Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence - WikipediaSkip to search form Skip to main content. Does lesbianism incorporate all support systems and intense interactions among women, or is it a specifically erotic choice? What is gained and what is lost with the second, narrower definition? View PDF. Save to Library.
gal pals and compulsory heterosexuality
Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence
Journal of Women's History Not knowing exactly why, we bravely invited Rich to comment on the responses we were gathering, and to our delight, she not only graciously agreed to write a piece forthcoming in the spring issue , but she also explained that she was refusing permission to reprint the original version of the article, published in Signs , because she preferred the version published in in Blood, Bread, and Poetry , since it includes a preface and postscript dealing with some of the most controversial aspects of this profoundly influential and provocative piece. Rich gave us permission to reprint that version and we are honored to do so. We decided to invite scholars working in different fields, from different generations, to comment on what the article has meant to them and to our understandings of sexuality. We are delighted with the results, and we think you will be, too. Joan Nestle, a feminist contemporary of Rich whose passionate scholarship and activism has transformed the field of the history of sexuality, offers a moving reflection on sex, war, the sex wars, and recent history.
It was written in part to challenge the erasure of lesbian existence from so much of scholarly feminist literature, an erasure which I felt and feel to be not just anti-lesbian, but anti-feminist in its consequences, and to distort the experience of heterosexual women as well. It was not written to widen divisions but to encourage heterosexual feminists to examine heterosexuality as a political institution which disempowers women — and to change it. I also hoped that other lesbians would feel the depth and breadth of woman identification and woman bonding that has run like a continuous though stifled theme through the heterosexual experience, and that this would become increasingly a politically activating impulse, not simply a validation of personal lives. I wanted the essay to suggest new kinds of criticism, to incite new questions in classrooms and academic journals, and to sketch, at least, some bridge over the gap between lesbian and feminist. I wanted, at the very least, for feminists to find it less possible to read, write, or teach from a perspective of unexamined heterocentricity. Search all titles. Search all titles Search all collections.
Does lesbianism incorporate all support systems and intense interactions among women, or is it a specifically erotic choice? What is gained and what is lost with.
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Journal of Women's History
She said that compulsory heterosexuality is a key mechanism perpetuating male dominance, which inculcates and then enforces a heterosexual preference in women by a variety of mechanisms Humm, , p. While these kinds of statements and theorising have strengthened the gynocentric body of works for lesbian feminists, some aspects may need reinvention, re-evaluation and, more practically, rethinking, as some thoughts may sound good in theory but not necessarily advisable in praxis, especially for individuals in the Global South. Holy heteronormativity! In the Philippine context, lesbians and bisexual women have endured for ages the struggles of living in a Catholic patriarchal society. The concept of role-playing, for one, is a dominant strategy that has proven to be useful for some lesbians whose identities are more of the transgender kind.
Adrienne Rich argues that heterosexuality is not "natural" or intrinsic in human instincts, but an institution imposed upon many cultures and societies that render women in a subordinate situation. It was written to challenge the erasure of lesbian existence from a large amount of scholarly feminist literature. It was not written to widen divisions but to encourage heterosexual feminists to examine heterosexuality as a political institution which disempowers women and to change it. Adrienne Rich argues that heterosexuality is a violent political institution making way for the "male right of physical, economical, and emotional access" to women. She urges women to direct their energies towards other women rather than men, and portrays lesbianism as an extension of feminism.
March , Cite as. The concept of compulsory heterosexuality was initially developed by lesbian feminists and gay liberationists in the late s and early s. Compulsory heterosexuality proved to be a major conceptual innovation because it made possible a structural sociology of sexuality. The center of analysis shifted from the individual homosexual and from individual acts of discrimination to the institutional enforcement of normative heterosexuality and its consequences for nonheterosexuals. This essay provides a critical analysis of this concept as it has been elaborated from the late s to the present. The author outlines the analytical and historical limits of the critique of compulsory heterosexuality without abandoning a notion of the institutionalization of normative heterosexuality.