Archive for the ‘Story of My Life’ Category

HELP   Leave a comment

It seems like bad form to post a plea for monetary help on a blog you haven’t updated in years but I got no other place to do this and the situation is truly desperate or I wouldn’t be asking in the first place. It’s always been very difficult for me to ask for help and there’s no way I’d be asking if I could see another way out.

As some of you know, my partner has been driving a cab for many years now. After years of working for an abusive boss who treated his drivers, who are independent contractors, like employees and hogged all the best rides for himself and his family members, he landed a job with a small company that treated its drivers right. Unfortunately by that time, the local taxi industry was in a state of permanent decline due to Uber and Lyft expanding their presence in our area. Predatory pricing (Uber loses BILLIONS of dollars every year and their prices are so low that 30% of Uber and Lyft drivers actually lose money and 74% earn less than the minimum wage with the median wage being just $3.37 an hour—and that’s before taxes) and an unequal regulatory playing field make it impossible for cab companies to be competitive. Cab companies are highly regulated (everything from driver drug testing to the limited geographic area where a taxi service may pick up passengers is mandated by law/regulations, none of which Uber/Lyft have to abide by) and pay costly licensing/permit fees, inspection fees and commercial registration fees, all of which Uber and Lyft get to avoid. Predatory pricing (setting prices so low, often below cost, that competitors can’t compete and will be driven out of business) is illegal under anti-trust laws, but like other anti-trust laws, it isn’t enforced.

Sorry about the Uber/Lyft rant. Anyway, so for some time now my partner’s taxi income has been greatly diminished, but I didn’t realize by how much until very recently. As some of you know, I am bipolar and have PTSD (not the self-diagnosed Tumblr variety) and despite my meds, I’ve been depressed for some time. My partner thought the last thing I needed to hear in my current mental state was how desperate our financial situation has become so he didn’t tell me. My own job went from full-time to part-time some time ago, and while I probably should have looked for new full-time employment at that point, I felt bad leaving the boss in a bind who’d given me a chance. Also, to be honest, I was barely able to get through the day and function at work so I really wasn’t up to going on job interviews.
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Posted May 9, 2018 by Sasha in Poverty, Story of My Life

The Latest in Corporate Contempt for Workers   2 comments

You’re not going to believe this. Then again, maybe you will.

Remember the job I was telling you about? Nine days of unpaid training and the need to pass a bunch of proficiency tests, after which we were to start a part-time, no-benefits contract job for $9.50 an hour? Today I received a notice congratulating me on passing the final test. Unfortunately, the notice then went on to inform me that the project has been canceled. Just like that. There will be no jobs for anyone. No reason was given.

I’m still reeling from the news. While it may not sound like much, in our current situation, this job was like a lifeline. True, it was a contract job, but the contract period was to be extended indefinitely, and we’re desperate for any kind of steady income. Also, while the pay was low and the hours limited, there was a clear path to advancement, which would have meant better pay and more hours in the future. Most of all, we have no other source of income right now. None. Which is why I worked my ass off during the training period, even spending precious time away from my critically ill Balou because I really, really needed this job to work out.

The job was scheduled to start today. When I didn’t hear from my supervisor yesterday, I was a bit worried that maybe I hadn’t done as well as I thought on the final test, but it never occurred to me that the whole project had been canceled. That there might not be any work at the end of the training period even after passing all the proficiency tests with flying colors (which, it turns out, I did) was never even mentioned as a possibility.
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The War on Drugs Is a War on Sexual Assault Survivors   6 comments

There are many good reasons to oppose U.S. drug policy and the abysmal failure that is our so-called war on drugs. As is often pointed out, the war on drugs isn’t really a war on drugs at all. It’s a war on people. People who use certain drugs, most of which were made illegal for political, not medical, reasons. But this post isn’t about the relative risks and dangers of illegal versus legal drugs or the history of the drug war. What I want to discuss is how our drug laws not only turn countless rape victims and survivors of childhood sexual abuse into criminals, but dramatically increase the likelihood that they will be raped again.

Sexual assault is one of the most violating experiences a person can endure. The trauma is exacerbated by a culture that routinely blames, shames, and disbelieves rape victims, and a justice system that denies all but a very small minority of rape survivors the opportunity to hold their attacker accountable. Studies show that at least 80% of rape victims suffer from chronic psychological and/or physical conditions as a result of being attacked. It’s not unusual for rape trauma, especially when compounded by a hostile or dismissive community reaction, to trigger suicidal ideation, resulting in a drastically increased suicide risk for rape survivors: 1300% higher than individuals not victimized by crime and 600% higher than victims of crimes other than rape.

Consequently it shouldn’t come as a surprise that drugs and alcohol are commonly used as a coping aid post rape. A study examining a random sample of sexual assault victims found that 44% took prescription drugs (mostly sedatives, tranquilizers, and antidepressants) to cope with the attack. How many self-medicate with alcohol or illegal drugs? We don’t know. We do know that close to 90% of women who are habitual heroin or cocaine users are also sexual assault survivors. Many have been raped more than once. And nearly two-thirds were children when they were first sexually assaulted.
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On Being Raped More Than Once   52 comments

Last week I was leaving a comment at Corrente, referencing my own rapes and PTSD in response to a rape-minimizing, victim-discrediting post. As soon as I typed the word “rapes,” I was seriously tempted to hit the backspace key and erase the “s.” Because while virtually all victims who speak out about their rape have, at times, been greeted with that special combo platter of disbelief, blame, othering, and trivialization, an additional stigma frequently attaches to those who’ve been raped on more than one occasion.

It’s been my experience that even individuals who respond sympathetically to discovering that a woman was raped once, often have the following reactions upon hearing someone was raped on two or more separate occasions:

Response #1: “She is probably one of ‘those’ feminists; you know, the type that thinks of nearly all heterosexual intercourse as rape. I bet if I heard the details of those supposed rapes, they wouldn’t sound like rapes at all.”

Response #2: “I wonder what she’s doing to bring on these attacks; after all, most women are never raped, so someone raped multiple times is probably being extremely reckless/stupid/provocative/victim-blaming-adjective-of-choice” (note that response #1 frequently turns into response #2 once the individual is satisfied that the victim’s experiences don’t sound like consensual sex after all).

In the US, one in four women will be the victim of an attempted or completed rape at least once in her lifetime. That’s an estimate based on victimization surveys, and it means that 75% of all US women will go through their entire life without anyone trying to rape them. So how is it that some women are raped not just once, but multiple times?
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Poverty in America and the Emerging Slave Class   11 comments

My partner and I are poor. Really poor. We live in a small rental and we can’t afford many of the things most people take for granted: a car, TV, high speed Internet, health care, furniture. I was about to say we can’t afford anything that isn’t an absolute necessity, but then I thought of all the things we can’t afford although they are necessities, such as the aforementioned health care or even a winter coat. We’re part of a growing number of Americans who work hard, pay taxes–and barely scrape by. And there is almost no chance that our situation will improve.

From the government’s perspective, we’re doing fine. We don’t contribute to the unemployment statistics or the welfare rolls, so where’s the problem? It doesn’t matter to the powers that be that our lives are a daily grind of all work and no play. It doesn’t matter that we sleep on the floor and sometimes freeze in the winter because we can’t afford to run the heater. It doesn’t matter that we’re forced to ignore symptoms of ill health and suffer in agony because seeing a doctor or dentist isn’t financially feasible. It doesn’t matter that we own nothing, have no savings, and struggle to survive, although we’re working full time and paying taxes.

Speaking of taxes, last month we were forced to borrow money to pay our tax bill, and we’ll be paying back that loan for the rest of the year. Not because we owed such a huge amount, but because any amount is a hardship when you often don’t make enough to cover your bills and eat. What? You thought the working poor get a nice fat refund come tax time? Some do, but we’re self-employed. Self-employment taxes ate up our entire refund and left us owing Uncle Sam more money than we had. Hence the loan.

As companies increasingly hire independent contractors rather than take on new employees, more people will find themselves in our position. Although we’re technically freelancers, close to 90% of our income comes from four companies that hire us year round. We’re grateful for the work, but would we prefer steady employment with benefits? You bet!
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Why I Despise Gender Essentialism (Part 1)   3 comments

Let’s cut to the chase: I abhor gender essentialism and not just in the abstract sense that this stuff hurts women as a class (though it does and that would certainly be reason enough to detest this type of biological determinism). My reasons, however, are personal as much as they are political. My life has been marred by extreme violence and abuse, body image issues, anorexia, addiction, and severe depression. I spent much of my teen years hating myself and wanting to die. But it wasn’t always like that. As a little girl, I was an entirely different person. Happy, confident, curious, a natural leader. What happened, you ask? Gender happened. Specifically, being forced into the female gender role. You know, the one that should have come naturally, given that I was born female and all.

In this post and the next, I’ll be discussing gender essentialism–the belief that women are one way and men are another way and these differences are the result of biology, not socialization–and the damage done to girls when they are forced into the female gender straightjacket. Unfortunately proponents of gender essentialism are everywhere. And it’s not just conservatives, MRAs and evo psych adherents (lots of overlap there) who believe that men and women are inherently different due to biologically determined gender roles. Recently I’ve come across several self-described feminists and feminist allies seemingly invested in denying that gender is a social construct. My guess is that most people believe, more or less strongly, that at least some gender differences (not to be confused with sex differences though they frequently are) are innate. This is very much the mainstream view, which is why it’s so annoying when those who subscribe to it pretend they’re courageously speaking an unpopular truth that some of us ladies just don’t want to accept.

And why would women be particularly reluctant to accept an essentialist view of gender? Duh! Because while the gender binary is limiting for men as well, in a patriarchal society (and which society isn’t?) it’s far more limiting for women. Gender essentialism has been used to advocate, explain, and excuse the oppression of women for eons, what with us being “naturally” passive, submissive, emotional, illogical, helpless, nurturing, self-sacrificing, dependent, peace-loving, and all that.
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Blonde Privilege My Ass   2 comments

I just learned about a new privilege I have: blonde privilege (no, I ain’t linking that crap; go Google if you must). It’s true; my hair is naturally blonde. Light blonde even. Now let me tell you how great it was to grow up with all that blonde privilege.

First, there was the steady flow of dumb blonde jokes ranging from the idiotically sexist to the viciously misogynistic with such hilarious punchlines as the one about women who look like me being too dumb to know when we’re being raped. I know, right? That’s a real thigh-slapper. Particularly when told to a girl who’s both blonde and a rape victim. Hearing that shit on the radio or TV was bad enough, but it was even worse when people I knew, supposed friends even, told such “jokes” right in front of me, expecting me to do what? Laugh?

Then there were the wonderful assumptions many people routinely made about my intelligence and supposed shallowness. Not only was I often presumed to be dumb unless and until I repeatedly provided evidence to the contrary, but lots of people also figured I had neither knowledge of, nor interest in “serious” stuff like politics, law, environmentalism, and social justice movements. Because everyone knows that girls who look like me are airheads who are all about fashion and guys and parties and shopping.

Another huge advantage of being blonde was the type of guys I attracted. Thank goddess I have small breasts or I would have hit the trifecta. Still, talk about being a magnet for the biggest assholes around, the type of guys who think of their girlfriends as trophies. When I was too young to know better, I actually dated a couple of guys who introduced me to their friends like a prized possession while I stood there wishing the earth would swallow me. Meanwhile the progressive and alternative dudes I was interested in thought they were “protesting” mainstream culture with its constant messages that all guys prefer blondes by NOT being into blondes. It wasn’t until I was a little older that I realized any guy who thought a woman’s hair color was this important wasn’t worth my time.
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