As discussed in class, compulsory heterosexuality is defined as the viewing of heterosexuality as the norm and anything else is considered deviant from this norm. Rich is quoted saying,
Feminist theory can no longer afford merely to voice a toleration of “lesbianism” as an “alternative life-style,” or make token allusion to lesbians.
The point is for everyone to be treated the same way, regardless of one’s orientation. However in contemporary society, we still see Rich’s belief of compulsory heterosexuality for women in people who have a traditionalist view. This idea can stem from the unwillingness to change our beliefs.
In the beginning of this year talk show host, Ellen, was announced to become the new spokesperson for JC Penney. An issue arose where one group of people were against this decision. They were quoted saying,
By jumping on the pro-gay bandwagon, JC Penney is attempting to gain a new target market and in the process will lose customers with traditional values that have been faithful to them over all these years… The majority of JC Penney shoppers will be offended and choose to no longer shop there.
JC Penney ultimately made their decision and kept Ellen as their spokesperson. This shows us that even in today’s society, there are still people who are unable to accept people who are not heterosexual.
Gays and Lesbians face similar problems especially when it comes to heterosexism, a discrimination of anything other than the “norm”. A gay couple, Barrett Greene and Thomas Eng, sued a restaurant canceled their wedding reception and rehearsal by citing it as “bad for feng shui.” This intolerance is still occurring anywhere and everywhere. What do we need to do in order for everyone to begin to accept all kinds of orientations as the norm? How do begin to accept everyone for who they are?
Caputi mentions that U.S. society is a society and culture obsessed with sexualized images of the murder of women. In The Sexual Politics of Murder Caputi says,
The murders of women and children—including torture and murder by husbands, lovers, and fathers, as well as that committed by strangers—are not some inexplicable evil or the domain of “monsters” only. On the contrary, sexual murder is the ultimate expression of sexuality as a form of power.
The last sentence stood out a lot because it sounds as if it were a justification of sexual murders. In the documentary Defending Our Lives, it surprised me that the police would not do anything when a woman calls 911 to report about domestic violence. The most often heard quote from these women was, “When the cops came and heard it was my husband/boyfriend who beat me, they would just say ‘I can’t do anything about it, I didn’t see anything.” Law enforcement not acting out to protect these women who have clearly been beaten, just encourages the attacker to become a repeat offender and act even more violently. For them, the act of raping and beating someone may be a form of assertion, an act of dominance.
Recently, David Albert Mitchell raped a 73 year-old birdwatcher as an act of retaliation. By overpowering and raping the birdwatcher, Mitchell used these actions as a way to show off his sexuality and power.
The Internet has done a few things to transform violence against women through different advocacy sites. In addition, the media can often be seen spreading awareness and quoting advocates speaking out against these violent acts.