Adrienne Rich’s article, “Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existance” brings forth many familiar ideas that we have discussed throughout the semester. From the idea of “women as gifts” presented by Gayle Rubin in “The Traffic in Women: Notes on the ‘Political Economy’ of Sex” where she discusses the argument presented by Levi-Strauss, women and their relation to the exchanging of gifts, to the idea of women as entertainers which can be seen through Sarah Jane. In the beginning of the article Rich states that, “women are the earliest sources of emotional caring and physical nurture for both female and male children… why in fact would women ever redirect that search” (290). From this early statement and Rich’s desire to change our sexual perceptions lead me to think that she is comparing the emotions women derive from lesbian relations to the emotions she gets from a heterosexual one. This lesbian relation is, in my opinion, not literal as in two women being physically attracted to one another but overall the relationship between women. If the first relationship both sexes encounter is one with a woman then it is natural for women to seek out other women for support, the support which a man cannot give. She verifies my idea with the example of the poet H.D who states, “I knew that this experience, this writing-on-the-wall before me, could not be shared with anyone except the girl who stood so bravely there beside me….for without her admittedly, I could not have gone on.” (292-293) This support, of course, is ridiculed by men since the grouping of women is a threat to the “establishment”
Rich presents many examples such as the Beguines, Emily Dickinson and Zora Neale Hurston. each of these women support the endeavors of other women and sought support from them, “women provided the ongoing fascination and sustenance of life”(293). She shows that heterosexuality is not the”natural emotional and sensual inclination of women” (293) because women that live this way are deprived emotionally and sensually. Of course, if a woman is not defined by this relationship she is then defined by negative words such as, bitch and man hater. This idea is often presented in the work place when woman hold a position of authority.