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.

Author: Yocage Kazragor
Country: Somalia
Language: English (Spanish)
Genre: Politics
Published (Last): 7 November 2018
Pages: 177
PDF File Size: 15.82 Mb
ePub File Size: 4.62 Mb
ISBN: 477-7-50128-426-1
Downloads: 72298
Price: Free* [*Free Regsitration Required]
Uploader: Kigarg

Please help by spinning off or relocating any relevant information, and removing excessive detail that may be against Wikipedia’s inclusion policy.

Compulsory Heterosexuality | A Feminist Theory Dictionary

Rich thinks of the word lesbian as meaning more than a sexual attraction and physical act, but an emotional and strong bond that women can share as eich go through the same experiences. Selected Prose as a part of the radical feminism movement of the late ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s. Create a free website or blog at WordPress. This is both contradictory and as beneficial to lesbian feminism as punching ourselves in the face.

University ruch Chicago Press,pp. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. University of Chicago Press Journals. According to Rich, women hetersoexuality men have a natural need to have sex, and this results in them viewing “abuse” as inevitable. This is a thing that happensby the way.

This directly translates to compulsory heterosexuality in society though influence of hegerosexuality of the church as well as devout followers of this belief. Cynthia Armster on Womanism.

It is one of the founding structures of social life, in our historical context. 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 compuldory less forcefull nowadays —even if I didn’t consciously feel any innate pressures of my environment to do so.


Email required Address never made public. 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.

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 that society has historically used to describe those it views as deviant.

Building on the work of Kathleen Gough in her essay “The Origin of the Family,” Rich highlights the characteristics of men’s power to 1 deny women their own sexuality, 2 force male sexuality upon women, 3 exploit women’s labour, 4 control or rob women of their children, 5 confine women physically and prevent their movement, 6 use women as objects in male transactions, 7 cramp women’s creativeness, and 8 withhold education and culture from women.

Compulsory heterosexuality

On a more radical note, Rich describes the possibility that all women exist compulsry a lesbian continuum, and we see each other moving in and out of this space throughout the lives of women. The Origin of the Family. Refresh and try again.

Rich argues that part of the lesbian experience is an act of resistance: All labels like heterosexual, homosexual, lesbian, gay and bisexual are products, creations if you will, of a heteronormative society.

Barry argues that this rationale is romanticized through popular media. It makes me so sad to think about how heteeosexuality 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. You might meet the right guy.


Furthermore, the ignorance of a female’s choice in sexuality has caused her position in society to be thought of as less, and more importantly, secondary to that of a ehterosexuality. Sex and Sexuality Chicago: I believe this is because of compulsory heterosexuality.

While most folks have outgrown overt racist and sexist attacks, for many people it’s still okay to take shots at homosexuals.

By continuing to use this website, you agree to their use. That serves to imply that only a man can sexually satisfy a woman by delivering a vaginal orgasmand hence that serves to prevent women from having relationships with other women.

Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence by Adrienne Rich

This offers a basic understanding of what lesbians are subject to in a patriarchy. 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. However this seems fallacious due to majority opinion — if there are assortments of ways to desire that are not-heterosexual; it seems strange that heterosexuality alone is held up as the ideal and everything else as wrong or mistaken.

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 are not heterosexual. Also, Rich views lesbian identification as being on a continuum.