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Heterosexuality: a “Feminism and Psychology” reader

Feminist theorizing on heterosexuality has taken place in rather a stop/start fashion over the last 20 years. The punishments which are regularly visited upon those who seek to draw heterosexuality out of the protective camouflage of “nature” or “just the way things are”, and into the spotlight of political analysis can be considerably – and tend to impede the consistent development of the analysis. The history of feminist attempts to theorize heterosexuality is described by Denise Thompson (1993). In the early 1970s, lesbians in the USA started to described heterosexuality as oppressive and socially constructed and called on feminists to abandon it (see, for example the article from the USA, reprinted in Hoagland and Penelope [1989]). In the late 1970s, these arguments inspired Leeds Revolutionary Feminists in Britain (see Onlywomen press, 1981) and radical lesbians in Paris and Montreal (see articles reprinted in Hoagland and Penelope 1989). Lesbian theorists such as Adrienne Rich (1980), Monique Wittig (1982) and Janice Raymond (1986) rounded out the analysis of heterosexuality as a political institution. But if the experience of the Leeds Revolutionary Feminists is anything to go by, it is no accident that this line of feminist inquiry did not flow with ease and produced few published works.

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