Sunday, July 11, 2021

Compulsory Heterosexuality by Adrienne Rich - summary

Adrienne Rich is wary of the term "  feminism  " and its use, she prefers to use the term "women's liberation" . For her, the latter term is more likely to transmit the challenges of women's struggle for their emancipation to the next generation. On the other hand, by using the term “liberation of women” it means that women are in the process of liberation from social, economic, cultural factors which can be considered as oppressive towards their rights.

She says in Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution that “we need to understand the power and helplessness embodied by motherhood in patriarchal culture. "

Adrienne Rich also talks about the need for women to unite in her book On Lies, Secrets, and Silence . In this book, she wrote: “We women have often had the unhealthy feeling of a deep divide as to the truth of our experience. Our future depends on the mental health of each of us, and beyond the subjective, personal aspects we have the project to describe our reality fully, clearly as much as we can to each other. "

Considering the condition of women in the 1950s and 1970s, Rich's works on feminism can be said to be avant-garde. Her views on equal rights and the need for women to maximize their potential, to develop empowerment processes can be seen as progressive for the time.

For Adrienne Rich, society as a whole is founded on patriarchy and as such limits the rights of women. For equality of rights to be achieved between the sexes, existing notions will have to be readjusted to include the female perspective.

One of his most famous essays, Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence (1980), sets out his theory of the " lesbian continuum  " against heterosexism , an essay which has had a strong social and theoretical impact within feminist thought . In this essay, often compared to La Pensée Straight by Monique Wittig , Adrienne Rich intends to problematize heterosexuality in order to denaturalize it; it is no longer homosexuality that is a problem but the hegemonic model of heterosexuality. According to Rich, the women living under the injunctions of the heterosexual regime always manage to forge intimate and sentimental bonds between them, by evolving in what she calls a “lesbian continuum” in which is expressed “a large register of experiences. (…) Involving identification with women ” . This notion of lesbian continuum allows us to think about the links between feminism and lesbianism, while exploring the various forms of feminine solidarity developed within patriarchal societies.