sexualities were not normalized before, interactions of the opposite sex will be more sexualized,” said senior Kurt De Guzman.

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