One illuminating instance of this is Cameron's (1997) analysis of how heterosexuality is performed. The data for this study is a conversation between five White male American college students sitting at home watching a basketball game. This conversation was recorded by one of the participants, who used it in a class Cameron taught to discuss sports talk. Upon examining the tape, however, Cameron noticed something else: apart from talk about the basketball game, the single most prominent theme in the conversation was gossip about men whom the speakers identify as "gay." Cameron concludes that this kind of gossip is a performative enactment of heterosexuality, one structured by the presence of a danger that cannot be acknowledged: namely the possibility of homosexual desire within the speakers' own homosocial group. In order to defuse this threat and constitute a solidly heterosexual in-group, the speakers localize homosexual desire outside the group, in the bodies of absent others, who become invoked as contrasts. What is most ironic about this enactment of heterosexuality is that in order to convey to one another that the males under discussion really are "gay," the students engage in detailed descriptions of those other males' clothing and bodily appearance, commenting extensively, for example, on the fact that one supposedly gay classmate wore "French cut spandex" shorts to class in order to display his legs, despite the fact that it was winter.
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