tim: text: "I'm not offended, I'm defiant" (defiant)
2017-09-05 09:21 am
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Emotional Labor Day: Six years later

Today is the sixth anniversary of my post "Emotional Labor Day", chronicling how I was constructively dismissed from the computer science Ph.D program at Portland State University because of sexual harassment.

Portland State radicalized me. Whatever worthwhile work I've done since as an activist, as a writer, as a feminist, for social justice, all traces back to Andrew Tolmach, Mark Jones and James Hook telling me that they were willing to lose two queer trans grad students in order to keep one Thomas Dubuisson, a cis male sexual predator, as a student.

They lost all three students, and the research grant for the entire group, and they were willing to make that choice. They were happy to destroy the group in order to protect rape culture.

Thomas now works at Galois, a prestigious software company that hired him even though they knew exactly what he did, and he's had a high-paying job ever since. The other two of us lost our careers. No place welcomed either of us with open arms the way that Galois welcomed a known serial sexual harasser. The two of us are both still struggling to figure out a way to make a living and use our talents in a way that doesn't require subservience to those who see us only as objects to be used to further their own needs.

A year ago I wrote:

And I'm still paying the bill, literally, for the program I got kicked out of without a degree; I'm still paying off the student loans I took out while I was at Portland State to cover the cost of student health insurance and other medical expenses, as the university didn't consider the research that graduate students did for low wages to be work and thus didn't provide us with employee benefits. Grad school isn't for people like me who've had no financial support from parents since the age of 17. At age 35, I have no savings and I don't expect to retire -- all because I made the mistake of thinking that a person like me could have an academic career. But those careers aren't for me -- they're for people born to wealthier parents, into more acceptable bodies.

At age 36, I have savings; working at Google paid off the loans I took out while I was at Portland State and then some, and gave me enough savings to not work for a year. (I still don't expect to ever retire.) But like grad studentships at Portland State, jobs at Google are also not for me; they're for people born to wealthier parents, into more acceptable bodies, or at least, for people more willing to be conciliatory about the centering of acceptably-bodied people from the suburbs and the subordination of the rest of us.

But as hard as it is, it's better to be free.