Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Lesbian Existence; or Lack There of...

Compulsory Heterosexism and Lesbian Existence
Adrienne Rich

**Ok, so when I started reading this article I was really trying to focus on those two concepts above. Since Dr. Bogad scared me and said this reading was difficult I was staring at the words like they would some how make more sense if I did that! I decided to research a little about the text that way I could find some easier language and explanations about what Rich is really trying to say.

**I found this website (feminist dictionary) with the definition for compulsory heterosexism. It basically says that women are forced into being heterosexual. When we are born we are assumed to be heterosexual until there i some other identification that says otherwise (you can see this definition on the link). At the bottom of the page I attached the writer actually mentions Adrienne Rich and acknowledges her for being the one to bring this concept to our attention. Reading it elsewhere helped me to understand a little better about what Rich meant. Take this quote for example from Rich (page 82):
“I am concerned here with two other matters as well: first, how and why women's choice of women as passionate comrades, life partners, co-workers, lovers, community has been crushed, invalidated, forced into hiding and disguise; and second, the virtual or total neglect of lesbian existence in a wide range of writings; including feminist scholarship”
 **Her quote is backed up by the definition of compulsory heterosexism. The link describes how women are afraid to truly express their sexual desires because they feel "obligated" to be heterosexual. Rich describes that a woman's choice to be with a woman in any kind of passionate relationship is not accepted; seen as wrong; forced to go away.

**One thing that stuck out to me in Rich's reading was her critique of other authors lack of acknowledgment of lesbians when writing about lesbians. On page 83 she says: 
"Of the three psychoanalytically based books, one, Jean Baker Miller's Toward a New Psychology of Women, is written as if lesbians simply do not exist, even as marginal beings"
 **The point I think Rich is getting at is because of the concept of compulsory heterosexism, the lesbian exsistance is ignored. Different text refuses to mention lesbians, completely disregarding their existence. However, I think that idea has changed a bit, or there has been "a crack in the glass". I came across this video of a Miss California contestant and she ran as the first openly gay contestant of California. Now in this video, she is portrayed as "hott". This video does show some acceptance to the fact that she is a lesbian, however, she is still being sexualized by media and the annoying voice announcer on the video. I have heard many different girls and guys say that lesbians are "hott". They don't mind fantasizing about girl on girl, but are they really accepting them for who they are? I doubt it, I see it as pure sexualization, as if women don't have to fight that enough. Even in this video the man narrating it says that she "acts like a guy" and shes "hott". Lesbians are gaining more recognition, yet it still is somehow if it is only a selling point to catch eyes because people want to see sexy people, they want hot contestants running for competitions.

**Here are a few links that I found:
RIC Unity Center

**For class I would like to talk more about the idea of women being sexualized by the media. Society is quick to point and judge a gay couple, yet a lesbian couple can be seen as erotic and interesting. It seems as if sex is the biggest form of power women have. Why is that? What does everyone think?


  1. The feminist dictionary website was really helpful! Thanks for posting it!! Nice post!

  2. I totally agree with your point about lesbians being considered "hot" and therefore not fully accepted or understood. And that video was really gross to me the way they're basically mocking her for being openly lesbian! Blech