Adrienne Rich

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Describe Adrienne Rich's critical argument in her essay "Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence."

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Essentially, Rich argues that heterosexuality in women in a political construct that men use in order to further control and subjugate women. Rather than it being the default norm of sexuality, heterosexuality is a tool by which women are made to feel inferior to men because of the inherent mechanisms of male-to-female sexual intercourse and the reproductive element.

While she does acknowledge that some women are naturally heterosexual, Rich argues that many women are also forced into heterosexual relationships in order to create safety and obtain social power. In addition, the cultural and social messages women receive from a young age condition them to favor heterosexuality.

Rich also attempts to expand the definition of lesbianism beyond female sexuality. Rich posits that lesbianism is an emotional and psychological connection among women and that even platonic female friendships fall along a lesbian continuum. She notes that most women exercise some form of lesbianism whether that...

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