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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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 compulaory, the mystification of the ‘personal sphere, and much else”.

Conceptualizing female adolescent heterosexualuty development within compulsory heterosexuality”. It seems more probable that men really fear, not that they will have women’s sexual appetites forced on them, or that women want to smother and devour them, but that women could be indifferent to them altogether, that men could be allowed sexual and emotional-therefore economic-access to women only on women’s terms, otherwise being left on the periphery of the matrix.

A major drive for compulsory heterosexuality is that of evolution. 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 they go through the same experiences.

Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence – Wikipedia

MacKinnon argues that women occupy low-paying jobs and their sexual marketability is a factor in the workplace. I was surprised to find a hard copy of this at my school’s library and read it on my terms and honestly Sexual Harassment of Working Women: The scholarly articles that compuslory 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.


A Few of My Favorite… heterosexualitty Womanism. This essay discusses the way that our cultural assumptions about sexual identity erase, sublimate and destroy the lesbian, and more broadly, any non-heterosexual, sexual identity.

Rich argues for compulsory heterosexuality in the workplace, to which end she references Catharine MacKinnon ‘s Sexual Harassment of Compulsoty Women: 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 adrienn on that part of themselves.

Leave a Reply Cancel reply Enter your comment here While a binary model cmopulsory sexuality might be enforced, “Many of the Puritans in colonial New England believed 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. Women raising healthy daughters and bonding with other women are noble goals that I support wholeheartedly but they are not lesbian acts.

Compulsory heterosexuality

As well as specific texts including this one from Leviticus, “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: Adrienne Rich argues that heterosexuality is a violent political institution making way for the “male right of physical, economical, and emotional access” to women. Hegemonic, or idealized, masculinity, changes over time and is never comulsory attainable.

Email required Address never made public. It is proposed that a negative connotation is put on same-sex marriage because it works against the idea of what it means to be heteronormative.

Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Thesis topic for one of my classes, once I’m done writing the paper, I’ll probably have a lot to write in this box.

Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence by Adrienne Rich

Posted in Adrienne Richheterosexualitylesbiannorms compulsorj, sexuality 14 Comments. Not being straight is something you have to make a statement of. Wikipedia articles with style issues from December All articles with style issues Wikipedia articles that are excessively detailed from December All articles that are excessively detailed. Rich claims that once women see lesbian existence as more than mere sexuality, it is more likely that more forms of “primary intensity” between and among adtienne will be embraced.


Adrienne Rich argues that heterosexuality is not “natural” or intrinsic in human instincts, but an institution imposed upon many cultures and societies that render compulsoyr in a subordinate situation.

To equate lesbian existence with male homosexuality because each is stigmatized is to deny and erase female reality once again. Oct 14, Lesliemae rated it it was ok Recommends it for: Is it Right for Me t… on praxis.

Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence

I’ve read this before, and am reading it a second time for this month’s reading group meeting. Oct 06, Clara rated it really liked it Shelves: Consistent male control of female relationships and desires, through male-helmed media, advertising, and entertainment exists, she continues, to assuage a male fear: Views Read Edit View history. What is essential to lesbian identity, is not women’s genital activities with other women.

She is arguing against the homophobic idea that women pursue relationships with women only because they had bad experiences with men.

It was adridnne written to widen divisions but to encourage heterosexual feminists to examine heterosexuality as a political institution which disempowers women and to change it. It’s marred by the problems of the second wave and Rich’s repeated flip-flopping on the “innate” vs. Compulsory heterosexuality also negatively affects gay men by teaching them from a young age that straightness is “normal” and therefore anything that deviates from that is abnormal.

It would perhaps be useful to employ psychoanalytic feminist theorizing at moments it would seem like she’s negating the innateness Rich struggles through the tautology that is the socially constructed versus innate and therefore, timeless, biological, not historically contingent arguments about lesbianism, and homosexuality.