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.

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!

 

Suffering, Self-Destruction, Speaking Out, & Political Warfare

The last year and a half have been some of the more difficult years I’ve had to face in some time. Due to this I haven’t had the emotional, mental, or physical energy to write for this blog, my book, or most other pieces. I’ve occasionally had a poem come upon me that I felt was appropriate to post, but bringing for the where with all to write deeper and with further explanation has simply never happened. Obviously there is a great deal that has occurred over this period of time, but I’m going to keep it as short as possible.

I was in a relationship that turned out to be very dishonest, manipulative, demanding, and emotionally abusive. Under normal circumstances I would’ve left a relationship of this sort, but I simply couldn’t afford to move out of the apartment we shared. My health problems have become so severe that they have placed great limits on the type of housing I can live in which of course significantly raises the cost. Rents in the Boston area have sky rocketed over the last few years, my health care costs are insane now, and my income stream is abysmal compared to these current costs. I was forced to stay under the roof, due to my disability and finances, with someone who mentally and emotionally tortured me day in and day out.

As one can imagine this led me down a very dark path. I fell apart and without a proper support system I was at a loss as to what to do. My mother, whom I no longer speak to nor do I ever see myself speaking to again despite my deep love for her, knew of the situation and offered no help. The irony in this is profound given that she was once in an abusive marriage and that several of the women in my family have also been in abusive marriages.

Things reached the point that my pride broke and I began looking at shelters. I told my ex that I was going to contact the police if he continued his behavior. He soon moved out after this with the promise that he would pay the rent on the apartment until I either moved out or the lease ended. Like all words that escaped his lips, this was a lie.

Two months later I came home to find under my door a notice to appear in court for an eviction hearing. The apartment management company never called me once nor did they ever follow MA law and send me all of the paperwork that comes before the eviction hearing notice. This was now the end of May 2014 and I had been looking for a place one month after we moved in together which was July 2013. The cost of apartments, my physical needs, the extreme biphobia in the Boston area (the minute potential roommates would hear that I’m bi they were no longer interested in me), and the housing shortage that left many of us scrambling to pay $800 to live in a closet in an unsafe house with 5 roommates no where near the train or life necessities left me unable to find anything. Thankfully I found the horrific place I’m in now at the last minute. I still had to go to court and deal with the mess though and of course my ex, nor his family, could be bothered to attend even though we were all legally obligated to be there. The one bright side of all of this is that I never have to see him nor his loathsome family ever again.

I had a few professional difficulties arise during this time. I have never been a fan of the area I live in. Over the years I’ve found it to be very gender conformist, racist, especially towards us Natives, pro-colonialism, horrifically biphobic, elitist, ableistic, puritanical, self-congratulatory, arrogant, stand offish, cold, and rude. This is not to say that I haven’t found some pleasures of living here, but it’s never been home. Despite this I’ve tried to be socially and politically active, but this came to a breaking point for me, like many things, in the spring of 2014.

I found myself disillusioned with the politics, parties, and the way social and political issues were addressed, if at all. An issue came about that caused great difficulty in my life. I found myself dealing with a set of -isms that were too blatant for me to ignore. After years of suffering out right abuse in “liberal” politics-being called an “injun,” hit on at work, told that I’m bi so bring in sexy bi girls to get the male donors, not being paid for my time and reimbursed for my expenses, told I don’t deserve time for a meal break during a 14 hour day, being told “If you don’t shut up I’m going to throw you through a wall” etc-I simply couldn’t take it anymore. While this situation was not that volatile it was still bad and indirectly told me that I was worthless. I left the environment and was soon threatened with a lawsuit. There were no grounds for the suit, but because of my financial state I couldn’t lawyer up. The same day the eviction notice came was the same day I was threatened with the law suit.

One week prior to this I finally snapped and tried to kill myself. The day I left behind unhealthy professional environments was the day my mother finally went too far with me. I have dealt with years of her emotional neglect, dismissal, and denial of the many abuses I’ve suffered over the years. I choose not to rehash them now, but they are great and they are painful beyond belief.

When I told her that I left this particular situation and why (over a text message because she never called me on any day) instead of giving me support and love or even saying a simply “I’m sorry” her immediate response was to say that her and my step-dad couldn’t give me money. I never said one word about money as a concern of mine let alone asked for money. This is a woman who once told me that I was only angry at her and my step-dad for not giving me enough money. Meanwhile I had just told her I was beyond hurt and angry for things such as her ignoring me telling her when I was only 14 that my boyfriend had raped me. Two months after that I tried to kill myself because I couldn’t take the nightmares and the other symptoms of PTSD any longer. She still denies this to this day. I think she doesn’t even believe that I was raped. Yet she has the audacity and the heartlessness to think that I’m shallow enough to be angry because they won’t give me money. This is one of many examples of heartache my mom has caused me.

I read that text and something in me just broke. I went to my liquor cart and grabbed my bottle of Jack, mind you it was the largest bottle of Jack you can buy, and I started drinking. I drank 3/4s of that bottle. That alone was enough to put me in a hospital. I didn’t stop there. I went to my pills next. Given my health problems I have my own pharmacy. I started mixing them all taking handfuls. I made sure to mix in a nice batch of the narcotics so that they would combined with each other and the alcohol and stop my breathing. I was also careful not to take so many pills that I would be sick and loose them all.

Apparently thanks to my worthless, broken body having health problems that goes back to my childhood I am now like an elephant. It takes large animal size tranquilizers to take me down. I didn’t even get one day of relief from my life. I woke up 6 hours later! I was a groggy, disoriented mess, but I was still awake. I never went to the doctor nor the hospital. I simply drank a lot of water and slept it off.

When I finally decided to tell my therapist and psychiatrist about it they naturally were worried, but sadly not too surprised. My shrink pushed for hospitalization, and then out patient day treatment, both of which I refused. I went through those horrors as a teenager and I’d sooner die then go through them again. [If asking for help means being forced into hospitalization I simply won’t ask for help. That’s how bad my experiences were as a teenager and how much I know about the US mental health care system (not that it deserves to be called “care”) as an adult. I’ll go it my own before I suffer that abuse again!]

After hearing everything I drank and took that night my psychiatrist said in so many words that I was lucky to be alive. I was furious I was alive! I stayed angry for months after. Some days I’m still angry about it. I’m not sure how I didn’t do it all over again, and for good measure slice wrists up like a child making paper dolls, when I received the court notice and the lawsuit threat. Believe me when I say I’ve had the thought many times since. Writing this now has me thinking about it.

I hate that I feel this full of pain and I wish I had the solution to make it all go away, but I’ve spent the bulk of my life trying to hide it all because when I asked for help no one cared. I can’t say that too many people (there are some and they are amazing, loving human beings!) seem to care still, but I refuse to be silent. I don’t give a damn anymore if that means lawsuits or if it hurts my career kissing ass to a bunch of self-righteous, self-congratulatory suits that don’t really care about those of us who are suffering in whatever manner that may be. I could care even less if it makes people “uncomfortable.” Too damn bad! If just hearing about my realities makes you uncomfortable then imagine living them? I am doing everything within my power to care for myself, to better myself, and to have the future that I so desperately want and so rightfully deserve.

In the mean time, I try to remind myself of something that two amazing women have said. One is my fabulous, Indigenous friend, Elyse. She has told me a few times when I’ve felt low that not only am I loved, but that our continual survival as Indigenous women is an act of resistance against colonialism and the powers that want to do away with us. I’ll admit that the few times I read that when I felt so low I wanted to cut myself, starve myself, drink myself into an oblivion, or even kill myself, I wanted to tell her to go “fuck herself.” Elyse is amazing person and I love her dearly, but those words don’t mean a lot in when you’re at one of your greatest moments of suffering. I always told myself though that she loved me enough to say that to me and helped relieve some of the pain.

The second woman whose words ring in my ears are Audre Lorde. I’ve always loved her saying “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” Recently though an amazing revolutionary lovin’ man in Boston, Eroc, posted on his Facebook page another Lorde quote that I try to remember: “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare.”

My actions that make people so uncomfortable and angry with me that they go so far as to threaten me with unfounded law suits or personally attack my character are my form of self-preservation and that is my resistance against the colonizing powers that want to destroy me and this is one of my acts of political warfare.

Alienated, Full of Rage & Pain, & Fed the Fuck Up

Fuck men who eye rape me while waiting for the bus

Fuck men who are bus drivers who hit on me and make me feel unsafe

Fuck men who take advantage of a full train so they can rub against my ass

Fuck these asshole men who do these awful things all within a 20 minute time span on one fucking day so I can spin the fuck out and fall apart.

Fuck my mom for her half-assed emails that I only just saw because I checked my old email account.

Fuck her for thinking a half-assed apology without meat behind it would make things right

Fuck her for causing me more pain

Fuck the “community” and the goddamn white, well to do breeders for thinking that marriage “equality” was some big win for all of us.

Fuck white, financially well off gay men and women who think they have a right to be condescending to me, a Native American, bisexual, disabled, poor woman, with a long history of abuse in all its forms by telling me how hard life has been before gay marriage “equality”

Fuck WordPress for making me be subjected to their bullshit rainbow header because hey, today they care about all us queer folks. Never mind about all those days in which so many of us have been beaten, raped, imprisoned, impoverished, homeless, and so forth. Yeah, we matter today because those that are well off are suddenly “equal” under the fucking law.

Fuck them, fuck you, fuck everyone!

I’m fighting like hell to not self-destruct right now because there is NO safe space for me, but hey, I now have “equality.”