Transcript of 43rd Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Ms. Anna Green, Thursday, May 22, 1997 at 4:00 pm.

Ms. Green: Hello, Doctor.
Dr. Balis: Hello, Anna. You're looking better today.
Ms. Green: I feel better. I've been thinking a lot about what we talked about last time.
Dr. Balis: And?
Ms. Green: I like what you said at the end--that part of being a liberated woman is to be free to be the person that I want to be. I think that based on that definition, there aren't a whole lot of truly liberated women in the world today. But I can still try to grant myself permission to enjoy something unconventional based on that principle.
Dr. Balis: That's very good. And by the way, men have to live by a socially acceptable set of rules as well. When men venture outside the social norm, it's just as difficult for them to come to terms with that as it is for you to accept the fact that you might enjoy socially controversial sexual activities.
Ms. Green: Hmm. I guess that's true. Martin is clearly having a hell of a time trying to figure out his passions. He's been completely ostracized from the S&M community in Michigan.
Dr. Balis: You talked with Martin?
Ms. Green: No. But he leaves very detailed messages and I feel like I'm completely caught-up on his life problems. But I haven't spoken to him or left him a message or anything.
Dr. Balis: But you listen to all his messages?
Ms. Green: I tried to just skip and delete them in the beginning. But I find that difficult. Martin is still like an open wound and, while I know that listening to his messages probably makes it much more difficult to get over him, the sound of his voice is sort of soothing and brings some relief.
Dr. Balis: I thought that since we weren't talking about Martin...
Ms. Green: That I gave up on him all together?
Dr. Balis: Haven't you?
Ms. Green: Absolutely. I have no interest in ever seeing that guy again.
Dr. Balis: So why are you tormenting yourself? Why are you listening?
Ms. Green: Because it's there. Sometimes I delete the messages. But I have the Pacific Bell messaging service and I find myself using it to retrieve my old deleted messages. Sometimes I listen to them in the middle of the night.
Dr. Balis: I see.
Ms. Green: Yeah, technology can be a hazard sometimes.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Green: But it's not all that bad, Doctor. I run into Bill now and then at SII. That doesn't mean that I'm interested in getting back together with him, even though my whole body reacts to his presence--not in a sexual way, but just with fear and anxiety.
Dr. Balis: What are you worried about when you see Bill?
Ms. Green: I just always want to leave him with an impression that I'm doing so much better now than I did when I was with him. I want him to think that I look very good--hot, even. I want him believe that I'm very smart and talented. I even want him to be jealous.
Dr. Balis: Jealous of whom?
Ms. Green: Of all the men that I could be seeing right now. He doesn't know. For all he knows, I might be having the time of my life with some super terrific guy who is better than him in every way.
Dr. Balis: And why would he think that?
Ms. Green: I always try to look very happy and satisfied when Bill sees me.
Dr. Balis: Hmm. And how often do you run into Bill nowadays?
Ms. Green: Unfortunately, he works on the same floor.
Dr. Balis: So you see him a lot?
Ms. Green: Usually a couple of times a week. The good thing is that the girl he was drooling over for a couple of months finally dumped him. There are advantages and disadvantages to working with the same people you socialize with. On one hand, it can be awfully convenient. You get to see each other all the time and slip out for a quickie every now and then.
Dr. Balis: Quickie?
Ms. Green: You know, a quickie. But you also get to be around the people who you would rather see fall off the edge of the world or something. I heard that's fairly common in technology companies.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Green: But to get back to my life, Kathy took me to another S&M social last week.
Dr. Balis: Oh?
Ms. Green: It was in Golden Gate Park and it was just a barbecue--no whips, no chains. It was interesting to meet members of the community in another context. Kathy took me so that I could talk to some of the women there. She thought it would help me organize my thinking and feelings on the subject.
Dr. Balis: And did it help?
Ms. Green: I don't know. There were certainly women there who were highly respected professionals in their fields, but...
Dr. Balis: But what?
Ms. Green: But...look, I'm not saying that this was true for all the women I met at that party, but there was something odd about a lot of those women.
Dr. Balis: What do you mean by odd?
Ms. Green: I sort of got the feeling that some of those people were defining themselves through their practice of S&M. I'm not sure I'm making myself clear.
Dr. Balis: Go ahead, you're doing fine.
Ms. Green: Well, it's like when someone asks me to tell a bit about myself. I don't start off telling them how much I like to perform oral sex on men or anything. I usually tell them what I do for a living, what sort of books I like, what I enjoy doing in my spare time. Maybe I'd volunteer some background information like where I grew up, what school I went to, or tell them that I'm an only child or something. But the people there were different. For them, it seems, their affiliation and enjoyment of S&M is the dominant trait of their personalities. Sure you can ask them about their work and books they read, but those are just sort of surface ripples. What they're really about is S&M. These people not only like to practice it, they like to talk about it, to watch it, to learn it, to...just everything.
Dr. Balis: But you don't feel that way.
Ms. Green: No. While I like being tied down and dominated during sex, that's just a small part of who I am. I don't define myself as a woman who likes to be submissive during sex. I think of it as on a need to know basis kind of information. I might let my boyfriend know about it, but...see what I mean?
Dr. Balis: I think that's good. I believe that type of pigeonholing limits one's perspective on life.
Ms. Green: Exactly! These people can only see the world from the point of view of practicing members of the S&M community. Everything they do is somehow colored by that association.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Green: But in some way, I sort of understand part of it.
Dr. Balis: What do you mean?
Ms. Green: These people have to worry about being outside of the social norm. They constantly have to defend themselves from outside criticisms. Take for instance my first reaction to the S&M scene in Michigan. I was horrified at what I saw and ended up calling the police. These people probably have to worry about stuff like that all the time. Imagine walking down a path in the woods or something and seeing a woman tied to a tree with her blouse ripped off and a man forcing himself on her. Everyone's first reaction would be to help the woman. The presumed villain might get punched out or worse a long time before either of them get to explain that they are performing a consensual act.
Dr. Balis: Sure. That's why S&M clubs have memberships and are very cautious about allowing outsiders into their parties.
Ms. Green: Exactly. And there are also the issues of using doctors that understand and won't throw your partner in jail if you ever need some medical attention. Or, god forbid, having the social services take your children away because you're judged to be an unfit parent. These people have to worry about all that.
Dr. Balis: All of that is true.
Ms. Green: But, even so, I'd think that these people have other interesting attributes to their personality than just their practice of S&M. It seems so limiting. It's almost like they live in the prison of their own desires.
Dr. Balis: Very profound.
Ms. Green: Thank you. But I mean it. Some of the members of this S&M club are extraordinary intelligent and also very nice. But there's always this edge when you talk to them. Well, it's not always true. There were a few people at the barbecue that were not like that. They seemed fairly normal. get the idea, Doctor.
Dr. Balis: I do. I'm glad that your passions for certain particular sexual experiences are not your defining characteristic. So what conclusions did you come away with from that party? I mean as relating to your lifestyle and to your feelings?
Ms. Green: I'm working on getting comfortable with my desires. I'm beginning to believe that when I meet a man that I'm interested in dating and ask him to accommodate my interests, he won't be very much opposed to doing that.
Dr. Balis: No, I suppose not.
Ms. Green: Would you?
Dr. Balis: What do you mean?
Ms. Green: You know--tie me down and...
Dr. Balis: Anna!
Ms. Green: I'm just asking. Okay, some other woman then. Would you, Doctor Balis?
Dr. Balis: It's late, Anna. I'll see you next week.
Ms. Green: I bet you would. And I bet you would be a very good lover, Doctor.
Dr. Balis: Goodbye, Anna.
Ms. Green: Goodbye, Doctor.
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