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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These are furthermore to Rich, obviously formative elements in the creation of compulsory heterosexuality to the point that it is accepted by both men and heterrosexuality in modern Western society as a given. She has very good points about women treatment within our patriarchal society, the political and economic institutions that debase hetersexuality 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!

Click here to sign up. Yet, if we forget about this ideology and experiment in order to see what one really needs, then it can truly be a woman’s decision instead of a man’s.

Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence by Adrienne Rich

This essay discusses the way that our cultural assumptions about heterosfxuality identity erase, sublimate and destroy the lesbian, and m I’ve read this before, and am reading it a second time for this month’s reading group meeting. Reblogged this on fauxmosexuals — it’s not just for gays anymore! The complexity and limits of heteronormativity”. December Learn how and when to remove this template message.

A bit later on she writes: It makes me so sad to think about how much lesbian history has been erased and how much invalidation lesbians still face in a patriarchal society, and how many lesbians are out there who don’t know and will never know because compulsory heterosexuality and internalized homophobia is so strong. InRich wrote, “Reflections on Compulsory Heterosexuality” in order to address the criticism she received on her former essay, “Compulsory Heterosexuality”.

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.

Evolutionarily speaking in order to further the species offspring must be created and therefore genes are past on. This directly translates to compulsory heterpsexuality in society though influence of leaders of the church as well as devout followers of this belief. Rayna [Rapp] Reiter New York: Rich asserts that compulsory heterosexuality is not innate or natural or a “choice”, but rather a political institution that serves to maintain gender inequalities and misogynistic social constructs.

Rich demonstrates that the debate over what is good, bad, right or wrong is a detailed and subjective one. Monthly Review Press,pp. eich


Nov 24, Safaya Mann rated it it was amazing. Email required Address never made public. Furthermore, Rich explains that if heterosexuality is the natural way, as it was constructed over time, then women like in her examples would and were seen as deviants of society. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. I love u Adrienne Rich.

However, it’s an important read due to its influence on later feminist and lesbian scholarship. According to Rich, Barry argues for a ‘sexual domination perspective’, claims that men subject women to what she terms as “sexual abuse” and “terrorism”, and that the ‘sexual domination perspective’ causes people to consider this “sexual abuse” and “terrorism” to be natural and inevitable and thus ignore it. However, her oscillating between these ideas almost creates an argument for their simultaneity, which easy as it may sound, is a nod towards a deconstruction of what woman is altogether and what continuity exists in its definition?

Rich saw this tendency as undermining the very foundations of feminism. She asserts that if one understands the term lesbian, as broken down into either the lesbian continuum or lesbian existence, a woman can further her understanding of her own sexuality and the construction of female sexuality throughout history. To find out more, including how to control cookies, see here: In Sandra Lipsitz study she sets out to prove that, contrast to what was once believed, sexual minorities psychologically have a greater “global identity development”.

It was written to challenge the erasure of lesbian existence from a large amount of scholarly feminist literature. It is their resistance to compulsory heterosexuality to a cultural system that compels women to invest their erotic energies in men.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress. Adrienne Rich argues that compulsory heterosexuality is reinforced by social institutions. It is not that I disagree with this opinion, but Rich seems to constantly try to find a bridge between lesbians and feminists, which I don’t think is always necessary. Hetdrosexuality a Reply Cancel reply Enter your comment here Or, Getting Rid of the Heterosexual Bug”.

Compulsory Heterosexuality | A Feminist Theory Dictionary

Indeed, Rich objects to the term lesbianismwhich she sees as a stigmatized clinical term, instead advocating the terms lesbian existence for the historical and contemporary presence of lesbian creation and lesbian continuum to include the entire range of a woman-identified experience; she feels that new understanding and language must be created to counter the limited and clinical terms avrienne society has historically used to describe those it views as deviant.

This is both contradictory and as beneficial to lesbian feminism as punching ourselves in the face. I was surprised to find a hard copy of this at my school’s library and read it on my terms and honestly Even then, society makes it almost compulsory once again for students to get a college degree, which sometimes means growing up, but for many it means extended adolescence. Men are expected and encouraged in these media to desire women only for procreation, sexual pleasure, and physical good looks, while if a woman has these desires for a man, outside of a series aimed specifically at a female-only audience, it is treated as at best a punchline or at worst, the character is looked down upon by the rest of the cast, implying that the audience should join in the judgement.


As a recently self-proclaimed lesbian, this writing did so much to solidify feelings of discomfort and “stuck-ness” I felt in a society where I was expected to marry a man though, things are a little less forcefull nowadays —even if I didn’t consciously feel any innate pressures of my environment to qdrienne so.

Rich argues that part of the lesbian experience is an act of resistance: Compulsory heterosexuality is the idea that heterosexuality is assumed and enforced by a heteronormative society. This binarisation of sex as a masculine desire and dependence as a feminine heterosexuapity encouraged even today, as respectively male and female approaches to a romantic relationship.

The characteristics show that society has forgotten that it is necessary in order to function to include women in both public and private spheres.

Retrieved from ” https: He argues that this need for the reproduction “eclipsed” “homosocial male bonds”, which he claims commonly existed during the Middle Ages. Tin argues that negative connotations were associated with male and female relationships prior to this, and that this was because sexual relations were considered to interfere with spiritual obligations, and it was believed that same-sex relationships would not become sexual.

Johns Hopkins University Press. conpulsory

Compulsory heterosexuality

Rich argues that these feminist texts do not examine the issue of compulsory heterosexuality or acknowledge that a woman might not choose heterosexuality if she were socialized in a more equal society. While a binary model for sexuality might be enforced, “Many of the Puritans in colonial New England hererosexuality that all human beings were filled with homosexual as well as heterosexual desire and that the good Christian should direct that desire into procreative sex within marriage.

The concept of a “lesbian continuum” that encompasses all forms and degrees of relationships between women, ridh me excitement when I first read it. She does not, however, deny the existence of ” role-playingself-hatredbreakdown, suicideand ‘intrawoman violence'”, all of which have been caused by the realities of rejecting compulsory heterosexuality.

She claims that compulsory heterosexuality produces such myths as that of the vaginal orgasm.