My experiences with #OWS, on top of all the others, along my sober and otherwise reflections upon them have lead me to a recent inner realization that I am in no way corrupt in any moral sense. I am pure the way anger or fire is pure, with or without my ego’s engagement, neither but both good and evil, neither but both useful as well as destructive, powerful, furthermore, yet subject to inevitable burnout. I’ve come to learn that I myself must respect my own nature if I am not to burn or suffocate to death. Others have been and are capable of respecting this about me and they are able to work with me, others are not and they always inevitably find themselves scorched, charred and gasping for air as their expectations of me go up in flames, oftentimes in spite of my best intentions. I always find myself burnt out yet filled with guilt which only fuels more rage. And yet I now find, upon having come to understand this about my nature and indeed something about human nature more generally, that I know feel as if guilt itself is finally beginning to burn away.
I formally denounce everything that Occupy Wall Street has degenerated into. I threw away a career, racked up more un-payable debt from an unfinished dissertation on the sociology of deviant behavior that I haven’t been working hard enough on, lost some blood and accumulated more un-payable medical debt in the process. I worked as hard as I possibly could to help make #OWS a “success” but not even I can take #OWS seriously anymore. The only successful thing that #OWS can still boast of is having launched a global movement that has thankfully become much bigger than #OWS itself. #OWS is not the same thing as “Occupy.” “Occupy” refers to a global movement. #OWS refers to a network of Occupy activists specifically in NYC some of which have unchecked egos that have grown even more inflated than Occupy itself.
It’s been over two years and no one’s life has improved despite the sentimental lies that self-delusional, self-righteous, “saint”-like, organizers who still masturbate each others egos for having “changed the conversation” still tell themselves. The .01% stranglehold on the world’s resources only seems to expand. The true organizers that made #OWS what it is will welcome a candid critique of what #OWS has unfortunately become, as many have already been marginalized out of #OWS already. Far too few of the organizers still active within #OWS actually want progress or even a better life let alone revolution for you let alone themselves.
The police, for example would all loose their jobs if they ever actually managed to eradicate crime which is why they never will. Similarly, the Saints of #OWS are no different than the police in the sense that they would no longer have any empty symbolic victories to congratulate themselves for should they ever actually manage to create a society without classes, status divides or borders – which is why they never will. A true revolution would require them to abandon their petty self-indulgent prejudices and desires for revenge which is what they’re really after.
Progress, true transformations in social relationships always come at the expense of Justice. Those who are last shall never come first should we ever successfully create the fictional, classless, borderless, egalitarian, utopian society that only a small minority of us ever actually attempted to embody. The most vile of the political economic elites and the most sadistic members of the police forces that have exploited and oppressed us all shall have to be forgiven should we ever actually decide to rise up and break this stupid fucking society’s shameful cycle of mutually assured exploitation and oppression. Punishing our enemies as they justly deserve to be punished would only legitimate the indignities they have heaped upon us by furnishing the mostly apathetic masses with evidence that confirms their suspicions that the Saints of #OWS are actually every bit as egotistically corrupt as our enemies are. This is why Jesus Christ the activist, as opposed to the son of a god which many of us choose not to believe in, preached forgiveness and told us to turn the other cheek. It wasn’t ethical, moral, or even self-righteous, as much as it was just the most pragmatic and effective revolutionary strategy he could pursue. Far too many of the seemingly benevolent organizers who stepped up to take control of critical functions in the movement such as organizing direct actions, mass assemblies and press-releases are far too spiritually immature to ever successfully employ the one revolutionary tactic that always seems to work. None of them are as of yet capable of creating any sort of peace within themselves let alone the broader system of social relationships that they naively consider themselves far too revolutionarily “enlightened” to actually bother to observe, study and understand.
Fair-weather revolutionaries who write shit and don’t bother to ask questions later about The Occupy Money Cooperative like Suzahn Ebrahimian who, in spite of decisions to jump ship and no longer identify with #OWS or Occupy, would rather choose a bloody, degrading slave revolt for us all as opposed to the ideal society they falsely profess to work towards creating. This is because they have been so tragically exploited and marginalized by the system that they are psychologically incapable of living any sort of peaceful life with anyone that they have come to perceive as an “oppressor.” They can have a savage slave revolt for all I care since it would make anyone and anything that they denounce seem that much more rationally appealing. All of the worst of them are utterly incapable of creating anything that could actually change the balance of power in this stupid fucking society. They’re not well-suited towards the pursuit of some form of beauty, art, higher truth or any other self-defined goal that would enable them to experience a sufficiently healthy feeling of self-esteem for themselves without needing to immaturely disparage anything that their shallow prejudices are unable to understand. None of them have anything worth while to offer society accept for the reverse bigotry they disguise in the form of “anti-oppression training,” just like none of them have any morally acceptable excuse for the intellectual decadence and self-righteousness which prevents them from recognizing how cooperatives have united many workers of the U.S. while driving a new economy in the midst of the economic recession for the 99%.whom the Saints of #OWS would have you believe that they still represent.
You can point out that cooperatives have contributed millions of dollars towards the welfare of millions of coop members in the U.S. as opposed to a minority of shareholders. You can even tell them that there are millions more people from the U.S. that belong to cooperatives than there are holding stock in the market. They stubbornly won’t listen to reason however, and they’ll still tell you that cooperatives are ‘capitalistic.’ They’ll also tell you that the Occupy Money Cooperative is a bunch of privileged white men, in spite of fruitful outreach efforts, who will sooner or later grow corrupt because they themselves – the Saints of #OWS are already thoroughly morally corrupt even though they prefer to castrate themselves into powerlessness while ironically demanding that everyone else does the same. They naively think that there’s some sort of way to live outside of systems of capitalistic exploitation and that there’s nothing revolutionary about seizing and occupying the means of capitalist production even though this is precisely what Karl Marx urged us all to do long ago. They’ve domineered the movement but none of the Saints of #OWS are capable of truly dominating it.
They’ll tell you that the Occupy Money Cooperative wants to co-opt the movement for Visa or who knows who else, as if Visa or any other corporation needed to raise $900K to do so. As if anyone who isn’t thoroughly insane would want to co-opt a movement that virtually no one continues to pay any attention to. They are deliberately unable to take a long hard look in the mirror at themselves. The Saints of Occupy Wall Street are so egotistical that they are unable to accept responsibility for their parts in organizing this movement into utter irrelevance. They’d rather stick to the same tactics they keep using over and over again as if something different might happen, as if you’re every bit as insane as they are, and as if there’s some form of integrity in this. They’ll publicly tell you on Facebook that you’re “selling out” or that you should actually be shot should you attempt to actually accomplish anything that their petty, spiteful, ill-informed prejudices are incapable of understanding and accepting.
They will put racial slurs that you never spoke hitherto into your mouth like foreign objects. They will actually attempt to physically attack you (as if any of the Saints of #OWS actually knew how to fight) and then they’ll tell you that it’s your fault afterwards in spite of their hypocritical commitments to non-violence. They’d simply rather create safe space for people whom they shallowly perceive to be as oppressed as they are in order to oppress those whom they choose to ignorantly perceive as oppressors. They’ll marginalize you with even more prejudice than they themselves have been marginalized. You were right not to trust them. But I’m not telling you anything that you don’t already know.
I’m formally done stepping back and down in order to let well-meaning yet hopelessly oppressed, deliberately naïve, immature people with no actual understanding of their enemy or an actual plan, or even the desire for meaningful social change to continue to successfully co-opt this revolution from within, from the silent majority that has been deliberately marginalized from it. None of the “Saints of #OWS” have anything what-so-ever to actually say and far too few of them actually have the conviction to embody the change they claim to want to see.
The true 1% don’t have to live or hang out anywhere near Wall Street. Most of the selfish, utterly self-absorbed, Saints of #OWS don’t know who their enemy actually is. Shutting down the stock exchange by occupying it wouldn’t even put a dent in the machinations or the wealth of the .01%. It just would’ve given them the excuse they’d like to use more severe force against us. The tactics used by the Saints of #OWS are utterly predictable, archaic, and not at all novel let alone “revolutionary.” Don’t expect anything new from anyone still occupying #OWS. I’d tell you not to believe anything they tell you but you obviously figured it out before I managed to.
They also like to tell people behind The Occupy Money Cooperative not to use the word “Occupy” in our “brand” as well exactly like capitalists concerned about royalties would, as if the Saints of #OWS somehow represent the true spirit of the movement. Rage against the machine said it best because ‘fuck you I won’t do what any of you tell me’ for the following list of reasons…
1) #OWS hasn’t actually occupied jack shit in well over a year and a half. If anyone should logically stop using the word Occupy in their “brand” it’s them given that they are not walking the walk that they still like to talk about and pat themselves on their backs for.
2) Because Occupy is in fact not a brand at all as opposed to a strategy of appropriation which most of the Saints of Occupy have failed to fully operationalize and follow through on. They are the ones who continue to use “Occupy” as a misleading, inauthentic, and disingenuous way the way “brands” are used. They are too ignorant to understand this in part because they have never bothered to learn anything about actual branding processes and are therefore ironically incapable of distinguishing between a brand and a social movement.
Sun Tzu wrote that an occupation is the worst possible way to fight as it requires a total, exhausting and expensive occupation of all of the enemy’s capital. But the Saints of #OWS expected us to respect their “brilliance” for their easily foreseeable tactical failures. Occupying the streets is all for naught should we fail to occupy the enemy’s money which seems to be the only thing the enemy clearly cares about. The Occupy Money Cooperative has been strategically and precisely set up in order to accomplish this.
3) Because getting burned by #OWS has actually become an analytically proven, viable means of gaining credibility with the oppressed masses that #OWS has gone out of its way to spitefully alienate. This movement has become no qualitatively better than the very worst and most irrationally angry elements of the Tea Party. The only important difference between the Saints of #OWS and Tea Party fanatics is the demographics of the people they choose to hate. North America has refreshingly grown every bit as bored and impatient with #OWS racism as they have with the Tea Party racism. .
4) In order to honor my family and biological ancestors who taught me what revolution actually is and who were always the “first in and last out” of every major revolutionary struggle they could find. I will use every ounce of wisdom, cunning and indigenous chicanery that they have bequeathed to me in order to “pervert” this movement into something with some measure of integrity in spite of their persistent racist denials of my identity.
So fuck what has become known as Occupy Wall Street. It accomplished more than I expected it would but that’s not saying much given that I never expected it to work out well at all. I first thought of it as practice and as foreplay for an actual revolution and it turned out I was right, even if I may have lost my way for well over two years in the shallow ‘Vanity of #OWS.’
I have not yet even begun to fight.
The Saints of #OWS need to get out of the way of the actual Revolution. Long live the Revolution and may a true occupation actually expand once again in spite of those that have truly co-opted #OWS for themselves.
My girlfriend and I were in sitting on a bench in McCarren Park, talking about our struggles when a homeless man of 31 years approached us and told us he needed some help. We told him we could use some as well and that we didn’t have any money. He told us he didn’t want any money but that he wanted to kill himself and that he really needed someone to talk to. I told him that more and more people have been committing suicide these days. We told him that both of us have some suicidal tendencies of our own and that we could relate somewhat. He told us he was a heroine addict. He had needle marks all along his arms. His face was rough. He told us later on in the conversation that he had scars from being stabbed and shot all across his torso under his shirt. He was incredibly distraught. He kept saying he needed help and someone to talk too. I asked him if he would like to be hypnotized.
I asked him to put out his cigarette and get comfortable with his feet flat on the ground. I asked him to focus on some point off in the distance across the park, while he felt his stomach move out every intake of breath and in with every outpouring of breath. I told him that he might begin to feel his eyelids begin to flutter and feel heavy, and that he could keep them open or he could let them close tight. I told him that he had already experienced trance many times before without necessarily realizing it and that hypnosis has more to do with empowering the subconscious more so than it does with manipulating people as his head began to slump forward as he allowed himself fall into a trance. I asked him to think about the last time he was happy as he listened to the wind blowing through the trees and grass and also to the sounds of children playing. I asked him to let that feeling was over him and I told him that he could feel this state anytime he wanted and that he’d feel it every time I said the word ‘trance.’
His face lightened up after he came out of the brief trance and his speech became much more measured. He said that I had just saved his life. He offered me a drink from the bottle of cheap vodka he had in his pocket which we both politely declined in spite of how badly we had both wanted a drink. I wasn’t able to put him back into the trance with my ‘trigger word,’ but still, this was the first time I had ever used my amateur skills in hypnosis for anything other than giving women orgasms.
We sat with him for a little longer while he told us about how he had watched a group of Puerto Rican kids from the south side of Williamsburg kill a young Italian kid at McCarren Park pool near by throwing rocks at him while he was on the high dive. His friends had forced him to reluctantly take part in a stabbing of a kid who had presumably thrown some rocks at the boy at the pool. He told us how about 200 kids from his neighborhood went down to the south side armed with bats to beat up Puerto Ricans who had had nothing to do with the murder at the pool. He was thirteen at the time and this was quite some time ago when Williamsburg and Greenpoint were much rougher places.
He told us other stories of violence as well and that he couldn’t understand how he had managed to become accustomed to doing the things that he had done. He told us how he was sick of it all. I asked him what he wanted instead and he said that he wanted to be a lover and not a fighter. We listened to him talk a bit more about how he loved animals, his rescue pets, and his mother who was sweet but still sick of everything he had put her through and how he wanted to go into some detox programs before we excused ourselves before we became anymore familiar and intimate with him. He had begun to talk about how he felt like we would become a new part of his life but I honestly didn’t feel comfortable about becoming too friendly with a former murderer who was addicted to heroin. I took down his phone number but didn’t give him mine back. We both gave him a hug before we left and he told us that he’d never forget us for as long as he’d live.
I knew I had done a good deed for the day, but I didn’t feel any pride as much as I just felt disturbed. My mind paced as we left the park and headed back to our apartment. I realized I could’ve helped him more if I had let him talk and listened to him before I hypnotized him. Partially because I could have used more of his own language in the induction I gave him and partially because I realized that I had hypnotized him in order to help him without having to get too emotionally or even physically close to him. He mentioned right after he came out of the trance that he didn’t know why any stranger would ever bother to help him. I told him I did it for the sake of karma, and that I hoped the small favor I had done for him would somehow come back to me. I also subsequently realized that I wanted to hypnotize someone simply for the sake of doing so. I began to feel yet another calling as an obligation to continue to cultivate my relatively recently acquired knowledge and abilities in hypnosis for serious therapeutic work as opposed to mere kinky sex (even though this of course can certainly be a form of therapy as well). He needed positive friends and support in his life more so than a hypnotist and that’s always been a much harder role for me to occupy. I’d never felt quite as empowered and as futile all at the same time.
I can’t exactly recall when in the fall of 2011 I first met G. I remember her speaking at the last General Assembly in Tompkins Square Park before Zuccotti was taken, but we didn’t yet know each other back then. We mostly interacted over the private September 17th email list prior to the beginning of the occupation. She was answering questions about the occupation over the phone. I snuck away from a slow day at the office in order to speak to her directly over the phone for the first time on September 20th regarding a public statement the Senior Editor of Adbusters made. She was energized and optimistic. I remember feeling excited too, but I watched Jason, a new acquaintance I made over the weekend of September 17th, get slammed to the cold wet pavement of Zuccotti Park, handcuffed, manhandled and arrested. I watched it happen on the globalrev livestream channel from the safety and comfort of my dry warm cubical. I felt useless and helpless that first week. I was mostly trying to figure out what the fuck to do. Leave work? Quit my job? Then what? I had a high speed internet connection, a landline, and a lot of free-time at work. So I focused on doing my best to spread the news about what was happening at the square. I wound up working with a lot of people with PR expertise, and G was definitely a rock-star. She had clear direction. I knew what I wanted to do, but I was also still trying to figure out if I actually belonged in the movement.
I welcomed her comradery. Collaborating with her online was great. I was happy to grab a drink with her near Zuccotti on September 27th. She brought a ‘datey’ vibe to the meeting that I wasn’t expecting. It became awkward for me once I began describing my academic research on sadomasochism, BDSM, and polyamory. She insisted that we “combine our harems.” I recall explaining to her that I was recovering from a really painful break-up, that I didn’t exactly have a “harem” or much firsthand experience what-so-ever with consensual non-monogamy, and very little with BDSM. I had a lot of respect for her, I didn’t want to have to outright reject her or hurt her feelings. I hoped she would take my explanation as a polite “no”, but she went in for a kiss close to the end of the night anyway. The professional (male) pick up artists who I’ve been trained by never do this because it’s awkward as fuck. (We’ve observed through experience for the record, that it’s important to risk rejection early in the evening and go in for the kiss before the night’s over so as to be clear about intentions). I mention it not only because G had vocally disapproved of me being (a very amateur) pick up artist (whereas she had very much approved of the other deviant activities I’ve mentioned) but also because her attempt to make out with me was so unbelievably unwanted and awkward that I made out with her back just to get out of the situation. Apparently this happens all the time, to women. My current girlfriend recently told me that she had to kiss a guy on the lips in order to get away from him at a dance party she was at a few weeks ago. I had no clue at the time that this is essentially what happened that first night with G.
I kept working with her on a list of projects longer than my leg online, but did everything I could to avoid her in person after that. I was doing an interview update with MSNBC when she unexpectedly popped out of the back of a truck that had been blocking MSNBC’s shoot and started handing out copies of the paper she had helped put together. MSNBC began filming the spontaneous human chain of occupiers that formed to move stacks of papers from the truck across the street to the camp. It was a great moment. The reporters were stunned and surprised by our level of efficiency in spite of our lack of any clear structure. It was good to see G. for a moment as well before we drifted off to our respective tasks for the day. I received a text message from her about an hour later asking me if I was in the park. She indicated that she was there without her kid. I actually was in the park, but I split as soon as I got the message.
It was late in October when the pick up artist who had been coaching me at the time put me in touch with one of the original organizers of Woodstock. She and her friends from Woodstock wanted to throw a party at her bar to support #OWS. The logistics of the idea were beyond my capabilities as an organizer, but I couldn’t let the opportunity go to waste, so I asked G to help out. She knew way more about the promoting business and the meeting went well. She tried making out with me again after that meeting too. I acquiesced to get out of the situation again. I told her that I don’t like to shit where I sleep. She shook her head and said “no”, because she didn’t agree and that she didn’t care for my analogy. She made out with me again and said that that was better. I did my best to avoid her in person again after that.
The different affinity groups we worked in gradually began to merge. G began working with the creator of the website whose digital traffic I monitored and reported on. I believed that G, much like the website creator, was much smarter than me and in certain ways they both certainly are. I genuinely enjoyed and still value the acknowledgment, respect, acceptance, and affection, in addition to (and more so than) all of the tangible, commodifiable, cutting edge cool nerd shit I’ve learned from these people. Hindsight has taught me however, that my affections and intentions toward these people were admittedly tainted by my ego, which sought them out for validation as an occupier, as a member of whatever it is that #OWS is, but also more fundamentally and problematically in order to be recognized and acknowledged as anarchist and as a revolutionary, because these people truly are dedicated anarchists and revolutionaries. I never enjoyed the unwanted sexual advances from G however.
I began to surrender into something of a “relationship” with her that I was never comfortable with in early November. She called for a meeting at Bryant Park on November 5th to discuss occupying the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Plaza. I had been running late and G and my best friend A were the only other organizers who showed up. We quickly came to consensus on holding the remainder of the meeting at my place where we could get high. G and A were flirting a lot. I started feeling jealous; I didn’t want to feel left out. I started snuggling up to G. I may quite possibly have fallen for one of the oldest tricks in the book. Pick up artists call it “triangulating”. I doubt G had any word for it. She slept over that night. I recall trying to get as fucked up as I could on indica and scotch precisely to avoid having sex with her. I recall waking up with our clothes on. I admittedly enjoyed the cuddling in spite of the other awkward, confusing and unpleasant emotions I found the dynamic of the situation.
I didn’t feel comfortable at all with the idea of having sex with her even though I began to find myself enjoying her affection and intimacy in spite of my better judgment. Neither one of us had much free time. There was so much work to be done that there weren’t many opportunities for sex. I definitely used the work as an excuse to avoid sex.
I agreed to go over to her place the night of November 12th after I had a meeting with a bunch of other organizers. The “meeting” was held in a commercial loft space that had been occupied by some of the most effective and notorious organizers in the movement. We called it Magic Mountain. The walls were covered with art and the floors were covered with art projects as well as cots for squatting occupiers. The meeting turned into a party and one of the most fun nights I’ve ever had in the movement.
I told G that I’d be on my way over to her place just before midnight, but the party raged on and turned into a friendly multi-martial-disciplinary sparring session between myself and another organizer. I texted her saying that I was on my way after we had finished rough housing. I texted her again a bit later saying that we were wrapping up a meeting that had just started. She texted me back a frowny face. I started heading over around 2am. She asked if I could pick up toilet paper for her before I arrived.
I wasn’t at all interested in sex by the time I arrived, and it wasn’t because I was tired from sparring even though this was the excuse I vaguely remember using to get out of it. I laid passively on my back while G tried to turn me on with her full figured Betty Paige style porno playing cards. I recall trying to be tactful but honest with her about being every bit as sexually attracted to muscularly-thin, glamorous women as she seemed to be turned on by muscularly-thin men, while she was in the act of admiring my shirtless, well-developed, but hairy Capoeirista’s torso, which had a good pump after the bout at Magic Mountain. She tried to make me feel guilty for not seeing everyone, and fuller-figured folks specifically, as beautiful; which I do, even though I am in no way compelled or obligated to have sex with or love every single beautiful person on this planet.
I don’t recall putting out that night, but I do recall having breakfast with her and her daughter at the family table the next morning. Her daughter’s resentment towards me was instantaneous. She seemed to treat me as if I was competing with her for her mother’s attention and affection. I remember agreeing to run all the way across town for G in order to pick up weed for her, probably in order to get away from the breakfast table. I remember feeling annoyed with myself for taking time away from the things I wanted to get done that day. I distinctly remember telling myself however that G had it rougher. She had suffered and sacrificed more for the cause than I had. I felt for a time that sacrificing for G was the same thing and perhaps the best thing I could do for the cause. I believed at the time that G’s work was more important than mine. I remember her staring at me when I came back with her weed and toilet paper with the same loving but sadistic expression that my mother used to have on her face when I would brood with my frustrations in her kitchen a long time ago, when she had been very frustrated herself after having split up with my stepfather and was unjustly fired from her job. Both of these looks essentially expressed, “I’m miserable, but you’re miserable too. I’m not alone and your company makes it more worthwhile.”
I was under more stress than I had ever been in my life at that point from the occupation. I was very confused and even more stressed out over what was happening with G. I realized that something was wrong at a meeting at her place the week after Zuccotti was evicted. We discussed what to do after the eviction all night long. I had specifically been discussing findings from the surveys I had been working on at the time. After the meeting, in front of all of our colleagues, she switched tracks and asked me if I would be her date to a banquet. I don’t think that I would have necessarily minded going, but I felt completely manipulated into it. I wasn’t expecting it, I couldn’t think of any excuses or anything else I had to do that night and I didn’t feel as if there was any way I could have possibly said no to her without potentially embarrassing her in front of our mutual comrades. I once saw a former friend propose to his former wife at a public Capoeira event. There was no way she could have said no without coming off as a completely callous bitch in that situation. G had used social norms to her advantage to manipulate and subtly coerce me into a situation I didn’t necessarily want to be in with her. It was an example of what sociologists call Interaction Vandalism. This was the first moment I realized that she had been exploiting my emotions and my values. Before this I never believed that she could be capable of doing so, given how much abuse she had endured in her life. I don’t even think G thought she was doing anything wrong either. I do think that she knew perfectly well what she had been doing in terms of the manipulation, as far worse but very similar things have presumably been done to her. I never went to the banquet with her. I called her out on it right away and told her that I needed autonomy.
I wound up seeing her the night of the worst Thanksgiving Day of my entire life. I think I told her that I wanted to stop seeing her shortly after that.
She had a death in the family and incredibly stressful family drama to deal with in the wake of the death. She took it out on me the next time I remember seeing her, at a beautiful bed and breakfast motel in upstate New York that a few dozen other organizers and I had occupied during the first weekend of December in order to experiment with magic mushrooms. I wasn’t going to go at first, but I was let go from my job as a business intelligence analyst the week before the trip so I said fuck it and went. G pulled me aside as soon as I arrived at the motel. We smoked the last of my weed as she told me about a trip she had just taken back home for the funeral. She threw just a few bones from just one or two of the skeletons in her closet at me. I told her that she deserved better. She said “yeah, but better never shows up”, as she dramatically smoked the last of my medicine. She also told me that I wasn’t an anarchist because I’ve studied techniques to help me meet and seduce women, “because anarchists care about people,” and pick up artists apparently do not, according to G. She also kept my pipe. I asked for it back and she said “no”, as if I was stupid for asking, before she walked back into the giant cabin to party with the others.
She kept distance from me and conspicuously tried to ignore me throughout the most hostile and antagonistic dinner table conversation I’ve been a part of between over a dozen anarchists, and also during the self-indulgent prep speech from our “guide,” who may have actually taken a bit more of the tea than the rest of us as opposed to staying straight like a guide is supposed to. I remember wanting him to shut up and stop talking so I could drink the tea and get altered. I wanted to feel something good. The collective energy of the other organizers began to buzz. We trekked out into the snow to start a good fire. I can’t recall if we got anything to burn. About eight or nine members of our group started running and jumping around, doing cartwheels and throwing themselves into the snow, while yelling things like ‘property, property.’ The only thing I felt was sickness. I felt nauseated and feverish. I sat off to the side. I didn’t feel well enough to be around the group. I felt isolated, like I didn’t belong and like I didn’t want to belong, even though I was there. It was nothing new really. It was no different than school, work or any other institution anywhere else. I didn’t necessarily mind this new sickness compared to the cold and the amount of fun everyone else was having. It was a new form of sickness which interested me enough to want to try mushrooms again at least. I decided to enjoy it inside in a sleeping bag near a fire, while I listened to the boyfriend of our seemingly ‘regretful for having invited a bunch of brilliant but bat-shit insane anarchist organizers host’ complain about how we didn’t turn to him with gratitude and thanks as some sort of messiah for his post ‘capocalyptic’ hippie survival skills he wanted to demonstrate.
Our host and her partner retreated to their quarters with poise as the merry trippers came inside as they came down. The real games began as everyone began to occupy or search for their sleeping arrangement. I tried to crash out on a couch off to the side of the main fireplace/living area, but there was way too much subtle commotion all around me and on the floor with its half dozen rooms above me.
I finally gave up on sleep when I heard G talking to A and two others on the stairwell. Even though I wasn’t a part of the conversation I could sense, in part I now suspect due to the increased emotional capacity for empathy that seems to characterize the experience of the drug we were on, that G was severely distressed and putting on a good face in spite of whatever else she was sharing with the others. I waited only a little while after she and the others left the stairwell before going to her room. I found her sobbing in a seated fetal position with her headphones on in the shower stall of the bathroom in her room saying to herself “I have to do it all by myself, I have to do it all by myself.” She didn’t hear me and she startled back up to her feet to compose herself immediately as I tried to wrap my arms around her. She kept her back to me as she told me that “You’re a wonderful person Harrison but I don’t need a white man telling me what to do.” I knew somewhere deep down that I was deeply offended in spite of all the other emotional energy circulating throughout the house and the people within it that night. I took my hands off of her incredibly tense shoulders and left her room. She left her room after I did as well in order to have a threesome with my best friend and his girlfriend at the time.
I couldn’t fucking wait to get back to Brooklyn the next morning even though G and I had made arrangements to travel back to the city together. She made a point not to sit next to me on the car ride home after all of the sincerely warm (albeit awkward, for me) goodbyes. She patronizingly cut me off and contradicted me during the conversation on the way to the train. We barely spoke a word to each other on the bus back to Manhattan. She plugged in to the free Wi-Fi. I tried and failed to fall asleep. I smiled and told her we should do it again sometime after we grabbed our luggage and went our separate ways (without hugging if I recall correctly). I don’t think she said anything. I never got my pipe back either.
I mostly saw her online for a while after that. She conspicuously ignored me at the benefit party she organized as the long-awaited result of the conversation we had with the Woodstock Organizer who wound up asking us, a bunch of debt saddled organizers trying to provide for an occupation that had come to be increasingly made up of occupiers who were actually homeless, for a bar back guarantee in order to make sure their staff got paid. The benefit party was dead. We didn’t raise any money and the party wound up costing us several hundred dollars that none of us had. I had some fun talking to Captain Ray, partially about a short-lived relationship I had suddenly ended with the successful, sophisticated reporter from a major Spanish newspaper who had introduced me to the Captain, without really ever knowing why in the midst of the turmoil with G. G. mostly mingled with others and danced with the guy she had been seeing while we had been “dating.” She bent over with self-satisfied sheepishness when I told him that I recognized him from our classes on Freud and Benjamin together. He always had smart shit to say in class and it was actually pretty cool to see him again in spite of how completely awkward the situation was due to G’s triangulation.
I remember that I donated $50 to her campaign to fly herself to visit the occupation in Puerto Rico. I remember doing so thinking it was really important that she went and that she deserved to go. In hindsight, I think I gave it to her because I felt guilty, as if I had treated her poorly. She seemed genuinely grateful at least.
I remember making the donation to her while I was in Milwaukee for the most depressing Christmas I’d ever had. We had all been struggling with life and with school. My family had never been more proud of me for my involvement and effort with #OWS and I’ve never lashed out at them as bitterly as I began to that Christmas. My experience with G had triggered memories of forgotten abuse and newfound resentment towards my family. I stopped speaking to or writing my grandparents altogether for nearly a year because of the similarities in the patronizing, condescending tones that my grandmother and G both used to make me feel guilty for not behaving in the ways they expected me me to, which included submission to school in the former case and emotional and sexual submission in the latter.
The next time I saw G was at a really killer social media conference where she had acquired a lot of her skillz. I noticed her sitting a few rows in front of me before she spotted me. I texted her and told her to look behind her to her left. She said it was great to see me and that she had whiskey to spike things up afterwards. There wasn’t any drama that opening night of the convention. She hogged the floor, noting her not at all insignificant contributions to the social media front of the movement during the breakout session they had on Occupy Wall Street and social media. The discussion became so fierce that no one else in the room, including myself, had a chance to speak. After lunch we shared some of her whiskey and some more of my weed. She became incredibly patronizing and condescending with me over something trifle. She ostentatiously stormed off, walking away from me with another organizer who was with us at the conference on the last Saturday of January 2012, just before my 29th birthday. She almost seemed surprised that I didn’t come chasing after her at the after party, where I would occasionally catch her eye from way across the room.
Her online behavior, which had always been far more civil than when we interacted in person, became patronizing, condescending and demeaning. Her emails became much shorter in length. She would delegate things to me in them and then never follow up after I’d write-up some copy for example. An interesting and successful project that we had been working on together fell apart. It was all incredibly passive aggressive. I didn’t feel like I was welcome or a part of the group behind the website we had all been affiliated with, even though it’s original creator tried to tell me that we were still friends.
I eventually came to define my experiences with G as sexual harassment. This realization came after she had gotten into an egotistically charged argument on the loose subject of right and wrong, with a slave-owner at a presentation I gave on January 4th 2012 at a BDSM support group where I’ve been taking notes on a variety of kinky presentations for my dissertation. She asked me if I could get her into the presentation for free and I told her that I would cover it for her if need be, as if I was somehow obligated to. My topic was about how consent is the critical difference between BDSM and the manipulative, oppressive, degrading, non-consensual and socially acceptable sadistic ways which people treat each other in everyday life, which I realized that G had embodied in regards to the way she interacted with me.
I had become paranoid of the intentions of my closest friends and family and alienated myself from them.
By early February of 2012 I had come to realize that I had been sexually harassed. The things I read about sexual harassment online reminded me of my experience with a lewd patron I had met in the steam room of the men’s locker room of the notorious Chelsea YMCA some time before #OWS began. G’s gender and her self-righteous identity built upon very traumatic experiences prevented me from putting two and two together in order to give the confusion the label of ‘sexual harassment.’
I wanted to leave the movement, and would have, had it not been for my ever-faithful friend A. He was the only one who took anything I had to say about G seriously. He told me that he and his girlfriend at the time had heard her telling me that she didn’t need a white man telling her what to do that night after the mushroom trip and that G had contacted him and his partner about having more liaisons which he, unlike me, in no way felt bad about straight up turning down. It was the only recognition I had ever received regarding the entire experience.
My guilt transformed itself into anger. Mostly anger at myself for having been so foolish and stupid for jumping through her hoops, trying to meet her expectations of me, allowing myself to be manipulated by her through my insecurities, but I mostly felt it as rage towards her. I definitely became knowingly and deliberately and disruptively passive aggressive towards her on at least two specific email chains.
We agreed to talk over the phone. I was seething with anger as I told her it had been ages, asked her how she had been, and what I could do for her with as much deliberately faux sociability as I could muster. She may have mentioned something about not showing any respect, which I told her I agreed with by making it clear to her that I didn’t even like or respect her as a person by this point (or myself for that matter). I suggested to her that she had been acting more like a stereotypically privileged white male with a sense of entitlement than I was. I argued that her behavior had more in common with the people who doubtlessly pulled the same but infinitely more manipulative and sadistic shit on her than my behavior towards her did, and in spite of my gender and phenotype. I tried to explain to her that she had ironically but predictably become what she had been fighting, and that she was too self-righteous to admit it to herself. I told her that we could have been a great team, that we could have done a lot of good, that she selfishly fucked it all up, and that I’d prefer to have an openly hostile and adversarial professional relationship with her as it was the only way to truly keep things transparent. She was mostly silent throughout the conversation. She told me that I had given her a lot to think about. I told her that I’d leave her to it and that she shouldn’t contact me again unless it was absolutely necessary as I had and have no interest in ever working with her again. I saw her later on the same night I talked to her at a screening for a documentary about #OWS. She stayed away from me the entire night and looked more physically uncomfortable than I had ever yet seen her the one time we passed each other in a narrow part of the theater that evening.
We had a few online exchanges which were basically drama free during the one year anniversary of the Occupation during the days surrounding September 17th 2012. I freaked out, stressing out at the possibility of having to meet with her in person again during the late summer/early fall of 2012, but that meeting never happened. She reached out to wish me well at some other point and she even hooked me up with a job recruiter, who actually got every bit as patronizing with me as G typically would after I asked the recruiter about a detail on the job spec.
I see G condemn male-perpetrated sexual assaults of all sorts online from time to time, but I’ve never observed her once embody the change she’d allegedly like to see and own and condemn her own behavior towards me in any sort of public way. A mutual colleague in the affinity group I left recently contacted me online suggesting that I was immature for having posted two-year old relationship drama on my blog, urging me to completely change G’s name to something other than G, as this person felt that even a single initial would be enough for anyone familiar with us both to surmise G’s identity. Our mutual colleague’s dismissal of G’s sexual harassment through her characterization of it as “two-year-old relationship drama” only reinforced the need I felt to publicly tell this story in spite of any and all potentially unwanted consequences. I explained to our colleauge that changing G’s name entirely would be akin to lying as far as I’m concerned. After nearly two years of reflection on this experience, I’ve come to feel that it’s necessary for certain organizers in the movement to know about what G did so that she knows she’s accountable, not only because her behavior towards me jeopardized the integrity of the public work she’s done to represent the movement and therefore the integrity of movement itself potentially, but also because if she turned the movement into dangerous space for me it’s only safe to assume that she’s turned it into dangerous space for others as well. I only wish that I had written this as well as other pieces on this blog sooner.
My broader purpose in writing and sharing this extremely embarrassing and painful personal narrative has been to document and demonstrate that white privileged males in no way hold a monopoly over sexual harassment, assault, abuse, and rape in our society. Our society must acknowledge this social fact furthermore, if we are to ever successfully understand and control these social issues.
This is a story about a lesson that I learned long before I joined the movement. I had just finished all of my course work toward my doctorate at the time and I was researching and writing about the sociology of deviant behavior as well non-consensual Sadomasochism in everyday life (as opposed to the consensual erotic play known as BDSM). I was working part-time as a market research analyst at an advertising agency as well. Exxon Mobil was the client that kept the roof over my head and my belly full. I was also teaching a capoeira class at the YMCA on 14th street three nights a week in order to stay social, in shape, and to make some extra cash on the side.
It was a cold night in the winter of 2009 just before 2010. I was sitting in the steam room at the Y getting some warmth into my bones before I began teaching my class when I heard two gentlemen speaking Portuguese. I could tell that they were a bit older even though I couldn’t see them through the thick steam. One of them was talking about how he was a professor who spoke about six different languages and worked for the U.N. I introduced myself, told them that I was teaching capoeira and invited them to my class. They both seemed a bit surprised that I was speaking to them in Portuguese and I explained that I had studied the language for over two-years in college and had gone to Brazil three times in order to train and really learn capoeira. Neither of them took my class, as I expected, but the “professor” invited me to a dinner party at his place about a week from then and I gave him my contact info.
He was an aging, somewhat frail, mulatto, Brazilian, with a distinguished receding curly hairline. I decided to go check out his party because he seemed like a really friendly, sophisticated, older dude who could have been a good connection. I picked up a decent bottle of Pinot Noir and some fresh Italian bread from my local bakery in Williamsburg.
The “professor’s” place was all the way at the end of the NQR line. I thought it was a bit odd that he lived so far away from Manhattan and his job. I figured that he could have lived closer since he was big shot at the U.N., but I hadn’t spent much time down around Coney and figured that he probably lived in a cool, up and coming neighborhood… but he didn’t. His place was off the beaten path in the middle of nowhere.
The entrance to his apartment was in the kitchen, the living room and bathroom where beyond the kitchen and two-bedrooms were at the far side of the apartment. There were at least two or three other guests at his apartment by the time I arrived. I can’t recall any of their details however, given that I was distracted by those of his home. It was a very modest apartment for a “professor” to say the least. (I had forgotten that Brazilians will refer to themselves as a “professor” if they teach something, anything at all, even if they don’t necessarily have or are completing a PhD in whatever subject it is they are teaching.)
I first noticed a photograph of a younger version of him in nothing but a really thin thong, with two other, younger dark Brazilians in equally revealing thongs lifting the “professor” up by each of his feet while he used their heads for balance. There were a few other similar photographs.
He showed me his bedroom after he warmly greeted me, where I found a small stack of winter coats on his bed and a much bigger stack of old, pornographic VHS tapes which he had conspicuously left on a shelf just above his bed. It was almost entirely homosexual stuff with one or two titles that suggested bestiality as well.
I was totally uncomfortable… to say the very fucking least. I was utterly disgusted to be more specific, but the “professor’s” demeanor never faltered from the same dignified air he exuded in the steam room of the (notorious Chelsea) YMCA, and I felt not only compelled, but obligated to treat him with the utmost respect and dignity in spite of how incredibly dishonest, offensive and threatening his “hospitality” actually was.
He offered me a Caipirinha, Brazil’s national drink made from cachaça, or Brazilian rum, with lime, ice and sugar… and perhaps Ruffies in this case. I didn’t even see him mix the drink in the kitchen while I introduced myself to another guest. He handed the drink to me and waited for me to try it before he shifted his attention to anything else.
I ignored all of the many elephants in the room as well my enraged instincts. I had just rendered all of my self-defense training utterly useless. I compromised my safety and my dignity because I was afraid to be rude to someone who was only pretending to be polite to me in order to manipulate me.
Sociologists call this Interaction Vandalism. It’s a process by which basic social etiquette is leveraged into making the victim feel rude for refusing any unwanted social interaction. Salespeople, people who canvass and raise money for political campaigns and charities utilize the process as well which specifically entailed unwanted sexual advances in this instance. The “professor’s” use of entirely non-verbal advances helped him mask his non-consensual transgression probably from himself as much as others.
I hadn’t been drugged. I didn’t lose consciousness in the psychological sense of the concept, but I certainly had done so in a sociological sense.
The “professor” told me that he mostly did translation work for the U.N. as well as for some legal courts and he taught some language classes on the side. He said my Portuguese was good and that he’d be happy to hook me up with some translation work. I felt a strange mixture of disgust and gratitude but I tried to convey gratitude solely and wound up feeling disgusted with myself instead of the “professor.”
I also noticed a miniature replica of a famous sculpture of two muscle-bound Ancient Greeks grabbing each other’s cocks during a wrestling bout. The sculpture was in plain view from the chair I sat in while I ate my dinner. Dinner was absolute shit too. He made a salad out of really bland iceberg lettuce and cheap under ripe tomatoes. He cooked his beef bouillon dry and threw it over cold white rice. I tried my hardest to pretend like I enjoyed the meal. I think I may have even had a small helping of seconds in spite of myself just to make him feel appreciated. He told me he how much he loved my taste after he tried the wine I brought.
I was excited to see a new pair of guests arrive late in the evening after I finished what had passed for dinner. It was a lovely Argentinean woman and a tall handsome Swedish man both around my age who met and began dating oversees while traveling. She looked really uncomfortable, about as uncomfortable as I imagine I looked when I first walked in, if not more so. She and I struck up a conversation while her partner chatted with the “professor.” She thought it was cool that I was teaching capoeira and working on my PhD. She told me that the “professor” had invited them to dinner after he and her fiancé had randomly met on the 2 train if I’m not mistaken. I told her that the “professor” invited me to the party after I had met him in the steam room of the YMCA. One of the “professor’s” friends and neighbor, who had been sitting chatting with us, a friendly middle-aged woman who taught at a public grade school, told us that the “professor” “did stuff like this often.” Her tone suggested that she didn’t fully approve of his hospitality either.
The Argentine asked me about my research and my dissertation. I told her it was on the topic of non-consensual Sadomasochism. She said, with a slight but noticeable self-righteous smile, that she didn’t think that was an appropriate topic for conversation. I looked at the statue and thought about how non-consensual Sadomasochism was a perfectly appropriate topic for conversation especially given our present circumstances, but I didn’t push it as I now wish I had. The Argentine had politely taken some measure of control over the situation, which seemed to leave her feeling more comfortable, and I still had no intentions of being impolite.
The “professor” put on some really bad, campy, old-time symphony music. Old, obnoxious, and poorly performed American tunes like “Camptown Races” and “Old Susanna”, while we ate left over Christmas Chocolate which the grade-school teacher probably picked up on sale from a big corporate drug store. The Argentinean woman actually started singing along and clapping, doing her best to get into the spirit of the party in spite of how visibly uncomfortable she had just been a few moments ago. It was a big contrast and the 180 degree shift in her behavior was truly unsettling.
I’d had quite enough by this point. I was the first to leave and I did so during a so-called “high point” in the party. I told the “professor” that my girlfriend was waiting for me and he nodded his head in understanding as I told him I’d be in touch. We gave each other a warm Brazilian hug good bye.
I was glad to have gotten the fuck out of his apartment, but I also felt guilty for doing so and for thinking so negatively towards him. Sure, he was totally creepy, but he had treated me really well… or so it seemed at the time.
I felt guilty about feeling so judgmental towards an aging ethnic and sexual minority from a brutally colonized and oppressed nation. I willingly ignored or excused his deplorable, despicable, manipulative and indeed oppressive behavior because it wasn’t stereotypically consistent with his identity. I made the mistake of assuming that the “professor” wasn’t an oppressor because he wasn’t a tall, white, straight, privileged male.
This is the exact same mistake that various #OWS organizers have been deliberately making, in spite of their best intentions, since the movement grew successful and popular in the weeks following September 17th 2011.
My girlfriend at the time was relieved to see me when I arrived back at her place on the Lower East Side. She had clearly been anxious and worried while I was gone. She said that she spoke with her sister while I was at the party, who had made a joke about me being date-raped or something and my girlfriend started freaking out. She had been texting me during the party, but I hadn’t read her texts very closely and I just casually texted back that I would be home later. She had been in similar situations, of course. She alluded to a certain undignified incident in college where she had been shoved into a closet, but didn’t give me any more details.
I was still in complete denial about the truth of the situation at the time I walked through my ex’s apartment door. I actually told her I wanted to bring her with me and introduce her to the “professor” the next time he threw a party. She told me that she wasn’t interested in any way shape or form. I thought she was being an insensitive racist, judgmental bitch at first until she asked me about the party and I started sharing details with her. I began to realize that I couldn’t believe the lies that I had expected her to believe. I had lied to myself about the truth of the situation several times throughout the course of the night in order to maintain my self-respect. I then momentarily lost a lot of respect for myself. Not only because I nearly allowed myself to be drugged and raped, but because I couldn’t even admit it to myself at first.
It was the same kind of false-consciousness that I first learned about from Marx. It’s a process in which a person lies to oneself so thoroughly that other people will have no choice but to accept the lies as truth in order to interact with the liar. It’s a process by which painful truths are obscured from the rational conscious mind. It’s not at all the same thing as the unconscious mind, as discussed by Freud, but the two concepts seem to be very closely related. False-consciousness seems to be a process which can render visible and rational thoughts, invisible and confusing. Shame appears to be the link between the two, as well as the first step on the journey of false-consciousness.
We humans often seem to have no choice but to lie to ourselves about the terrible things we experience, in order to prevent terrible experiences from destroying our identities and alienating us from our integrity. It also seems like we have a common tendency to mistake our identities for our integrity.
My identity as a highly educated sociologist, a highly trained martial artist, and a generally dominant individual, my ego as opposed to my identity actually, could not acknowledge that I was being manipulated and potentially dominated by someone I perceived as being more oppressed and less dominant than myself. Moreover, why would this mixed race, foreign sexual deviant oppress me in the first place? We share the same causes and were presumably on the same “side.”
Many #OWS organizers generally tend to perceive themselves as the victims of oppression, (not that they aren’t, who isn’t?). The righteousness of their fight against oppression and of their own identities therefore is based upon their integrity as victims of oppression. Their identities make it every bit as impossible for them to acknowledge their own ironic oppressive tendencies as it was for me to acknowledge that I was nearly a victim of sexual assault without having to manage the shame that arises when we value our identities over the truth, compromising our integrity in the process.