Adrienne Rich’s On Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence
in Mobilising classics
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Adrienne Rich's important essay 'on Compulsory Heterosexuality and lesbian Existence'. While Rich is a poet and literary critic whose essay related specifically to lesbian feminist politics. Irish feminists had developed their own learning programmes in less formal ways during the 1970s and 1980s, which anticipated the development of academic Women's studies programmes in the 1990s. The opening of Rich's essay on the theme of 'sexuality' fired an opening salvo in which she takes issue with 'the virtual or total neglect of lesbian existence in a wide range of writings, including feminist scholarship'. Rich's writings, and specifically the term 'compulsory heterosexuality', was one which would be widely used and debated amongst feminists in Ireland. Rich's lesbian continuum opened up a way for women in general to strategically identify as lesbians, thus making the term 'lesbian' a political rather than a sexual category.

Mobilising classics

Reading radical writing in Ireland


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