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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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In Diving into the Wreck and The Dream of a Common Languageshe continued to experiment with form and to deal with the experiences and aspirations of heteorsexuality from a feminist perspective. Refresh and try again.

Compulsory Heterosexuality | A Feminist Theory Dictionary

A Few of My Favorite… on Womanism. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Born to a middle-class family, Rich was educated by her parents until she entered public school in the fourth grade. Rich aims in this piece to increase attention given to and recognition of lesbian desires and those outside of the complex of submission to men.

Rich claims male dominance and its presence in social institutions are major factors in enforcing female heterosexuality. 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. Skip to main content.

December Learn how and when to remove this template message. 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 love reading Adrienne Rich’s literary criticism and feminist theory because her talent as a poet infuses her non-poetic writing.

Only then, will it be possible for a woman to truly decide if heterosexuality is the right thing for her. Silenced sexualities in schools and universities. Next that, “Lesbian Identity is the sense of self of a woman bonded primarily to women who is sexually and emotionally independent of men. Rich proposes that all women should separate themselves from men and engage in some form of lesbian relationship, whether it leads to a mere lesbian expression at one time or another or an identified lesbian sexuality.


Help Center Find new research papers in: There’s also a problematic bit in there about gay men, but I think the point of that was to reiterate that the lesbian experience is entirely different from theirs, so it shouldn’t be lumped together as it frequently has. Rich goes on to argue that regardless of a woman’s sexual orientation, any woman can choose to be a lesbian. Jul 31, Blair rated it really liked it. In the workplace, for example, lesbian women are often still sexualized and forced to play the role of the ‘heterosexual female’.

United States of America: Pornography does not simply create a climate in which sex and violence are interchangeable; it widens the range of behavior considered acceptable from men in heterosexual intercourse-behavior which reiteratively strips women of their autonomy, dignity, and sexual potential, including the potential of loving and being loved by women in mutuality and integrity.

Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence by Adrienne Rich

The scholarly articles that emerge from feminist authors fail to recognize the institutions, such as marriagethat are regarded as normal are, in heterosexualigy, socializations which we have internalized and reproduced in society.

Rich argues because women have both maternal as well as sexual desires, they, unlike men are more diverse in their abilities to care for others in diverse rather than purely sexual ways.

To understand the complexity of compulsory heterosexuality, several scholars have pointed out the importance of the impact comulsory this construct on the differential effects on all populations, including minorities. This not-desire can be formed as a lesbian desire or a desire for female-female sexual or romantic relations, but it can also be conceived of as a simple lack of desire for men.

Such a notion blurs and sentimentalizes the actualities arienne which women have experienced sexuality[ Be the first to ask a question about Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence.


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 man. 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.

You are commenting using your Facebook account. You might meet the right guy. In order to gain this physical, economical, and emotional access for women, Rich lays out a framework developed by Kathleen Gough both a social anthropologist and feminist that lists “eight characteristics of male power in archaic and contemporary societies”.

Journal of Social Issues. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Hegemonic, or idealized, masculinity, changes over time and is never completely attainable. Relationships between women are so devalued in society – I think of all the stories of women who get married and become estranged from their best friend, the person who was once the most important person in their life.

Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence

Conceptualizing Female Adolescent Sexuality Development Within Compulsory Heterosexuality “, Tolman uses the term hegemonic masculinity to describe the set of norms and behaviors that dominate the social development of males. Log In Sign Up. On a more radical note, Rich describes the possibility that all women exist on a lesbian continuum, and we see each other moving in and out of this space throughout the lives of women.

Rich holds that compulsory heterosexuality denies women of their own sexuality and comfortability in exploring their bodies and those of others.