The article named Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence was written by Adrienne Cecile Rich and was published in 1986. The author’s thesis states, “Coercion and compulsion are among the conditions in which women have learned to recognize our strength” (Rich, 1986, p. 22). The author supports a critical position on an idealism that requires heterosexuality will give political power for change, and lesbians believe that women are unaffected by this idealism and the institutions that support it. The article emphasizes the idea that women have learned to recognize their strength in a variety of situations, including coercion and coercion. In Rich’s work, she often mentions resistance as a prominent theme.
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There are several main arguments made by the author throughout the work. The first argument addresses the compulsory heterosexuality bias and its place in different publications and works. Rich argues that there are assumptions in the literary works that women are considered to be sexually oriented only towards men and that lesbians are motivated by bitterness in relation to men. The author refers to several works in order to provide examples of how lesbians are perceived as invisible in texts.
The second argument is related to the erotic and emotional energies of women. The author refers to the idea that women are the first sources of physical nurture and emotional caring for both males and females. Then she questions why women should redirect their erotic and emotional energies and loyalty toward men. Rich suggests that from the feminist perspective, redirection is not an obligatory process to take place in a lesbian’s life.
The third argument is based on the argumentation of the existence of lesbians. This means both the historical existence of lesbians and the generation of our continuous meaning to that existence. The author writes that the term lesbian continuum arises throughout a woman’s life and history, not only by the fact that a woman has experienced genital sexual encounters or is willing to meet other women. The argument refers to a set of different experiences.
The next argument mentions the identification of a woman as an energy source, a potential female power springhead, that is “curtailed and contained under the institution of heterosexuality” (Rich, 1986, p. 37). With the denial and invisibility of women’s passion for women, allies, life companions, women’s choice as a community, and the coercion of such relationships to imitation and dissolution under strong pressure, all women have sex. It has resulted in an immense loss of power to change the relationship between the sexes in order to liberate women.
I think that the text is highly significant in the context of feminism and gender equality. The article provides an approach toward the existence of lesbians through the lens of a feminist perspective. The text has impacted my understanding of gender, particularly of the term lesbian. I have learned that lesbian orientation might be based not only on the sexual desires of a woman but also on emotional patterns. The author referred to a woman as a resource of energy, which I agree with.
The article and the film Portrait of a Lady on Fire represent intersecting ideas and values. The film, directed by Sciamma (2019), depicts a social contract defined by a strong sense of community between women around their engrossed lovers, regardless of age or class. It is still relevant today, as it was set in the late 18th century, and many women continue to demand crossing unity in the fight for equality. The act of falling in love is portrayed in the film through a lens of equality between two lovers, creating a reality in which one can fully perceive the other. The article similarly emphasizes the idea that women are able to choose their perception of love relationships based on their own emotional and intellectual beliefs.
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Rich, A. (2003). Compulsory heterosexuality and lesbian existence. Blood, Bread, and Poetry: Selected Prose 1979–1985, 21-47.
Sciamma, S. (2019). The portrait of a lady on fire. Lilies Films.