Power and Our Relationships

There are many social structures that influence our lives and relationships, and create the conditions for marginalisation. They include:

  • cisgenderism/cisnormativity 

    A structural issue that enables rigid gender norms and a form of prejudice that denies, denigrates, or pathologises non-cisgender identities and expressions 

  • heteronormativity 

    the perspective that sees heterosexuality as the only, preferred or “normal” sexuality 

  • rigidity of gender roles, norms and expectations  

    when people are told who to be, how to dress, and how to act based on their actual or presumed gender (e.g., boys can’t wear dresses or the idea that all girls want to be mums) 

  • homo/bi/transphobia  

    some of the types of discrimination that is enabled through cisgenderism and heteronormativity  

  • patriarchal values 

    gender roles that centre on meeting the needs of (cis) men above all else e.g., men as breadwinners, men in positions of power, men being at the centre of health policy   

  • misogyny/ gender inequality  

    stemming from cisgenderism and patriarchal values, people who are not cis men are seen as ‘less then’ and this results in gender inequality (e.g., salary gap, men getting to decide laws about people’s bodies and other inequalities) 

  • white supremacy / eurocentrism 

    seeing ‘whiteness’ as the default ethnicity therefore creating white privilege and seeing anyone who identifies elsewise as ‘other’ and not as important – like when institutions’ policy and practices are structured in a way that centres on whiteness 

  • colonisation

    Colonisation has ongoing impacts for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities; including intergenerational trauma, experiences of racism and the destruction of traditional cultures and community relationships. Colonisation also impacts on non-indigenous people and society; creating a context for entrenched racism in social norms and practices; racialised inequalities of power, and condoning of violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 

These structures create imbalances of power between people in many contexts– professional, social, and sexual – and in intimate relationships can put people at an increased risk for experiencing violence; contributing to high rates of sexual violence impacting LGBTQ+ communities. These social structures also mean that some people can feel entitled to the bodies of others, entitled to sex, and entitled to get what they want from someone.  

Partners and Power Differences

Managing Power Differences Long Term


If reading this content has caused you distress, or made you think you may need support, you can find an LGBTQ+ affirming service here. 

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