One of the passages that really spoke to me as a lesbian who had been married to a man in the Price of Salt were the following:
She had known from his first step toward her that he was going to ask her [to stay the night]. Now she felt miserable and ashamed, sorry for herself and for him, because it was so impossible, and so embarrassing because she didn’t want it. There was always that tremendous block of not ever wanting to try it, which reduced it all to a kind of wretched embarrassment and nothing more, each time he asked her. She remembered the first night she had let him stay, and she writhed again inwardly. It had been anything but pleasant [. . .] and the second time had been even worse, probably because Richard had thought all the difficulties had been gotten over. It was painful enough to make her weep, and Richard had been very apologetic and had said she made him feel like a brute. And then she had protested that he wasn’t.
[. . .]
“Why [can’t I stay]?”
“Because. Because I can’t,” she said, every word agony. “Because I don’t want to sleep with you.”
“Oh, Terry!” Richard laughed. “I’m sorry I asked you. Forget about it, honey, will you?”
[. . .] But I can’t, she thought. I’ve got to think about it sometime, because you think about it.
I finished this series of passages and I was like, wow. This is me. I remembered crying myself from the pain and the shame of not wanting sex with my husband like I was supposed to. I remember the embarrassment of it all as I cried hot tears that made my husband uncomfortable–not because it wasn’t good for me but because I was crying so much.
And I hate Richard so much in these passages. I hate how happy he is and I hate how little he cares for Therese. I hate how Therese is pressured to be in this situation when throughout the previous pages, she is clearly drawn to women, even before she meets Carol.
There is a trauma that happens when women who love other women are forced in this kind of situation. It’s so long lasting and men like Richard just laugh.