Posts Tagged adrienne rich

No, this does not mean the end of Compulsory Heterosexuality!

I see author and activist Adrienne Rich died.

Some highlights of her life:

She was, like so many, profoundly changed by the 1960s. Rich married Harvard University economist Alfred Conrad in 1953 and they had three sons. But she left him in 1970 and eventually lived with her partner, writer and editor Michelle Cliff. She used her experiences as a mother to write “Of Woman Born,” her groundbreaking feminist critique of pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood, published in 1976.

Rich considered her lesbianism both political and personal.  She was a brilliant woman.

Born in Baltimore in 1929, Rich was the elder of two daughters of a Jewish father and a Protestant mother – a mixed heritage that she recalled in her autobiographical poem “Sources.” Her father, a doctor and medical professor at Johns Hopkins University, encouraged her to write poetry at an early age.

She also coined the phrase compulsory heterosexuality:

Adrienne Rich argued that patriarchal, male-dominated society insists on compulsory heterosexuality because men benefit from male-female relationships. Society romanticizes the heterosexual relationship. Therefore, she argues, men perpetuate the myth that any other relationships are somehow deviant.

Like all ideas, it has taken on a life of its own:

Since the 1970s disagreement in the feminist movement, lesbian and other homosexual relationships have become more openly accepted in much of United States society. Some feminist and GLBT scholars continue to examine the term “compulsory heterosexuality” as they explore the biases of a society that prefers heterosexual relationships.

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