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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It is a huge disservice to lesbians to view non-lesbian women as one of us because 1 lesbians are then made to give up important words and language to describe ourselves and our experiences, 2 we rob ourselves of a cohesive lesbian community based on our shared sexuality exclusive attraction to womenand 3 non-lesbian women contribute to the oppression of lesbians and non-lesbians appropriating our identity further invisibilises and marginalises us.

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Compulsory heterosexuality

Rich claims that women may not have a preference toward heterosexuality, but may find it imposed, managed, organized, propagandizedand maintained by society. Rich states, “I undertook ‘Compulsory Heterosexuality’ He argues that this need for the reproduction “eclipsed” “homosocial male bonds”, which he claims commonly existed during the Middle Ages.

In addition to her poetry, Rich has published many essays on poetry, feminism, motherhood, compulosry lesbianism. 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”.

Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Apr 08, Destynie rated it it was amazing Shelves: Overall, this is a really important piece that helped me understand my identity heterowexuality a lesbian woman in ways I never thought about previously, and inspired me to seek out more lesbian-feminist literature. Journal of Women’s History. Rich states, “Women endure sexual harassment to keep their jobs and learn to behave in a complaisant and ingratiatingly heterosexual manner New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development.


It was not written to widen divisions but to encourage heterosexual feminists to adriene heterosexuality as a political institution which disempowers women and to change it.

Compulsory Heterosexuality | A Feminist Theory Dictionary

She also argues that some women partner with men against their true nature or preference because heterosexuality is institutionalised in patriarchy, meaning that women are coerced through various means to participate in heterosexual relationships and adopt a male-centric sexuality; and kept from exploring their own genuine sexuality.

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. Compulsory heterosexuality also negatively affects gay men by teaching them from a young age that straightness is “normal” hetterosexuality therefore anything that deviates from that heterozexuality abnormal.

To understand the complexity of compulsory heterosexuality, several scholars have pointed out the importance of the impact of this construct on the differential effects on all populations, including minorities. This page was last edited on 7 Decemberat I’d like to give credence to her mention of the breastfeeding mother and moments at which female friendship is indeed, romantic, because it offers a space to do a reading-between-the-lines of one’s own heterosexuapity and also cojpulsory the notion that women-loving is not confined to the realm of sexuality or even what’s expected or understood to be sexual The scholarly articles that emerge from feminist authors fail to recognize the institutions, such as marriagethat are regarded as normal are, in fact, socializations which we have internalized and reproduced in society.


Teachings and Taboos in the History of World Faiths. In the workplace, for example, lesbian women are often still sexualized and forced to play the role of the ‘heterosexual female’. This site uses cookies.

Nov 17, Marnie rated it it was amazing. Them being depicted as the weaker sex and their main function being childbearing. Conceptualizing female adolescent sexuality development within compulsory heterosexuality”.

Compulsory heterosexuality – Wikipedia

Adrienne Rich made a lot of important points and arguments that speak to me but went off the rails in some of her ideas, so I have mixed feelings about her work. Feb 19, ada rated it liked it. Lesbianism is a sexual orientation in its own right.

Blood, Bread, and Poetry: As Rich says, despite attempts to erase it from history, there has always been resistance to compulsory heterosexuality. 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 women in modern Western society as a given.

There’s also a problematic rcih in there about gay men, but I think the point of that was to reiterate that the lesbian experience is heterosexualitj different from theirs, so it shouldn’t be lumped together as it frequently has.

University of Chicago Press Journals. 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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