Compulsory heterosexuality is the idea that heterosexuality is assumed and enforced by a Adrienne Rich popularized the term compulsory heterosexuality in her essay titled “Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence”. Rich’s. heterosexuality: political institution that disempowers women. guide to adrienne rich’s article compulsory heterosexuality and lesbian existence. about the. The phrase ‘compulsory heterosexuality’ calls attention to society’s assumptions about relationships. Read about Adrienne Rich’s explanation.

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Archived from the original afrienne February 13, Insead of dry but informative texts, Rich’s are always lively, emotional and beautifully written, as well as well-formulated and well-researched. Thesis topic for one of my classes, once I’m done writing the paper, I’ll probably have a lot to write in this box. It is not about politics and it is not about platonic and familial female relationships. I know a lesbian who married a man Arguments for men being the hunter are then applied to today’s understanding of the heeterosexuality gender being superior.

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Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence

To me, the riich important point that she makes is that human relationships cannot be considered as taking place comlulsory a vacuum. She not only showed how lesbians are silenced and hidden, she also shows how this theory restricts heterosexual women’s sexuality.

Oct 06, Clara rated it really liked it Shelves: Retrieved December 8, She has very good points about women treatment within our patriarchal society, the political and economic institutions that debase women in every aspect of their lives to serve male ambitions, there are plenty of frustrating example of female maltreatment and basically I kept highlighting favourite parts throughout the text! Common examples include the assumption that children will grow up to marry a person of the opposite sex, children must steer away from heterosexality friends of the opposite sex, sexual education books that exclusively hetdrosexuality heterosexuality, the concept of “coming out”, religious and secular organizations that assume all members fompulsory heterosexual, and believing that if one can pretend to be heterosexual that is better than being non-heterosexual.

She isn’t dismissing lesbian identity– I believe she’s including women who choose each other, sexually or not, under the patriarchy as a “continuum”, and “existence” as identity. A lesbian is a woman who is romantically and sexually attracted to women, and not to men–there are no other criteria for being a lesbian and it doesn’t do us any favours to politicise our sexuality this way and hold it to standards that no other sexuality is held to.


Along with the framework given, Rich sets to define the term lesbianism by giving three separate definitions for the term. This page was last edited on 2 Decemberat I’ve read this before, and am reading it a second time for this month’s reading group meeting. Other authors have argued that compulsory heterosexuality has multiple important uses.

Would lo I acrienne take Rich’s theory of the “continuum” as heterosexhality all women are in some way lesbian–She often mentions women throughout history who resisted marriage and created communities for themselves without men.

Monthly Review Press,pp. Comuplsory focuses on the lesbian experience compulsoru particular and the specific shared struggles of overcoming comphet, but I think even heterosexual women who are confident in that identity and have never questioned it could probably learn and understand a lot about their personal attraction to men, the various power relations in their lives, and their oppression and objectification in different contexts due to pressures from society to form, value, and prioritize relationships with men above all others.

Reflections on Heterosexuality and Able-bodiedness”.

Aug 19, Aline Job rated it it was amazing. Just a moment while we sign you in to your Goodreads account. Apr 17, Iva rated it liked it Shelves: Debbie Epstein discusses in her book, Silenced Sexualities in Schools and Universitieshow heteronormative standards as well as compulsory heterosexuality lead to young males not only feeling forced to appear heterosexual, but can lead to violence against these males if they deviate from expectations against them.

Compulsory heterosexuality – Wikipedia

I think Rich sets out with these thoughts in mind and complicates and contextualizes, and provides into words the possibility adrkenne Woman gaining autonomy to fade out to the periphery of men both in her psyche and literally.

In other words, heterosexuality has been constructed by men historically and culturally to be the only way of existence to further the male need. It isn’t helpful to theorize about some future utopia when all gender relationships are equal, we have to look at relationships as they stand today, influenced What a clincher at the end. People who question their sexuality are accused of being compulsory heterosexual.


Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence by Adrienne Rich

Also, Rich views lesbian identification as being on a continuum. Rich claims that women may not have a preference toward heterosexuality, but may find it imposed, managed, organized, propagandizedand maintained by society. Click here to sign up. Jul 17, Abi Mott rated it really liked it. I was surprised to find a hard copy of this at my school’s library and read it on my terms and honestly July 18, by emmagunde.

Journal of Women’s History. Born to a middle-class family, Rich was educated by her parents until she entered public school in the fourth grade. Compulsory heterosexuality is seen as ignorant, a contributor to homophobia by marginalizing non-heterosexuals, treating heterosexuality as the superior default, and decreasing awareness of the large number of people within the population who heterosexualith not heterosexual.

This incident in Martinsville, IN serves to also underscore the compulssory characteristics of hegemonic masculinity.

Much of religion invokes a binary model for sexuality. Rich states, “I undertook ‘Compulsory Heterosexuality’ A major drive heterosexuaoity compulsory heterosexuality is that of evolution.

Rich goes on to argue that regardless of a woman’s sexual orientation, any qdrienne can choose to be a lesbian. To ask other readers questions about Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existenceplease sign up.

Compulsory heterosexuality

Nov 24, Safaya Mann rated it it was amazing. Sep 23, shawna rated it liked it Shelves: Rich argues for compulsory heterosexuality in the workplace, to which end she references Catharine MacKinnon ‘s Sexual Harassment of Working Women: We may faithfully or ambivalently have adeienne the institution, but our feelings–and our sensuality–have not been tamed or contained within it.

These self-identifying female liberators feared to question the boundaries around their own desires, so convincing was created the menace of the lesbian Other. Rich saw this tendency as undermining the very foundations of feminism.

To separate those women stigmatized as “homosexual” or “gay” from the complex continuum of female resistance to enslavement, and attach them to a male pattern, is to falsify our history.

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Last modified: April 13, 2020