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Leading with Who You Are: The Misunderstood Calling of the Submitted Wife

November 16, 2022
By Rosaria Butterfield

Editor’s note: The following essay appears in the Fall 2022 issue of Eikon.

When I first started to read the Bible, twenty-five years ago, I had a deep fear of it and of God’s people. I knew the Bible could change me. I was a lesbian feminist activist professor and I was not interested in change.

The church I first attended was pastored by Ken Smith, a Reformed Presbyterian pastor who was in his mid 70s. I was in this church because I trusted him. Our friendship was two years in the making at the time I stepped foot in church.[1]

In a Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, there is no way to dodge the word of God. There was never a Lord’s Day where the pastor took some time off to let the interpretive dance group use their gifts. Not even in worship music can you find reprieve: the word of God was surround-sound, not only in the expositorily preached word but also in song, where Psalms are sung a cappella and exclusively. I learned later that something called the Regulative Principle of Worship maintained this faithful consistency.[2]

The first time I heard Psalm 113 was in church. I took great offense to it, and because God used my offense for my good, this Psalm became a turning point in my life. It was 1999, and I was sporting a butch haircut and extra piercings in my right ear — because back in the day, left was right (straight), and right was wrong (gay). I stood in a pew in the Syracuse Reformed Presbyterian Church seeking a God who would accept me as I was. Floy Smith, the pastor’s wife, stood at my side. Floy, a woman who could bridge worlds, brushed me with her shoulder before we started to sing. “God is making you His beautiful trophy, my dear,” she whispered in my ear, the one with the extra piercings. My reflex was recoil. Pastor Ken Smith told us to open our Psalters to Psalm 113A. From his open Bible, he read the Psalm through once, so we could get a lay of the land.

Like many things that have caught me off guard, this Psalm started on what I perceived to be safe ground. A song of praise to a God who must stoop to examine his creation: he lowers himself to survey the stars, the moon, and the sun. He makes no bones about his authority over creation, and then he makes dead bones live. He tells the mountains to stand, and they obey without backtalk. He even bends low enough to build up men and women, extending love to the loveless, dignity to the depraved, and family to the refugee. I jumped in with mouth wide open:

Praise the Lord’s name, praise the Lord!
Praise Him servants of the Lord;
May the Lord’s Name blessed be
Now and to eternity
Now and to eternity.

Voices raised in perfect four-part harmony. The people in this church had been singing Psalms together for years — decades for some. Many sang from memory, in perfect sync. It was captivating. The Psalm continued:

Dawn to dusk from east to west,
Let the Lord’s great name be blessed
Over nations lifted high,
LORD Your glory crowns the sky!
LORD Your glory crowns the sky!

The intensity of what “praising” God entails hit hard. (Psalm-singing is different from human-composed praise and worship music, with its repeated, contextless, emotional phrase to which you could attach absolutely anything). What does it mean that God is above the nations? All the nations? Isn’t that dangerous Christian nationalism? What happened to the separation of church and state?

The Psalm goes on to make big claims about God being the Lord and being separate from his creation. I was a Unitarian Universalist at this point in my life, and “my” God was one with the universe, not separate from it. I loathed hierarchy — except the hierarchy that put me in charge of my students, of course. I believed that spirituality is internal and that all creatures were sacred. My cultish affection for Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha had never dissipated since high school. Psalm 113 was so black and white.  As a queer critical-theorist and soon-to-be tenured radical, I recoiled against any “binary opposition.” The Psalm went on:

Who is like the Lord our God alone?
High in heav’n the Lord’s enthroned;
But he condescends to know
Things in heav’n and earth below.
Things in heav’n and earth below.

I pondered these words. Why is worship so exclusive to this church? I had always thought of worship as a serene walk by the Ithaca gourds or Murphy’s Island. The Psalm goes on:

From the dust he lifts the poor
Makes the needy grieve no more
Those he raised up from the pit
With his people’s princes sit
With his people’s princes sit.

I pondered this. Does God lift up the poor? Not all of the poor? What about the people left behind? And from what “pit” does God lift people? Poverty? Oppression? The pit of hell? And what does “his people” mean? Do these people really believe that God sends some people to hell and spares others? The idea that God does not love everyone the same seemed so unfair, even prejudiced. I was glad that we only had one stanza left to go. How much worse could it get? I mused.

He the barren woman takes
and a joyful mother makes;
In her home she finds reward.
Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!
Hallelujah! Praise the Lord![3]

The crescendo verse brought everything to a place of pure panic. I choked mid-verse and stopped singing after “in her home she finds reward.” Pastor Smith closed the psalm with this reminder: “If we look to God in repentance and place our hope for salvation in Christ alone, we are ransomed by the blood of Christ. We become sons and daughters of the King! Christian men and women serving God together according to God’s pattern for the sexes.”

Whoa!  Good grief! What in the world did he mean by this? I wondered. Does he really think that there is a “unique” way to be a woman in the world, separate from being a man? I believed that men and women were interchangeable in all ways. I believed the diametric opposite of what this Psalm proclaimed.

I had warred against patriarchy for decades. As the daughter of a feminist, I took up my destiny with pride. In addition to my lesbian identity, my feminist identity grounded me in everything I valued. I was not a man-hater. I had women friends who were sexually partnered with men. In college I had boyfriends. And I appreciated male-female relationships that valued unity, interdependence, and mutual service. I lamented male-female relationships that called for a woman’s submission, even if voluntary.  Indeed, my feminist commitments declared any male-female sexual relationship that rejected sameness and called for a wife’s submission to her husband as foundational to rape culture. What God called good, I called rape.

The whole Psalm got under my skin, but that last stanza was unthinkable. “In her home she finds reward”? Absurd! How could anyone find reward as a homemaker where no one can regard and celebrate her work? How could the world appreciate her gifts? Where could she exercise her voice? I even struggled to understand what this verse could mean. Would anyone aspire to work at home as a homemaker? Wasn’t that the 1950s default employed to keep women enslaved to men? Not even my own mother was a “homemaker.” She had a job that kept her away from home for all the years I could remember. Wasn’t “homemaking” a sign of failure? When asked, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” what girl says, “homemaker”? Apart from this small church, I realized I did not know anyone on planet Earth who was a homemaker.

After the service, I was still mulling over this verse. And so, I asked the pastor’s wife.  And then I asked the elders’ wives. And then I asked some other trusted women in the church. No one apologized for this verse.

Instead, Floy and the other women told me that every word of God is good. This line spoke of real women reflecting their relationship to Jesus by their resemblance to Jesus. It captures the covenant promise God gave to Abraham and Sarah (Gen 17:15-21; Isa 54). My friends told me plainly that a mother finding reward in her home portrays God’s compassion on the solitary. They told me that Psalm 113 highlights the complementarity of husbands and wives in a harmony of obedience that pointed to the second coming of Christ. Floy, the pastor’s wife, said that this verse does not prohibit women from having a job outside of the home, but it does mean that any outside job needs to build up and not tear down the family. I pondered this. I had colleagues at the University who lived apart from their husbands and children for six months of the year. I had one colleague whose daughters and husband lived halfway around the globe. My colleagues at the University often chose professoriate over progeny. I pondered this.

Floy suggested that I situate this verse in the context of the creation ordinance — Genesis 1:26–28 and the fall of man — Genesis 3:16. Scripture interprets scripture. The gospel is in the garden. (Aside: these women in this church were readers — they were biblically literate and they understood how to handle a text. Apart from the English department, I had never met a population of people so committed to reading. I wonder if future generations will say that about us?)

And so, with the help of faithful Christian women I started to study these passages. I studied Genesis 1:27: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”. I beheld the dignity of this verse: that both men and women derive their image from God. The order of creation made the point: the sexes are equal in essence and different in social roles. Everything in my body and brain screamed, “Wrong!”O Even so, a hole in my heart craved covering by God and the covenant of church and family.

Then my friends walked me through Genesis 3:16, God’s curse on Eve: “To the woman he said, ‘I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception. In pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.’” This verse was not easy to untangle. It became more manageable when I read it next to the parallel verse in Genesis 4:7: “Sin lies at the door, and its desire is for you,” God tells Cain. “But you should rule over it.” The literary echoes exposed how sin distorted everything — including relationships between husbands and wives. It started to make sense that sin’s entrance into the world produced a collision of wills within marriage. I wondered: which story is true? Is a wife’s submission to her husband part of the blessing of creation or part of the curse?

Over time, as the Holy Spirit was working on my heart and mind, I started to see the logic in God’s love and God’s order. And if God’s love came first, then God’s law could not be some 1970’s rallying cry or some 1950’s cultural trap. Instead, God’s law presented itself as a logical interpretation of what total depravity reveals about my heart’s gravitational pull. The sin that Adam, our federal head, imputed to all would vex our will to do what God wants — both personally and relationally. And what does God want? He wants his first fruits — men and women — to cherish and triumph in his creation ordinance and his created order. Even as I railed against Psalm 113, some deep part of me recognized God’s word as good — truly, uniquely, separately, good.  God’s word was real as rain to me, even as I tried to push it away.

Psalm 113 started a war in my heart that needed to be fought to the death.

If the creation order came before the fall of Adam and not because of it, then a wife’s submission in the Lord to her godly husband is part of the creation order, like it or not.  (And I didn’t). This meant that biblical marriage was both good and normative.

What did this mean for me as a lesbian in a committed relationship? Was I just an outsider looking in? What does this mean for Christian women who are single? Psalm 113 raised questions that demanded answers.

I first tried to answer these questions from within the text of the Bible. Psalm 113 pressed me to see my lesbianism in the light of both scripture and feminism. I did nott just find women sexually attractive; I found the whole worldview of queer theory and third-wave feminism inspiring, meaningful, and life-giving. I believed in a world where distinctions must be eliminated so that the sacred and divine nature of people could be finally realized. But Psalm 113 said something else entirely. If Psalm 113 was true, then I was heading in the wrong direction. Like a cancer patient weighing therapies, I feared the cure as much as the disease.

Each time we sang Psalm 113 in corporate worship, I relived this internal war. Each time I sang Psalm 113, it exposed something new about my priorities and values. When Psalm singing is part of your daily Bible reading, Scripture sings with sublime sovereignty.

Lesbianism reflected how I felt. But as a thinking person, I realized that lesbianism was more than a set of feelings and desires. What does my lesbianism mean, both biblically and culturally? Can a person be a lesbian and be a Christian, in desire or deed? No.  Lesbianism in light of Scripture is a rejection of the cosmology (the nature of the universe) of creation. Calling lesbianism good meant denying that God planted the seeds of the gospel in the garden. That made me think. If lesbianism in light of Scripture is a rejection of the creation order, then I cannot have my lesbian identity and Christ.

While meditating on this Psalm, I considered how my homosexuality was tightly woven into certain feminist predispositions that, while not sinful in themselves, served me well as a lesbian. I exuded boldness and strength rather than gentleness and kindness.  Christians are, of course, called to be bold and strong, but the ease with which I applied these attributes became something of a set up for me, a set up for sin and not submission. My feminist worldview valued boldness and strength and regarded gentleness and kindness as weak, reserved for only safe spaces, and dangerous in any patriarchal hierarchy. I pondered this. Again, friends from church were there at my side, reminding me that the fruit of the Spirit calls for “love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal 5:22–23). Christians sure are a mixed bag of unusual virtues, I thought.

I went back and forth like this for months, asking the same questions to both of my communities — my church community and my lesbian one. I respected women from both places, and I listened intently and weighed their answers. But always after talking with my Christian friends, we would pray. Or sing a Psalm. I straddled two incommensurable worlds.

They represented not just different sides of a coin, but different coins. We were not all in the same forest looking at different trees from different angles. We were in different forests altogether.

It was shocking to realize that my lesbianism was truly a sin. How in the world does one do battle with something that just feels like normal life? My friends from church talked about biblical patterns of addition and subtraction, about repentance and grace. Seeing my lesbianism as God sees it required embracing God’s intent for me to live out all the attributes of the fruit of the Spirit, not just the ones that I liked. I started to pray. I started to pray that God would make a godly woman. I stared at myself in the mirror as I prayed this prayer the first time, my butch haircut and piercings mocking my words. I told no one about this prayer.

The women in the church continued to encourage me to search the scriptures for answers. They firmly believed that the Bible was a living book and that it knew me better than I knew myself. They told me that godly womanhood was not a cookie-cutter recipe where women lose their unique identity, but rather a particular application of God’s grace to me, with the word of truth molding the clay of my heart. The women in my church told me that God intended to make me a godly woman and that I indeed would recognize myself as he molded the clay of my heart and life.

And so it was that Psalm 113 changed my life. It changed my life through its audacious offense. Its offenses drove me to commit my life to Jesus.

I broke up with my lesbian partner, and we started the painful process of dividing up a life — dogs and dishes and a house. My church friends carried me through this. They did not meddle, but they also did not leave me to figure out all of this by myself.

About a year after my conversion, I noticed my affections changing. I started to embrace my role as a single Christian woman and church member. I did not stop cold turkey feeling like a lesbian. Not at all. But I did register lesbian desires as sinful acts in need of repentance, not morally neutral attributes of homosexual orientation. No one told me to “pray the gay away.” Because every sermon told me to drive a fresh nail into every sin every day, no one needed to.

I started to commit to memory the Westminster Shorter Catechism:

35: What is sanctification?

A: Sanctification is the work of God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God and are enabled more and more to die until sin and live unto righteousness.

Instead of lesbianism being who I was, I now understood it as both a lack of righteousness and a willful transgressive action. We repent of sin by hating it, killing it, turning from it, but also by “adding” the virtue of God’s word. It is light that changes darkness. We mortify and we vivify.[4] I realized that Christians are given a new nature — they do not have competing natures within them. Colossians 3:10 puts it like this: “you have put off the old man with his deeds and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge, according to the image of [God].” This verse told me that if I am a Christian, lesbianism is part of my biography, not my nature, regardless of how I feel inside. Progressive sanctification is real.

I poured my heart out to God, asking that he help me become a godly woman. Floy suggested I look around for young mothers in the church who need help and offer to make some meals or do some dishes. I took her advice.

My only experience with babies and small children at the time was what I learned in their homes. I had never held a baby in my life until this time. Nonetheless, I discovered that I loved helping new mothers. I soon found myself at home in the world of holding babies and entertaining toddlers and cooking meals for families. I learned so much during that time. I learned that I enjoyed watching children grow. It seemed so strange to me that young mothers wanted my company. Some even wanted my advice. These women wanted me — me! — to pray for them and sing Psalms to their children. I had no idea that I was a nurturing person, a gentle woman. I took up my role as an older friend with a glee that surprised me. I was fascinated by how their households worked, by how much went into keeping a home and homeschooling children.

After a while, God gave me another desire: to be a godly wife to a godly husband and to submit to him, to help him in his work, and, if God willed, to be a mother of children.  Another year fraught with strife and turmoil followed,[5] and then I met Kent Butterfield.  The Lord knitted our hearts together, and Kent proposed marriage.[6] I have now been married to Kent for over two decades and the Lord has used Kent more than any other person on earth to show me God’s love and purpose. Kent is my husband, but he is also my pastor. No one had ever wanted to protect me before the Lord brought Kent into my life.

Our engagement forced many decisions. One was what to do with my professional life.  I wanted to be Kent’s helper, but was that what God wanted for me? Was it right or wrong to leave my profession? I was also a tenured professor at a tier-two research institution. Would it not be a greater win for the Kingdom of God to have a tenured Christian professor in the world than to have another homemaker in the church?

At the time the Lord brought Kent into my life, I stood at the mouth of three divergent paths, three opposing life directions, and three mutually exclusive options that would unmistakably shape me. I could return to Syracuse University as a tenured professor of English. I could stay at Geneva College and accept a position in administrative leadership, likely becoming the academic dean. Or I could marry Kent Butterfield and become a homemaker and a church planter’s wife. The first path was familiar. The second path was recognizable. The third path was unimaginable. Immediately, well-meaning people started to weigh in.

How could I turn away from the university work the Lord had already prepared me to do? Couldn’t I see God’s amazing timing in this, preparing me to take up my role as a senior tenured professor and Christian in a powerful institution, exercising influence and speaking truth to power? How did I know God was calling me to marry Kent? Isn’t it sinful not to use my gifts? What about the books I would never (presumably) write?  What about the life of the mind that I would never (presumably) have? What about the audience of students who would never (presumably) hear my voice? And what about me? As one sister put it, “Do you really need a Ph.D. in hermeneutics to change diapers?”

The Lord led me to marry Kent and become a homemaker and a church planter’s wife.

Yes, it was hard to give up my professional life. Yes, I needed to learn new skills to be a church planter’s wife. During the early days of the church plant, my first job Lord’s Day morning was to clean the restrooms at the Purcellville Community Center, where our church met for worship. Saturday night at the community center was Open Men’s Basketball. Enough said. I took up my lot in Psalm 84:10-style — “I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, then to dwell in the tents of wickedness”.

I was thirty-nine years old when I married Kent and unable to bear children. The Lord allowed us to adopt four children, including two teenagers out of foster care. Adopting children, especially older children with histories of abuse, required new skills, greater faith, and firmly solidified the vital importance of being a homemaker. Our older children were in perpetual crisis and keeping them safe was a fulltime job.

Today, the ages of my children span sixteen to thirty-four. The older children broke the cycle that had held them in dangerous crisis and the younger children are thriving as strong Christians and covenant members of the church. Today, I spend my days homeschooling my two youngest children, being a helper to Kent, and teaching high school English Literature and Writing in my classical Christian homeschool co-op. I have spent joyful years with my grandson, even homeschooling him during the covid school shutdown. I have also managed to write a few books and engage the culture on the frontlines of a few pivotal cultural issues.

Taking care of my children provides a weight, a way to balance and measure the other good things to which God calls me. My husband provides a covering and boundary.  God has blessed and imbued both husband and children in such a way that my life has balance and momentum, boundary and covering. Far from holding me back, my role as a submitted wife to a godly husband has given me liberty and purpose.

Psalm 113 has carried me full circle. Decades ago, I railed against patriarchy and the Bible, seeing submission of any kind as a recipe for abuse. Today, I believe with all of my heart and mind that the safest place in the world for a woman is as a member of a Bible-believing church, protected and covered by God through the means of faithful elders and pastors and, if God wills, under the protective care of a godly husband.

My life is open to scrutiny. One of the fair criticisms of my choosing the role of a submitted wife over and against returning to Syracuse to serve as an English professor is that in doing so, I am showing my support of biblical patriarchy. Guilty as charged.  But let’s be clear: I do not support biblical patriarchy because of the belief that men are good. I embrace biblical patriarchy because men are not good (Jer 17:9).  Because men are not good, I am grateful to encourage and stand behind a godly redeemed man who defends and protects the church and his family against ravaging wolves.

When I was first asked to address this topic, I was charged with the task of answering these questions: What is the thing that has been all consuming in your life, your passion? What is the thing God has placed uniquely in your life to draw you to Him that you can now use to lead in your area of influence? I was told that the frame of my paper was “Leading from my Home.”

But before I was able to deliver my paper, I was told that some were “triggered” by my title. It was too narrow. What about the single ladies? Or the widows? Or the abuse survivors? The concern was that my talk would make people feel left out. Let’s reason through this together. The Body of Christ has no second-class citizens. Indeed, those who are blessed to be the wife of a godly husband have great bandwidth to serve widows and orphans, and to lock arms with single sisters who join our family as sisters, aunts, and grandmothers. Those who are single have more time and freedom to serve the church. The church is the family of God, and there are no second-class citizens in God’s family.

So if you are offended by a lecture that calls you to appreciate the often-misunderstood calling of a submitted wife, then I am gently calling you to examine your heart and repent. The gospel of Jesus Christ is not about you — or me. It is not about affirming your calling — or affirming mine. It is about God. And in God’s economy, the creation ordinance is at the center of the gospel, not the periphery. Children are not a trifling consequence of individual people living out their “sexual orientation.” The Christian family is about “the kingdom of our world …becom[ing] the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever” (Rev 11:15).

You know me. You have seen me on the front line for the past decade. You have seen me deal with a mob of protesters. You know that I have written books and have faced the world’s hot anger. What you might not know is that everything I do — including my public work — is done under my husband’s covering and authority. It is done for the good of my family. In every public encounter, I am handing down a faith-legacy to my children. The world our children will inherit is fanatically deceived.  It is a world where, in just the past year alone, a candidate for the Supreme Court cannot define the meaning of the word “woman” while a man can win the NCAA women’s swim championship. The Bible is always true, even when it offends, and it is certainly truer than the mass hysteria of our world.

I conclude with my sincere prayers and Christian love, knowing that God’s providence is meant for your good, even God’s hard providences. I want to encourage you and invite you to look afresh at your calling. Are you a biblically married woman? Then submit to your husbands in the Lord and open your arms and homes wide and include your single sisters as the aunts and grandmothers of the church. Are you single? Do you desire a husband? Then pray that the Lord will make you a submissive wife to the godly husband that God himself has chosen. Be productive in your single years as you wait upon the Lord. Are you an older single woman? Then support your Titus 2 calling to encourage younger women to love and respect their husbands well and so adorn the doctrines of God (Titus 2:1–10). To God be the glory!

Rosaria Butterfield is a pastor’s wife, homeschool mom, and author of The Gospel Comes with a Housekey (Crossway, 2018) and Five Lies of our Anti-Christian Age (Crossway, forthcoming 2023).

[1] I describe this in The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor’s Journal into Christian Faith.  Pittsburgh: Crown and Covenant Publications, 2012.

[2] The Regulative Principle of Worship understands worship of God as regulated by Scripture. Embraced by Reformed and Presbyterian churches, it declares that whatever is not commanded in Scripture is prohibited in worship. While there are differences in how this principle is practiced among different branches of Reformed and Presbyterian churches, it is generally contrasted from the Normative Principle of Worship which welcomes anything that is not prohibited in scripture. The Regulative Principle of Worship sets not only a barrier to unbiblical worship practices, but it also sets a holy aesthetic in the church. As Pastor Barry York teaches, worship regulated by Scripture in turn regulates God’s people. While by no means a “magic bullet,” the Regulative Principle of Worship provides a much more useful tool to discern the seriousness of a conflict than that offered by “theological triage” concept (Gavin Ortlund, Finding the Right Hills to Die On: The Case for Theological Triage (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2020).  Using the triage method has relegated all divisions in the church to a third tier, constantly deferring things that don’t rank.  But the Regulative Principle of Worship gives primary attention to anything that is out of God’s order. Under the Regulative Principle of Worship, human reason does not dictate priority for confrontation; God’s word does.

[3] The Book of Psalms for Worship. Pittsburgh: Crown and Covenant Publications, 2009.

[4] Biblically speaking, repentance consists of the following: seeing sin as sin (Luke 15:17), having sorrow for sin (Ps 51:17, Luke 19:8), Confessing sin (Neh 9:2; 1 Cor 11:31), Feeling shame for sin (Luke 15:21), Hating your sin (Ps 119:104; Rom 7: 15–23), and turning from sin (Eph 5:8; Isa 55:7).

[5] I discuss this in The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor’s Journey into Christian Faith. (Pittsburgh: Crown and Covenant Publications, 2012).

[6] I share this personal history with you not because I am trying to win an argument using my personal feelings and experiences. It is the Word of God alone that witnesses to the truth. I dated men in college.  In graduate school, when I met my first lesbian lover, I felt like I had come home to myself. And then I met the Lord and started to do battle with the sin of lesbianism. I realize some people reading my story may be quick to dismiss it, since I “only” lived as a lesbian for a decade. I’m grateful that the Lord gave me a way of escape and that I was not trapped in that sin for any longer than I was. I narrowly escaped and have the Lord and my church to thank for that. I am daily grateful that the Lord brought me to repentance. I realize that for some faithful Christians, the battle against homosexual lust is harder and longer than mine. The Lord knows how hard desires of the flesh are, and how it feels like you have a civil war going on inside of you. The Apostle Paul gives us these words of comfort: “the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do” (Gal 5:17). In other words, the battle is part of the victory. My generation of lesbianism came out of the paradigm reflected by the late poet Adrienne Rich — that heterosexuality was compulsory and therefore many women’s lesbian lives were erased. She made a full case for this in “Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence,” originally published in 1980 in Blood, Bread, and Poetry: Selected Prose 1979-1985 (New York: W.W. Norton, 1986, reissued 1994).

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