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Lesbian Masterdoc PDF Free Download, Compulsory Heterosexuality, Past and Present: Adrienne Rich and the Lesbian Masterdoc.
In Late 2020, I First Used Tiktok. Soon After I Signed Up, The App Started Sending Me Videos Of Queer Women Fervently Praising Something Called The “Lesbian Masterdoc,” Calling It The Secret To “Discovering,” “Figuring Out,” Or “Finding Out” Their Sexuality.1 I Searched “Lesbian Masterdoc” At The Time And Clicked On The First Result, Which Was A 31-page, Double-spaced, Anonymous Pdf Titled “Am I A Lesbian?” I Was Then Open To Learning Anything That May Help Me Understand My Own Sexuality.
Naturally, The Masterdoc Is Not Contemporary With Rich’s “Compulsory Heterosexuality” Essay, And Neither Is Today Rich’s Period Or Location. While Radical Feminists Discussed The Connections Between Desire, Politics, And Sexuality In The 1960s And 1970s,
The Masterdoc’s Mere Existence—first Released On Tumblr In 2018—indicates That We Are Still Fighting To Destroy The Political Institution Of Heterosexuality. In The Second Wave Of Feminism, “Pro-woman” And “Anti-sex” Feminists Differed About Whether Patriarchal Pleasure Was Ethically Wrong (The Anti-sex Camp) Or A “Strategic Necessity” (The Pro-woman Side), To Use Amia Srinivasan’s Phrase.
20 According To Srinivasan, When Lesbian Feminists Started To Make The Case “For The Compatibility Of Their Sexual Identities With Their Politics, They Did So By Framing Lesbianism As A Matter Of Political Solidarity Rather Than Innate Sexual Orientation.”21 In This Way, The Idea Of “Political Lesbianism” Was Created. In Contrast To A Woman’s Intrinsic Yearning For Other Women, “Political Lesbianism” Evolved To Indicate An Intentional Decision To Separate From Males In The Years That Followed.
On How To Understand Political Lesbianism’s Afterlives, Modern Feminism Is Still Split. Asa Seresin Criticizes Political Lesbianism And Celibacy As “Largely Outmoded Options” In Response To The Drawbacks Of Heterosexuality In His 2019 Article “On Heteropessimism.
“22 Contrary To Rich’s Notion Of Forced Heterosexuality, Which Focuses On A Structural Issue, Heteropessimist Statements Convey Personal Emotions Of Shame, Humiliation, And Remorse About One’s Own Heterosexuality. Seresin Agrees That Personal Heteropessimism Runs Counter To Feminist Theory’s Assertion That Heterosexuality Is Harmful On A Structural Level:
“[i]t Doesn’t Make Sense To Extricate Your Own Straight Experience From Straightness As An Institution”; “Heterosexuality Is Nobody’s Personal Problem.” Heteropessimism Is Conceptually Comparable To Informal, Individualistic Understandings Of Forced Heterosexuality Seen In The Masterdoc And On Tiktok Due To Its Focus On The Individual.
We May Suppose That Seresin Refers To Political Lesbianism As “Outmoded” Because It Is Widely Acknowledged To Be An Inadequate Answer To The Systemic Issues Connected To Heterosexuality. Seresin,
However, Also Rejects Political Lesbianism As A Viable Counterargument To Heteropessimism. Instead, He Contends That The Act Of Describing May Allow For A “Radical Transformation” Of Heterosexuality. Adora Svitak Poses The Question,
“[h]ow Much Space Have Women Historically Been Granted To Express Highly Embodied Desire?” In This Cluster. Seresin Believes That More Women Are Required To Explain The Benefits Of Heterosexuality, As Well As Why Heterosexual People Continue To Identify With It.
Seresin Adopts The Widely Held Belief That Desire Is Unavoidable And Unchangeable: Straight Individuals Cannot Stop Being Straight, Even If (They Claim) It Is Harmful For Them. As A Result, Seresin Rejects Political Lesbianism As A Workable Answer To Heteropessimism.
This Concurs With Andrea Long Chu’s Perspective, Who Said At The Beginning Of 2018 That Political Lesbianism Is A “Failed Project” Since “Nothing Good Comes From Forcing Desire To Conform To Political Principle.”23 Chu Argues That Political Lesbianism And Current Terf (Trans-exclusionary Radical Feminist) Discourse Are Related Not Only Because Terfs “Inherited Political Lesbianism’s Dread Of Desire’s Ungovernability,” But Also Because Women Who Once Identified With The Lesbian Separatist Movement Are Now Actively Involved In Anti-trans Discourse.
The Main Purpose Of Chu’s Intriguing Essay “On Liking Women” Is “To Countenance The Notion That Transition Expresses Not The Truth Of An Identity But The Force Of A Desire.” According To Chu, Who Is Transgender And Speaking From Personal Experience, Being Trans Is More About Wanting To Be A Lady Than Really Being One.
Amia Srinivasan Views Political Lesbianism And Its Teachings On Desire More Favorably Than Chu Does. Following Chu’s N+1 Article “On Liking Women,” Srinivasan Argued In The London Review Of Books That Desire Itself Is A “Political Question,” Not A Philosophical One, And That We Might Learn How To Approach Questioning Desire From The History Of Radical Feminism.
24 Later, Chu Disagreed With Srinivasan In An Interview Published In The Summer Of 2018 In The Point, Arguing That Srinivasan’s Theory Of Desire’s Malleability Runs The Danger Of Turning It Into A Moralization That Would Mostly Harm Disenfranchised People.
Asserting That One Cannot Avoid The Politics Of Desire Since It Is Always Political, Srinivasan Maintained Her Initial View In 2021.25 (In All Of Her Essays, Srinivasan References Rich’s “Compulsory Heterosexuality” Essay.) Srinivasan Believes That We Should Eliminate The Divide Between Political Lesbians And “Real” Lesbians By Using Lesbianism As An Example.
How Often, She Wonders, “Is A Lesbian Relationship Not In Some Significant Way Political—that Is Not At A Deep Level About Honoring What Women, Outside The Script Of Heterosexual Male Dominance, Can Have And Be Together?”
26 This Argument Between Chu And Srinivasan, According To Chu’s Interviewer For The Point, Is Centered Around Two Key Issues: 1) Can We Modify Our Preferences? And, If So, 2) Do We Have A Duty To Do So, Particularly If Such Wishes Are “Reflective Of Discriminatory Political Practices?”27
I’m More Interested In The Following Queries: Are We In Charge Of Recognizing Our Wants, And What Prevents Us From Doing So? Another Article By Srinivasan, “On Not Sleeping With Your Students,” Again Makes Use Of Rich To Show How Heterosexuality Is Forced Upon People And How This Shapes The Desire Of Relationships Between (Male) Professors And (Female) Students. Women Who Admire Other Women Usually Think They Want To Be Like Them At First,
However When Women Adore Men, They Think They Must Like Them.28 The Likelihood That A Student Would Find Their Professor Attractive Is Determined By “Gendered Socialization,” Not By An Underlying Biological Difference Between Women And Men, According To Srinivasan.29 Thus,
Interactions Between Professors And Students Serve As An Example Of How “A Practice Which Is Consensual Can Also Be Systematically Damaging.”30 So, Given That Mandatory Heterosexuality So Often Defines Who, How, And What We Want, How Might Women Reroute Their Impulses In Positive Directions? For Many Women, Receiving An Academic Education Entails Learning How To Identify The Symptoms Of Forced Heterosexuality And Rearranging Your Life As A Result Of What You Have Learnt.
However, I Believe That Srinivasan’s Fundamental Claim Is That Individuals Who Currently Hold Positions Of Authority, Like Male Professors, Have A Higher Duty To Examine Their Wants Than Do The Women Who Look Up To Them. However, Because Of The Framework Of Required Heterosexuality, Women’s Desires Are Shaped By Societal Standards, Which In Turn Obstruct Their Ability To Exercise Agency Over Them.
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