Maxine lights up at the chance to explain. "An official party girl is hired by liquor companies to entertain and wait on men at parties sponsored by the company. We wore short skirts and revealing tops and flirted," she says, pushing to allow a wry smile. "We weren't allowed to have sex or go home with the guys. We could only flirt, you know, have fun."
"How many liquor companies did you do this for?"
A common way people hide their sexual anger is through the
cognitive distortion called "minimization." Maxine's minimization of
being a "party girl" keeps her out of touch with the shame behind her
sexualized anger. When Maxine dresses provocatively at the
alcohol-driven parties, she covertly expresses sexual feelings, which
she denies in order to avoid feeling the shame that sexuality carries.
Maxine's sexualized anger makes her feel powerful and in control, and
she does not want to stop. When she complains that men are always
hitting on her, sounding like a coy, self-proclaimed victim, she enjoys
the pleasure of innocent righteousness.
"What was it like being a party girl?" I ask.
"It was GREAT," she gushes, her eyes dancing with blissful reverie.
what was really going on? What were you really doing at these parties?"
I press. Before I even complete my question, a male patient sitting
next to Maxine begins to smirk and nod his head.
"What do you think was going on?" I ask him.
"We call them prick teasers," he says.
Maxine's exuberant mood collapses like a helium balloon deflated by the painful truth of her behavior.
"It's called 'sexualized anger,'" I say with a pause. "My bet is
that you were either overtly or covertly sexually traumatized as a
child. Is that correct?"
There is a long, thoughtful pause as tears start to form in the corner of Maxine's eyes.
"It was my father," she says through a choked voice. "He always called me his 'sexy lady.'"
"How old were you when he said that?"
"I don't know," she says, pausing to take a mental inventory. "I guess as long as I can remember."
"How did you feel when he said that to you?" I ask.
"It made me feel special, I guess, but it felt kind of gross, too," she says, her voice trailing off.
"And angry?" I ask.
"Yes," she responds. "Yes," she says again, nodding her head, "Angry."
The "chase" is yet another form of acting out through
passive-aggressive sexualized anger. When Maxine was a young girl, her
father sexually objectified her. Although Maxine craved the attention,
it was ultimately traumatizing. In order to get attention from her dad,
she discovered she had to be "sexy."
As a little girl, Maxine was clueless as to the meaning of
"sexy," but she was desperate and determined to find out. Vigilantly,
she watched for clues, and they were not hard to find. Flirting with
large-breasted, wasp-waisted women in tight, skimpy clothes was Dad's
operating procedure. It became Maxine's sexual template.