Job defection, community building

I’m not going to lie. We live in a capitalism (a capitopatriarchy, to be exact). And to survive in a capitalism, we must do what we must do in order to get by.

However, I’m all about minimizing the number and amount of things that people must do to get by.

For example: Defecting from a capitopatriarchal job immediately allows for a number of personal freedoms. Freedom from compulsory at-work femininity compliance (which is, for the record, de jure illegal, though I know it is in full force de facto practice). Freedom from spending all of your time in an artificial environment away from sunlight and air, probably squinting in artificial light. Freedom from having zero free time. And more.

These freedoms almost immediately equal an increase in life quality, which can often prolong life expectancy (if that’s an issue; I’d personally rather live a shorter, happier life than a longer, less happy one). They eliminate cognitive dissonances and bring about mental peace.

Of course, that won’t happen if you’re worrying about money. For this, I advocate never having children or a Nigel, and ditching Nigel and building a communal childcare environment for those who already have those things.

I feel pretty comfortable with this advocacy, because poverty isn’t something I’m unfamiliar with. I’ve been poor all my life — as in, “we had the gas shut off again” poor as a child* and “currently living a borderline hobo lifestyle in order to afford to live any kind of quality life and supplementing my paychecks with food stamps” poor now.

(*Having a single mother from the working class will do that, as women typically get little to no support with childrearing and also get paid at least twenty percent less for their work than men do anyway.)

However, my quality of life, in the basic sense, has always been pretty good, and with almost a quarter-century of practice I’ve honed it to damn near an art. I learned to dislike secondhand clothes for a while (children are taught to be vicious to those who don’t conform to capitopatriarchy’s white, middle- to upper-middle-class ideals, let’s call it the Abercrombie Ideal — and oh, are they ever), but there is nothing wrong with secondhand clothes. As hipsters the world over have learned, secondhand and thrift stores are often brimming with treasures. Even after they’ve been picked over (by hipsters, and hipster resellers), these stores often still have a lot of useful, often highly utilitarian garments left over. If one is fighting the patriarchy and doesn’t necessarily care what one looks like, these clothes can work pretty well.

Food can be more difficult to come by, depending on the amount of effort one wishes to put forth, but it’s not impossible. Tons upon tons of food is thrown out in the United States every day alone, much because of mere cosmetic problems (bruised fruit, dented boxes, etc). Although it’s rarer in big cities, many places, especially in small towns, will give their food away or offer deep discounts if one asks nicely (and doesn’t look obviously homeless or intoxicated; yes, class bias).
If handouts have been denied, the next step is to go straight to the treasure trove: dumpsters. If one is worried about eating potentially spoiled food, one can learn to identify spoiled produce and avoid meat and most dairy products, therefore defaulting to a more ethics-friendly vegan diet. (If you absolutely must eat your meat, you can still buy it from the store with some of the money you’ll save otherwise). Many locations are becoming hip to this tactic, and will compact or lock up their dumpsters, but fellow scavengers can show newcomers the best area hauls: dumpster diving is widely practiced, down to a sport and a lifestyle, so one can often meet up with other dumpster-divers to learn the ropes. Voila, instant communal exercise as well.

Speaking of community, communities of other people (whether they are impoverished or ‘merely’ opting out) are tremendously important. Groups of people getting together to round up and prepare food is one of the single most empowering community-building exercises. See Food Not Bombs. The Hare Krishnas also offer free meals in many major cities, and subscription to their belief system is optional (the food is also very, very good).

Problems with living situations can be similarly ameliorated, by building communities of people who have similar goals and can help to offset costs of rent and bills. My personal pipe dream is a radical feminist separatist collective, possibly involving either a farm or RVs. Squatting is a truly radical option for those ambitious enough to pursue it.

The fact that we don’t currently have such communities already in place (and the fact that many of the communities that do exist are not exactly woman-safe or even -friendly, more post/s on that to come) is even more incentive to build some.

I might be a radically anticapitalist primitivist eco-radicalfeminist, but that doesn’t mean I’m wrong.

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23 Responses to Job defection, community building

  1. We have a Hare Krishna place in my city and you’re right, the food is fantastic! There’s also a resturaunt the does “pay by donation” the condition is you must eat EVERY thing on your plate so none is wasted. It’s all veggo too!

    • joy says:

      I am not Hare Krishna at all, and never was, but I hung out at a Hare Krishna temple for two months one time. It’s called New Vrindaban, and is located in West Virginia, USA.

      There is so much sordid, fucked-up shit surrounding that place (think everything that went wrong in America in the ’70s, rolled into one giant weird amalgamation), but it’s fucking fantastic. Like being on a strange trip even when you’re stone cold sober. It’s like living in the future and the past, all at once.

  2. ball buster says:

    Ditto on all you said. Please, for the love of all that is holy, if there’s any childless women reading this RESIST THE URGE TO HAVE BABIES.

    This entry describes the exact lifestyle I’ve been preparing for. I’ve been looking into campers, or other small shelters. My wardrobe consists of clothes I am only comfortable sleeping in, and nothing else. Ideally, everything I own should fit into a rollable luggage trunk and a carry on. That’s so in case I have to travel by air or bus, I don’t have to pay extra.

    Also Joy, I am rediscovering the beauty of sleeping bags. They are light weight and so comfortable. I zip two together, and that’s how me and my youngest daughter sleep now. She has her two sleeping bags, and I have mine. No need for sheets and blankets, bed skirts, or pillow shams. Pop ’em in the wash, dry, shake em out and their good to go. No more making beds or smoothing sheets. They are relatively cheap depending on where you go, too. If you get a vacuum storage bag, rolling them up then vacuuming out the air saves space.

    Joy, if you’re interested in cheap land, landcentral dot com has a TON of parcels for sale. A lot of them are very small but they have larger parcels that might be big enough to park a camper. A huge obstacle might be access to fresh water, and a lot of the properties are landlocked. I’m sure, though, with some looking you might find a gem or two. I’ve found a few myself, but way out of my price range until my youngest is older.

    I absolutely support the idea of living out of the system as much as possible. The past several years I have realized that everything around me is one big fucking lie that men created to oppress women, and I refuse to participate any more than I absolutely have to.

    • joy says:

      Dude, the times I’ve lived in a camper van have been the best of my life. It’s one of the only things I can truly call “empowering” (under certain conditions, such as availability of eco-friendly fuels; for a time I knew people who refitted cars with their own DIY corn oil motors, it was amazing).

      It was also awesome self-directed cognitive behavior training, self-imposed aversion therapy, and purposeful attitude modification in and of itself. It’s hard to stay obsessed with the trauma-induced need to wash oneself all the time when one is in a van all the time. It’s hard to remain obsessed with counting calories (which I used to do even when poor, because I was anorexic) when one needs the extra fat to stay alive.
      And it’s hard to think of oneself as a not-good-enough object when one is in charge of maintaining one’s own vehicle, knowing all its quirks, as well as surviving on one’s own and defending oneself.

      As you can tell, I’m a fan.

      My personal dream is to stay mobile, because I don’t make or have near enough money to buy a plot of land. (Also I’m restless, I can’t stop moving and love to see everything I can; perhaps this is also trauma- and PTSD-related, I’ve just turned it into something positive although still based on outrunning a fear?) But however you wanna do it. There are a bunch of people who do it either way — the stationary ones are often called “slabbers.”

      • ball buster says:

        Mobile is a good idea. I’d probably play snow bird and go north for the summer and south for the winter. 🙂

        Yeah, food is the shits ain’t it? I would probably have no problem with food storage, because I love eating. It’s my only vice, really. I don’t have sex, I don’t smoke anything (god I wish, if I could physically handle it) and I don’t drink. I have maybe one drink and that’s it. Food has been a lifelong problem for me, too, so I can sympathize, at least from this end of the spectrum. ❤

      • joy says:

        Oh, I don’t have a ton of problems storing food, I was talking about finding the food in the dumpster. But you bring up a good point that I forgot.

        On the road, I mostly eat things like rice and beans that I store dry in empty coffee cans (love my coffee, what can I say, I’m a cowboy) or emptied glass jars to keep bugs and rodents at bay. This is supplemented with fresh things that I buy as I go. The inside of a vehicle can get pretty warm as the day goes on, and while some rigs have minifridges rigged to their leisure-cell batteries, ours didn’t and I didn’t feel like fooling around with an ice box.

        You really get back into the swing of grocery shopping (I shop with my food stamps) or dumpster diving once a day or once every two to three days, and only picking up what you’ll eat in that time period. Fresh produce, proteins (I’m fond of the Field Roast vegan sausages, for the record, but some people like tofu or cheeses or meats). So you end up eating a much more ‘natural’ style of diet too.

  3. ball buster says:

    One more thing, may I link to this page on my post “leftovers”?

  4. FAB Libber says:

    I guess that I am working towards being a “slabber” in a few years. But perhaps I will contemplate the van/travel option before laying down the slab. Something to think about.

    But yes, I am gradually de-societying in lots of ways.

    • joy says:

      I think it’s the single-most healthiest thing women can do.

      (I’ve been exposed to the television media for the first time in several years, for the longest stretch of time in probably eight years, recently; it’s been reminding me how toxic ‘normality’ is. I have an entry on morbidity in the media coming up.)

      This might all be easier for me because of how I grew up (I really need to do a short bio too, don’t I), and have been doing this hard-core for the past eight years. But I do feel as though anyone can do it and that it has rewards pretty much across the board. The more of us who opt out, to whatever degree we can, the better.

  5. veganprimate says:

    “It’s called New Vrindaban, and is located in West Virginia, USA. ”

    Oh my god! Not only have we both lived in Pittsburgh, but I grew up in West Virginia. I’ve never been to New Vrindaban, but I always wanted to check it out. It wasn’t far from my town.

  6. veganprimate says:

    This blog post and the ensuing comments are fabulous. I’m current “homeless”, traveling from job assignment to job assignment in my conversion van. I’m not living in it full time, but I did use it to avoid motel fees on my drive to my current assignment. As time goes on, I hope to outfit the interior for more living (propane stove, some DIY version of a sink possibly).

  7. veganprimate says:

    “My personal dream is to stay mobile, because I don’t make or have near enough money to buy a plot of land. (Also I’m restless, I can’t stop moving and love to see everything I can; perhaps this is also trauma- and PTSD-related, I’ve just turned it into something positive although still based on outrunning a fear?)”

    I’ve always thought my desire to be nomadic was somehow related to my personality. There are different ways of coping…whether they are inborn or born of our circumstances/experience. For example, my gut reaction to almost all difficulty is to flee. Neighbors being assholes? Move. Job difficult? Quit. Some people fight when there’s a problem. The warrior type. Neighbors difficult? Fight ’em. Job difficult? Get a lawyer.

    I do realize that fleeing isn’t always the best answer, and I have to force myself on occasion to confront people and make a situation better, rather than just leave. But traveling/being nomadic really suited the flee-er inside me. Move on to greener pastures.

  8. joy says:

    I went back and fixed a VERY important typo. My apologies. I do proofread, but things sometimes pass me by … once, twice, even three or more times.

    Thanks for your patience!

  9. Oh my goddess !
    This post is awesome !!
    Dumpster diving, greywater & bio diesel, eco feminism, primitvism……
    I never thought I’d even hear Feminist talking about this stuff…….
    And practical tips & advice and not just boring theory!

    Thank You sisters/Sistahs !

    I am an avid dumpster diver, food stamp/EBT lover.
    I live in the woods and do a full work exchange on a horse ranch,
    am a Permaculture & food justice activist, a vegan/veggie
    anti civ/primitivist – learning survival skills…………….

    Yeah you REALLY can be a vegan primitivist (if folks know what I am talking about?)

    Anyone wanna come join me and find a long abandoned house
    in Oakland an open an organized all ages womyns squat ???????
    There are MANY long term, safe, organized squats (or occupied houses) around the area and
    ALOT Of amazing community activism.
    This is also possible still in New York.

    Or how’s about creating a permanent womyns encampment down near
    San Diego at Slab City ???????? The biggest – longest running squatted area in the USA!
    There is also the Mesa near Taos in New Mexico, totally off grid and land is CHEAP – CHEAP-CHEAP!

    I can hear the Middle class academic feminists freaking out now …………..

    • joy says:

      I’ve been looking in NYC for two years. It’s become more and more difficult to exercise squatters’ rights under Bloomy, because he loves selling off abandoned properties to his cronies who’ll bulldoze them for high-rise condos. Williamsburg was primo squatters’ land ten years ago, now it’s all hipsters and high-rises. “East Williamsburg” (repackaging name for the edges of Bushwick abutting Williamsburg) is next and falling quickly.

      Have seen a few promising places in Harlem and deeper Bushwick, but haven’t had time to explore them yet as I’ve rarely been in town.

      I personally hate the American Southwest because I feel it’s evil. Here’s where some people will look at me funny, but: the energies from the raping, looting, and murdering banditry across the border (which happens due to desperation caused by late-stage capitalism and xenophobia) seeps into the entire landscape. Even traveling through on a Greyhound made my hair stand up straight.
      Plus there’s the issue of water depletion, specifically regarding the Colorado River.

      But I’m really in love with the Sierras and would love to start a les-feminist ecoprimitivist separatist prospectors’ camp up there somewhere. Although obviously there are logistics problems with that too.

      What’s the scene like in Oakland? Even badass women punks I’ve known in Bushwick have told me to steer clear of Oakland, but I’ve only ever been to San Francisco so I don’t know firsthand.

  10. Hey!

    Just wanted to say your blog ROCKS!!
    It’s great hearing about your reality & day to day life
    and a breath of fresh air to NOT be reading/hearing yet
    more middle class academic (feminist) crap!

    A Feminist that talks about capitalism !!
    Great !! Feminism fails so miserably over and over again
    because of the lack of discussion around capitalism, class ism,….etc.

    Oakland is great, some parts are dangerous, but that is
    mostly the gangsters & random Black on Black crime.
    (It’s not like New Orleans where you just DO NOT walk around
    day or night in certain areas because murder is so common,
    regardless if you are Black OR White…..
    3 Food Not Bombs activists & 1 DIY activist have been murdered
    in the last few years down there)
    But there are alot of very positive things going on that
    are being led by the Black working class community
    helping itself/themselves, who are resisting gentrification.
    I like the way ya say ‘Badass Women Punks’
    There are many long abandoned houses.
    And many organized squats.
    Mostly the long term neighbors are okay about
    the squatters, because the properties aren’t being used
    as crack or prostitution space. And the places get cleaned up,
    community gardens and free stores get created and more.

    There is no longer a squatting ‘scene’ in San Francisco,
    due to rampant gentrification. Back in the 80’s there were alot
    of large & smaller organized squats.
    Most activists are moving over to Oakland cause they CAN NOT
    afford to live in SF.
    I did take part in an awesome very public very large housing takeover
    in SF organized by Homes Not Jails.
    The action got very sympathetic coverage by the t.v news
    and the neighbors came out and supported us!!

    I like your idea of the prospectors camp…
    But I always sit on the fence re city versus country………..
    I believe in greening the city as much as I love living
    out in the sticks.

    I do a full work exchange on a horse ranch, am the gardener
    would be homeless otherwise.

    Keep speaking you truth and let folks know about my new blog:
    femragetruthteller.wordpress.com

  11. Sargassosea says:

    A quick mention re SF:

    Back in my day the Mission was a slum with homeless addicts literally dying in the streets.

    That was the *beginning phase* of the regentrification and I hear that I would not even recognize it anymore…

  12. Hey Sargassosea,
    Yeah the Mission has changed alot. The slumlords/landlords have stopped burning
    folks out of their welfare hotels for one.
    But mostly the Hipsters keep to Valencia Street. And Mission is still Mission
    and Latino folks fighting gentrification.
    There are still homeless folks dying on the streets in SF.

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