Heterosexuality is generally taken for granted, seldom explicitly addressed. Rarely has it been the focus of sustained theory. This Reader is a forum for the analysis of heterosexuality as it relates to feminism and psychology.
Leading feminists, psychologists and activists explore the personal and political implications of heterosexuality and of heterosexuality as an institution. They consider the extent to which feminism and heterosexuality are compatible and the complex interrelationships between sexual behaviour, categories and identities. Acknowledging the interactions between heterosexism and other oppressions, they point to the contradictions between heterosexual desire and heterosexual coercion, between heterosexual privilege and women's traditional role within the family.
This Reader is based on articles published in the first three volumes of Feminism & Psychology, particularly the Special Issue on Heterosexuality (Volume 2 Number 3, October 1992) and also includes eight specially-commissioned pieces.
`Both psychology and, for the most part, feminist theory, have tended to assume heterosexuality as "a given". Heterosexuality needs to become a "serious target for analysis and political action", because, quoting Adrienne Rich, heterosexuality is `a political institution which disempowers women'. These arguments provide the explicit and powerful rationale for focusing an entire issue on the attempt to theorise heterosexuality... this volume graphically recognises and registers the need to address heterosexuality as a political institution which oppresses women. In doing so, it represents an opportunity to address the continuing difficulties of understanding and criticising heterosexuality over and beyond our sexual and domestic arrangements' - Trouble and Strife
`A unique and exciting reader... Wilkinson and Kitzinger, as lesbian feminist psychologists, are in an interesting position from which to view heterosexuality. From the vantage point of "the other" they are able to disentangle the experiences of heterosexual feminists from what is the, until now, unexamined normative existence of the `Generic Women'... an important addition to feminist scholarship about women's sexuality. Within an historical context where early books on oppressed groups were written by members of dominant groups, we find it refreshing to see two lesbian feminists taking the lead with heterosexuality and feminism and recruiting heterosexuals to bring "unexamined heterocentricity" into the light' - Contemporary Psychology
`A bold and innovative collection of essays that deposes heterosexuality from its dominant, assumed status and treats it as a problematic category in need of examination and explanation... It is a book that challenges the reader to examine their beliefs and assumptions, as well as to think critically about a typically assumed and therefore silent identity. Heterosexuality has spawned a plethora of questions in my mind and left me with an insatiable appetite to know more. Perhaps this, better than anything, is a successful measure of the provocative and innovative nature of this project' - Archives of Sexual Behavior
`a marvelous blend of autobiography and theory, the story and the story unravelled - the readers, like the authors, will confront the taken-for-granted and grow from the experience' - Barbara Katz Rothman, City University of New York and author of Recreating Motherhood
`This innovative and challenging volume makes a new space for exploring heterosexuality. We learn how heterosexuality is more than sex and how it permeates, or constrains, our intellectual as well as our personal and political practice' - Jill Morawski, Wesleyan University
`One of the book's great strengths is that it comes from women's own understanding of their lives and their sexuality... All are strong, articulate women who enhance our awareness of our own feelings and experiences' - Maggie Humm, University of East London and Co-Chair of British Women's Studies Association
`a brave project. The material is very rich. Heterosexuality and heterosexism are highlighted from many angles cross-cutting racial, ethnic and class boundaries. Many women will love to read this. It confronts heterosexual women with the implications of an identity they otherwise take for granted' - Philomena Essed, University of Amsterdam
`a provocative, infuriating, inspiring and challenging set of essays and revelations! I heartily commend this volume to anyone who is interested in the remarkable range of human sexualities, and in confounding the dualisms of gender and the dualisms of sexuality that plague and divide us ' - Carol Tavris, author of The Mismeasure of Woman
`An exciting exploration of the `choice' of heterosexuality and its implications for women's lives and feminist politics - developing theory at the cutting edge' - Shere Hite, author of The Hite Reports