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. COMPULSORY HETEROSEXUALITY AND. LESBIAN EXISTENCE. Adrienne Rich. Originallypublished in , when the relationship between lesbianism.

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December Learn how and when to remove this template message. University of Chicago Press,pp. Furthermore, her essay deconstructs what many would have considered necessary and heterosexulaity links between sexuality, reproduction, and social attachment; illustrating these institutions and behaviours to be socially constructed and merely performed as if they had always been innate.

Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence

A must read for anyone interested in queer studies. She provides a thorough and clever analysis of the male species and their need to dominate women. I love reading Adrienne Rich’s literary criticism and feminist theory because her talent as a poet infuses her non-poetic writing. In this way I feel her text to be important in demonstrating the power of deconstruction to shed light upon social conventions that seemed before to be essential and unchangeable.

This pre-civilised idea of physical dominance nevertheless forms a Foucaultian power-threat to which women learn from a young age and from the experiences of their mothers and grandmothers to submit. Rich writes that lesbians have been denied a continuity of their personal and political history, and that when included in history, they have been simply the female versions of male homosexuals, with no distinctiveness.

Nov 13, Ruth Marner rated it it was amazing. I have always had a strong presence as a female—undeterred by male authority, if almost having an aversion to it—and not much stood to challenge this until I moved out of my small Alaskan town and into the metropolis of a city “down south.

Reli este artigo para pensar e repensar sobre algo que estava eu mesma escrevendo. Help Center Find new research papers in: It was written to challenge the erasure of lesbian existence from a large amount of scholarly feminist literature.

Although I was already familiar with a lot of her ideas, it was still a lot to take in, and to be reminded of all the ways I and other women are pressured into relationships with men. But then, after all this, she undermines her message about the naturalness of lesbianism by suggesting that the definition of lesbianism should expand to include experiences that are not lesbian. It was not written to widen divisions but to encourage heterosexual feminists to examine heterosexuality as a political institution which disempowers women and to change it.


University of Chicago Press Journals.

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. I mean the term lesbian continuum to include a range–through each woman’s life and throughout history–of woman-identified experience; not simply the fact that a woman has had or consciously desired genital sexual experience with another woman. A foundational work that has not aged well.

Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence by Adrienne Rich

It seems more probable that men really fear, not that they will have women’s sexual appetites forced on them, or that women want compullsory smother and devour them, but that women could be indifferent to them altogether, that men could be allowed sexual and emotional-therefore economic-access to women only on women’s terms, otherwise being left on the periphery of the matrix.

Sooner or later one of these male-attracted women finds some Sensitive Nice Guy and falls in love with him, and then she has one of two choices: Jul 31, Blair rated it really liked it. Rich argues that these myths have been accepted because of the historical lack of exposure that lesbians have received, being either stigmatized as diseased or ignored as non-existent.

That volume, heteroseuxality by W. Aug 16, Mersadys rated it really liked complsory. Refresh and try again. I’m using Rich’s compulsory heterosexuality as my PhD theoretical framework.

Just a moment while we sign you in to your Goodreads account. Feminist theory can no longer afford merely to voice a toleration of “lesbianism” as an “alternative life-style,” or make token allusion to lesbians.

Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence by Adrienne Rich, | Russia Robinson

It almost illustrates a cognitive bias towards heterosexuality that shapes all other modes of being as wrong, simply in order to safeguard heterosexual hegemony.

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At certain points in history, homosexual men and lesbians have shared a social existence, and acknowledged a common fight against society; but Rich writes that to treat the lesbian experience as a version of male homosexuality is to discard it, denying the female experience and the realities it brings, falsifying lesbian history.

By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Nov 17, Marnie rated it it was amazing. The author admits the stereotypes and assumptions placed on women. Rich emphasises that it is important to recognise these methods of male power as reinforcing heterosexuality, and she provides various examples one example being prostitution, through which men force their sexuality on women who, due to poverty and lack of other options, are obliged to have sex with men in order to survive.

To find out more, including how to compupsory cookies, see here: A recurring point that Rich points out is the destruction of lesbian experiences in history misplacement of documents, or destroying them in general has led to a society in which having a lesbian experience, or being a lesbian all together is seen as ‘the other’ and unacceptable to most men and women.

Rich argues that part of the lesbian compjlsory is an act of resistance: Although this essay left me disheartened about my own future, I think progress is being made, and that gives me hope. Rich explains, “historians need to ask at every point how heterosexuality as institution has been organized and maintained through the female wage scale, the enforcement of middle-class women’s ‘leisure’, the glamorization of so-called sexual liberation, the withholding of education from women, the imagery of ‘high art’ and popular culture, the mystification of the ‘personal sphere, and much else”.

Rich challenges the notion of women’s dependence on men as social and economic supports, as well as for adult sexuality and psychological completion.