Il Misogino Italiano

Autostraddle asked me to answer a few questions for their A+ subscribers, one of which was about the worst date I’ve ever been on. I’ve since ceased dating and all romantic activities because quite frankly, I think most people suck. However, back in the day I was a dating machine and I’ve been left with a lot of stories. I have so many dating horror stories that I started a book about them several years ago.

In the interest of keeping my answers for Autostraddle brief, I’m sharing two of my chapters here on my blog with the first below. I hope you enjoy reading about my tales of dating woe.

Trigger Warning: Intimate partner violence, emotional and physical abuse by a cisman.

Il Misogino Italiano

He was a pretty, Italian boy that I found online. He told me he was a former model, citizen of Italy, a law student, and the son of a former model and of a wealthy, Boston based business man. He came across as emotionally detached, spoiled, and arrogant with a sense of entitlement so big that it couldn’t fit on the small tin can of a subway we Boston residents call the T. I thought perhaps it was me and my so called bitterness that left me with a bad impression so I gave him a chance. After a few email exchanges we agreed to meet and stroll around the Boston Commons. We walked, we talked, we shared, and I still felt uncomfortable and ill at ease with him. But, I agreed to a second date with him.

Date two occurred after I was released from the shackles of my classes. We met at my favorite dinner/drink/jazz spot in a neighborhood not too far from my place. I was emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausted from juggling work, my political commitments, chronic health problems, and graduate school, but I wanted an exciting distraction. Perhaps that’s why my judgment was so cloudy about this obviously spoiled brat. After a few drinks we ended up back at my place where he behaved like an even bigger spoiled asshole than I thought possible. His royal highness voiced many complaints during the course of his short visit: The wine I offered tasted awful. It was too hot inside. On and on he did nothing but insult my home. Eventually I was fed up and my slight vodka high had worn off. I told him it was time to leave. He became violently angry and behaved as if I owed him something. How dare I, a mere peasant woman, throw his fabulous Italian ass out on the street? I told him again to leave when he suddenly got in my face and started screaming. I had a complete melt down and not in the way that I’m accustomed to. Normally in these situations I’m the first to raise my fist in self-defense, but for the first time in my life I became the trembling victim who wouldn’t fight back.

I ran into my bathroom hoping to lock the door and hide until he left, but he ran after me, screaming and yelling. I was terrified and unsure of what to do. Suddenly there he was standing behind me yelling at me. I could feel his venom laced breath on my face and neck. Finally some sense of survival began to click inside me and I pushed him away. I ran into the hallway of my apartment planning to open my door and push his sorry ass out when suddenly he had his hands on my shoulders and threw me into a wall. I was so fucking terrified and shocked that I was speechless. What the hell happened between him being a rude creep that irritated the hell out of me to him being a violent man that I was terrified of?

He had me pinned against the wall and continued to yell, referring to me as a bitch and a slut. I had my faced turned away from him with my eyes closed, terrified of what would happen next. Eventually I looked at him and told him to get his fucking hands off of me. He didn’t do it so I then began to quietly beg him to let go of me. I was trying to keep the situation from escalating. Unfortunately this tactic didn’t work and I became angrier than he was. Who the fuck did he think he was? No one talked to me in such a disrespectful manner! No man yelled at me! And no man in his right mind grabbed me and threw me into a wall! I yelled at him to get his fucking hands off of me and pushed him away, hard. I opened my apartment door and told him that everyone in the building could hear what he was doing and that if he didn’t get out the police would be called. This seemed to do the trick. He finally left. After I closed and locked the door I collapsed on my apartment floor in a sobbing heap.

A few days later he had the audacity to email me with a half-ass apology about how he was just too drunk and that it was the alcohol that made him behave that way. He then went on to say that if I had simply continued our date as planned then he wouldn’t have become so angry. Because clearly it was entirely my fault and the fault of the makers of the alcohol he consumed that night that he was a misogynistic, violent, piece of shit who believed women had to give him want he wanted. No blame on his model boy shoulders at all.

Here’s where things get really scary. I was so deep in my own victimization and PTSD that this creep triggered that I agreed to go out with him again. I still to this day am unsure as to why I went out with him one more time. I’ve experienced abuse at the hands of men a several times in my life, but I never went back. This was the first time I could understand in a very personal manner part of the psychology of the battered woman. I think that I was so desperate to be loved by anyone that I thought maybe he was sorry and would give me what I so desperately needed.

While in the middle of a conversation on our second date, he caught a reflection of himself and spent several minutes modeling in front of the mirror. I became frustrated with him and told him to “spend time with me and you can stare at yourself when you get home.” I was responded to with a disdainful snort and “when I’m ready.” It was at that moment that I really saw him as more than just an egomaniacal, abusive bastard. He was a part of a violent rape culture that had hurt me and countless other women. He believed, and had been told throughout his life, that because he was a man, a good looking man, a straight man, an able bodied man, a wealthy man that he could demand and have anything that he wanted, including women. His privileges led him to see women as lesser species that he could treat how he saw fit. If he wanted to yell at us, insult us, threaten us, hit us, well, that was within his right as a man. Thankfully my Indigenous Feminist values and sense of self-worth finally kicked in because I shudder to think what would have happened if I had continued to see him.

A few months later I saw him having a drink at the Newbury St restaurant that all of Boston’s Euro trash frequent. I wish that I could say that in the end he got what he deserved. That he was arrested, charges were pressed, a permanent legal record formed, that he contracted a scorching case of herpes that never went into remission, but sadly, I can’t say any of that. Guys like him get away with this abusive behavior everyday because we live in a world that sends a loud and clear message that women, particularly women who are like me (Bi, Disabled, and Native) deserve abuse. We deserve less pay at the same job than a man and our white, straight, and able-bodied women counterparts. We don’t deserve to feel safe on dates, with our families and friends, on the street, in the military and relationships, or at our jobs, schools, or homes. We don’t deserve to be believed when abused or legal protections. We don’t deserve the right to control our own bodies and our own lives. We don’t deserve to decide when or if we have children. We don’t deserve the right to be autonomous sexual beings. We are mere toys for the boys to play with when and how they see fit.

This story isn’t simply one bad dating story that happened to one unfortunate woman; it’s a symbol of how deeply embedded patriarchy and gender based violence are into our American way of life. It’s as American as apple pie. I hate apple pie.

The Monogamist

Autostraddle asked me to answer a few questions for their A+ subscribers, one of which was about the worst date I’ve ever been on. I’ve since ceased dating and all romantic activities because quite frankly, I think most people suck. However, back in the day I was a dating machine and I’ve been left with a lot of stories. I have so many dating horror stories that I started a book about them several years ago.

In the interest of keeping my answers for Autostraddle brief I’m sharing two of my chapters here on my blog with the first below. This particular story is even Halloween themed for an extra fright. I hope you enjoy reading about my tales of dating woe.

Trigger Warning: Biphobia and mental illness.

The Monogamist

Women Seeking Women

Hi there,

I’ve had numerous dates and some of them weren’t that painful, but I still haven’t found what I want. I’m not looking for marriage or kids; rather, I want a partnership. I want to share my life with someone and have that person do the same in return. I’m looking for someone who is educated, intelligent, compassionate, well-rounded, truly liberal, sensual and sexual, and looking to build a life with someone that doesn’t include marriage and kids.

I’m 28, cute, sexy, sensual, bi (biphobes need not apply!), affectionate, independent, eclectic, curvy, confident, over educated, cerebral, and down-to-Earth. I’m also very feminist and concerned with social justice and environmental issues, but I love my heels, dresses, sexy lingerie, and I have one hell of a cute giggle😉

I work in progressive (leftist/liberal/democratic) politics and am very passionate about what I do. I love modern art, jazz, college football, cooking, throwing parties, and am a white water rafting junkie.

Basically, I feel at home sipping martinis in heels, discussing philosophy over coffee, gulping water from a CamelBak while hiking, or just staying in and cooking a nice meal.

Drop me a few lines about yourself if I’ve piqued your interest.

Oxox

Before the days of the Craigslist Killer and the war against CL for its pay-to-play postings, my “monogamist” replied to the above ad, my ad, on craigslist. I wish I could tell you what she had said to me to win me over, but I can’t recall. Whatever she said was enough to merit a response.

Over the course of several emails and instant message conversations I mentioned that I enjoyed writing and kept a casual blog. I had recently written an entry in response to an irritating newspaper piece about the lack of truly romantic, modern movies. This list had claimed that An Officer and a Gentleman was one of the last real romances made. I had watched that piece of chauvinistic shyte and was pretty irritated that a reporter believed that the subjugation of women was romantic. I unleashed my feminist venom online. I wrote about how the true tenants of romance were often misunderstood. It’s not the trite, socially obligatory gestures that make us swoon (you can keep your cheap, nasty, drugstore chocolates and half wilted roses on Valentine’s Day thank), but rather the acts that truly surprise us and show us how known, understood, and loved that we are that makes an individual fall to their knees. If someone wanted to make me giddy with delight then they’d give me a basil plant because they know I love to cook or a bottle of good bourbon because I’m Southern and living in the Northeast sometimes makes me homesick and once again, bourbon is one of my most favorite things in the world. Of course my monogamist just had to read my blog so I gave her the link and off she went.

We agreed to meet on Friday night for drinks. Much to my pleasant surprise she not only came to pick me up, but she parked her car and actually came up to my apartment door. This was rare dating behavior for a northeasterner. It’s also the type of behavior that makes my Southern grrrl heart swoon.

I buzzed her into my building and quickly checked my lipstick and hair before she knocked on my door. I anxiously, but nervously, answered my door to find her bent over, ass in the air, with a bottle of bourbon tucked into her back pocket. I burst into laughter and asked her what the hell she was doing. It turns out she spent too much money on a new pair of jeans that made her ass look so great so she figured she’d present my “roses” (ie my bourbon) that way. I was instantly smitten. This woman who barely even knew me thought so much of me that she not only read my blog, but she actually paid attention to it and brought me bourbon. And she showed off her cute ass for me. Score!

There was instant chemistry. She was cute, polite, spunky, fun, and did I mention cute? I was crushing hard. We went to a local pub and flirted and chatted for a couple of hours. She was so little and cute that she couldn’t drink much so she nursed a beer while I had a beer and a couple of Jacks. The date was so fun that I didn’t even want to get drunk or run away. This was a rare phenomenon on my dates.

While nursing her second beer she informed me that she couldn’t drink anymore because she had to drive, but she didn’t want the date to end. I made the smitten based decision to invite her back to my place for some bourbon. She jumped at the chance, grabbed her beer, and put it inside her jacket and led me out the door. This move seriously impressed me. In my own responsible, booze hound way I liked that she would stop drinking in order to drive sober, but wouldn’t leave her beer behind. We got to her car where she opened the door for me and then she got in and put her beer in the cup rest and we took off to my place.

We were engage in lighthearted, flirty conversation on my couch with a couple of glasses of bourbon when one of us finally lunged at the other. I can’t recall who did the first move, but kissing quickly led to roaming hands and heavy breaths and pants.

I can’t recall which one of us pulled away, but one of us finally did. She suddenly looked at me with an incredibly serious look and said “I have something I have to tell you.”

I got a little freaked out but rolled with it. I told her to tell me whatever she needed to say.

“I’m a monogamist!” she said.

I had no idea how the hell to respond to this so I made a light-hearted joke:

“Do they make a cream for that?” I asked.

She completely missed the humor of my question and then launched into some slightly manic story about how her last girlfriend cheated on her and how she’s a “monogamist” and can’t be cheated on again.

I softly, but firmly, told her that while I was very sorry to hear about her ex, but that we were only on our first date. I went on to say that I was having a wonderful time, but once again, it’s only a first date. I wasn’t about to commit to someone that I barely even knew, but that I’m always honest and upfront. This all seemed to assuage her manic feelings, but I was left feeling just a touch shaken. I saw a red flag waving off the in the distance and that’s never a good sign. Given all of this new information I put the brakes on anything more physical occurring that night and I put the bourbon away. She needed to sober up because she wasn’t staying the night with me; at least not that night. I had a hunch that this was a woman that might go over the edge of sanity and it was probably best that I didn’t sleep with her. Being young, stupid, and horny though, I still wanted to see what may happen.

Skip to a sunny, crisp New England Sunday morning. After futzing around my apartment and putting off work I decided to give my monogamist a call. She was also in procrastination mode so we agreed to grab lunch and do some shopping. Once again, my 4’11, 90lb slightly unhinged, but oh-so-cute date picked me up at my place. While on the drive to the Prudential mall, somehow the topic of sex with men came up. She made a couple of back handed comments about how disgusting the idea of sex with a man was and that she tried it once and that was more than enough for her. I can certainly appreciate the varying views of attraction and even to some extent repulsion, but given my experiences with one too many biphobic lesbians I learned to be wary when they talked about how disgusting sex with men was

I cautiously asked her about her one experience. Turns out she was on a bitter breakup so she and one of her fellow gold star lez friends hit a straight bar, got roaring drunk, and each took some guy home. According to the monogamist, he tried to fuck her in the ass without asking or using lube. Now I’m attracted to men and on occasion a little anal can be fun, but that would plain piss me off and end with his sorry ass thrown out of my apartment and probably without his clothes, keys, or wallet. If it’s not pleasurably consensual sex then it shouldn’t be happening.

I explained to her that I no woman, regardless of orientation, would enjoy that encounter because it wasn’t consensual, but that for some of us, under the right circumstances, sex with men is far from disgusting. She threw out a couple more comments about how she was disgusted by even the notion and that it was dirty and led to disease. At this point I was fuming because of her biphobia. However, my public health, safer sex outreach counselor side came out and I asked if she had used protection. Of course she didn’t. It was really hard for me not to laugh at that. I mean really, a drunken one nighter with some dude you picked up at a bar and fucked without a condom can lead to disease?! Alert the presses! I nicely, but firmly informed her that with protection the people involved are fairly well safe, and that women who have sex with women should practice safer sex too, and then I changed the subject.

We’re now sitting at a bar having a drink and waiting for our table. Things are calm and flirty again, and I’m feeling a bit more at ease. Perhaps it was my mojito, but I thought there were smooth seas ahead for our lunch. Of course, crazy doesn’t take a vacation for long and it was merely the calm before the storm.

To this day I can’t recall how this line of interrogation began, but soon I was on the hot seat regarding my sexual experiences with men. It’s 3pm on a lovely Sunday afternoon in a family friendly restaurant in Boston and I’m being grilled about how many men I’ve fucked, if I liked it, if I like women more, and if I’m currently fucking a guy. I was absolutely furious and was sucking down my mojito like its last call at the bar and I’m nowhere near tipsy.

I calmly, but with an unmistakable tone of fury, told her that it was neither the time nor the place for this discussion and that I didn’t appreciate being spoken to in such a manner. Seeing as this chick had no respect for my boundaries, she kept after me.

“Are you seeing a man now?!” She demanded.

Her eyes were were lite up and wild. It was like looking into an amusement park fun house, spiraled tunnel.

“Clearly I need to remind you that we are only on our SECOND date! If or whom I may be seeing is absolutely none of your business.” I replied between long drags of mojito.

Now there’s a perfectly polite, and might I say adorable, British man sitting at the bar next to us. He is looking increasingly nervous and uncomfortable with every passing second. If there had been a comic thought bubble above his head I imagine that it would have said something like this: “God, when I asked you to send me two lesbians to watch this wasn’t what I meant!”

And on the argument continued:

“Well it is my business if you’re fucking some man because I don’t want a disease.”

“If you want to have a conversation about safer sex practices then we can have that conversation at a more appropriate time, but we both know that’s not what this is about!” I responded.

“It is so what this is about! I don’t want you sleeping with some man.” She snarked back.

“Oh but I can fuck every woman in Boston?! You clearly can’t stand the fact that not only have I been with men and have enjoyed it, but that I refuse to apologize for it. You knew from the start that I’m bi. If you’re so fucking insecure that you can’t handle that then you shouldn’t have responded to my post!” I practically screamed above the sound of the lunch time crowd of children and their owners.

“No, I don’t want you fucking anyone but me!”

“Well, Monogamist, you don’t get to make that call. WE ARE ONLY ON OUR SECOND DATE!”

It was at this moment that the hostess called us to our table. The only reason why I hadn’t ran out of there like the place was on fire was because I left a water bottle that was covered with stickers from my travels in her car and I didn’t want to loose it. I have since learned to keep all of my belongings on me at all times.

We quietly and awkwardly walked to our table. A very bubbly waitress greeted us and was met with my order for “a vodka martini, now”. She raised an eyebrow and looked at the two of us before scurrying away. I suppose that hard booze on a Sunday afternoon isn’t the norm for most people, but I dare them to be in that situation and not need to knock a stiff one back.

The biphobia and absurdity seemed to have had subsided and my monogamist apologized for upsetting me. I once again very calmly, but firmly, told her that I won’t make a commitment to anyone after such a short time and that while I understood that she was nursing some wounds, and had resulting trust issues, that I if I choose to commit to her that I wouldn’t cheat. I also mentioned that if she kept pushing me that not only would she not have to worry about me cheating, but that she’d never see me again.

Things eventually became fun again (thank you vodka!) and we had a nice lunch. After lunch we headed to shop for one of the very few things that I enjoy shopping for: cosmetics. Awww sweet bliss! I could play in the makeup like a little kid with finger paints. Soon she was asking me for my opinion on eyelash curlers which I found slightly surprising. My monogamist was what most in the dyke world would call a “soft butch.” She wore women’s clothes, but wasn’t particularly girly, nor was she particularly boyish. There was a slight air of so called femininity to her, but she was definitely not a Femme like me.

I gave her my opinion on eye lash curlers and went on with my shopping. We made our purchases and then wandered to an Irish pub to watch football. It was over a couple of pints and football that we talked about our families and eventually our battles with mental illness. At that point in my life, my depression, panic disorder, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) were fairly well under control. Under control or not they are chronic illnesses none the less that I had to be, and mostly likely always will be, mindful of.

My monogamist told me that she was bipolar and had been hospitalized only a couple of years earlier when her father passed away. I felt complete empathy for her then, still do to this day in fact, but after having seen some of her highly erratic mood swings I wasn’t falling off the barstool in surprise. I suspect that she wasn’t being properly medicated and was still dealing with the trauma of losing her father and that was partially to blame for her behavior. I cut her some slack, but I now saw a few more red flags waving off in the distance.

It’s now Saturday, one week from our first date, and we’re both getting our Halloween costumes in order for a party at a queer grrrl bar in Somerville, not too far from her house. The plan was for me to stay the night at her house after the party was over. We were finally ditching the clothes and having a sleepover that wouldn’t facilitate much sleep.

Dressed as a devil in a blue dress and her as an angel we headed out for the night. A few drinks, dancing, flirty, making out, and hours later I was completely relaxed and having a great time. No sight of the fun house tunnel eyes. No sooner than I had thought that I couldn’t wait to get her home and out of that costume she made a completely out-of-the-blue, passive aggressive comment about how I might prefer to be with a man. That was my breaking point. I had taken all the shit I was going to take from this pint size, biphobic ass! I slammed down my drink and told her to hurry up because she was taking me home right then. I went storming out of the club with her running after me yelling “Wait, Jen! Stop! I’m sorry!”

While I was running as fast as my little heels would take me I heard snickering from the by standers. Normally I’m one of the people laughing at the dyke drama that occurs, but that night I was part of the show.

I got to her car absolutely fuming. She finally caught up to me. I demanded that she open the door.

“Not until you tell me what I’ve done!” She half-whined, half-screamed.

“Open the car door! I want to get my things from your house and then I’m going home!” I replied.

“No! Not until you tell me what I’ve done!”

“Fine, forget it. I’ll take a cab.”

“NO! Wait.” She said while finally unlocking the car door.

We both sat in the car and the same dialogue started up again: me telling her to start the car and her saying no. I finally told her that I was very angry and a little drunk so we’d talk about it the next day when we were calm and sober. Of course rationality didn’t work on her so I had to once again say that I’d get a cab. This finally got the car moving. We were sitting at a red light when she literally balled her hands into fists and began to rock back and forth while hitting her head repeatedly saying “What did I do? What did I do?”

I looked at her in absolute horror and surprise. This was not something I was expecting. We finally got to her house and I made a bee line for the door. I was up three flights of stairs and grabbed my bag like I was training for the Olympics. I turned around to leave her bedroom only to find her with her tiny arms outstretched blocking the doorway.

“Move out of the way. I’m going home.” I demanded.

“No, not until you tell me what I’ve done!” She said in a tone that reminded me of the Exorcist.

A minute or two of this same back and forth goes on. I finally attempted to move her. Now bear in mind that she’s tiny and I’m significantly larger than her. I didn’t want to hurt her nor did I want to risk her calling the police on me. I simply wanted to get the hell away from her. I very gently pushed her out of the way. She bounced back up in front of the door like one of those blow up clowns that kids play with. You hit them once and they bounce right back up ready for more.

At this point I’m absolutely pissed off. It’s clear to me that she was trying to be threatening and intimidating. Obviously given the size difference she wasn’t any physical threat to me, but I was angry that I had one more romantic partner trying to scare and abuse me. That was when it dawned on me that I could use this to my advantage.

“Your roommates are home, right? Don’t they have friends over? I said to her.

“Yes. Why?” She asked suspiciously.

“Well think about it, monogamist, all they can hear is a woman telling you to get out of the way because she wants to leave and you yelling ‘no.’ What must they be thinking?”

With this she finally moved and I flew out the door like a crazy person and ran after the lone cab on her street. I hadn’t even made it over the Charles River back into Boston before the text messages began pouring in. Every message was mean and spiteful. I ignored them, but this went on for a couple of hours. I woke up the next morning to find a text from her saying: “Check your mailbox.”

I lived in a secure apartment building that required a key to get into the building and a key to get into my mailbox so I was freaking out. I ran down my stairs to my mailbox, but hesitated before opening it. I didn’t know if a venomous snake was going to jump out or a bomb would go off. I had no idea what to expect. With shaken hand I opened my mailbox to find it empty. I let out a sigh of relief and went back to up the stairs for coffee.

The Red Sox were playing in the final game of the World Series that night (they won) and I was going to watch the game with a buddy of mine. On my way to out to meet him I noticed a letter duct taped to the main building door. It was addressed to me. Inside the envelope was a two sided letter written in tiny hand writing from the monogamist. The letter was absolutely certifiable. It went back and forth about how crazy she was about me and how I was a horrible, mean bitch and she hated me. She talked about how she spent the entire day crying and talking to her friends about me. Now this might be warranted if I were actually a horrible, mean bitch or perhaps even if we’d been together for say a year or so, but we had three dates and never slept together. This was all way too much given the circumstances. Included with the letter was a mix CD she made for me. At least I can say she had good taste in music.

Monogamist CD Playlist:

  1. Temper Temper: Tuscadero
  2. Let’s Stop Kicking Our Hearts Around: Wanda Jackson
  3. Only Daddy That’ll Walk The Line: Waylan Jennings
  4. You Can Have It All: Yo La Tengo
  5. Suck My Let One: Bikini Kill
  6. Come To Me: Bjork
  7. I’m Sorry: Brenda Lee
  8. Gimme More: Britney ‘muthafuckin’ (sic) Spears
  9. You’re So Vain: Carly Simon
  10. What A Difference A Day Makes: Dinah Washington
  11. Hole In My Head: The Dixie Chicks
  12. Hold Me Now: Elastics
  13. Love Is A Stranger: The Eurythmics

Emergency Financial Support to Travel to Standing Rock

Osiyo Readers,

As many of you know I’m a citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and a journalist. I’ve never used my blog in this way, but my Native community is under attack and we need help. I’m reaching out to you for emergency financial support to travel to the Standing Rock Reservation in Cannonball, ND to stand in solidarity with the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux against the Dakota Access Pipeline and to report the news from the ground.

The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) is a 1,172 mile pipeline that stretches from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota to Illinois and crosses the Missouri River (MO) and the Oglala Aquifer which is the water supply for the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. The DAPL was originally planned to cross the MO River near Bismarck, but it was deemed a too heavily populated area to risk the water supply so it was rerouted to the reservation. This act of environmental racism and genocide led to the creation of the Sacred Stone Camp and many other camps near the DAPL construction site near the reservation. Since Sacred Stone was created in July 2016, over 4,000 people of over 300 tribal nations have traveled there to protect the water, Native lives, and our way of life. Since then, the ND government and the DAPL have unleashed extreme violence against our people through the use of the National Guard, drones, attack dogs, mace, helicopters, assault weapons, brutality, harassment, LRAD, cutting off the water supply, and many of those arrested have been sexually assaulted by law enforcement through the use of unnecessary strip searches.

The purpose of my trip to Standing Rock is to stand in solidarity with our people there, to help protect the water, but also to provide further Native created media content for primarily non-Native media sources. The Dakota Access Pipeline has been covered well in Native media, but has had little attention in mainstream media, as well as in this year’s election cycle. The coverage that has occurred, has been primarily by non-Native journalists and has been racist or misconstrued. It is crucial that Native People are able to tell our stories to the world in our own voices, especially for Native Women and LGBTQ Two Spirit Natives.

This request is coming on the heels of yet another attack of the people at Standing Rock. On Saturday, the paramilitary outfitted law enforcement of North Dakota maced and used brutal force on the peaceful Water Protectors. Eighty-three people were arrested, including journalists, and one was sent to the hospital due to the police brutality. They threw one of our peaceful girls to the ground with her face buried in the mud. The police have been confiscating people’s phones for weeks so that they cannot share videos and photos of the abuses there. The ND government has not only arrested journalists, but has attempted to charge them with trespassing and rioting and one documentary filmmaker now faces up to 45 years in prison. Native People at the camps are calling for more warriors to come and help protect the water.

As a Native Woman it is my duty to be there to stand with my relations to protect the water and lives of the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux, as well as those that will impacted by the devastation of the Missouri river, but also to further report the news. Our realities must be told to the world and they must be told by us.

Because I’m a freelance writer I do not have the financial support that some journalists may have. I’m asking the greater community to help me make the trip to Standing Rock, by making donations and purchasing the items on my Standing Rock Amazon Wish List. The majority of the supplies on the wish list will be left with the people at the camps. By helping me you’re also creating further resources for those at the camps, specifically for those with mobility impairments who require accommodations such as cots and chairs.

Any amount you are able to give is greatly appreciated and goes a long way to making this a reality. You can read some of my published work on Wear Your Voice, The Establishment, and Autostraddle.

My fundraising campaign is on YouCaring. I’ll soon have my Amazon Wish List ready to post. Please share my fundraising campaign in your networks. I’ve included my campaign link here, but you can also find me with youcaring.com/jendeerinwaterdapl

Wado!

Jen Deerinwater

1990s Jen to Now

Osiyo readers!

“Osiyo” is “hello” in Tsalagi or as many of you know us as: Cherokee.

So I am still around. I’ve just been all consumed with my move to DC and my new career as a journalist. I’m now all settled into my new place with more articles being published every day so I thought since insomnia is plaguing me I’ll write a little something here.

In an effort to unwind and get to bed at a decent hour for myself I decided to make myself a martini and listen to some music from the 90s. This of course led me to think about my high school self which led me to think about my college self and then down the rabbit hole I went.

The music from my late teen years brought to mind the movies and fashion which naturally led me to think about the body image issues I had. Grunge was easy for a chubby girl like me because I could hide behind big tshirts, flannels, and jeans. It was the late 90s crop tops that became an issue though. My eating disorder switched gears from hoarding food, over-eating, and trying to make myself vomit, and ultimately failing and hating myself for failing to severely restricting my diet. The later would continue on throughout my adult life. It still plagues me to this day.

I spent part of my high school years being the smart, cute, funny, chubby girl that boys were friends with and would talk to about other girls and secretly date to eventually being the thin, hot girl that they had zero interest in talking to. Both situations fucking sucked. Frankly, dating men isn’t much different. Yes, there are men out there that are into women for who they are and blah blah blah, but they’re few and far between. Yes, there are men that are into larger women, but many of those men are fetishists and still wouldn’t date a fat woman openly.

Anyway, I digress. I eventually began to think about myself at my thinnest point in college. I was a size 10 and 156lbs. I know that doesn’t sound small, but I was really freaking skinny. It was bones holding my skirts and jeans up. I looked like I had a giraffe neck. I would double up from pain because I was so hungry. The only thing that probably kept me from looking sickly is that I worked out often and had well rounded workouts so I had muscle on me. By senior year of college though, I was throwing up. During the summer between junior and senior year, I had a horrible drunken night because I was upset about some asshole, undeserving man. When I came to the next morning on my friend’s couch I instantly ran to the bathroom and prayed to the porcelain gods to make it stop. As absurd as this may sound to some, throwing up felt cleansing to me. It felt like all of the pain that I was carrying around inside of me was everyday was leaving me. I couldn’t make the nightmares, flashbacks, hypervigilance, and panic attacks from being raped and a survivor of domestic abuse and childhood abuse go away, but I could make myself feel better by puking.

Jump ahead a decade or so and I’ve finally mostly made peace with my appearance and was finally getting help for all of the abuse from my past and that had occurred since college. I won’t say all was well in candy land, but I was trying. Then my existing health issues became a problem. I’ve had health problems since I was very young, migraines since I was 13, and chronic pain due to knee and spinal problems since I was 14. This wasn’t new, but the intensity and frequency was.

These health issues have presented so many problems for me, which I’ve talked about here, but what it also did was present a new reason to hate my body. I had finally begun to accept my body for its size and shape, but now I hated it for all of its limitations and how it was ruining my life. It has triggered my eating disorder. I’ve been struggling with severely restricting my diet since 2012 which is unhealthy for even the healthiest of people. For someone with my health conditions it’s downright dangerous. My last PCP, Therapist, and myself were constantly working to find ways for me to manage my health, in particular checking my sugars (I’m diabetic) without triggering my eating disorder, as well as how I could safely take all of my medications even if I didn’t eat.

Believe me when I say it’s a difficult balance. What I intellectually know my sugars should be versus what my disorder tells me my sugars should be are two very different things. Fear is a powerful motivator. The thought of losing more of myself, more of my freedom, my autonomy, my life, my hopes, my dreams, my wishes, my ability to fight off potential abusers, is too much to bear. Sometimes I don’t eat when I know I should.

So there you have it. One martini and a little music from the 1990s and I have all of this, and a whole lot more, speeding through my mind. I intended for this to only be 3 paragraphs. My brain works an awful lot.

If you’re interested, and you should be, you can read my work on Autostraddle, The Establishment, Wear Your Voice, Medium, and the Matador Network.

Trump, Warren, and the Dehumanization of Native Women

I’m incredibly busy with fast approaching deadlines and article pitches, but I wanted to share one of my recently published articles that I’m immensely proud.

I spent countless hours on the research, writing, and editing process. My PTSD was triggered throughout this piece and I was constantly in fear that I would let my ancestors, Indigenous women, and people down by the work that I produced. Through the help of many amazing friends and an incredible editor (I now know why writers thank their Editors) Kelley Calkins, I made it through the other side. I was honored with the privilege to interview Madonna Thunder Hawk and Rebecca Nagle for which I will always be humbled and thankful.

With that said, I give you Trump, Warren, and the Dehumanization of Native Women

http://www.theestablishment.co/2016/08/08/trump-warren-and-the-dehumanization-of-native-women/

Antithesis of a (Queer) Beautiful Moment

On the final night of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Peter Thiel, Co-Founder of PayPal and an openly gay man, endorsed Donald Trump for the Republican Presidential Nomination. Thiel is only the second openly gay man to speak at a Republican National Convention and the first to address issues related to the Queer community.

Thiel, whose net worth is $2.7 billion dollars, spoke of a need to “rebuild America”. He spoke of how his parents were immigrants and brought him to Cleveland at the tender age of 1. In his parents’ time America was a place “where opportunity was everywhere” and “all of America was high tech.” For his white, settler family it was a land of milk and honey.

He soon launched into a list of the defense based technological problems that plague the US. “Our nuclear bases still use floppy discs. Our latest fighter jets can’t even fly in the rain. And it would be kind to say the government software works poorly because much of the time it doesn’t even work at all.”

Thiel waxed nostalgic for a time ”when I was a kid the great debate was how to defeat the Soviet Union and we won. Now we are told the great debate is who gets to use which bathroom. This is a distraction from the real problems. Who cares? Of course every American has an unique identity. I am proud to be gay. I am proud to be a Republican.” Thiel then went on to say that the Republican’s “fake culture wars only distract us from our economic decline.” As his speech came to an end, Thiel received much applause from the red, white, and blue adorned and bedazzled audience. In the post speech commentary Van Jones stated that this was a “beautiful moment” essentially because the Republicans didn’t boo an openly gay man off the stage.

I was watching this speech waiting for Trump to take the stage for an article I was writing otherwise I would have saved myself the Tums and Maalox and read a book instead. I became so enraged from Jones’ response that I had to sit down and write this. I know not to expect much from CNN or any other major media outlet, but to have someone, a person of color no less, state that because a person from a marginalized community that has experienced violence and oppression wasn’t booed off a stage was a “beautiful moment” is just too much for me to stay silent. The fact that a gay man would get up on a Republican stage and sell out his Queer family in the way that Thiel did is too much for me to remain silent.

I won’t begin to speculate on what the circumstances were that brought Thiel and his family here or how hard they worked to achieve the “American dream.” I have no doubt that they, like many others, have struggled and put in countless hours of labor to gain what they have in life. However, they had this “America” to come to because my people had our land stolen, our lives taken, and were relegated to reservations. Our continual loss was their gain. The irony is not lost on me that the very city Thiel and his family immigrated to, and that this year’s RNC was held in, uses my people as a sports mascot-Chief Wahoo for the Cleveland Indians’ baseball team.

Much of Thiel’s speech extolled the virtues of capitalism at all costs, including those of bodies of color in the U.S. and across the globe. He bragged of the U.S. accomplishment in the Manhattan Project which was responsible for creating the first nuclear weapons during WWII. The American government later dropped those bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Much of the development and testing of these nuclear weapons occurred, and has continued to occur, on Native lands and in the Marshall Islands which has led to devastating rates of cancer, miscarriages, birth defects, sterility, a litany of other serious health ailments, and loss of water and food supplies which have only added to our high rates of food insecurity and starvation.

Sadly, I find none of this money at all cost attitude surprising from a Republican. Even out of the mouths of many Democrats they will still justify oppression if it benefits the bottom line of those in power. What I find the most egregious about Thiel’s speech is that he claimed the Republicans have been waging a “fake culture war.” I ask you what’s fake about the multiple atrocities that people throughout the U.S. face every day at the hands of the Republican Party? What’s fake about women’s bodies being policed to the point that they’re incarcerated for having a miscarriage? Purvi Patel was serving a 30 year sentence for the charge of feticide and felony child neglect in the state of Indiana for having a miscarriage. Trump’s Vice Presidential running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence (R), signed fetal rights laws into place which gave more rights to a fetus than a woman. The court of appeals overturned the feticide charge on July 22nd, but Patel is still in prison for “neglect of a dependent.” What’s fake about the epidemic proportions of violence that Native women face in the U.S. at the hands of non-Native men? More than 4 in 5 American Indian and Alaskan Native women will be a victim of violence in her lifetime and more than 1 in 3 will be a victim of violence in the last year. Meanwhile, Trump has repeatedly made racist and misogynistic comments about Native women that have done unmitigated harm to us. In 2013 72% of hate crime homicides were Transgendered women. 2016 is on the way to being a record year for highest rate of murders of Trans women who have been predominately Black. Despite this Republicans felt that the real danger lie in where Trans people use the bathroom.

I could go on and on about the horrifying brutalities and discrimination that Women, Immigrants, People of Color, Queer, Disabled, Poor, and Indigenous people experience every day in the U.S. I’ll never discount my voice and the power that it has, but I have no where near the kind of privilege and clout that Peter Thiel has. He has so much privilege that he was able to stand on the stage at a major U.S. political party’s convention to endorse a candidate, and only moments before the candidate took the stage no less. People with the privilege that Thiel has, have a responsibility to their community to use that privilege to fight like hell for those whose voices are trampled upon by the government, whether it be by the Republican or Democratic Parties, or Trump or Hillary. Thiel took a very clear stand when he took that stage. He told his fellow Republicans and Queer community members that his bank account was worth more than doing right by people. For that Thiel should hang his head in shame and for the rest of us, we have much more work to do.

*You can read this article and soon others here https://medium.com/@JenDeerinwater

Fuck this privilege!

I’ve been doing a lot of writing lately much of which I’ve been submitting for publication. To my surprise my writing has been well received. I’ve already had 4 stories picked up out of the very few submissions I’ve sent out. Granted, I’m not being paid very much at all, but still, I haven’t been at this even a month and if I were to take a guess at the amount of pitches and completed stories I’ve sent out versus what’s been bought thus far I’d say I’m 70/30 in my favor right now. I’m also sending out some of my poetry which I don’t have high hopes for being published, let alone being paid for, but the fact that my voice and the communities I represent are valued so much that I’m being paid for any of my writing at all is awe inspiring and the fuel to the fire that I’ve really needed to keep me going in this dumpster fire of a life I’ve been living.

With all of that said though I am seriously enraged that it took 5 1/2 years of undergraduate and 3 years of graduate education for my voice to be important. That was $250,000 worth of student loan debt. Thankfully, I say ironically, because of my debilitating disability my federal student loan debt has been wiped away now. However, my private student loan debt is forever there until the federal government decides in their infinite wisdom to get off their asses and give private student loan debt relief to those of us who need it-unlike those motherfucking asshole banker dickheads they gave that shyte to. In the meantime there isn’t a fucking thing I can do about it. The mafia would be kinder in their interest rates and payment plans than these motherfucking private student loan lenders. Yet it took all of that education and debt for my voice to matter. Without it I highly doubt anyone would have taken me seriously. Scratch that. I can say with absolute certainty no one would have taken me seriously. As a Tsalagi (Cherokee)-member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, Bisexual, Disabled, Poor Woman I had to work 1,000 times harder than every white, able bodied, straight, American, woman, and man I encountered. That sadly even includes some  Gay men, Lesbians, and other People Of Color because of the Biphobia and Colonialism that we Bisexuals and Natives experience at the hands of Gay men, Lesbians, and other People Of Color is fucking intense and holds us down at all turns. I’ve lost out on jobs and have been denied healthcare because I’m Bi, Disabled, and Native and it hasn’t always been white, able bodied, and het people doing the discriminating. I guess my long winded point is that education is a right for one and all, not a privilege and not one that should weigh down and ruin our futures.

 

I was also thinking earlier about the oppressions and privileges I’ve had throughout my life from childhood until now. One of those privileges as a child was that while I didn’t grow up with an “educated” family with money who could guide me through my higher education and career, I also never had to worry about being evicted from our home, where we’d sleep next, the lights going out, or going to bed hungry. That’s some fucked up shit right there! Those aren’t privileges, those are basic, bare bones human rights! What kind of a fucked up, oppressive, hate fueled, capitalistic world do we live in that a child of abuse who has grown up to be a Native, Bi, Disabled, Poor Woman who’s legally homeless, living below the poverty line, and has spent almost her entire life being abused and yet she can  say she’s “privileged” because she didn’t go to bed hungry at night as a child? Seriously? This is the best we can do in the so called “land of the free?” This is it? The land of milk and honey where Trump and Hillary are our saviors to right the wrongs that so many of us suffer from? That’s some just fucking straight up laughable shit!

I say this as someone who worked for roughly a decade in liberal, mainstream (white) Feminist, and Democratic Party politics. By 2014 I was on my way to being a so called party insider, but I had seen and experienced too much. The racism, colonialism, sexism, ableism, saneism, ageism, elitism, bi/trans/homophobia, and so much more that I experienced first hand or saw others experience working in that environment was too much. I couldn’t keep going in that world. I left for a reason. Once upon a time, even though I ultimately felt that the system should be torn apart and built anew by those of us who have been oppressed by it, I still thought some good could come from working in it. A decade later and I knew different. I didn’t become this far left Radical out of nowhere. My revolutionary beliefs didn’t spring up overnight.

Sadly, we’re (currently) stuck with this colonizing, hate mongering system that has me thinking about how I was privileged to not go to bed hungry as a child, but it doesn’t always have to be this way. We can change this system. It won’t come through Trump, Hillary, Jill Stein, or any other white, able bodied, hetero, wealthy, cisgendered, American, colonizer or settler privileged, status quo candidate. Change comes with us standing up and challenging this corrupt system now! Remember this when you get beaten down and worn down by the system: Privilege isn’t having $250k in student loan debt so maybe people will take you seriously! And Privilege isn’t going to bed hungry!