chapter  27
10 Pages

Compulsory Able-Bodiedness and Queer/Disabled Existence

The critique that Rich calls for proceeds not through a simple recognition or even valuation of ‘‘lesbian existence’’ but rather through an interrogation of how the system of compulsory heterosexuality utilizes that existence. Indeed, I would extract from her suspicionofmere ‘‘toleration’’ confirmation for the idea that one of the ways in which heterosexuality is currently constituted or founded, established as the foundational sexual identity for women, is precisely throughthedeploymentof lesbianexistence as always and everywhere supplementarythe margin to heterosexuality’s center, the mere reflection of (straight and gay) patriarchal realities. Compulsory heterosexuality’s casting of some identities as alternatives ironically buttresses the ideological notion that dominant identities are not really alternatives but rather the natural order of things.1