Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Women's Rights?

Extended Comments Format

Adrienne Rich's article, Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence was a very tough read but I managed through it. I came on here and read some blogs fellow classmates had written to get a clearer understanding of what Rich was saying. Merylda really seemed to get this article and her blog was awesome, so I am using her blog as the centerpiece for mine

The beginning of Merylda's blog was exactly the summary of this article that I needed. She wrote: "Adrienne Rich's main arguments are that women are afraid to be who they truly are because of society; compulsory heterosexuality is the idea that women are supposed to be heterosexual without a preference just because they are a woman."  This piece was long and tough to summarize but if I summarized it, it couldn't be any better.

Next Merylda provides a definition for compulsory heterosexuality. She wrote: "Compulsory heterosexuality is when men command and force women's sexuality." This is exactly the definition of compulsory heterosexuality I came on the blog site looking for. Over time it has become socially unacceptable to do anything other than get married to a male if you are a female. There are "cracks in the glass" as Dr. Bogad would say as there are a few states with gay marriage laws. It is also becoming more acceptable in society to date the opposite sex, not just legally, but from a social standpoint.

Merylda wrote about sexual harassment in the workplace towards the end of her blog: "Because of compulsory heterosexuality, women allow sexual harassment in the workplace because they feel that's the only way they can get a job and keep a job regardless of the job description (p. 86)." Because Merylda wrote a specific page number, I felt like I should get a quote to exemplify what she is saying in her blog post here. I did find one at the bottom of page 86, "Thus, women in the workplace are at the mercy of sex as power in a vicious circle. Economically disadvantaged, women- whether waitresses or professors- endure sexual harassment to keep their jobs and learn to behave in a complaisantly and ingratiatingly heterosexual manner because they discover this is their true qualification for employment, whatever the job description." This quote and entire section of Rich's piece and Catherine MacKinnon's story reminded me of an episode of a show I use to watch as a child. The show was Sister, Sister and the episode wasn't about sexual harassment in the workplace but it was about equal pay in the workplace. (NOTE: START AT THE 3:05 MARK)

Points To Share

On Page 84, Rich suggests "heterosexuality, like motherhood, needs to be recognized and studied as a political institution- even, or especially, by those individuals who feel they are, in their personal experience, the precursors of a new social relation between the sexes." As a political science major, this really hit home the idea Rich was getting at.  I realized in all political institutions, there is a hierarchy and Rich is saying men are at the top of the hierarchy. With the help of this metaphor and Merylda's blog, I was able to understand Rich's article. I am curious to know if this metaphor helped at all to other students?


  1. Thanks Mike, the hierarchy discussion did help explain Rich's point and your post definitely helped to clean it up for me. I felt that I more or less explained what I pulled from her argument in my post, but I did find some of her ideas a little extreme. She seemed to convey the idea that all women would choose lesbianism if it was only openly available and personally experienced. I not sure if I may have misinterpreted this or not. But I'd like to hear other opinions on this in class today.

  2. mike, your blog was very clear. I also used Merylda's blog, wasnt it awesome?