My Own Coping

The arguments against BDSM move me to refrain from participating in any such “play” with other people. But I still have masochistic feelings. What can I do about them?

Can I follow Marcus’ advice? Can I separate social masochism from sexual? Can we really do that? How would that feel? How do we go about it, when women have been trained to respond sexually to oppression?

Perhaps by casting a magickal circle around me, invoking powers of protection when I indulge? Specifying, in the spell, that my masochist lives in an alternate reality from my real-world persona?

So far, what I’ve done is mostly just hiding my masochism. When I indulged, I was careful to do it only when Jesse wasn’t around. I don’t talk about my masochism with anyone.

Still, the thought of having to split myself makes me angry.

But now that I think about it, how is this split different from the divide between all my other selves? Quite a while ago I decided they all have a good reason for being, and created a Council of Selves to enable them to collaborate in my personhood. They have great conversations, great parties. What is a self, in any case? A story my mind uses to interact with the world. My psychological clothes. Not any essence. Not my true nature.

So why am I angry? Because I would rather inhabit a self whose life unifies the political and the private. Okay, a good reason for anger. But many injustices anger me. And I can work to change the world, but I still have to live with it, and with the anger. So while I work for change, I need to have compassion for the split.

Can I use Bartky’s answer? Can I get rid of the distress, or get rid of the desire? I’ve tried both.

To get rid of the distress (hatred and fear of conditioning to be a victim, anger at it):

• Building self-confidence, agency: learning how not to be a victim
• Brain training: counteracting the human wired-in bias toward fearfulness
• Learning about masochists who are not victims out in the world.

These have helped me reduce my social masochism, the ways I buy into our culture’s oppression of women. And I can’t help thinking they should reduce my sexual masochism, too — but I haven’t noticed it.

To get rid of the desire:

• Refusing to indulge it; refraining from masochistic fantasy
• And that pretty much means, refraining from orgasm. I do miss it!
• It also means that at age 77 I have been avoiding sex altogether for several years. This is a strain on my relationship with Jesse.

But I have decided I am not trying to “get rid” of anything. Just trying to act from wisdom, and not from emotion. Trying to have compassion for myself.

Much of this book is the story of my attempts to do that.