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March 14, 2018

Reader Feedback: Abusive Relationships and Solid-Waste Workers

Hey, Bonita…

Having recently escaped an abusive relationship I was in for years, I echo your view of the person being manipulated and abused (“Am I In A Toxic Relationship?”, Feb. 21). I didn’t realize coercion after non-consent with one’s partner was actually abuse until recently. I only wish more people understood what constitutes abuse so they might be able to step out of their situation and examine their relationships with an objective eye. I wish abuse for no one, and I hope this person recognizes their situation.

Very true. No is no, whether you’re having a one-night stand or you’ve been with your partner for five years. I was very alarmed by their story, too, and I wanna thank you for sharing your own experience and echoing my sentiment that they get as far away from their hopefully-now-ex-partner as possible.

It might feel harmless to a guy to keep pushing for a particular bedroom activity after his partner has said no to it, but that’s only because we live in a culture that prioritizes a man’s desires over those of his partner—especially when that partner is a woman, a femme or just a generally more-submissive person. This pressure chips away at a person’s feeling of ownership over their body, and with the questioner being early in their transition and presumably young, it could be detrimental to their personal development to have their agency questioned and denied repeatedly by someone who ostensibly loves them.

They also mentioned their partner expressing suicidal ideations when things get rough, and I think they are just too kind to see that behavior for what it is. I don’t want to doubt their partner’s sincerity, but I draw a red line at that level of manipulation, whether intentional or not. It’s a hard position to be in if you’re a tender-hearted person, and I could tell that the questioner was feeling very torn between wanting to help their partner and being absolutely miserable in their relationship. It was hard for me to recommend they leave a person who says they want to die, but I advise people on how to manage relationships, not jobs, and this person is their partner, not their hospice patient.


Hi there,

I just wanted to let you know that last year our local solid-waste crew won first place in several categories at a statewide truck rodeo competition. They are some of the hardest-working folks in our community. Historically, solid-waste workers have led movements for civil rights, which is so inspiring! I used to live in Vancouver about 14 years ago, when the solid-waste workers went on strike, and I will never forget how horrible everything got really fast. That was when I first started living a zero-waste lifestyle—which I wish more people would do, because we are really making a big mess with our trash, especially in the oceans.

I have a lot of respect for solid-waste workers, and our local guys and gals in particular. Maybe a better example of someone to aspire not to be is a mother who smokes around their kids, or something like that.

Cheers,

Gretchen

Hi Gretchen,

I used “driving trash trucks” as my example in that answer (“Stop Striving for Perfection,” Feb. 28) because I’d picked up on the values of the questioner and knew he would view an “unskilled” municipal job like sanitation as something that was absolutely below him. And we were talking jobs, so the example of a smoking mom would not work, but thanks for trying. This is an adult male who still thinks he’s cool because of his high-school sports achievements, after all.

I personally have no qualms with sanitation workers, or with solid-waste removal as a career. I find it remarkable, with all of the statements I’ve made during the years I’ve been writing this column, that this would be the statement with which you take issue.

Thanks,

A Very Puzzled Bonita

Need advice? Email advice@flagpole.com, use our anonymous form, or find Bonita on Twitter: @flagpolebonita.

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