Intersectionality in Adrienne Rich’s Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence and Barbara Smith’s Toward a Black Feminist Criticism | Leema Sen Gupta

Intersectionality in Adrienne Rich’s Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence and Barbara Smith’s Toward a Black Feminist Criticism | Leema Sen Gupta

Intersectionality in Adrienne Rich’s Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence and Barbara Smith’s Toward a Black Feminist Criticism
Leema Sen Gupta

Abstract: Adrienne Rich in her Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence focuses on the tension between imposed heterosexuality and choice of sexual orientation, whereas Barbara Smith in Toward a Black Feminist Criticism deals with the gap of identity politics between white women and women of color. Both writings can be examined through the lens of intersectionality. Both Rich and Smith argue that women, in general, are oppressed and have been subject to domination in the patriarchal society. However, they differ in their argument of how the social and institutional forces contribute to the politics of gender, race, and sexuality and how women’s racial and sexual orientation have been exploited to make them vulnerable. Rich, in her writing, shows lesbian women as marginalized not only for being lesbian but also for being women. In Rich’s writing, gender and sexuality intersect with one another, whereas in Smith’s writing, race, gender, and sexuality intersect because she argues that both Black women and Black lesbian women are marginalized simultaneously. This paper will examine how intersectionality has been used by Rich and Smith to understand the differences in their arguments when they are both advocates for the voice of marginalized people in society.

Keywords: Intersectionality, Feminism, Race, Gender, Heterosexuality, Lesbianism

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Published in August 2019

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