[Hi, I’m Sonia, a third-year English major. My last name gets (purposefully?) confused with ‘chocolateparty’ a lot, so here we are.]
Adrienne Rich is a woman of strong, well-argued opinions. Reading through her piece, it seemed more and more like she argues that a woman cannot be heterosexual without having succumbed to the idea of the institution. The last paragraph does address “[t]he question [that] inevitably will arise: Are we then to condemn all heterosexual relationships, including those which are the least oppressive?” (659) This, as she writes, is the wrong question, and that “the absence of choice remains the great unacknowledged reality…” (659). This argument makes sense, but it also is a bit alienating for me personally. Does being told that the choice to be heterosexual is not really a genuine choice belittle the decision? There is also a question of whether she is writing for a few women or if she is writing for all women, preaching to us a reality we were too blinded to see. It also makes me wonder how she views the choice to be a heterosexual male versus a homosexual male.
It’s impossible to deny the fact that there are some women who do feel the obligation to be heterosexual, and it’s also impossible to deny the advantages men often have in the economic, social, political world. However, it seems a stretch to think that choosing to be heterosexual means that you are unquestioningly buying into the power disparity. At the same time, like with the pieces discussed in class on Tuesday, the historical moment in which Adrienne Rich is writing also influences her. She describes “sanctions imposed against single women and widows—both of whom have been and still are viewed as deviant.” (634) This is less true in the present day than it would have been then.
I will gladly admit that there are almost definitely nuances to this article that I have missed and that will emerge through discussion, but her emphasis on the lesbian existence and the lesbian continuum seem to promote the idea of hierarchical categories and the idea that heterosexuality represents more than it does. In other words, I like most of what she’s saying, but not the way she’s saying it.