Cincinasty FINAL DRAFT .pdf
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A story of
TOPICS ADDRESSED IN THIS DOCUMENT
assault, rape culture, abuse, mental abuse/neglect,
mental illness, drug abuse, bad trips on hallucinogens, nazis,
suicide, police, undercover agents,
This is the story of my personal struggle against
culture. It is told from the perspective of a white male who
wittingly or not abused the position of privilege provided to him.
I will use personal examples of how patterns of sexual domination
exhibited themselves within me from an early age. I will tell you
how I became aware of these cycles of abuse, and what actions I
am taking to neutralize them. My hope is that I may enable others
to better express themselves throughout the course of their own
struggles, and that by using my own language I may add depth to
the illustrations of our difficult story which is "rape culture".
That said, I claim very few of the
illustrations contained in this document as my
own original works. It is intended as an educational piece, and as such this document may not
be reproduced or distributed with the intent of
solicitation or profit. The suggested donation for
a hard copy of this document is $1 to help with
the cost of printing.
Everything which you are about to read is true. This is
a personal story and as such uses personal language. It also uses a
perspective heavily weighted towards the first person. Please bear in
mind that while I have done my best to make the story accessible,
it will be limited to only one frame of reference and only one
vocabulary. It is my hope that you, dear reader, will become inspired
to add your own language to the story and join the conversation
to end rape culture. Maybe you will even be the one to
author part two of this series...
but without further adue, here is part one of:
She trusted me. She trusted me to
be steady, to be all in one piece in my
head. We kissed and it felt like everything
came together, like everything was alright.
I trusted her too. She was gonna save the
world, I just knew it. She could move mobs of
thousands to action with only the power of her
voice. So who was I to tell her she was wrong?
Who was I to argue with that power? How do I
tell someone who trusts me that I don't even trust
myself? I had faith in her strength to protect us. I
had faith in her to save me from myself.
That's where I was wrong.
I, like many involved with the Cincy DIY community,
am guilty of having started life from a position of privilege. I was born with a number of safety nets which have
been set up to catch me if I took a wrong step. These
nets gave me a sense of security, a feeling that I could
never really mess up too bad. Some of these nets were
provided by my parents, who took their time with (and
could afford) good family planning. Other nets were provided by the judicial system, where my demographic would
have provided for more lenient treatment by the courts.
Beyond these were the nets of my first world status,
things like running water and hot food which I took completely for granted until my first stint of homelessness.
I still take them for granted sometimes. My privilege has
allowed me to be careless throughout the majority of my
life. This is a story of how I have abused my privilege,
and how that privilege has come to abuse me right back.
I have been kind of a slut through my life. I have had
a lot of sexual partners, and the overwhelming majority of
those interactions have been positive. Some of them were
not. I was once guilty of ignorance to things which I know
today. Today I stand guilty of ignorance to the things I will
learn tomorrow. The following cases are intended to exhibit my personal journey through those learning experiences.
CASE ONE: EF
High school. Junior year, summer break. EF and I were
both back home in Cincinnati from boarding school out East.
Standing on the roof of my parents house in Clifton, she
kissed me. I wasn't expecting it at all, and it turned me
on. We moved inside and to my bed, kissing here and there.
We had sex. I noticed even through the condom how dry
she was but assumed in my youth that the lubrication on
the condom was enough. We cuddled after. We talked,
we smiled. She was really shy, but super cute. I thought
we had started a relationship which would be able to
continue. Eventually she had to go home, and my father
drove us to her parents place halfway across town. We
held hands part way. When we arrived I got out and gave
her a hug, and said goodbye.
I was woken up early by my parents the next morning
and dragged half asleep to my psychologist's office. I was
informed that after saying goodbye, my partner from had
gone inside to slit both of her wrists in the bathtub. I
was shocked. I was confused. I answered questions asked
of me by my parents and my psychologist. I asked, and was
informed that she was in fact still alive. I was a child
at the time. All of the adults involved (her parents, my
psychologist, my parents) agreed that pressing charges was
not the correct course of action. I never heard from or
about her again.
I've reflected on that night many times, on how
I could have prevented the tragedy which had unfolded
in her mind. I played through the night over and over
and over, reliving details and examining their significance.
My conclusion was that a person does not need to open
their mouth to say no, that I needed to make efforts to
actively look for consent. If I was going to have a real
relationship with someone, I needed to get out of my
head and actively seek out their feedback to my actions.
It wasn't good enough if my partner didn't say no, they
have to be saying yes.
CASE TWO: RB
After high school I didn't really feel
like I was worth loving, but I was still
a slut. I was not happy with who I was
and I tried to place external controls
on myself. I knowingly exposed myself to
genital herpes in my early 20's thinking
that it would filter out people who
only wanted me for my sex. It worked
in some cases, but failed more than not.
I didn't anticipate other people being
just as big of sluts as myself. My plan,
having backfired, only added to my personal dysphoria.
CASE three: GL
It had been a year since my mother passed away, but for
some reason it didn't feel like she was gone. It was as I
sat by her hospice bed that I began to adhere myself to a
new philosophy, that of cyberneticisim ('a theory of communication and control'). It was in the stress of her final
moments when I found myself reading far too deeply into
an overly simplified diagram, falling into a literal mental
feedback loop. At the time it felt like I was carrying on
the spirit of my mother, a woman who dropped out of
school to join the anti-war movement of the 60s only
to return later and finish her medical degree. In the moment of her death I found conviction - and with it I
became narrow sighted. My aunt noticed it too, pointing
out how disconnected some of my thoughts were from the
events which were occurring around me.
My mission seemed so simple; save the species from itself.
Identify those critical points at which feedback between
the People and the Power had failed, and to install new
journalistic feedback loops at those junctions.
A year later Occupy Wall Street kicked off. I went to
the first meeting of Occupy Cincinnati and dropped out of
school the very same day. I had recognized the general
assemblies of the OWS movement as the critical
junctions I had been looking for. I was so cocksure
that I was on the right track to accomplishing
my mission that overlooked the finer details,
and this was where I started fucking up. I began to disregard the individuals and started
looking at whole encampments as their own
living thing - a grassroots leviathan, a
community greater than the sum of its
parts. They very nearly were.
For years I had considered my STI to be some
kind of emotional filter. After my mother died
I just stopped caring. Willful ignorance to the
risk cast by my own actions - gambling - led
me to not inform one of my sexual partners about my
STI before having unprotected sex. She found out a few
months later from another one of my partners who I had
told. All I wanted at the time was to power through the
growing pains and skip to my objectives. My personal conviction, my history of privilege, and a sense of personal
urgency combined to create a person who didn't really care
who he stepped on while building his "better world".
I have learned that even the grandest paintings of oil
on canvas are made up of individual strokes. One misplaced
stroke can completely ruin a composition which has taken years to construct. If my objective is to develop a
better landscape for the next generation, then my tactics
need to reflect this with every single stroke.
OCCUPY WALL STREET AND BURNOUT
Not long after the events of Case Three I was on
my way to Washington DC to photograph the Occupy Wall Street movement on a national scale.
I slept in parks, on sidewalks, couch hopped, and
made my office between lines of riot cops
and black blocs for 11 months. I took over
40,000 photographs and recorded a number
of very powerful, very beautiful moments.
I learned how to effectively moderate their General Assembly processes,
enough so that I was seen as an
asset to the General Assembly back
here in Cincinnati. By the end of
it I was enlightened, exhausted, beaten and bruised. It was
on these front lines where
I met the subject of my
next case. We were
both traumatized by
what we had seen
both separately and together on
Occupy Wall Street. We were beaten down alongside
thousands of our brothers and sisters in Chicago and
across the country. We suffered the bitter cold,
the rain, the lens of a shared vision warped in the
heat of the moment of a baton impact. While I
still to this day respect some officers on an
individual basis, this period was when we both
lost a lot of faith in our judicial systems.
We became codependant.
The story jumps ahead here over a
couple of years spiced with the thrill
of crusted punks, rabble rousing, and
substance abuse. It was a warm but
humid summers eve, I was hosting a party for a few friends.
My partner KS was at work but
would be off soon. I had already ingested three doses of LSD, by the end of
the night that number
would be five. I met
my partner as she got
off of work, and
we walked back
a state of
case four: KS
I was awoken that evening by a light from outside my walls.
It came shining in through a crevice just under my roof which
I had believed to be tighter than a 2x4. This light shone at
me, through me, and cast a silhouette upon the walls of my
memory. On these walls I saw painted the outline of a man
chained to himself with violence. I could feel no collar, or
shackle, or choke binding me down, but the sight of these
chains registered clear as night and shade before my eyes...
At the core of this silhouette was
cast the purest of negative space,
a void past my heart where my mind
could not venture. I felt myself
falling into that black hole,
into my own negative
cast by the mass
of my own ego, was
enveloped by a
which I had not
was a space
the projection of light
through that crack, an
obscura into a world outside
Through that crack was projected all
the colors and shapes of humanity into the
negative space around my core. As I gazed
into this projection I watched it's beauty and light encompass me, my body, and
my chains. Kaleidoscopic waves began bracing
themselves against the cycles of violence which
held me down. The light began to peel back that
void of negative space between me and my chains.
as a slave to a cycle of violence.
I saw in that moment what I would
(eventually) come to recognize as
the cycles of violence committed
against me in my childhood
as they linked into a
chain of abuse
I saw myself
foundations of my solitary
mind. I was no longer alone in
my own head. I was surrounded
by the love of an other; not
just that of my partner but
of many human beings. I became
overwhelmed. Through a hallucinogenic haze I could tell that I
was in the middle of making love
to the woman who I knew was going
to save the world, that I knew was
going to save me. I collapsed and tell
her I could not go on, that she was
just too beautiful.
and with them shattered the
I felt them
The next day all of my lines were blurred.
My self-identity was shattered by the experience. I had no words for what I had seen,
but I was suddenly able to recognize that there
were patterns of neglect and codependency in
which we were both ensnared. I was disgusted with
myself. I saw how my cycles were holding not
only myself back but also the one person I loved
the most. I suddenly felt very trapped. I panicked.
I didn't understand how she could not have seen
the very same vision of abuse, she had been right
there beside me the whole time.
All I knew was that I had
to break those chains.
I lied to her face. I faked a drug OD and I confessed a month later. I used her trust in me to
destroy everything we ever were. I set fire to
our memories and set fire to myself in the process. I
was too busy destroying myself to notice that she
had still been holding onto me at the time that I
had struck myself ablaze.
I had to break those chains.
Over the next few months I found myself wandering the streets of Clifton searching for happier memories. I didn't understand why I panicked or why
I kept trying to hurt myself (a vicious cycle in and of
itself). All I knew was that I finally had a light against
which to contrast the evil in my heart. I became focused on understanding that light, harnessing it,
and channeling it so that I could erect my own
constructs of love and community. I began to
deconstruct myself and my own behaviors. I
definitely got even weirder than before. I
I had to break
My community tried to reach out to me. They tried
to organize a meeting to sit and talk to me. I went and
sat down. While we were all waiting for KS to arrive I
suddenly realized I was not ready, that I had no words
to describe the depths of what I had seen that night.
I didn't have the words to say I'm sorry, and I would
need help before I was able to find them. I freaked
out. I walked out. There was another group, a part of
the Cincinnati activist scene, called the Icarus project; a
"National DIY Mental Health Network". It sounded like a
really good prospect at the time for me to be able to
explore my PTSD with my fellow activists, like maybe they
could help me find the language to break those chains.
It was around that time that I was told I had
been "banned" from the community which would eventually
evolve into The McMicken Freespace and Cincy DIY. The
scope of this ban included the Icarus project. To add insult to injury, I was called a "terrorist" by an individual
who had their hands in organizing the local chapter of
the mental health group. At the time I was uncomfortable
with going to another professional due to my perceived
failures with them in the past. I felt alone. I still had to
break those chains.
I withdrew. As I began to explore the remains of my
own burned out mind, I found some of my old cycles still
running. Unlike before, I was now aware of their presence,
of their dangers. I began to study them and their affects
on my life. I found at the heart of their engines was my
privilege - social privilege which allows me to sexually,
racially, or financially dominate others if I so please. I
have since then come to not fully, but better understand
the strengths, weaknesses, and dangers of my own privilege. This knowledge has come at a cost, and that cost
was paid by a person in my next case - a woman who I
will only identify as LV.
It had been long enough since KS and I broke apart
that I felt like I had a grip on the building blocks of my
own mind again. By that point, I had known LV for about a
year, and I had the serious hots for her the entire time. She
still is the most beautiful. She was an organizer, a student,
the intellect of a young master in the body of a painted
We went on our only date. I was really digging our
conversation, our direction. We wound up back at my
place. In the middle of it she responded to a phone
call by saying that she was "hanging out with
the most amazing man in the world" and I
was sold. I felt things come together, that
things were strong, like I was finally going to given the chance to love a real
woman again, to build a relationship bigger than ourselves.
We kissed and it felt like
I had found someone that
wanted me for me too.
We talked about having
sex. I told her about my STI.
I did not wear a condom.
I felt like we both really
enjoyed ourselves. I was happy. I was giddy. I was warm.
She didn't really talk to me
after that evening. I was damn near
positive I had not put her at risk of
anything but thought I made a mistake
by not wearing a condom. I remembered
what she said, about being with the
most amazing guy. I dropped by her
work and tried to offer some form
of apology but wasn't sure what
to say. I adored her and stumbled
over myself. She was gone and I
didn't know why. I thought she
adored me too.
A few weeks later, KS began to publicly call me a
rapist. I still trusted KS at that point, and I believed her
when she first started saying it. I asked LV if what I had
done to her, if not wearing a condom, was rape. I can see
how fucked up it was for me to ask her if I had "raped
her"; at the time I was blinded by anger and self-doubt. I
found out later KS had been referring to the person in Case
One (EF) as the victim of my rape. I had told KS about EF
years before in an attempt to reach out
to her for understanding, for reflection
from the person I was closest to. I feel
used and carelessly manipulated into hurting
someone I myself cared about. I didn't understand it was only going to get worse.
As the first rumors began to filter back to
me through the community, the accusations
were mild. Being "mentally neglectful/abusive" towards my ex-partner KS. Then a
group of people (including KS and a number
of other people who would never meet in
real life) started a discussion on Facebook
with the objective of trash talking me. Since
then the rumors have evolved. Despite the significant progress made towards checking my own
privilege It has become weaponized by more
than one group on more than one occasion. I
have come to have been called a serial
rapist, a terrorist - A danger to every
community I enter. I have had stories
completely fabricated against me in order
to attack my credibility as a community
organizer. I have seen others attacked
along the same lines, and I have been
attacked for standing up against it. I
deleted my Facebook and rebranded my
social media presence soon after that.
I enjoyed some peace and quiet after deleting my
Facebook for a few years, but soon the social media
would come back to my life like a cancer out of remission.
I felt overwhelmingly guilty for having taken advantage
of KS and I kept reaching out to her in attempts to say
thank you. Realizing my words had failed in my expressions
towards her, I picked up printmaking to find a way to
communicate. I eventually gave her the most amazing piece
of art I might ever create, a golden vision of death and
transition printed on a canvas of the deepest blue velvet. On the reverse was a hand carved and printed note
of apology. She threw it away before she even looked
at it, but at that point it was hers to do with as she
Well one thing lead to another and suddenly Donald
Trump. After watching the mess that was the Republican
party filter out their candidates; after months of the
mass media hyping up the fear mongers around the idea of
the convention being a bloody one, I began to organize
around the 2016 Republican National Convention with the
solitary objective of preventing violence in the encampment.
KS and I had both attended the DNC four years
prior during Occupy Wall Street, In a last ditch attempt
to apologize. I turned to an
old American adage: "money
talks". I offered to provide her with money so she
could go protest in Cleveland. The amount I offered
was equal to the amount she
paid covering my rent while
we were living together. I
had no expectation of any
interaction between her and
I at the convention, nor did
I have any expectation she
would even use the money to go to the convention.
At that point I just wanted to say I was sorry, and I
wanted to provide her with the liberty to decide for
herself how that money was spent. To my surprise she
accepted the offer. I mailed a check for $700 to the
address she specified. It was never cashed and she later claimed to never have received it. Given the state
of disorder that the house at the address was in, I can
totally believe it got lost in the mess.
I traveled to Cleveland anyway. I helped organize a
peaceful encampment of activists during the 2016 RNC. My
crew and I worked autonomously alongside a few other
groups. With the talk of violence at the event dominating the mainstream media for months beforehand, me and
my crew set up our tents one night early with the intent
of declaring an environment of 1st amendment expression.
Whatever space was available in the car had been packed
with art supplies which we made available. We erected
ten tents for those who had none. We played music and
shared newscasts on our battery powered speakers. We
organized dinner and established contacts with the legal
and medical teams who also emerged autonomously. We
assembled hundreds of 'gift bags' made up of things useful
to an activist like ear plugs, stickers, cough drops, and
googley eyes to put on the candidates poster of their
choosing. We were intent on keeping things non-violent,
and to this end we were very successful. I personally only
left the camp three times throughout the week. Once
was to lend my voice to the UN Special Rapporteur Investigation into the violation of Human Rights, an event
hosted only a few blocks from Kirkland Park. Another was
to go downtown and take a few photographs for the
I wound up talking to a lot of media and had my
name printed a number of times. Someone who didn't like
me took notice and utilized all of the rumors built up
against me so far to pull a punch below the belt. On the
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