Resistance and Forgiveness in Longing to Tell

I left class today still thinking about our discussion on the subject of intimacy in Longing to Tell.  Many of the women interviewed defined intimacy as a feeling of “closeness” and “trust” between people, but did not necessarily define intimacy in terms of sexual experiences. As I pointed on in class, a lot of the women expanded their definitions to includes moments when they felt intimate relationships had been betrayed. I have no idea whether these women were promoted with the questions about moments of betrayal or if they choose share information on their own accord. Several of you touched upon how Luciana vowed to never have another best friend after her boyfriend cheated on her with Luciana’s best friend. Luciana laments,

From that point on, I just dismissed best friends. There is nobody who I tell my secrets to. I don’t trust anyone. No more best friends. To this day I still don’t like her. I’m still bitter. And I’ve gone on. I’m friends with my ex-husband. He’s gone on now, remarried, and has another family. But this one particular girl– I am through with her forever and a day (54).

Luciana’s experience clearly marred her enough to prevent her from confiding and trusting in other women. Yet, she forgives her ex-husband for his past wrongdoings. Perhaps her decision is based upon the nature of her relation with her ex-husband. However, (as some of you remarked in class) it is also likely that her lenience on her ex-husband is rooted in the sexist notion that women need men more than they need other women.

I know that I mentioned in class that these women didn’t touch upon the notion of forgiveness as much as I would have anticipated, but I realize now that I was completely wrong. Although most women did not explicitly discuss the subject of forgiveness, and many of them referenced ways in which they cope with atrocities or experiences where their confidence in another had been breached. Some used religion as a coping mechanism. Others confided in family and friends. I imagine that sharing these stories helped women cope and/or understand their experiences. I wonder if some of these women viewed the process of the interview as a vehicle for forgiveness or resistance? Not necessarily to forgive or resist those who wronged them, but to a society that dangerously undervalues their voices and lived experiences.

Do you see this book as a symbol of resistance or forgiveness? If so, are resistance and forgiveness mutually exclusive? If not, what purpose(s) do you believe Longing to Tell can serve? Furthermore, for whom is this book written?

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