Transcript of 42nd Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Ms. Anna Green, Thursday, May 15, 1997 at 4:00 pm.

Ms. Green: Hello, Doctor.
Dr. Balis: Hello, Anna. How's your neck? Still hurts?
Ms. Green: You have a very nice way of asking if I'm still taking pain killers. The answer is yes, it does hurt. But no, I'm not taking them any more. Happy?
Dr. Balis: Actually, I'm very happy to hear that, Anna. But why are you so confrontational today?
Ms. Green: Am I? I'm sorry, Doctor. I had a long day. And night. I came to work yesterday and haven't been home since.
Dr. Balis: Deadline?
Ms. Green: Yeah. And Jules is getting angry with me for missing a lot of days and generally not being there when I am there.
Dr. Balis: I'm sorry to hear that.
Ms. Green: He'll get over it. But I'll have to work really hard for a while. You know, Doctor, most women I know who carry underwear in their purse, do it because they plan to have a good time with their dates that night. I do it because I know I might end up sleeping in a sleeping bag under my desk.
Dr. Balis: Under the desk?
Ms. Green: The keep the overhead lights on all night at SII because of the janitorial staff and because there's always someone working through the night in the building. I can't sleep with that much light. But under the's not terrific anyway.
Dr. Balis: How was your week otherwise? Anything new from Martin?
Ms. Green: He still calls at least once a day. Sometimes I'm tempted to answer the phone and talk to him. But I haven't yet. I think I might be getting over him.
Dr. Balis: I'm glad to hear that.
Ms. Green: I know you are, Doctor. As for the rest of the week, I saw my parents and grandmother on Mother's Day. It was very nice. They took me out for brunch at the Redwood Room in the Clift Hotel. Very nice. You should check it out some time.
Dr. Balis: I've been there. It is nice.
Ms. Green: And pretty much the rest of the time, I just spent thinking. Don't get scared, Doctor. I was just thinking, not doing anything.
Dr. Balis: What were you thinking about?
Ms. Green: I'm the only child in my family. My parents tried to have more, but it just never happened. My dad always wanted to have a son. When it became obvious that wasn't meant to be, he transferred his boy-raising energy onto me.
Dr. Balis: Oh?
Ms. Green: He pretty much raised me as he would have raised a boy. I always felt like I could do anything I wished with my life. I was never made to believe that being a girl would somehow be limiting to me in my choice of career or lifestyle. My parents weren't feminists or anything--it wasn't about politics. It's just that the issue of gender was always sort of irrelevant. You see?
Dr. Balis: I do. This is what you were thinking about this week?
Ms. Green: What I'm trying to say, Doctor, is that I was raised to believe that there are no major differences between the mental abilities of men and women. I mean, there are some, but they don't prevent a person from doing what he or she wants to do with their lives.
Dr. Balis: I agree with that. But what's your point?
Ms. Green: The point is that I believe and base my life on the premise that men and women are equal.
Dr. Balis: Good.
Ms. Green: You don't understand, Doctor. If all this is true, then how can I possibly find anything appealing or attractive about being subservient to a man?
Dr. Balis: You are talking about your reaction to being dominated and tied down during sex?
Ms. Green: Yes. I liked it. I really like it. It was very exciting and sexually stimulating. But it goes against all my principles, really. I don't like to boss people around and don't like it when people do it to me. So why this stupid fascination with masochism?
Dr. Balis: The desire conflicts with your egalitarian politics?
Ms. Green: I wish I could just stuff that desire somewhere deep down in my psyche so that it would never rear its ugly head as long as I live.
Dr. Balis: You know, Anna, you are not the only woman in the world who enjoys being dominated by a man during sex.
Ms. Green: Oh, I know that, Doctor. I've been to the S&M club. I've seen a lot of them, remember?
Dr. Balis: That's not exactly what I meant. I'm not just talking about people who've identified themselves as S&M practitioners. I'm talking about people, both men and women, across the board. The range of sexual submissiveness includes women who are passive in bed to women who are excited by rape fantasies to women who enjoy losing control during a sexual encounter. And just because a person enjoys the feeling of powerlessness and submission during sex, it does not mean that same person would tolerate the same behavior during other aspects of their lives.
Ms. Green: You mean the woman who likes the rape fantasy wouldn't want to be raped.
Dr. Balis: Right. There's a difference between a fantasy and reality. The woman who gets turned on being a sex slave in the bedroom may go out and engineer a hostile takeover in the boardroom.
Ms. Green: Yeah?
Dr. Balis: And just because a woman lets a man tie her down during sex and dominate her, she might not let him make the decision about where they are going to go for dinner, or what car they are going to buy, or any other aspect of their lives together. I knew one couple where the man appeared to be completely submissive to his wife--she totally dominated him in every aspect of their lives. He would hardly even speak when she was in the room--she talked for both of them. But in the bedroom, he was the master and she was his slave. That's what she liked and that's what worked for both of them. It wasn't about sexual politics. It was about meeting each other's sexual needs.
Ms. Green: I feel a traitor to my sex, though. I've read about how women were abused throughout history--how they've been used as sex toys and how they've been tortured and raped by vicious men. And that conduct was tolerated. And now, if I like something like that done to me, it's like I am saying it was okay for that to happen to them, too. Do you see?
Dr. Balis: I think I see what you're saying. But I don't think your consensual sexual conduct has anything to do with torture and rape of women who have not given their consent. You shouldn't equate the two.
Ms. Green: It feels intrinsically wrong to allow a man to treat me in such a degrading fashion, even if it is consensual. And see my dilemma, Doctor?
Dr. Balis: You are not the first woman to feel this way. These are common issues with which people in the S&M community have to come to terms. And you might be surprised to know that it's not just submissives who have these guilt feelings. Dominants too, especially those who are inflicting pain, are doing something to other people that society says is wrong. It is not uncommon for a dominant to feel anxiety and even deep depression over their desire to physically abuse others. But consent is the key. If a person is free to walk away, then it's about pleasure and not about abuse.
Ms. Green: Doctor, I know that what you're saying makes perfect sense. But somehow, deep down inside, these desires still feel wrong in some basic way.
Dr. Balis: This is something that you'll need to figure out. Can you enjoy your sexual interests without infusing them with guilt? If the guilt is too strong, it will ruin those experiences anyway.
Ms. Green: That's essentially what Kathy said.
Dr. Balis: Oh? You talked to Kathy about this?
Ms. Green: I was just venting my frustrations to her. Caren and Greg are getting married.
Dr. Balis: That's nice. It's been a long time since you mentioned anything about them.
Ms. Green: Well, we sort of drifted apart after Martin came into the picture. That's another thing I can hate him for. But Caren is just too straight to understand what I've been going through lately.
Dr. Balis: Have you tried?
Ms. Green: Tried what? Telling her that I enjoy being whipped?
Dr. Balis: You don't. You like playing the submissive and being tied down during sex. That's different.
Ms. Green: It still doesn't sound great. But in any case, they finally decided to get married. Apparently, they decided in February and they are sending out invitations now for their wedding in June. Can you believe it? She didn't even tell me that she got engaged. We had always agreed to be each other's maids of honor or matrons, depending on who got married first. And now she didn't even tell me she was engaged. She just sent me an invitation.
Dr. Balis: It sounds like you should talk to Caren and try to patch-up your relationship, if it's still important to you.
Ms. Green: She's the only person who stayed with me through the years. I would hate to lose her over a guy.
Dr. Balis: Talk to her. She might feel the same way. And you don't have to disclose anything to her that you don't think would be appropriate
Ms. Green: True. You know, I'll be 27 soon. That's almost a third of a lifetime. And I still can't figure it out. Pathetic!
Dr. Balis: I'm 37 and I'm not married. I don't think of myself as a bad person because of that.
Ms. Green: No, just available. I bet women are lining up at your door.
Dr. Balis: Oh, we've crossed over into the danger zone. But fortunately we're out of time for today, Anna. Don't be too hard on yourself. Part of being a liberated woman is to be exactly the person that you want to be.
Ms. Green: An interesting thought, Doctor. I'll see you next week.
Dr. Balis: Goodbye, Anna.
Ms. Green: Goodbye, Doctor Balis.
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