My friend Larry was recently told by a woman he helped to get sober that she couldn't talk to him anymore. Her sponsor said so. Because he is a man. She is a woman and he is a man. And her sponsor says she can't talk to him.
What a wonderful way to cut your chances at recovery in half. What a fabulous way to spit in the face of God's Grace - and tell God who he ought to put in your life. What an efficient way to narrow your world down by 50%. And probably there are more rules in there that whittle it right down to far less than 50%.
When I was new in AA, there were certainly sponsors who advised their "pigeons" to stick to the women - hang out only with women. Stay away from the men. I looked at these sponsors and thought, in my newcomer's supreme judgment, that these women were old and unattractive and had no chance of being with a man and so they didn't want anyone else to either. (And furthermore, I have never had a sponsor who called me anything other than a "sponsee" or even a "friend". I am not a pigeon. I am not a baby. I am an adult human being. A female alcoholic human being. )
I was far more comfortable with men than women. That is a trait common to probably most alcoholic women. I found sober men to hang out with. Most of the time it was a healthy thing. Sometimes it wasn't. I didn't get to AA with a surplus of virtue, most people don't. Part of what I found so appealing about AA when I got here was the number of men - and they all seemed to like me pretty well. I loved the attention. I also hung out with sober women. I had a sober woman sponsor. But I really loved the men. I spent hours each day on the phone with them. I slept with some of them! (Shock! Horror!) At one point, I had a male sponsor and I slept with him! (Shock! Horror!) And by the Grace of God, not my fabulous WORK, I stayed sober.
By the time I was sober about 5 years, I stopped carrying on like this. I had created a lot of wreckage in my sobriety. God had made me ready to change. And he gave me the ability to stop doing things I thought I would never stop doing. And I was grateful. But like my drinking, I wasn't ready to change this behavior until I was ready to change.
By the time I was sober about 10 years, I realized that some of the myths I believed about AA were simply not true. I had believed there was a shortage of sober women. I started looking around the rooms at meetings and when I opened my eyes, I saw that there were women, usually quiet and unassuming, who were sober for decades. In almost every room, there were these women. I started talking to these women. I found that most of them were pretty much like me. They had hung out with the men. They were not all as promiscuous as I had been, but they had hung out with men. Some of them had men for sponsors.
I started watching the women who cluck around each other, like a little herd of hens. They get fragile, their world view gets very narrow. They have one faith or another that they share and don't much approve of people who don't. In my experience, in my observations, they do not stay sober.
We drunks make up a great mosaic in AA. Each piece separately might seem to have very limited value, but the picture would not be complete without it. Each person brings something to AA, something we need. I don't tell God that this mosaic would be OK if only the red pieces were removed. I only want the blue pieces. Maybe green, but definitely not red or purple. I believe that God puts just the right people into my life each and every day. I would not dare to tell God who He ought to put into my life.
In my sobriety, I believe I have made every mistake a person can make. The only things I have done consistently right are going to meetings and not picking up a drink. I don't believe that I keep me sober by works. I believe that I am sober by the Grace of a Loving God. I would not advocate doing a lot of the things I have done, but I know that each day I can only do things to the best of my ability, and as a newly sober woman, I didn't have much ability. We aren't meant to get to AA and get perfect overnight. We will improve with time if we just don't drink.
"Our membership ought to include all who suffer from alcoholism. Hence we may refuse none who wish to recover. Nor ought AA membership ever depend upon money or conformity. Any two or three alcoholics gathered together for sobriety may call themselves an AA group, provided that, as a group, they have no other affiliation." -- Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 565 (the third tradition)