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Heterosexuality ( different genders ; very rarely Alloiophilie ) is the sexual orientation , romance and sexual desire exclusively or at least primarily for persons of the other in the race are perceived. The adjective heterosexual is also applied to sexual acts with partners of the opposite sex if the participants are not exclusively heterosexual.

Exclusively heterosexual behavior is not a mandatory requirement for heterosexuality. Sexual acts - especially in adolescence  - can often be more motivated by sexual curiosity or social expectations than by a fixed sexual orientation .


The term "heterosexuality" is a hybrid word formation in 1868, coined by writer Karl Maria Kertbeny from Griech. ἕτερος heteros 'the other', 'unequal' and Latin sexus 'the male and female sex'. At the same time he coined the term " homosexuality " as an antonym . After him, Gustav Jäger first used the term in 1880 in the second edition of his book The Discovery of the Soul .

The term “heterosexualism” is sometimes used before 1933, after that only very sporadically, and recently as a synonym for heteronormativity . The term "heterosexualists" has been used as an antonym in connection with the historical word "homosexualists".

The seldom used term "alloiophilia" was coined by Magnus Hirschfeld in 1918 at the latest from the Greek words ἄλλοιος alloios 'the different' and φιλία philia 'friendship'.

In the shade "allophilia" (from ἄλλος allos 'the other') it is used in other contexts in literary studies, biology, zoology and anatomy. Alloerotic was introduced by Sigmund Freud to describe the orientation of the libido towards other people, as opposed to autoerotic , which Kertbeny called "monosexuality".

Of LGBT people are heterosexual orientation in the German language colloquially called "heten" (singular: long the Hete, the first syllable and stressed grammatically feminine, but mainly used for heterosexual men, or English. Straight (German about: straight ')) designated. Furthermore, the abbreviation “hetero” is common, for heterosexual women also “hetera”.

Ways of looking at things

Evolution theory

The heterosexual reproduction has within the evolution of sexuality before about 600 million years ago largely prevailed over the asexual reproduction and improves the mixing of the genes in the context of reproductive . The sexuality of humans , as well as some other species, is, however, more complex, as it is not solely geared towards instinct-controlled reproduction.

Psychiatry and psychoanalysis

At the end of the 19th century , the category of heterosexuality was coined in analogy to the psychiatric term of homosexuality, which at that time was viewed as "pathological perversion " in contrast to current sex science . The sexual conceptual positioning of heterosexuality in the teaching structure of science owes its invention to a medical standardization of lust, as it began in the 18th century with the fight against masturbation ( pathologization ).

For Sigmund Freud, heterosexuality, like homosexuality, was based on a "restriction of the choice of objects" in life history. Therefore, according to Freud, all normals “show a very considerable extent of latent or unconscious homosexuality in addition to their manifest heterosexuality”.

Legal and social evaluation

The social bond with the sexual partner can take on different dimensions in heterosexuals. It ranges from a one-off meeting ( one-night stand ), a love affair or affair to solid relationships in the form of partnership, marriage or marriage-like connection. In contrast to other sexual orientations, a legal recognition of a relationship is always possible for heterosexual relationships in every country on earth, provided that the partners so wish and they meet the general requirements (minimum age, incest ban ...). Sexual contacts outside of the recognized relationships often arouse social displeasure, and in some countries they are even punished by criminal law.

Non-violent, consensual heterosexual acts are allowed in all countries, provided that they take place within a state-recognized partnership ( marriage ). Such forms of partnership are also available to heterosexuals in all countries. Outside of such a partnership, non-violent, consensual heterosexual acts are usually allowed, provided that the participants are of a minimum age, which can be determined differently by the state. However, legislation in relation to heterosexual and different such as same-sex sexual acts is or was asymmetrical in many countries. For example, in Germany up to 1994 section 175 of the Criminal Code and Austria up to 2002 section 209 permitted heterosexual contact with young people rather than homosexual contact.

In some Islamic countries, heterosexual activity outside of marriage is prosecuted. Sexual acts outside marriage by married women and men are often punishable by death. Prostitution is mostly banned in these countries and is also severely punished , for example in Saudi Arabia . The small number of known judgments suggests, however, that this is seldom applied to married men in legal practice in these countries. The prohibition of prostitution can, however, be circumvented by Shiites through the construct of temporary marriage .

In the countries that were more shaped by Christian culture, adultery was mostly a criminal offense well into the second half of the 20th century; Sexual activity outside of marriage was viewed as immoral and made difficult by law. It was not until 1969 in Germany that the criminal offense of pimping , which among other things also made the granting of accommodation for unmarried couples for the purpose of cohabitation a punishable offense, was initially defused and then largely abolished in 1973. The change in sexual morality, among other things as a result of the sexual revolution in the 1960s, and the possibility of contraception with the pill have contributed to a general change in the moral evaluation of premarital intercourse in societies influenced by Christianity.

Almost all denominations consider sexual acts between a man and a woman to be generally permissible. However, some see them as sinful and instead advocate a celibate lifestyle, such as the Shaker , Harmony Society, and Ephrata Cloister .

Queer theory

In parts of Queer Theory and Gay & Lesbian Studies, heterosexuality is understood as a social organizational principle, see Heteronormativity .


Web links

Commons : Heterosexuality  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Heterosexuality  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Volkmar Sigusch: Neosexualities: About the cultural change of love and perversion. Campus Verlag, 2005, ISBN 3-593-37724-1 , p. 185.
  2. Journal of Social Studies , 1940, No. 1-6, p. 28
  3. Magnus Hirschfeld: Sexualpathologie. A textbook for doctors and students. Volume II: Sexual Intermediate Levels. The male woman and the female man. A. Marcus & E. Weber, Bonn 1918, p. 214.
  4. ^ Homosexuality in Animals : Of Gay Swans and Lesbian Baboons
  5. Sigmund Freud: On the psychogenesis of a case of female homosexuality, pages 261, 280 in the 2000 edition (PDF file; 166 kB)
  6. Queer Theory (PDF file; 84 kB): Volker Woltersdorf alias Lore Logorrhöe, Queer Theory and Queer Politics