chapter  14
18 Pages

The Self in Orientation: Issues of Female Homosexuality: Betsy Kassoff

I want to begin by telling you a story. Less than a decade ago, a young self psychologist made a pilgrimage to a faraway seashore. It was summer. She went to learn more about her work from famous teachers who came from all over the world to this celebrated seaside. There would be classes in the morning and then everyone who wanted could go to the ocean in the afternoon. The young self psychologist was quite impressed by the teachers and the gathering. She had come with her partner, also a self psychologist, also a woman, and they decided to go to different workshops and then to come back together. After the first day of classes, they met in their room and decided quickly to drive to one of a number of nearby beaches frequented by their people, the women who love women and the men who love men. They both were quiet until they reached a place on the shore where, as far as they could see, women's heads touched women's heads and male knees knocked casually against each other. Then they both breathed a sigh of relief and turned to each other. Were they doing it in your workshop? they each asked the other. Yes and yes was the answer. And the doing it was the making of negative remarks about their people. Not even subtle negative remarks, which they were used to screening out, but serious ones couched in professional jargon like perversion and derailed development. Did you say anything? No and no. They hung their heads. The following days they went to workshops together. When remarks were

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made, casually, devaluing their people, the language they used for healing being used to demean, one or the other of them would raise their hands. Language began to be more careful but no one talked to them. They would go back into their hotel room, look at themselves in the bathroom mirror, and wonder. Am I this way because .... They must know. They seem so sure. The women touched each other less and felt their strength dimming. And then they would go to the beach of their people and feel cleansed again by the company and by the sun and the sea. Not soon enough, they went home to their own town, ringed by the ocean and a bay, where their people had achieved enough numbers and power so that they could call themselves self psychologists and lesbians in the same breath. But they never forgot that, outside of their magic ring of water, it would be much harder. And they never went to that faraway seashore again, even though the lobster was excellent and the ocean was warm.