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Fraser Trevor Fraser Trevor Author
Title: Women in AA
Author: Fraser Trevor
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  Here are the obvious questions before we begin: Q:  Why would a man be compelled to write on this subject? A:  I believe it needs to be sa...

 

Here are the obvious questions before we begin:

Q: Why would a man be compelled to write on this subject?
A: I believe it needs to be said and I don’t see anyone else saying it.

Q: How could I possibly know what it is like to be a “Woman in AA”?
A: I don’t. But I have a profound compassion for women. I believe that women have it extremely harder then men do in life, as well as AA.

Q: Why is this writing even necessary?
A: Because I get asked way too often about my opinion on this subject and I want to write it down to be thorough about it, save a little time, and perhaps reach more people.

Q: Does believing what I am about to write have any bearing on how we help each other?
A: No. Principles are principles. But I do believe that having this information can show us why we should have more patience and compassion for women than we seem to have.

Men with Men...Women with Women

I have spent considerable time contemplating this issue. I have a mother, three sisters and eight nieces…all of whom may need help in spiritual matters some day. On top of that, I cannot bear to watch human suffering, particularly when I believe it to be unnecessary.

The first time I was asked by a woman to be her sponsor, I became concerned with this issue. After all, I came from a family of sponsorship that believed strongly in “men with men; women with women."

At that time, we had only one woman locally practicing our flavor of AA. I'll call her "Heartless." Some of us guys felt that Heartless was sometimes cold-hearted to her sponsees. First, we saw several of her sponsees leave—one of them being my own sister. Then, a newcomer (I'll call her Newbea) begged me to sponsor her while crying in fear of being pushed toward Heartless as a sponsor. I then vowed to God that I would never put another newcomer into Heartless's hands as long as she continued to behave this way.

I assured Newbea that I would never “dump” her onto someone just because they are female. If Newbea decides to move to a female sponsor later, that’s a decision she can make for herself, but I won't be the one to turn her away.

Refuse to Say No

Being that I have never been a woman (big surprise)—the obvious question became: Where are all the active and available sober women? Why is there only one woman carrying what I believe to be a God-dependant, service-to-others message?

So here is another reason why I absolutely refused to say no to Newbea...

Most reports tell us that this world is made up of about 51% to 53% women. Nowhere is there any evidence that alcoholism is any more or less prevalent in women than in men, so why is Alcoholics Anonymous—by its own demographic reports—stating that AA is made up of about 33% women? On top of that, in my estimation, the percentage of women in AA that are truly carrying the “God-dependant/service-to-others” message is less than that of the men...less than 2%!! If I was to tell Newbea that I couldn’t sponsor her, what do you think her chances would be of finding a woman carrying a similar message? I could not take that chance with her life.

Fear

Yes, I was afraid. I was seriously concerned that I would somehow short-change this woman due to lack of experience in sponsoring women. So I began to meditate. I also began to research why we were always told “men with men and women with women.” After all, it's not in the Big Book.

I asked others. Most told me that it was due to sexual attraction that can occur due to the intimacy involved. That’s a no-brainer for me: I’m not sexually attracted to women. Does this mean I can’t sponsor men? “No,” say the old-timers. I also eliminated the sexual attraction factor for heterosexuals because I firmly believe that we are spiritually connected, and that any ulterior motive should be adequately suppressed so as to not compromise the primary purpose. I believe that if I have any ulterior motive with any person—for any reason—then I should probably find someone else to help them. If no one else is available, however, I can’t simply let this person die! So I negated my suspicion that sexual attraction has anything to do with this matter at all. I also eliminated the sexual attraction factor for heterosexuals because I firmly believe that if we are spiritually connected, any ulterior motive should be adequately suppressed so as to not compromise the primary purpose.

Women are Different

The next report was that men and women are different. I could understand why that reason seemed to have a ring of truth to it.

So, what’s the difference? Beyond the obvious physical differences, all people are unique in some way and no two people are completely identical. The only differences, in my mind, are nature and culture.

Nature

Natural differences between the sexes are by design of the Creator. There’s not much we can do about this. I’ve engaged in a lot of intimate work with both men and women, taking them through the steps as I was shown. The only difference I can come up with that would be in the “nature” category is it seems that women tend to place a subtle emphasis on security over sexuality, where men have it the other way around. Here again, there are exceptions, but this is the only difference I could see, based on my perception of my experience. We could come up with all kinds of reasons why the creator may have designed us this way, but it doesn’t matter for this conversation…it is what it is.

Culture

There are expectations placed on people in a culture. Society pressures us with billboards, magazines, television, teachers, preachers...we’re all taught a cultural standard.

Our parents have a big influence, but definitely are not the only influence. My mother told me that when she first held me—her first boy—she knew she was treating me and communicating with me differently than she did my sisters before me. She didn’t know why she was doing it, but she knew she was doing it and she knew she didn’t have a choice in the matter. It was what seemed right.

My best attempt at describing what I believe to be the double-standard in our culture is to say that we tell our little girls what they can wear, how they should act, what to play with, what ambitions are acceptable, etc. They are taught the Cinderella fairytale, that some day the perfect man will come and sweep them off their feet…their “Knight in Shining Armor”. They just need to wait for him.

They are subtly told to save their virginity for that special man. When she falls short of this…it’s okay…written off as just puppy love. But when it becomes a pattern, she’s a whore—a slut.

The whole time women are feeling society’s pressure, their brothers are told to get as much sex as they can…be a stud! No pressure on the boy at all (unless he’s gay and gets treated like he’s some kind of freak, which is why so many young gay males kill themselves…but that’s a story for another writing).

Now we add the “predator” factor. Young girls are often treated disrespectfully. The old man whistles at the teenager, the teacher hits on the student, and sexual misconduct is perpetrated on women by men far more than by women on men. Eventually, a young woman may realize she can use this attention to her advantage. Men like it when women act like whores, but men don't want to marry whores. She may realize that her sexuality could be a valuable commodity and they can use it to get what she really wants—security. But she can’t let anyone know or she’ll be called a “whore” again. So she lives the lie.

Now we add the alcoholic factor. Remember that when I refer to an alcoholic, I’m not talking about someone who has a drinking problem. I’m talking about someone who has a spiritual malady…an emptiness in the soul. All too often, the human power we chose to fill the emptiness is sex or intimate relationships. Women have used men over and over again to fill that emptiness, the same way that men have used women for sex. Even when they’re not bargaining for long-term security, women think sex and intimacy give them relief from emptiness and loneliness. But afterward, like drinking, they may end up awash in shame, guilt and self-disgust.

Now, when women come to Alcoholics Anonymous for help—even if they didn’t use men as men have used them—they still have “whore” planted across their foreheads. It is assumed in the society of AA that women have "whored" themselves in some way along the path, and the assumption is usually correct. Often, they've been promiscuous while attending AA with no spiritual solution. And AA is full of spiritually empty men that prey on these women. (I personally have these men in the same category as child molesters. You can refer to the writing I did on the Thirteenth Step for further opinion on that issue.)

So it might seem that I am trying to defend women or make a case of “victimhood” for them, but I’m only trying to find reasons why there are so few active available women in AA. I'm also attempting to make a case for people that are trying to help women to have a little more compassion and understanding for what they might be going through.

So what is the solution?

Do we change our principles because of the unfair circumstances in which we find ourselves? Not possible. Principles are principles. Principles don’t change…not by the definition of principle that I’m using: something that applies to all people, “spiritual law.” It is unchangeable. It is constant. The only variable is my awareness of it. That awareness may change on a regular basis, but the principle never changes.

Should I waste time “cursing the darkness” or maybe trust that God knows what He’s doing with His world and attempt to “light candles”? I doubt I can make a difference in the world, but I’m pretty confident I can make a difference in the life of a woman that is standing in front of me asking for help.

This is the approach I have been taking for about seven years…attempting to light candles. I haven’t changed the world, but I now have a bunch of women that I can send a newcomer to.

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