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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Compulsory heterosexuality is the idea that heterosexuality is assumed and enforced by a heteronormative society. This refers to the idea that heterosexuality can be adopted by people regardless of their heterisexuality sexual preferences.

Heterosexuality is viewed as the natural inclination or obligation by both sexes. Consequently, anyone who differs from the normalcy of heterosexuality is deemed deviant or abhorrent. Rich’s first concept of compulsory heterosexuality only included women, however, later revisions of the idea have included how compulsory heterosexuality affects men. Common examples include the assumption that children will grow up to marry a person of the opposite sex, children must steer away from having friends of the opposite sex, sexual education books that exclusively discuss heterosexuality, the concept of “coming out”, religious and secular organizations that assume all members are heterosexual, and believing that if one can pretend to be heterosexual that is better than being non-heterosexual.

Compulsory heterosexuality is seen as adgienne, 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. Adrienne Rich, who popularized the term compulsory heterosexualityargues that heterosexuality is a political institution which needs to be re-examined for women to escape dis-empowerment.

She argues that much of feminist literature still functions under a compulsory heterosexual paradigm, which is a problem facing the homosexual community. 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.

Rich goes on to argue that regardless of a woman’s sexual orientation, any woman can choose to be a lesbian. Heterozexuality who question their sexuality are accused of being compulsory heterosexual.

Also, Rich views lesbian identification as being on a continuum. She believes that all women can be lesbians by becoming “woman-identified women”, meaning that women should be heterrosexuality on the needs and emotions of other women. Rich argues because women have both maternal as well as sexual desires, they, unlike men are more heterosexualihy in their abilities to care for others in diverse rather than purely sexual ways.

However, the work of others has attempted to revive the basic argument rcih Rich puts forth.

Other authors have argued that compulsory heterosexuality has multiple important uses. Stevi Jackson stated, “Indeed, Rich’s concept of ‘compulsory heterosexuality’ could be seen as a forerunner of ‘ heteronormativity ‘ and I would like to preserve an often neglected legacy of the former concept: The term ‘heteronormativity’ has not always captured this double-sided social regulation.

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. People are often assumed to be heterosexual until proven otherwise. In Sandra Lipsitz study she sets out to prove that, contrast to what was once believed, sexual minorities psychologically have a greater “global identity development”. It is argued the dissolving of the barriers would remove sexism.

Adrienne Rich argues that compulsory heterosexuality is reinforced by social institutions. Rich argues that same-sex marriage reinforces compulsory heterosexuality. William Havilland argues that marriage is a socially recognized union or legal contract between spouses that establishes rights and obligations between them, between them and their children, and between them and their in-laws, and that same-sex marriage has been claimed to be a negative addition to this.

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. In “The New Homonormativity: According to Louis-Georges Tinin ” The Invention of Heterosexual Culture “, heterosexuality and the creation of male to female relationships is considered to be important, and Tin proposes that importance and emphasis has been put on reproduction because of this.


Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence

He argues that this need for the reproduction “eclipsed” “homosocial male bonds”, which he claims commonly existed during the Middle Ages. Tin argues that negative connotations were associated with male and female relationships prior to this, and that this was because sexual relations were considered to interfere with spiritual obligations, and it was believed that same-sex relationships would not become sexual.

Rich claims male dominance and its presence in social institutions are major factors in enforcing female heterosexuality.

To describe this phenomenon, she heterosexualoty a list of “eight characteristics of male power in archaic and contemporary societies” that is found in Kathleen Gough ‘s essay “The Origin of the Family, adrienbe in which Gough proposes the following characteristics:. Rich concludes that all of these characteristics contribute to a culture that convinces women that heterosexual relationships and marriage fich inevitable, whether by physical force or “control of consciousness,” and especially in combination with lesbian erasure.

Rich argues that compulsory heterosexuality, as a means of assuring male right compulwory physical, economic, and emotional access, keeps the convention of female disempowerment intact through heterosexual relationships and doesn’t allow for the growth of sexualities regarded as deviantsuch as lesbian. Ultimately, Rich suggests a “lesbian continuum” that encourages female relationships, regardless of sexual desire, and views heterosexuality as an institution imposed on women.

Compulsory heterosexuality

Rich views the acknowledgment of sexual choice as a necessary condition for female empowerment and an understanding of women’s continuous resistance to men throughout history. Additionally, Rich criticizes feminist scholarship for its exclusion of lesbian as adriennne genuine, natural option for women.

I am concerned here with two other matters as well: Obviously there is a connection here. She explores the content of For Her Own Good: Sexual Arrangements and the Human Malaise by Nancy Chodorowwhich, according to Rich, are presented as feminist texts and assume “that the social relations of the sexes are disordered and extremely problematic”.

Rich argues that these feminist texts do not examine the issue of compulsory heterosexuality or acknowledge that a woman might not choose heterosexuality if she were socialized in a more equal society. Kathleen Debold, in her book Dilemmas of desire: Teenage girls talk about sexualityargues that lesbian erasure can be a health care issue.

She proposes heterosexism is active as a tacit assumption when “forms assess health risks by asking ‘Are you sexually active?

A major drive for compulsory heterosexuality is that of heterosxuality. It ties a sexual orientation heteroseuxality worth with reproduction. Evolutionarily speaking in order to further the species offspring must be created and therefore genes are past on. Though, evolutionary arguments have implications in minority sexualities they also directly impact the stereotypes of heterosexual heterosexuxlity and especially concepts of masculinity.

Arguments for men being the hunter are then applied to today’s understanding of the male gender being superior. Them being depicted as the weaker sex and their main function being childbearing. These understandings however do not include ideas of morality, which is what is being applied to them. Much of religion invokes a binary adrjenne for sexuality. As well as specific texts including this one from Leviticus, “Thou shalt not lie with heterosexualuty, as with womankind: This directly translates to compulsory heterosexuality in society though influence of leaders of the church as well as devout followers of this belief.

Homosexuals have a difficult time finding acceptance particularly in the Bible Belt. While most folks have outgrown overt racist and sexist attacks, for many people it’s still okay to take shots at homosexuals. They are called names, blamed for society’s problems, and often humiliated because of their sexual preference.

While a binary model for 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.


Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence by Adrienne Rich

Rich argues adriennr compulsory heterosexuality in the workplace, to which end she references Catharine MacKinnon ‘s Sexual Harassment of Working Women: A Case of Sex Discrimination. MacKinnon argues that women occupy low-paying jobs and their sexual marketability is a factor in the workplace.

Rich argues that women feel pressure to be heterosexual in the workplace, and that this pressure is also present in society as a whole.

As a species will become extinct if no reproduction occurs, and human women must be inseminated to produce offspring, heterosexual relationships are necessary for the survival of the human race, barring artificial insemination. According to Rich, women accept the male sex drive and regard themselves as sexual prey, and this influences compulsory heterosexuality. According to Rich, Barry argues for a ‘sexual domination perspective’, claims that men subject women to what she terms as “sexual abuse” and “terrorism”, and that the ‘sexual domination perspective’ causes people to consider this “sexual abuse” and “terrorism” to be natural and inevitable and thus ignore it.

According to Rich, women believe men have a natural need to have sex, and this results in them viewing “abuse” as inevitable. Barry argues that this rationale is romanticized through popular media. Rich claims that this is reinforced through compulsory heterosexuality. While the concept of compulsory heterosexuality initially only included women, later revisions of the idea have included discussion on how Compulsory Heterosexuality necessarily requires both men and women to reinforce the construct; furthermore, that compulsory heterosexuality impacts males as well.

Tolman, Spencer, Rosen-Reynoso, and Porche found that even heterosexual males reported being negatively impacted by compulsory heterosexuality through being groomed to aggressively pursue women and through the interactions that society allows them to have with other males. 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.

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. Debbie Epstein discusses in her book, Silenced Sexualities in Schools and Universitieshow heteronormative standards as well as compulsory heterosexuality lead to young males not only feeling forced to appear heterosexual, but can lead to violence against these males if they deviate from expectations against them.

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. African American History and Compulsory Heterosexuality “, Mattie Udora Richardson discusses the additional complexities faced by Black women in terms of forced compulsory heterosexuality. Udora Richardon points out that, “Any divergences from the social norms of marriage, domesticity, and the nuclear family have brought serious accusations of savagery, pathology, and deviance upon Black people.

Divergences from heterosexuality place Black women in particular risk of physical harm or social exile. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence. Gender, sexuality and heterosexuality: The complexity and limits of heteronormativity”. Should we turn the volume down or up? Journal of Sex Research. The Sexual Politics of Neoliberalism.

United States of America: Retrieved December 9, Early Adolescents Narrate Compulsory Heterosexuality”. Journal of Social Issues.

The Origin of the Family. Retrieved December 8, The Evolution of Human Sociality: Or, Getting Rid of the Heterosexual Bug”. A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies. Que e rying Religion: Compulsory Heterosexuality and Educational Policy”.

Teachings and Taboos in the History of World Faiths. Sexual Harassment of Working Women: