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Possible to Stay and Fight After All

I’m a Bisexual woman in my mid-40s. I’ve discharged for many hours on what led to my taking on1 this sexual identity—both the early loneliness and sexual abuse and the desire to live a life bigger than the limited options I saw before me in the heterosexual life I was expected to live. I wanted to be close to both men and women, and not have to pull back on caring for my female friends in favor of finding a man to marry. In this way, taking on a Gay identity was a revolutionary act, a stand against the oppressive society that tells us that we cannot be close to people of our own gender, and certainly cannot have primary relationships with them.

Also, male domination had left me feeling hopeless about having any kind of relationship with men in which I wasn’t crushed by sexism, and furious at men for how the relationships I’d had with them had been hard to sustain. Watching my mother crumble under sexism and experience harsh “mental health” oppression when she showed her upset made me determined to never succumb to the role of “wife” or “girlfriend.” At the same time, sexual abuse when I was an infant had left me with longings for men and feelings that I had to please them.  All of this made being alone with a man in a romantic partnership very difficult to handle, but I wasn’t ready or willing to give up completely on men. Part of the Bisexual identity was about having a pressure valve, a back door of women to escape to, when it got too hard with men, even if sometimes the option was only in my mind.

Discharging on how upset I am about sexism has not been easy. It feels like I’m more angry than any of my female Co-Counselors, and that my objective should be to discharge my anger so I can go back to taking care of men and never challenge their sexist patterns in the present. Gay workshops have been a good place to go after2 these feelings without getting caught up in the “there’s something wrong with me for being upset about this” recordings.3 

Last month at the Gay Jews Workshop4 I had a powerful session. On Saturday afternoon we divided into small men’s and women’s groups to work on sexism and male domination. In my turn in the women’s group, I felt like I had to leave. I was walking around the room, with my counselor following close behind me, as I tried to put obstacles (mostly chairs) in her way. She moved in close and asked me to stay, while I yelled and screamed at her and felt like if I didn’t get out of there I would die. I suspected that I was working on an early incident of sexual abuse but by the end of my time could tell5 that I was also working on the whole of male domination and how it has seemed unfaceable. During and after that session I got a bit hopeful that maybe it’s possible to stay and fight after all.

“Nancy Drew”

Brooklyn, New York, USA

Reprinted from the RC e-mail discussion list for leaders of women

(Present Time 171, April 2013)


Last modified: 2020-07-17 20:50:52+00