AGA Roll Call: Female Fractures
One thing I've personally come to terms with, the older I've gotten, is that for myself, and for a lot of women I've talked to in my life and work, the wounds which come from other women can often cut more deeply than those from men do.
As women, betrayals from our mothers often seem to hit us harder than betrayals from our fathers. A female friend who hurts us often seems to have the capacity to hurt us more deeply than our male friends can/could. For those of us who are bisexual, queer or lesbian, we might experience that the first time a girl or woman breaks our hearts the depth of that hurt is unexpectedly more painful than we have experienced with men.
We could theorize until the end of time as to why that is (and plenty of women have, inside and out of feminist contexts), but WHEN it is, it can be really tough to deal with. I know for myself that I didn't realize for a long time how much the wounds I had from other women, especially in my formative years, kept me from really being able to connect with, to trust and to really open myself up to love women in my life. It was only in my mid-twenties that I put two and two together to realize that while I had been bisexual as long as I was sexual, in the sexual/romantic relationships I'd had with women I'd kept my girlfriends at a far greater emotional distance than I had with my boyfriends. It has been only recently that I've really started to see (and get angry about) how a male-centric culture has often used those wounds and rifts against me, against women, to preserve a wedge between us; to try and create sides when there should be none. How some men in my life have, rather than helping me to heal those woulds, used them to try and get me to side against the women in my life, and women as a whole.
For instance, I have had men in my life -- reasonable, caring men -- suggest that a sexual abuse I survived when I was very young was more my mother's fault, for simply allowing me to be independent out in my neighborhood, alone where my abuser could come into contact with me -- than the fault of the man who molested me. This approach isn't uncommon, crazy as it sounds. I myself once held her far more responsible for that than is reasonable: some of my pain came from being angry with HER for not protecting me from something someone else did, which she likely could not have protected me from, save chaining myself to her wrist at an age when I would have resented her for that greatly. Either way, she loses: either way, she's being held responsible for something someone else did.
I've also noticed, in working with young women, that there are new hurdles to connecting with other women, new ways to wound each other, and some tougher challenges to figuring all of this out in there seeming to be less supports than ever for all kinds of love and friendship between women.
Even if we can't know WHY these wounds hurt so bad and so deeply, and even if your wounds from women don't necessarily feel any deeper or different from those you may have from men, if you need to explore your wounds, get a band-aid, a splint and a hug, find some healing, write about it. Here we are, working to create and nurture a new community for women, and for plenty of us, this issue will create a hard hurdle.
â€¢ Have you been wounded by an important woman in your life? How? How did it impact you, how do you think it continues to impact you? Does it have an impact on your relationships with other women?
â€¢ How about women in your family, close friends, girlfreinds? Viewing things from the outside when it comes to being close to a woman wounded by women, what do you see?
â€¢ How about men? How can they help us heal these wounds, but without purposefully or inadvertently demonizing the women in your lives and our world?
â€¢ WHY might wounds from women hurt us more, if they do? Is it about what we expect from women, and if so, are those expectations realistic? Are they higher than the expectations we have of men? Or is it something about the bonds between women, period? Something about the WAY a given woman might wound us?
â€¢ What can women do to heal our collective wounds between each other? If we have been wounded by other women, how to we bypass any hurdles we might feel to connect in the first place so that we CAN help each other in that?
Tag your post with "AGA Roll Call: Female Fractures," or, if you're a reader here, leave a letter at the All Girl Army forums, or a link to your letter at your own blog or journal in the comments here.
To read our writer's responses to this call as they come in, click here.