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Blog 8

Both Koedt in The Myth of the Vaginal Orgasm, and Rich in Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence address that women's sexuality and the ways in which they are allowed to think about their sexuality are defined by patriarchy and heterosexuality. They both call for an adjustment of the system where women and their rights and desires can be acknowledged.

Koedt does this by addressing the physical act of sex and how it is the clitoris, not the vagina that is the "center of sexual sensitivity". Because men orgasm through friction with the vagina, a myth has been perpetuated that women should also orgasm through the vagina, and that there is something wrong with those that don’t. The fact that women orgasm through the clitoris, and therefore do not require a penis for sexual satisfaction disrupts the patriarchal values that govern the act of sex (“real sex? means vaginal penetration by the penis, men’s desires are the most important, women are defined by how they benefit men, etc.). The “expendable penis? means women can benefit from either male or female lovers, which Koedt argues makes heterosexuality an option, not an absolute. Therefore, she says sexuality must be redefined so that guidelines are established for “mutual sexual enjoyment?.

Rich also addresses the problems with heterosexuality as an absolute. Heterosexuality needs to be recognized as a political institution, not a preference or an innate part of a person. The “lesbian continuum? acknowledges not only sexual relationships between women, but the experiences throughout their lives that women have with each other. Because of this, and specific oppressions women face, lesbianism cannot be equated as the female version of male homosexuality. The “lesbian continuum? can be used to adjust the institution of heterosexuality (not necessarily overthrow it) so that we can recognize that heterosexuality is not the only option, and allow choice in relationships and sexual desire.