Thursday, January 12, 2012

Extended Comments on Adrienne Rich's "Complusory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence

Holy Cow!

Not only was this a difficult read, but with shifting through 3 jobs and moving, I have no idea how I am up and running. (Just needed to vent that out)

Now to the real deal, I decided to choose the extended comment option, since I personally did not understand the entire article at a first chance, but when I was able to come in to work this morning, and read through other people's blogs, the light bulb switch finally turned on!

I wanted to extend comments on Merylda's blogs (kudos!). Merylda did an awesome job breaking it down to fine points, and  did a very good job in point out some clarification. 

The opening of Merylda's blog was very clear and stated Rich's argument to the t. As I paraphrase, that women are afraid to be themselves in a society that gives them the pressure that they have to be heterosexual, and because of this pressure, the existence of lesbians is questionable. The definition Merylda gives about compulsory heterosexuality is " men command and force woman's sexuality."

Adrienne Rich states eight male forces that are percieved as powers:
  1. to deny women sexuality  (punishment including death for female adultery, lesbian sexuality etc.)
  2. to force it (male sexuality )upon them (wife beating, brother sister incest etc.
  3. to command or exploit their labor to control their produce(motherhood as unpaid production, pimping etc.)
  4. to control or rob them of their children ( systematized infanticide, enforced sterilization etc )
  5. to confine them physically and prevent their movement ( rape, high heel as in feminine dress code, sexual harassment on the streets etc. )
  6. to use them as objects in male transactions (bride price, hostess, call girls etc)
  7. to cramp their creativeness 
  8. to with hold from them large areas of the society's knowledge and cultural attainments (sex role tracking  etc)
Women sometimes and depending on the specific environment believe they have to use their sexuality to obtain what they need. If it is a job, a favor, money etc. Men have used these eight powers to take the control over women, to keep them in a place where the men can be the powerful ones, and the women can stay at the submissive level. Rich states, "Men feel they can take advantage, so they want to, so they do."  This is clear evidence, that men want to use their power for the wrong reasons, and to belittle women to obtain the gratification that they are "higher up on females." Men projecting themselves to be dominant, to instill fear in women, to basically get what they want. It is a selfish characteristics that women have to put a stop to! 

Merylda then goes on to talk about Lesbians, and their existence. Because of the pressure that women should be heterosexual and should only be with a man, the questioning of lesbians is in the air. One's sexual preference should not make them an outcast in society. If a women feels comfortable in identifying herself as a lesbian, because she is attracted to women, their should not be a pressure that she feels, that she is in the wrong. Merylda states "Throughtout history, lesbians were thought of female versions of male homosexuality, but Rich said if you are to compare lesbian existence to male homosexuality would be to completely ignore the existence of lesbians." Which makes perfect sense, even from taking a small sample from my friends who are members of the LGBT community, they have mentioned it is much easier within their community for a male gay couple, then for a female lesbian couple. This definitely gives society an insight on something else that society needs to work on and gear themselves to a much more accepting community. 

                                                          Adrienne Rich


Overall I enjoyed the classes response to this article. For me it was something I was not necessarily aware of.  I remember back in high school I was one out of 3 other females working for an engineering  company. I was the youngest, 15 years old at the time, and the other two females were much older( in their 50's). I remember I was treated as the one that needed delicacy, but I would tell them that I was confident in the work that I can produce, and with the proper training, I would be just up to par as to how the company needed me to work. I understand that I was young, but since the entire company was dominated by men (20+ men), when they saw that another female was brought in to work, they saw me as the one to make coffee, or get lunches, when my job title was lab assistant. hmph. Oh and did I mention, I was getting paid, extremely LOW!


  1. Great job adding to it! Great post! Glad I could help darling! :)

  2. I absolutely agree that noone should have to feel ashamed or inferior due to their sexual orientation. I am also impressed with you holding a lab assistant position at 15! I was making coffee at 7-11 till the age of 20....I wonder why I'm back in school...

  3. thank you all...i really enjoyed this one. tough one but the conversation in class was awesommme