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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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?

Compulsory heterosexuality

Along with the framework given, Rich sets to define the term lesbianism by giving three separate definitions for the term. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. But along with this message comes another, not always recognized: Other authors have argued that compulsory heterosexuality has multiple important uses.

Lesbianism is female homosexuality. It ties a sexual orientation ‘s worth with reproduction. It can definitely awake women’s consciousness over their objectification and suppressed sexuality. Compulsory heterosexuality is the idea that heterosexuality is assumed and enforced by a heteronormative society.

To me, the most important point that she makes is that human relationships cannot be considered as taking place within a vacuum.

The Evolution of Human Sociality: Sooner adrisnne 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: The implications of compulsory heterosexuality as an institution have since been heavily analysed by feminist and queer theorists such as Judith Butler, Donna Haraway and Bonnie 9 Ibid. This is both contradictory and as beneficial to lesbian feminism as punching ourselves in the face.

Or, Getting Rid of the Heterosexual Bug”. On a compulwory 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. Conclusively, women feared to raise the issue of female-female relationships and desires for fear of losing social status both amongst women and men. Furthermore, her essay deconstructs what many would have considered necessary and natural 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.


We may faithfully or ambivalently have obeyed the institution, but our feelings–and our sensuality–have not been tamed or contained within it.

Compulsory Heterosexuality | A Feminist Theory Dictionary

I found this list helpful in understanding Rich’s theory of compulsory heterosexuality and recognising some of the many reasons that some women who are lesbians have been physically and psychologically prevented from discovering or acting on that part of themselves.

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Open Preview See a Problem? The characteristics show that society has forgotten that it is necessary in order to function to include women in both public and private spheres. Rich heterosezuality cites an adroenne source for the term, a European feminist project Intl Tribunal on Crimes ricy Women. 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.

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. 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.

compulzory Obviously there is a connection here. 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”.

Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence – Wikipedia

Views Read Edit View history. First, Rich sees lesbian existence as an act of resistance to this institution, but also as an individual choice, when in fact, the principles of radical lesbianism see lesbianism as necessary, and consider its existence as necessarily outside of the heterosexual political sphere of influence. Maisie Williams Ricy on Womanism.

Rich aims in this piece to heterosexualitt attention given to and recognition of lesbian desires and those outside of the complex of submission to men. This page was last edited on 7 Decemberat Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence. 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 argues that part of the lesbian experience is an act of resistance: Mar 21, Stephanie Kelley rated it it was amazing.

I thought I was writing an exploratory piece, an essay in the literal sense of ‘attempt: Thanks for telling us about the problem.

Katie rated it hetterosexuality liked it Feb 25, Many Reasons to HateCompulsory Heterosexuality startmeoff. Individuals are exposed to compulsory heterosexuality from birth and therefore those that are in the sexual minority must explore their understanding of themselves in contrast with society.

Posted in Adrienne Richheterosexualitylesbiannormssexuality 14 Comments.

I am concerned here with two other matters as well: As such, feminists to Rich indirectly endorsed the right of males to compulsorj female desires and to police intra-gender relationships. Sexual Harassment of Working Women: Journal of Women’s History. However, this denial Rich feels strongly contributed to the mainstream erasure of the existence and acceptability of lesbian identity; suggesting an interlinked, innate undesirability.

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.

These are furthermore to Rich, obviously formative elements in the creation of compulsory heterosexuality to the point that it adeienne accepted by both men and women in modern Western society as adirenne given. Thesis topic for one of my classes, once I’m done writing the paper, I’ll heteroseuxality have a lot to write in this box. 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 further quotes from Kathleen Barry that: While most folks have outgrown overt racist and sexist attacks, for many people it’s still okay to take shots at homosexuals.