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http://www.terry.uga.edu/~dawndba/4500compulsoryhet.htm

Compulsory Heterosexuality and

Lesbian Existence 


Adrienne Rich

Adrienne Rich 's essay constitutes a powerful challenge to some of our least examined sexual assumptions. Rich turns all the familiar arguments on their heads: If the first erotic bond is to the mother, she asks, could not the "natural" sexual orientation of both men and women be toward women?

Rich 's radical questioning has been a major intellectual force in the general feminist reorientation to sexual matters in recent years, and her conception of a "lesbian continuum" sparked especially intense debate. Does lesbianism incorporate all support systems and intense interactions among women, or is
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In none of these books, which concern themselves with mothering, sex roles, relationships, and societal prescriptions for women, is compulsory heterosexuality ever examined as an institution powerfully affecting all these; or the idea of "preference" or "innate orientation" even indirectly questioned.

In For Her Own Good 150 Years of the Experts ' Advice to Women by Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English, the authors ' superb pamphlets, Witches, Midwives and Nurses: A History of Women Healers, and Complaints and Disorders: The Sexual Politics of Sickness, are developed into a provocative and complex study Their thesis in this book is that the advice given American women by male health professionals, particularly in the areas of marital sex, maternity, and child care, has echoed the dictates of the economic marketplace and the role capitalism has needed women to play in production and/ or reproduction. Women have become the consumer victims of various cures, therapies, and normative judgments in different
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