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Representations of Race and Sexuality on Feminist Web Sites
Unformatted Document Text:  Representations of Race and Sexuality on Feminist Web Sites 10 devaluation of mother. This work has led to considerations of the underlying assumptions of sexuality and those representations in society. In “Compulsive Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence,” Rich identified the history and nature of the dominance of heterosexuality in feminist literature and the appropriation of family-value nomenclature to the feminist cause. Rich’s purpose in writing this article was to “encourage heterosexual feminists to examine heterosexuality as a political institution which disempowers women – and to change it.” 23 Rich felt that more than a “toleration” of “alternative lifestyle” was required and that a critique of what is considered the natural state of heterosexuality is necessary. She points to the work of Nancy Chodorow in asserting that women’s role as child-bearer is the locus of gender inequality, but criticizes her for what Rich considers a dismissal of the lesbian relationship as less mature than the heterosexual [women never get beyond relationship with mother]. Chodorow’s explanation of the option of homosexuality as less likely due to preference, taboo, and economic dependence are considered contradictory to Rich. She argued that Chodorow implicitly concluded that heterosexuality is not a preference, yet her book overtly mandated it. Rich concluded her article with a discussion of “false dichotomies” and the absence of choice within these binaries. She called for understanding beyond anecdotes and difference to a complex overview of the nature and undoing of power. Rubin, in “Thinking Sex: Notes for a Radical Theory of the Politics of Sexuality,” discussed the nature of sex and the political and cultural dimensions of defining its place in society. Within political dimensions, she defined the “charmed circle” of acceptable sexual behaviors as monogamous, procreative, in pairs, etc. with the “outer

Authors: Royal, Cindy.
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Representations of Race and Sexuality on Feminist Web Sites
10
devaluation of mother. This work has led to considerations of the underlying
assumptions of sexuality and those representations in society.
In “Compulsive Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence,” Rich identified the
history and nature of the dominance of heterosexuality in feminist literature and the
appropriation of family-value nomenclature to the feminist cause. Rich’s purpose in
writing this article was to “encourage heterosexual feminists to examine heterosexuality
as a political institution which disempowers women – and to change it.”
23
Rich felt that
more than a “toleration” of “alternative lifestyle” was required and that a critique of what
is considered the natural state of heterosexuality is necessary. She points to the work of
Nancy Chodorow in asserting that women’s role as child-bearer is the locus of gender
inequality, but criticizes her for what Rich considers a dismissal of the lesbian
relationship as less mature than the heterosexual [women never get beyond relationship
with mother]. Chodorow’s explanation of the option of homosexuality as less likely due
to preference, taboo, and economic dependence are considered contradictory to Rich.
She argued that Chodorow implicitly concluded that heterosexuality is not a preference,
yet her book overtly mandated it. Rich concluded her article with a discussion of “false
dichotomies” and the absence of choice within these binaries. She called for
understanding beyond anecdotes and difference to a complex overview of the nature
and undoing of power.
Rubin, in “Thinking Sex: Notes for a Radical Theory of the Politics of Sexuality,”
discussed the nature of sex and the political and cultural dimensions of defining its
place in society. Within political dimensions, she defined the “charmed circle” of
acceptable sexual behaviors as monogamous, procreative, in pairs, etc. with the “outer


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