This paper presents the life history of one older woman, Jean, and engages with feminist debates about the nature of women’s agency within institutionalised heterosexuality. As the data show, Jean grew up within an environment organised according to the principle of heterosexuality, at the levels of family, peer group and the local community. Her account indicates that while Jean inhabited the categories of heterosexuality, she still resisted many of its aspects. The paper concludes with data which require us to consider the contradictory situation of women whose lives adhere to the characteristics of hegemonic heterosexuality, yet for whom heterosexuality is a self-directed system of thought and practice.