I’m reading Jane Sexes It Up right now, and one of the essays in that collection made me think of something I hadn’t in a long time – that extremely uncomfortable feeling you can get as a little girl around grown men, when they’re joking or talking about something you don’t quite get. It might be sex, it might not be, but there’s a fear and discomfort there whose origins I wonder at. Do we have some innate understanding of the sexual and the shameful as children, even if we don’t understand it?
I read a quote that struck me yesterday, from lesbian activist Kathleen Sadaat: “There is a violence in not being able to live your life, and whether you are ever actually struck by someone is not the only issue. Anything that pushed you toward being less than human, anything that tells you you are not a part of the human family, is a violent act.”
What a powerful statement. This is why I crave lesbian discussion groups, conscious-raising, etc (unfortunately not available in my area). I just want to believe that I am part of the human family, and though I know intellectually that there are others like me, and even know other lesbians, the lack of lesbian representation in the media, in news, in literature, etc., is something that I think is very subconsciously powerful. These messages say “you are different. You are not wanted.” Whenever I write a paper arguing that LGBT people are just like everyone else, that we deserve rights, a voice in my head is saying, “no you don’t. You’re an animal. What makes you human? What says that those people aren’t right, that you’re not sinning, that you aren’t less than they are?” Where does this voice come? Nowhere conscious, that’s for sure. I was never taught these things, and never believed them, but somewhere I do.
The same is true when it comes to this latent fear of men and masculinity I’ve apparently been carrying around without knowing about it. I don’t know that it’s there, but when it surfaces, it’s violent, and it will take no prisoners. I read a post by a kinky lesbian blogger today and my reaction to some of her comments was abject fear. Why? I understand the sentiment behind her feelings (she’s a top, incidentally) and I see why others might want to be put in a submissive position for those reasons. But emotionally, I reacted strongly to it. If I trust someone with that part of me, will they break me? Can I trust anyone? And why am I afraid of all this? It doesn’t make sense, intellectually. I’ve never been raped, harassed, or sexually abused. There are no skeletons in my closet. Men have never given me reason to fear them, nor have aggressive women. The only answer I have is that it’s socialized. Maybe one day if I make enough money I’ll look for a therapist.