On Addrienne Rich's Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence

Essay by reilenaCollege, UndergraduateA, March 2008

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"Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence" is a 1980 essay by Adrienne Rich (a lesbian and a prominent figure of the Feminist Movement who was a major contributor to the Gay and Lesbian Criticism and the Queer Theory). The essay was first published in her 1986 book entitled Blood Bread and Poetry.

Rich denounces those Feminists who fights for the rights of the women but assume the persona of a heterosexual, middle class female. She argued that the traditional Feminists turn a blind eye to the existence of homosexual females.

In her essay, she discusses 3 main topics. These three are:sexualized relations of power within institutionslesbian experience/lesbian continuumquestions of sexual identityAccording to Rich, women are subjected to social expectations laid down by men (i.e. that women should be "attractive" and supportive of the males whom are proclaimed as superiors, that women are sexually accessilble to men, etc.). One example of this is the males' search for trophy wives.

Basically, what Rich was trying to imply is that these behavioral expectations consist the views of COMPULSORY HETEROSEXUALITY. Everyone is "mandated" to be staright. She also pointed out that this is a way of men to systematically ensure their power over women since these "filling of designated roles" subtley undermines the role of women, thereby labeling them as the "inferiors" or "the weaker other sex".

Furthermore, heterosexuality is compulsory because only partners of the opposite sex are deemed appropriate. Therefore, all same-sex desires must be denied or indulged in secrecy, and various kinds of same-sex bondings are looked upon with suspiscion.

It is rather important to note that heterosexuality is imposed, managed, organized, propagandized, and maintained by society. Women receive messages that promote heterosexual behavior in the form of myths and norms. Such myths include the VAGINAL ORGASM. This is...