We at Sociological Images are having fun with forms lately (see here and here). This time the fun is thanks to Bri A. who sent us some screen shots from the website Trillian.

Against heteronormativity, you can choose your sexual orientation.  If you choose female and gay, you are represented by two side-by-side female symbols (on the right):


However, if you choose straight, you aren’t represented by a male and female symbol, you’re just represented by a female symbol:


This reveals that straight is the default (without  a male by her side, everyone assumes she’s straight), and gay is the different, odd, marked category.

Bri then added “in a relationship” and noticed that, despite choosing gay and female, the “in a relationship” icon featured a man and a woman:

Oops.  Heteronormatity is back!

And, if she clicked “single,” the icon simply represented her as a man:

Presumably all people are represented by a male figure.  And we can’t even pretend that it’s neutral and supposed to represent “person,” because the “in a relationship icon” clearly includes a male and a female figure.

What’s funny is that these seem like really easy problems to fix, but either no has noticed or no one cares.

For  more posts on default and marked figures, see our posts on traffic lights with female figures, stick figures and stick figures who parent, and default avatars.

Lisa Wade, PhD is an Associate Professor at Tulane University. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture; a textbook about gender; and a forthcoming introductory text: Terrible Magnificent Sociology. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.