How totalism works

Resultado de imagem para Photo by Eric Lafforgue/Gamma-Rapho/Getty

Photo by Eric Lafforgue/Gamma-Rapho/Getty

The brainwashing methods of isolation, engulfment and fear can lead anyone to a cult. I should know – I was in one

by Alexandra Stein was formerly an associate lecturer in social psychology at Birkbeck, University of London. She now teaches at the Mary Ward Centre. Her research focuses on the social psychology of ideological extremism. Her latest book is Terror, Love and Brainwashing: Attachment in Cults and Totalitarian Systems(2016).

I began my formal research in 1999, eight years after battling my way out of a secret, so-called Marxist-Leninist group whose leader controlled my life in its most intimate details. He determined what I wore: a version of the advice in John Molloy’s bestseller Dress for Success (1975), featuring tailored blue suits and floppy red silk bowties. More significantly, he decided when I could marry, and whether I might have children. The leader’s decrees were passed down via memos typed on beige notepaper and hand-delivered to me by my ‘contact’. Because I was a low-ranked member, the leader remained unknown to me.

I joined this Minneapolis-based group, called The Organization (The O) believing I was to contribute to their stated goal of social justice, a value instilled in me by my family. However, what I actually did revolved around, first, being a factory machinist tending numerical control lathes and, then, grunt work in the group’s wholegrain bakery (we did at least make good bread) and, finally, writing business computer programs. The fact that these tasks seemed oddly disconnected from any strategy for social change did not escape my notice. I regularly questioned (until I learned not to) how all this was leading to justice for the poor and the powerless. A stern ‘struggle with the practice’ was the only answer I ever received, and back to my labours I would go, like Boxer the horse in George Orwell’s Animal Farm (1945), hardworking but still unenlightened as to the ultimate goal.

As I ‘developed’ over the years (as our groupspeak put it) it was revealed to me that ‘struggling with the practice’ would help us transform ourselves so as to be ready to contribute to some brave new world where we would finally fight for liberation of the oppressed. Meanwhile, we foot soldiers were so exhausted by the double shifts we worked year in and year out, the endless criticisms and self-criticisms, the leadership’s frowning upon any joy and spontaneity, that we no longer had the energy nor wit to keep asking questions.

However, despite – or perhaps because of – this dull and exhausting routine, in 1991 I did eventually make my exit along with two other disaffected comrades. Together we formed what I now call an ‘island of resistance’. We were able to gradually break the code of secrecy that silenced doubts about the group and its leader. With each other as validation, we began to articulate the real, dismal and frightening story of life in The O, which had as its unlikely recruiting grounds the 1970s food co-ops of the US Midwest.

After a dramatic exit, I wrote the memoir Inside Out (2002). The book was an effort to understand how I, an independent, curious and intelligent 26-year-old, could have been captured and held by such a group for so long. It was a cautionary tale for those not yet tempted by such a fate to beware of isolating groups with persuasive ideologies and threatening bass notes.

By then, I had learned about the brainwashing of prisoners of war and others in Mao’s China and North Korea in the 1950s; I had read the psychohistorian Robert Jay Lifton’s Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism (1961) and the psychologist Margaret Singer’s Cults in Our Midst (1996).  Singer described six conditions of cultic control among which were control of the environment; a system of rewards and punishments; creating a sense of powerlessness, fear and dependency; and reforming the follower’s behaviour and attitudes, all within a closed system of logic. Lifton emphasised that thought reform took place when human communication was controlled. Added to this, I found John Lofland’s Doomsday Cult (1966), his unrivalled undercover study of an early cell of the Unification Church – the Moonies – which outlined seven steps to total conversion centred around the isolation of the follower from everyone except other cult members. All these scholars agreed that the essence of the process was to isolate victims from their prior connections and destabilise their identity, then consolidate a new, submissive identity within a rigidly bound new network. This was achieved by alternating a regime of threats with conditional approval.

As I continued to recover from the trauma of my cult involvement, I came across the British psychologist John Bowlby’s attachment theory. This states that both children and adults will usually seek closeness to perceived safe others when stressed (even if only symbolically in the case of adults) in order to gain protection from threat. I saw this as potentially useful in helping to understand how people become trapped in cultic relationships…

more…

https://aeon.co/essays/how-cult-leaders-brainwash-followers-for-total-control

WIKK WEB GURU

Which lives matter most?

Resultado de imagem para Photo by Matt McClain/The Washington Post/Getty

Jessica Thalia Cruz Menezes, who is eight months pregnant, at home in Recife, Brazil, 13 March 2016. The Zika virus has been rampant in the Recife region. Photo by Matt McClain/The Washington Post/Getty

The Zika virus raises questions about our ethical obligations towards people who might or might not exist in the future

by Dominic Wilkinson is director of medical ethics at the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics. He is the author of Death or Disability? The ‘Carmentis Machine and Decision-making for Critically Ill Children (2013). He lives in Oxford.

by Keyur Doolabh is an undergraduate studying a Bachelor of Medicine and a Diploma of Philosophy at Monash University in Australia, and a visiting student at the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics in Oxford.

Published in association with
Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics
an Aeon Partner

Imagine that a 14-year-old girl, Kate, decides that she wants to become pregnant. Kate’s parents are generally broadminded, and are supportive of her long-term relationship with a boy of the same age. They are aware that Kate is sexually active, like 5 per cent of 14-year-old girls in the United States and 9 per cent in the United Kingdom. They have provided her with access to birth control and advice about using it. However, they are horrified by their daughter’s decision to have a child, and they try to persuade her to change her mind. Nevertheless, Kate decides not to use birth control; she becomes pregnant, and gives birth to her child, Annabel.

Many people might think that Kate’s choice was morally wrong. Setting aside views about teenage sexual behaviour, they might argue that this was a bad decision for Kate – it will limit her access to education and employment. But let’s imagine that Kate wasn’t academically inclined, and was going to drop out of school anyway. Beyond those concerns, people might worry about the child Annabel. Surely Kate should have waited until she was older, to give her child a better start to life? Hasn’t she harmed her child by becoming pregnant now?

This issue is more complicated than it first seems. If Kate had delayed her pregnancy until, say, age 20, her child would have been conceived from a different egg and sperm. Because of this, Kate would have a genetically different child, and Annabel would not have existed.

Kate could defend her actions: ‘I haven’t harmed my child. If I hadn’t conceived when I did, Annabel would never have been born.’ With this in mind, it might seem that Kate did not harm Annabel. After all, Annabel couldn’t blame her mother for having her so early: as long as Annabel has a life that she judges worth living, she should be grateful to her mother for becoming pregnant at age 14. Though many might still have the feeling that Kate did wrong by her child, it is hard to pinpoint a reason why the girl’s choice was wrong.

The puzzle of how to think about such cases is called ‘the non-identity problem’. The late philosopher Derek Parfit of the University of Oxford described and explored this problem in his influential book Reasons and Persons (1984). The ethical issue at the heart of the non-identity problem is about the reasons behind our actions. If doing something will harm someone – if it will make them worse off than they would otherwise have been – then we clearly have a reason not to do it. Parfit called these kinds of reasons ‘person-affecting’ – they affect specific people for better or for worse. Most of our morality and our laws centre around just these sorts of person-affecting reasons.

However, the non-identity problem arises when we face decisions that change which people will exist. In those cases, person-affecting reasons do not help us. In our case with the 14-year-old Kate, delaying her pregnancy would change who would exist in the future. It wouldn’t benefit any particular child; there is no person-affecting reason for Kate to delay her pregnancy.

In such cases as Kate’s, perhaps there is a different type of moral reason that could apply. Parfit suggested that actions can be morally worse impersonally if they cause people to exist who have worse lives than other people who could have existed. On this basis, Kate’s decision might be impersonally wrong, because the child who is born now has worse prospects than the child who could have been born later.

This example might seem far-fetched, but Parfit pointed out the very significant implications of the non-identity problem for energy policy and the environment. He imagined two policies about the use of resources. One policy, which he called ‘Depletion’, would lead to the unchecked use and eventual depletion of our natural resources. In the short term, people would be generally better off, but in several generations’ time it would lead to people on Earth living much lower-quality lives. The alternative policy, ‘Conservation’, would conserve natural resources. In the short term, people’s quality of life would not be as good, but in the long term, overall, it would be much better. However, Parfit pointed out that these different policies would affect the timing of conception and the identity of people in several generations’ time, since they would potentially have a major impact on the whole of society and the way in which people lived their lives. The people who live in a future ‘depleted’ world would be completely different from the population who would live in the ‘conserved’ world.

Figure 1: Comparing the two policies, Conservation and Depletion, in Parfit’s application of the non-identity problem to the use of natural resources

Parfit’s point that the world populations under the two policies will eventually be completely different seems reasonable. But many would still believe that choosing Depletion is wrong. Person-affecting reasons can’t explain this intuition; the policies won’t be better or worse for specific people. Our response to such cases suggests that we should also be concerned about impersonal reasons, reasons that don’t relate to specific, identifiable people…

more…

https://aeon.co/essays/should-we-take-ethical-account-of-people-who-do-not-yet-exist

WIKK WEB GURU

The scalp from Sand Creek

Resultado de imagem para A rare eye-witness depiction of the Sand Creek attack by the Cheyenne warrior-artist Howling Wolf.

 A rare eye-witness depiction of the Sand Creek attack by the Cheyenne warrior-artist Howling Wolf. Photo courtesy Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, Ohio. Gift of Mrs. Jacob D. Cox, 1904.

Even after museums return human remains pillaged from a massacre in 1864, can repatriation heal the wounds of history?

by Chip Colwell is editor-in-chief of SAPIENS and curator of anthropology at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. His latest book is Plundered Skulls and Stolen Spirits: Inside the Fight to Reclaim Native Americas Culture (2017). He lives in Denver, Colorado.

On the morning of 29 November 1864, nearly 700 United States soldiers charged towards a village along a gentle bend at Sand Creek, in Colorado Territory. Settled in peace for the winter, there were dozens of Cheyenne and Arapaho families there. Within hours, the soldiers killed more than 200 Cheyenne and Arapaho – mostly women, children and the elderly. Over the next day, the soldiers pillaged the dead for trophies – including ears, fingers, genitalia and scalps. These body parts were taken to Denver, where soldiers paraded them in the streets and displayed them in homes. Most of the pilfered human remains were lost to time. A handful would survive as artefacts in museums and private collections.

The Sand Creek Massacre took place more than 150 years ago. Yet, it has not yet ended. This crime of American expansionism has continued to reverberate through the generations. The original war over land and dominance has transformed into a battle over memory and emancipation. The demand for the return of ancestral human remains from museums is perhaps the most visible – and tangible – struggle for Native America’s cultural survival. Repatriation asks us to consider whether we can ever fully come to terms with the past.

In 2008, descendants of the Cheyenne and Arapaho victims gathered at the newly established Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site in southeastern Colorado. At a specially designated area not far from Sand Creek, religious leaders buried the remains of six victims – one scalp from the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, one scalp from the Colorado Historical Society (now History Colorado), a cranial fragment from the University of Nebraska, and three sets of remains from a private collection.

‘A Cheyenne elder told us our nations couldn’t heal and couldn’t regain our strength and we as individuals couldn’t heal,’ Suzan Shown Harjo, a leader of the repatriation movement of Cheyenne and Muskogee descent, once said, ‘until we recovered our dead relatives from these places.’

But did the return of the victims’ remains quiet the phantoms of the past? Can repatriation heal the wounds of history?

epatriation’ is derived from the Latin repatriatum, meaning something that has gone home again. In the past several decades, repatriation has become a global controversy as communities and nations struggle to reclaim their stolen heritage from museums and private collections. In the US, hundreds of Native American tribes have negotiated with some 1,000 museums and agencies over the future of more than 200,000 Native American skeletons, and 1 million grave goods and sacred objects…

more…

https://aeon.co/essays/does-returning-artefacts-help-to-heal-the-scars-of-conquest

WIKK WEB GURU

3 QUESTIONS YOU’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO ASK ABOUT LIFE IN A SICK SOCIETY

by Sigmund Fraud, Staff Writer Waking Times

“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” ~J. Krishnamurti

Society is directed by a never-ending mainstream narrative which is always evolving, and always reaching new dramatic peaks in sensationalism and hype. They fill your mind with topics they select, they keep your attention on these topics, and they invite and encourage you to argue amongst each other about these topics. In this way our collective attention is permanently commandeered, preventing us from diving too deeply into matters which have more than a superficial impact on day-today life.

Free-thinking is the ability and willingness to explore of ideas and areas of the mind which are yet undiscovered or are off-limits. It is a vanishing art that is deliberately being stamped out by a control system which demands conformity, acquiescence and obedience of body, mind, and spirit.

For your consideration, here are three questions you’re not supposed to ask about life in our profoundly sick society.

1. Who owns the money supply, and the world’s debt?

Pretty much the entire world is in financial debt, an insidious form of slavery which enables the exploitation of human beings and of all things in nature. It’s maddening when you think about it. The United States alone supposedly owes some $20 trillion, while the world at large owes a shocking $215 trillion?

But to whom, precisely?

Money is just a medium of exchange which facilitates transactions between people. In and of itself it has no intrinsic value as we could just as easily use sea shells instead of dollar bills and still be able to get things done. But today’s money is the property of private third-parties who rent it out to national governments, who then use the labor of their citizens as collateral against these loans. This is a highly refined form of slavery, which has already put future unborn generations of human beings in debt.

But who, exactly does the human race owe? Who are our debt-slave masters?

2. Who owns your body?

Ownership means having the explicit right to use, control and dispose of something in the manner of your choosing. The one thing you are born with that you take with you to your death is your own body, but do you own it? If not you, then who does own your body?

If this question were already settled in our society then there wouldn’t be ever-increasing pressure on those who choose to refuse vaccines. Children battling cancer and other serious illnesses wouldn’t be forced to take chemo and radiation under penalty of law and under threat of being taken from their parents. Water wouldn’t be fluoridated without our consent. Natural medicines wouldn’t be outlawed under threat of fines and prison time.

We are rapidly approaching a time when people will be required by law to take psychotropic medications as citizens were in Aldous Huxley’s dystopian classic, Brave New World.

Do you own your body, or does it belong to the state?

3.  Why is the exploration of consciousness restricted and illegal?

The most effective prisons are not material, but are constructed inside the mind. Perception, opinion and understanding are all dynamic concepts, not at all static. These can all change in the blink of an eye just because a new idea or experience resonates with you in a special way. Our evolution depends on our ability to expand the frontiers of what’s possible, and when the mind is held in confinement by an entrenched system and powerful cultural paradigm, progress, even happiness, is stunted.

In this societal trap you are given free rein to debase your consciousness and your spirit with alcohol, dangerous drugs, pharmaceuticals, television, pornography, theatrical violence, and then some, yet many natural medicines which elevate consciousness and provide a window into the soul are illegal.

“This is the way freedom is hijacked—not all at once, out in the open, but stealthily, little by little, behind closed doors, and with our own agreement. How will we be able to resist when so many of us have already willingly handed over the keys to our own consciousness to the state and accepted without protest that it is OK to be told what we may and may not do, what we may and may not explore, even what we may and may not experience, with this most precious, sapient, unique, and individual part of ourselves?

If we are willing to accept that then we can be persuaded to accept anything.” ~Graham Hancock

 

About the Author

Sigmund Fraud is a survivor of modern psychiatry and a dedicated mental activist. He is a staff writer for WakingTimes.com where he indulges in the possibility of a massive shift towards a more psychologically aware future for humankind. Follow Sigmund on Facebook here.

This article (3 Questions You’re Not Supposed to Ask About Life in a Sick Society) was originally created and published by Waking Times and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Sigmund Fraud and WakingTimes.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this copyright

http://www.wakingtimes.com/2017/05/29/3-questions-youre-not-supposed-ask-life-sick-society/

WIKK WEB GURU

HUMANITY IS SUFFERING FROM A DIVIDE AND CONQUER STRATEGY

by Phillip J. Watt, Contributor, Waking Times 

So much infighting. So much disagreement. So much disharmony. Humanity is dazed and confused like never before.

Given there’s so much intellectual and emotional carnage eating away at the truth, let me try and break down politics, economics and the division it has on all of us:

– The left and right are in total warfare and pretty much have an unprecedented level of hatred towards each other.

– This is fueled by the ‘fake news’ media monopolies and the big money which is secretly funding certain causes, groups and protests.

– The right call the left ‘snowflakes’ because of their misplaced social justice warrior mania, whilst the left call the right ‘racists’ because of their constitutionalist and nationalist preferences.

– The left hate Trump, while many on the right support him.

– Both sides have unfortunately been sucked into the left/right duopoly.

– Therefore, they don’t understand that the two-party system is a two-party tyranny which works for the same banks, multinationals and oligarchs.

– Besides a blatant divide and conquer agenda, the reason these two artificial competitors have been sucked into this war is because they’ve been subject to extremist activity on each end.

– Unfortunately they don’t realise how much they have in common, especially ending the scams and corruption by the political, financial and corporate excrete.

– To those watching on the outside we see them as on the same team, but stupidly fighting each other instead of their common enemy.

– It is such a waste of energy that needs to be refocused towards the real problems, which can be summed by two words: the corporatocracy and the idiocracy.

– One of the reasons the right believe they’re superior is because many of them think that Trump is a genuine patriot who wants to make shit better again.

– Some people say he is the poster boy for the ‘good guys’ which are in the shadows fighting certain layers of the deep state.

– Others say he has sold out to the neocons, which appears to be the case given he’s bombing innocent people, flirting with Saudi Arabia and bending over for Israel.

– Regardless, there is still a very small chance that this is all a game of ‘drain the swamp’ chess, which would make him an exceptional actor.

– In the middle however, are two other opposing camps: those who want an anarcho-capitalist system and those who want to move to a money-less, abundance-based social system.

– Fortunately, both at least agree that smaller government, decentralisation and relocalised decision-making are initial steps forward.

– Meanwhile, a huge percentage of jobs will be automated over the next decade and beyond, bringing the argument for a ‘basic income’ or ‘living wage’ to replace all welfare programs and support into the spotlight.

– This concept has been shown to be at least equally or even more cost-effective than current welfare policies and practices.

– All this amongst a chaotic and highly manipulated global economy which has massive bubbles in debt, stocks, real estate, bonds and derivatives, whilst ‘main street’ continues to deteriorate with high unofficial employment rates, a dissolving middle class, stagnated wages, a retail apocalypse, outrageous student debt, increasing poverty and homelessness, longer ‘live-at-home’ periods, unsustainable private debt to GDP ratios, hyperinflating economies and just the general threat of the end to the current fiat monetary system.

– Cryptocurrencies are soaring as a result.

– Precious metal prices are still highly manipulated and suppressed.

– Some economists are calling for a modern debt jubilee to soften the blow of a collapsing monetary system.

– Then there is of course the threat of WW3, keeping many people locked into fear.

Now don’t get me wrong, we’re all a bit confused here. We might get it more right or wrong than others, but much of it is guesswork. For example, are Russia and China ‘in on the global government’ or are they genuinely standing against the money-makers? Will the economy end in destruction, will it transition to a world reserve currency of some type, or will it do both? Are we going to see massive social unrest or will it be a relatively smooth conversion into the future? Will that future be one that respects sovereignty and natural law, or will it be a totalitarian, technocratic planetary state?

Who knows. It’s such a fucking mess. False flags, false news, false leaders, false hope; it’s enough to make you want to put your head back in the sand, at least every now and again. But then flipping the script, it is a bloody amazing experience we’ve got. Who knew life on earth could be so challenging and entertaining at the same time?

At the end of the day though, this whole creation is just a game of growth, each of us at varied stages of psychological, philosophical, emotional and behavioural development. I wish more people would really get this, because we’d work way better together to cure the insane asylum called humanity in the 21st Century. The ironic aspect is that we all want an end to this shit, but our understanding of the issues are different, and therefore our solutions are too.

Ultimately, put your beliefs down humanity, you’re hurting yourself. Look into the hearts of your fellow-men and see your reflection. It’s the only way we’re going to come out of this in our favour.

About the Author

Phillip J. Watt lives in Australia. His written work deals with topics from ideology to society, as well as self-development. Follow him on Facebook or visit his website.

This article (Humanity is Suffering from a Divide and Conquer Strategy) was originally created by Phillip J. Watt and is re-posted here with permission. 

http://www.wakingtimes.com/2017/05/25/humanity-suffering-divide-conquer-strategy/

WIKK WEB GURU

THESE 7 UNBELIEVABLE ADS EXEMPLIFY HOW THE ADVERTISING INDUSTRY DEGRADES WOMEN AND MEN

by Nathaniel Mauka, Staff Writer, Waking Times

With all the scientific developments in neuroscience, perhaps none have been utilized so thoroughly and so effectively for social engineering as in the advertising industry.

If you thought you could get away from the influence of this machine, you’re mistaken. Nearly a century after Coca-Cola took cocaine out of its most popular beverage, neuroscientists have found that soft drinks still work like illicit drugs, as does fat, salt, and sugar on our brains – but strangely, so do the images we “consume.” Are you sure that you are motivated by your own, sovereign mind or are other forces at play?

This massive industry manufactures societal problems such as sexism, gender, race, and age division, depression, etc. by using subtle (and not so subtle) programming that is plugged directly into the brains of millions of people across the globe.

It isn’t just women who are degraded with print and media advertisements. Men are relegated to a certain patriarchal, hyper-macho role relegating them to caveman status. In this advertisement by Old Spice, the inference that man is nothing more than a mindless robot isn’t exactly subtle:

In a Calvin Klein ad, women are relegated to the role of whore, and men to the role of pimp. The imagery is a bit more subtle than in the Old Spice ad, but obvious for those who are intelligent enough to see through the propaganda machine’s façade. Notice, that the woman is a grown, thin, white woman dressed as an innocent child while her legs are open just enough to draw the eyes to her crotch, and the man depicted in the ad happens to be African-American, with one eye oddly half-closed as if he were possessed by a demon. They are also  separated by a clear visual frame, and do not interact with one another, subliminally reinforcing gender and race division.

In yet another twisted advertisement meant to desensitize us to the pervasive problem of domestic abuse, a woman is depicted sitting on a sofa with a black eye while an ominously posed man stands behind her in a position of power. To add insult to injury, quite literally, she is told to “look good” while her face is being battered in.

 

In another ad presented by Van Heusen, a woman’s place in society is clearly depicted by the power brokers who create the nonsensical world which is supposed to sway our subconscious motivations.

Some of us think we live in a democratic society, but as Edward Bernays, the self-proclaimed “Father of Public Relations,” and master-mind behind the Tobacco industry’s push of cigarettes on an unsuspecting population openly details,

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. …We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. …In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons…who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.” 

To wit, look at this slick pic of a gang-rape scenario made “vogue” by Dolce & Gabbana, or the immensely degrading ad by American Apparel. In the first advertisement, there isn’t a woman expressing her sexuality freely, and being honored, but held down by force while 3 other men stand in line to abuse her.

 

In the American Apparel ad the woman posing was either extremely uncomfortable, or told to look distressed as she is photographed spread-eagle, insinuating that we should have full access to her, even without her consent…

more…

About the Author

Nathaniel Mauka is a researcher of the dark side of government and exopolitics, and a staff writer for Waking Times.

This article (These 7 Unbelievable Ads Exemplify How the Advertising Industry Degrades Women and Men) was originally created and published by Waking Times and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Nathaniel MaukaIt may be re-posted freely with proper attribution and author bio.

http://www.wakingtimes.com/2017/05/17/7-unbelievable-ads-exemplify-advertising-industry-degrades-women-men/

WIKK WEB GURU

 

Love in a Homeless Place

Jeremy Lybarger

Intimate relationships are uniquely fraught for those with nowhere to call home

By the time I stumble upon the alley, the man who sets himself on fire has passed out, and the woman who roves around naked shouting obscenities is fully dressed and interrogating pigeons convened in the motel parking lot. Across the street, Keisha and Marcus huddle against a chain-link fence and pass a plastic bottle of Royal Gate vodka, 80-proof, back and forth. A shopping cart from Target is parked within arm’s reach, piled with everything they own: tents, clothes, plastic bags busy with snack cakes, a grimy stuffed animal — taxonomy unknown — nicknamed Attitude.

Keisha and Marcus have been together for 18 years. They met outside of a San Francisco sex club called the Power Exchange, one of the few haunts in town where a transgender prostitute like Keisha could reliably pick up johns like Marcus. She considered him “just another trick” until he spread a beach towel on the pavement so they could fuck without skinning their elbows — an act of chivalry that made Keisha swoon.

“You’re going to my wife one day,” Marcus told her then. “I have too much respect for you.”

Keisha chokes up when she tells this story now. It’s obvious they’re in love, although it’s also obvious it’s the kind of love that leaves scars as proof of its intensity. Marcus used to throw Keisha’s wigs into trash cans downtown; Keisha would fish them out and comb them clean; they’d laugh about it later. They have that kind of bond. Marcus, 59, claims he’s been locked up in every prison in California, with a rap sheet spanning four decades. Keisha, 41, alludes to her various illnesses, among which only HIV is named with precision. She hikes up her pant leg to brandish a black, wisteria-like rash branching up her calf.

They’ve lived on the street almost continuously for two years. Sometimes they rent a cheap hotel room when Keisha’s SSI check comes on the first of each month. Otherwise, they shuttle between a tent they pitch on church grounds less than a half-mile away and this sun-faded alley in the Tenderloin, one of San Francisco’s poorest neighborhoods. Most afternoons they split a bottle of cheap liquor, smoke weed, and read paperbacks scavenged from the street. Today they’re thumbing through a travel guide to Paris.

“Basically, we need each other,” Keisha says.

The alley — hedged by motor lodges, an auto body shop, and low-rise apartment buildings — isn’t ideal for a couple seeking intimacy. Regular disturbances include the aforementioned naked woman and the freelance pyromaniac. But, then, few public spaces offer refuge for the homeless, especially homeless couples whose desire for romance too often collides with interruptions from passersby, spotty hygiene, or citations for indecent exposure.

Still, Keisha and Marcus manage.

“We do the hoochie coochie,” she says, swigging vodka. “We don’t go to the bathroom stalls and do it. We ain’t nasty.”

Instead, they rely on the fragile privacy of their tent, tucked away in an adjacent neighborhood that sees less foot traffic than the Tenderloin. They have sex a few times a month — more often if Keisha feels Marcus growing restless. They’ve been together long enough that she has an almost telepathic sense of her husband’s moods.

“If he’s looking somewhere else I’ll give it to him,” she says. “In fact, I might give him some tonight.”

Sex among the homeless is rarely discussed. I contact nearly a dozen shelters and advocacy groups before I find anyone willing to talk about it. Katie Hill, deputy CEO of an L.A.-based organization called People Assisting the Homeless (PATH), is one of the first to answer my inquiries…

more…

https://melmagazine.com/love-in-a-homeless-place-68e7c64f4306

WIKK WEB GURU