Socialism Art Nature

Shanesha Taylor’s story seems like an unimaginable nightmare—but the terrible choices she had to navigate are faced by thousands of women, writes Jen Roesch.


SHANESHA TAYLOR faced an impossible situation.

A homeless single mother living out of her car with two young children, she was offered an interview for an office job that might have been her chance to get back on her feet. Without anyone available to watch her children, she made a desperate decision—to leave them napping in the car, with the doors locked and the windows cracked.

Her gamble failed. Instead of getting a job that day, Shanesha’s situation spiraled into a nightmare that will be even harder to climb out of. When she returned to her car, she was arrested. She spent 11 days in jail, and her children were taken from her care and put into child protective services. She faces two felony counts of child abuse.

Shanesha’s story—which circulated widely on the Internet, along with a heart-wrenching mug shot showing her with tears streaming down her face—struck a chord with thousands of people. In a country where 80 percent of adults face poverty or near-poverty conditions for at least part of their lives, people can recognize the anguish of a woman trying to do the best for her children in terrible conditions.

So far, more than 2,500 people have donated over $70,000 to support Shanesha. Most of these are donations of $5 to $30—a number of them come with notes about having been in the same position and knowing what it means to be a single mother, to be poor, to be homeless.

This empathy stands in stark contrast to the callous politicians who are cutting social programs like food stamps, child care funding and welfare assistance, while moralizing at poor people about the need to take personal responsibility for their situations. After several decades of relentless attacks on the social safety net and years of economic crisis, poverty is at the highest levels in half a century. And women and their children, particularly single-parent families, are the most vulnerable.

Thanks to her story spreading on the Internet and the outpouring of compassion, we now know Shanesha Taylor’s story. But the reality is that there are thousands of women like her who face agonizing choices every day in this country.

In the same week that Shanesha was arrested, a mother in New Jersey was sentenced for living with her children in a storage unit she had rented. She also lost custody of her children to the child welfare system. At the end of January, when a single mother made the decision not to leave her special needs child home alone and called in sick to her job at a Whole Foods store in Chicago, she was fired.

… When our society treats poor mothers as criminals or negligent, it punishes both mothers and their children. Shanesha Taylor left her children in a dangerous situation for an hour. But the state’s response has increased the dangers these children will face over their entire lifetimes. Children in the child welfare system are more likely to become homeless or incarcerated, or drop out of school. And with an arrest on her record, Shanesha will have a harder time finding the employment that could provide a stable home for her children.

Millions of children are put in danger every day in this country—not by parents who do their best to protect them from the harshest consequences, but from politicians who cut social programs that could put food on the table, provide shelter and make quality child care affordable for working parents.

And when families fall through the cracks, these politicians and the media turn to racist scapegoating to displace the blame onto the victims of their policies.

But Shanesha Taylor’s tears tell a different story—one that can be understood by millions of people in this country who are also doing their best to get by, and still find themselves struggling. These are the stories—not fairy tales of hard work and personal responsibility rewarded, but the real attempts to navigate terrible choices—that need to be told.



… The expansion of mother-infant programs coincides with the increasing incarceration of women. Over 200,000 women are behind bars and over 1 million are on probation or parole, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU.) And the number of prisons for women has multiplied eight times over the last three decades, according to a 2006 report from the Institute on Women and Criminal Justice.

The majority of incarcerated women are charged with nonviolent, drug-related offenses. While three out of every five women in state prisons have a history of drug dependence, only one in five of these women receives substance abuse treatment.

Because women tend to be the primary caretakers of children, the massive increase in women’s incarceration has had devastating effects on families. According to the Sentencing Project, one of every 50 children in the U.S. has one or more parents incarcerated.


Editors’ Note: This is a first-person, present-tense account of the aftermath of a sexual assault that took place in 2013. For reasons of both style and substance, we have left it in present tense.

I’m writing this piece as I’m sitting in my own dining hall, only a few tables away from the guy who pressured me into sexual activity in his bedroom, one night last spring. My hands are trembling as they hover across the keyboard. I’m exhausted from fighting for myself. I’m exhausted from sending emails to my resident dean, to my House Master, to my Sexual Assault/Sexual Harassment tutors, to counselors from the Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response, to my attorney. I’m exhausted from asking for extensions because of “personal issues.” I’m exhausted from avoiding the laundry room, the House library and the mailroom because I’m scared of who I will run into.

More than anything, I’m exhausted from living in the same House as the student who sexually assaulted me nine months ago.

I’ve spent most of 2013 fighting the Harvard administration so that they would move my assailant to a different House, and I have failed miserably. Several weeks ago, in a grey room on the fourth floor of the Holyoke Center, my psychiatrist officially diagnosed me with depression. I did not budge, and I was not surprised. I developed an anxiety disorder shortly after moving back to my House this fall, and running into my assailant up to five times a day certainly did not help my recovery.

“How about we increase your dose from 100 to 150 milligrams a day,” my psychiatrist said in a mechanical, indifferent voice. Sure thing.

This morning, as I swallowed my three blue pills of Sertraline and tried to forget about the nightmares that haunted my night, I finally admitted it to myself: I have lost my battle against this institution. Seven months after I reported what happened, my assailant still lives in my House. I am weeks behind in the three classes I’m taking. I have to take sleeping pills every night to fall and stay asleep, and I routinely get nightmares in which I am sexually assaulted in public. I cannot drink alcohol without starting to cry hysterically. I dropped my favorite extracurriculars because I cannot find the energy to drag myself out of bed. I do not care about my future anymore, because I don’t know who I am or what I care about or whether I will still be alive in a few years. I spend most of my time outside of class curled up in bed, crying, sleeping, or staring at the ceiling, occasionally wondering if I just heard my assailant’s voice in the staircase. Often, the cough syrup sitting in my drawer or the pavement several floors down from my window seem like reasonable options.

Dear Harvard: I am writing to let you know that I give up. I will be moving out of my House next semester, if only—quite literally—to save my life. You will no longer receive emails from me, asking for something to be done, pleading for someone to hear me, explaining how my grades are melting and how I have developed a mental illness as a result of your inaction. My assailant will remain unpunished, and life on this campus will continue its course as if nothing had happened. Today, Harvard, I am writing to let you know that you have won.

Read rest of article -


IT GOES without saying that capitalism causes economic inequality.

This is actually a point of pride for defenders of the system—they believe that the free market thrives because the deserving few are rewarded. The Marxist critique of capitalism takes the exact opposite position: The tiny few who live so well compared to the rest of us are completely undeserving of their immense wealth—they amassed their fortunes through systematic theft of the labor of the working majority in society.

But we also know that capitalism goes through periods in which economic inequality is more extreme and less so. So what kind of moment are we looking at now? What is the shape and contour of inequality in the U.S. today, six years after the recession that cratered in 2008?

… Since the 1970s, the productivity of U.S. workers has only increased while hourly compensation has remained more or less the same. This yawning gap between productivity and wages benefits the richest 1 percent, which owns 42 percent of the country’s financial wealth. The bottom 80 percent of the population, by contrast, owns barely 5 percent.

Taken together, these figures tell us that U.S. workers have worked harder and harder over decades, while gaining nothing more in wages—in fact, they have lost ground as a consequence of the Great Recession—nor in the financial wealth their labor produces.

This is not an accident—the increase in productivity alongside a stagnation in wages is a direct consequence of neoliberal policies having been implemented throughout the period.

It is a straight-up fabrication and an insult for political and business leaders to claim that the working-class majority or any section of it isn’t working, or isn’t working hard enough. The opposite is, in fact, the case. There is a historic robbery-in-progress undertaken by American business—the corporate boardrooms are the site of the real culture of freeloading.

… THESE ARE some of the stark facts about inequality in the richest country in the history of the world.

On the one hand, the U.S. does badly, particularly among industrialized countries, in terms of economic inequality, making it a terrible example for anyone interested in making the world a more equal and easier place to live. But precisely because of its staggering inequality, the U.S. ruling class provides a model to the rulers of the rest of the world for imposing the kind of policies that make inequality worse than ever.

This is not an abstract question. A recent study, funded in part by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, concludes that humanity is threatened not only by runaway climate change but the uneven distribution of wealth around the world.

It’s not enough to familiarize yourself with the enraging litany of statistics presented here. It’s not enough to know that the world’s main superpower is among the least equal society among its comparable peers. It’s not enough to understand how Corporate America and the U.S. political leaders who serve it export inequality around the world.

Instead, we need to organize for a different society that eliminates the vast gap between rich and poor by confronting the system that perpetuates the chasm: capitalism.



"I DON’T have to provide my employees with access to birth control—even if it is the law—because I am expressing my religious freedom."

That’s a simplified version of the argument being made by the Christian owners of Hobby Lobby, who are arguing to the Supreme Court that they shouldn’t have to comply with the portion of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that calls for employers’ health care plans to cover contraception.

The Green family, which owns Hobby Lobby, is specifically targeting Plan B and Ella and intrauterine devices (IUDs), which they claim are abortifacients—causing “abortions.” Hobby Lobby is wrong, but that hasn’t stopped their case.

 … HOBBY LOBBY’S owners seem to know very little about how these forms of contraception work, or at least, they are pretending to. They claim that Plan B and Ella are “abortion-causing drugs,” when Plan B actually prevents the fertilization of an egg. Right-wingers like the Green family purposely confuse Plan B, and the newer Ella, with the drug RU-486, or mifepristone, which induces abortion and isn’t covered by the Obama health plan.

In other words, despite what the Hobby Lobby thinks, the ACA doesn’t cover abortions (although it should, in the opinion of

Until now, the Hobby Lobby also hasn’t seemed to know much about what’s been covered in the past under its employee health coverage, either. According to Mother Jones, the company actually covered Plan B and Ella (though not IUDs) in its health care plan prior to its suit in 2012.

So while religious bosses like the owners of Hobby Lobby have many choices when it comes to their own health care coverage, their employees have precious few.

Hiding behind the ruse that they’re the victims of some kind of religious persecution, employers like Hobby Lobby are actually trying to steal the benefits that their employees—women employees—have earned.

As Adam Sonfield, a senior public policy associate at the Guttmacher Institute, told Think Progress:

It’s an incredible devaluing of the insurance that you as an employee work for. This is telling you that you can’t use your compensation—your own benefits that you have earned—in a way that your boss objects to. And that is a frightening road for us to be going down, as a society.

Sexism, USA. The 1950s were NOT “the good old days”.

Sexism, USA. The 1950s were NOT “the good old days”.


Why should women be the ones compelled to demonstrate patience, restraint, or whatever, in response to street harassment? If she wants to yell, “Fuck You!” really loud, then so be it. But to condescend to tell her that such a response is “inappropriate,” “unbecoming,” or “ineffective” to me betrays an utter failure to grasp the very nature of such experiences.





“Repeat Rape: How do they get away with it?”, Part 1 of 2. (link to Part 2)


  1. College Men: Repeat Rape and Multiple Offending Among Undetected Rapists,Lisak and Miller, 2002 [PDF, 12 pages]
  2. Navy Men: Lisak and Miller’s results were essentially duplicated in an even larger study (2,925 men): Reports of Rape Reperpetration by Newly Enlisted Male Navy Personnel, McWhorter, 2009 [PDF, 16 pages]

By dark-side-of-the-room, who writes:

These infogifs are provided RIGHTS-FREE for noncommercial purposes. Repost them anywhere. In fact, repost them EVERYWHERE. No need to credit. Link to the L&M study if possible.

Knowledge is a seed; sow it.

Reblogging because I mentioned this study in a post the other day and someone reblogged & replied insinuating that I’d made it up, but I didn’t have the citation on hand right then. As I said then: rape culture is what teaches rapists that they aren’t rapists.

^ bolded for emphasis


I’ve never been told to die in quite so many ways….

… I stand for every woman who has ever been tormented for being sexual — for every woman who has been harassed, ostracized and called a slut for exerting her sexual autonomy — and for every woman who has been the victim of The Double Standard.

 … You want to see me naked. And then you want to judge me for letting you see me naked.


This year’s Oscars showed strides toward greater diversity, but the film industry has a long way to go toward women’s equality.

 … 12 Years a Slave took home well-deserved Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay Oscars, and Lupita Nyong’o became only the seventh Black actress to win an Oscar, for her powerhouse performance as Patsey, a fellow slave whom protagonist Solomon Northrup must leave behind when he regains his freedom.

12 Years a Slave is the first American film about slavery based directly on a slave narrative, and Nyong’o, screenwriter John Ridley and director Steve McQueen all found ways to honor the real people on whom the story is based in their acceptance speeches. Brad Pitt, whose production company partially financed the film, made the best statement possible for him by stepping out of the way and giving most of the Best Picture acceptance speech time to McQueen.

The night was mostly a wash for the other political films of note. The documentary category featured three superb political films: the Egyptian revolution doc The Square; Jeremy Scahill’s Dirty Wars, about U.S. covert operations and drone strikes; and The Act of Killing, a surreal exploration of the mass slaughter that accompanied a U.S.-backed coup in Indonesia.

All lost out to 20 Feet from Stardom—almost an exact repeat of last year, when Academy voters picked Searching for Sugar Man over four similarly excellent political documentaries.

 … The Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film has been tracking women’s participation in the film industry for 16 years.

In reviewing the 250 top-grossing U.S. films in 2013, it found that women comprised a mere 6 percent of directors, 10 percent of writers and 3 percent of cinematographers. (For a point of comparison, women make up about 15 percent of active-duty U.S. military personnel.)

Women were 25 percent of producers—but only 15 percent of executive producers, usually the people who have control over the film’s budget.


As my friend wrote: “Apparently you can only legally “stand your ground” in Florida if you are murdering an unarmed Black boy, but if you are a Black woman showing your abusive ex that he needs to back the fuck off, you deserve 60 years in prison.”



The only time the police and ruling class politicians ostentatiously posture as being anti-rape warriors is when they can do it in a way that further victimizes and scapegoats people of color, disabled people, etc. Meanwhile, sexual assault remains an utter epidemic across U.S. college campuses, in the military (the biggest employer in the country), and among known intimates throughout society. Yet on this latter score, the powers-that-be claim to be powerless to really do anything about it!

The police and politicians who rule over a society rife with misogyny, violence, poverty, repression, racism, and inequality, and then try to deflect the blame for all social ill onto the various broken, oppressed individuals compelled to live in these dystopias, are like Doctor Frankenstein blaming the “monster” which he himself has created for any and all outrages the latter may commit. (h/t Mary Shelley).


"WE’RE GOING to make sure that we catch this monster,’" Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy told the crowd gathered at a public meeting to discuss the brutal rape of a 15-year-old girl in the Northwest Side Chicago neighborhood of Belmont Cragin.

 … Weeks later, the “monster” was found: Luis Alberto Pantoja. Every time the story was told, by the Chicago Sun-Times, Huffington Post, ABC News and other media outlets, it was noted that Pantoja, the alleged rapist, is deaf and mute. The same photo appeared again and again with every news story, reinforcing the image of a “monster.”

What has actually taken place is this: With community outcry at a fever pitch, police and elected officials have used residents’ concerns to deepen discrimination against people of color and people with disabilities and to shield the systemic injustices that enable such a tragedy to occur.

 … It’s apparent that people like [Chicago Police Supt. Garry] McCarthy and the politicians who joined them are in the game of passing things off as solutions to avoid a challenge to the status quo. They intervene during moments of crisis and suffocate any potential community resistance with plain misdirection—by alternatively scapegoating people of color, people with disabilities or women—which hides the real monsters among us.

Those real monsters are Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his 1 Percent friends who wield control of the resources that could alleviate gang violence, homelessness, poverty and joblessness in Chicago. Instead, they’ve overseen sustained social strife for so many to advance their own personal gain.


Blowing the Whistle on Campus Rape | Ms. Magazine

During her second weekend as a freshman on a California campus, Kerri accepted an offer from Mitch, a popular senior who held student office, to walk her back to her dorm from an off-campus party. When they reached Kerri’s room, Mitch raped her.

A few months later, Kerri—who had not reported the assault—learned that Mitch had raped yet another woman after walking her home from a party. And the previous year, the university had found him responsible for a prior sexual crime. His punishment? Watch a 23-minute educational video on sexual violence and write a two-page reflection paper.

This is a true story (with names and identifying details altered), and similar ones are unspooling on virtually every college campus across the U.S. According to the 2007 Campus Sexual Assault Study [PDF] funded by the National Institute of Justice,at least 1 in 5 women will experience a rape or an attempted rape at some point during college, and 90 percent of these rapes will be perpetrated by acquaintances. However, only 12 percent of college rape survivors will report their experience to law enforcement authorities.

That low percentage is no surprise. We have heard hundreds of eerily similar stories from survivors about how their schools “manage” this problem: Investigations and disciplinary reviews are bungled; only light sanctions are administered; and schools lack support services for those who have been victimized. Many schools discourage official reports through onerous reporting processes and not-so-subtle victim-blaming. Like the administrator who asked Amherst College’s Angie Epifano, “Are you sure it was rape?” …


The Women’s Media Center has released its third annual report on the status of gender and racial diversity in the media. The conclusion reached, yet again, is that “the American media have exceedingly more distance to travel on the road to gender-blind parity.”

How far exactly? After the jump are six charts that illustrate just how white and male the US media remain.

Women make up just 36 percent of newsroom staffs–and that hasn’t really changed since 1999.



Charda Gregory abducted, humiliated, violated, restrained, scalped and tortured. 
If this were reversed, with black police officers who were sworn to uphold peace and justice but instead were documented victimizing a white woman (who was already a victim), this news would have trumped the Olympics!

Truncated version: drugged at a party, abducted to a motel, wakes up during unwanted sexual violation in a motel room full of strangers, fights like hell to escape, motel employee calls the authorities, she gets arrested for destroying motel property and it just gets worst from there. 

Every officer who participated in it and even those who witnessed it and did nothing should be punished but instead they just fired the woman?
No rape kit, no police report on the people inside the motel room, no investigation of her claims, no accountability for missing motel entry records, no video from the motel but she gets detained for fourteen days?

(Btw, when did your tax dollars begin purchasing Abu Ghraib type water boarding chairs?)