Dismembering the Heterosexual Imaginary: A Feminist Cultural Anatomy of the Infidelity Narrative in Nancy Mairs’s Remembering the Bone House

Merri Lisa Johnson, University of South Carolina, Upstate
Vol. 27, No. 2 (Fall 2008), 327-352

This article examines Nancy Mairs’s memoir Remembering the Bone House (1989) as a feminist critique of male-dominant heterosexuality. The article counters the moral and aesthetic condemnation that has characterized critical responses and student reactions to Mairs’s sexual encounters by arguing that female self-revelation reveals the circumstances of objectification. Mairs narrates the negotiation of sexual desire and power in a nonabusive heterosexual partnership, presenting female awakening as a break with marital authority. This article draws on disability studies and critical heterosexuality studies to uncover the full range of Mairs’s dissenting positions and demystification of the romantic ideology. In a substantial postscript, the article also addresses the role of lesbian sexuality in challenging the heterosexual imaginary.

Mary Wollstonecraft Sojourner Truth Margaret Atwood Abigail Adams Amy Tan H.D. Simone de Beauvoir Zora Neale Hurston Frances Burney Virginia Woolf

"The white saxifrage with the indented leafe is moste commended for the breakinge of the Stone."

— Turner, Herbal, III, 68 [1568]