The Marginalized of the Margins: Exploring the issue of Gendered Violence on Indigenous women

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Introduction

We are often taught about diversity in our schools, and how we as a collective society should always strive to give people who have been historically on the margins, a more equal opportunity to succeed in society. Within the last couple of years, we have seen a resurgence of civil rights activism, including the Black Lives Matter movement, the Free the Nipple campaign, LGBTQ  rights movement and multiple people advocating for greater religious tolerance amongst Christians and Muslims. As awesome as this is, we still have managed to conveniently forget as a collective society, who the original inhabitants of the Americas were. By doing, so we have ultimately left them out of every single conversation that has to do with civil rights and liberties.

The Facts

As of March 31, 2010, the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), released a report that cited information on roughly 582 cases of reported missing and murdered Indigenous women. Of these cases it was discovered that 67% of these cases were murder cases that were the result of homicide and negligence. 20% were of missing women and girls, 4% were cases of suspicious deaths that were attributed to being deemed as “natural” deaths or “accidental” by various members of law enforcement. The interesting part of this is that an additional 9% of indigenous women mentioned in this report were deemed “unknown” cases, where there exists a substantial level of ambiguity concerning whether these women were murdered, missing or died of “uncertain” circumstances.

This is barely scratching the surface, according to the Alberta Canada page on Indigenous relations,  there were 1,017 cases of murdered indigenous women in Canada between the years of 1980 and 2012. In addition, CBC news cites that as of 2015, a United Nations report cited that young Indigenous women were 5 times more likely to die under violent circumstances, compared to their non-Indigenous peers.

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This issue is not limited to Canada. The United States Department of Justice cites that  Indigenous women in the United States typically experience forms of battery and sexual assault at a rate of 23.2 per 1,000, as opposed to Caucasian women who are cited as experiencing  these same issues at a rate of 8  out of every 1,000.

Gendered Violence

The construct that comes to mind, is that of gendered violence  which is defined by Wood (2015) as being the physical, verbal emotional, sexual and visual brutality that is disproportionately inflicted on specific members of a particular sex. Unfortunately, Indigenous women have a long and painful history of being victimized, that can be traced all the way back to the initial colonization of the Americas.

Explanation 

Indigenous women were initially taken advantage of when the European colonists arrived in the Americas. These acts were justified by the colonists deeming the natives as “sub-human” and being less than  “pure” and “civilized” due to the nature of their appearance. Countless numbers of Indigenous women were beaten, murdered and raped, as apart of the genocide that was imposed on their entire culture. Unfortunately this stigma never went away. This same mentality exists today, as we see by the statistics mentioned earlier, the only substantial disparity between “now” and “then” is the fact that these incidents of assault on contemporary Indigenous women just have been hidden from the mainstream public’s knowledge.

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Example

Further examples of gendered violence directed at Indigenous women in contemporary times can be found in America’s heartland. These instances are often attributed to large Indigenous populations who live in extreme poverty on  “reserved” land. Many times these incidents of gendered violence are largely attributed to the substance abuse problem that plagues Indigenous communities. According to the United States Department of Justice, domestic violence directed towards Indigenous women, including manslaughter and murder,  are very common on Native American reservations.  The New York Times cites that 1 in 3 of Indigenous girls and women have been either raped or have experienced an attempted rape. They cite this as being so extreme that 1 in 4 Indigenous children will ultimately  be exposed to some form of family violence in their lifetime. In addition, the United States Department of Justice cites that the law enforcement officers on the reservations literally do not have basic technology that would allow them to effectively pursue these cases, along with being largely outnumbered against the perpetrators of these heinous acts.

In 2016 we have admittedly have seen a lot of social progress in western culture, however there still exists plenty of room for improvement. We must first start by stop ignoring the fact that  the original inhabitants of this land live well below the poverty line, making the projects of Harlem look like Beverly Hills compared to some of these places. We as a collective western society have allowed them to be placed in inadequate housing, unsanitary living conditions, and have forced them into an environment where women are literally open targets for criminal assaults, due to the fact that we care so little about them as to not even provide sufficient protection under the law. If we truly wish to pride ourselves, as Americans, or even democratic westerners (yes, Canada I’m calling you out) then we must hold our actions as a collective institution accountable.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the fact of the matter is we are one people. There has been no credible evidence that suggests that there is really any other race than that of human. With that being said we must lose this mentality of “us” versus “them”, whether it be man versus woman, black versus white, white versus red; these are all illusions. I firmly believe that despite the tremendous damage that have been done to so many individuals on the margins, it isn’t too late to change our ways. We must start by showing compassion to our fellow humans and realizing that heinous acts such as gendered violence are not limited to being an Indigenous women’s problem or just a woman’s problem. This affects us all, because there is no guarantee that the next victim of some type of hate crime won’t be your mother, your sister, your grandmother or even you. This affects us all, it’s time to start acting like it.

imgres-13 “The elders say the men should look at women in a sacred way. The men should never put a woman down or shame them in anyway. When we have problems we should seek their counsel. We should share with them openly. A woman has intuitive thought. She has access to another system of knowledge that few men develop. She can help us understand. We must treat her in a good way.”images-60

 

 

 

No, I’m Right!: Examining conservative ideologies of masculinity

These past few years have proven to be historical. From electing our nations first African American president in 2008, to finally legalizing gay marriage in 2015, plus many other exciting and interesting events in-between, America has undoubtedly found herself in a bold new era of change and much needed social reformation. A huge part of this new wave of change is the growing acceptance of the LGBT community as a whole, and an increased understanding of multiple gender alternatives than just the conventional constructs of “men” and “women”. However, with any era that ushers in unprecedented amount of change, you always have misguided resistance that stems from fear. This is understandable because as a Communications student, I acknowledge that it is simply human nature to fear change and the unknown. It is out of this era of change that we are seeing the rise of men desperately trying to defend and hold on to their conventional ideas of masculinity.

The Ideology of Masculinity from the Rightimgres-14

This relatively new movement of attempting to preserve conventional masculinity has been born out of a simple fear that men will lose power. This is confirmed through the way that the recent Republican debates have been playing out. The rhetoric no longer centers around relevant socio-political issues (like you would expect in a political debate…) rather, it has transformed into an ego match between a bunch of highly sensitive men who try to desperately hold on to every last breathe of their power and privilege  over the other. Essentially, it has turned into a bunch of seemingly over-grown babies personally attacking one another’s manhood.

An example of these attacks on conventional masculine gender norms can be seen just earlier this month,  where according to The GOP presidential primary being fraught with male anxiety,  a woman at a Trump rally called out to Trump on stage that Ted Cruz was a “pussy” referring to his hesitancy with torturing war criminals. In addition, if this wasn’t ridiculous enough, Trump essentially agrees with the woman’s comment after sarcastically denouncing her words. However, what is even more interesting about this, is that Cruz was cited in the same article linked above, as believing that his daughters shouldn’t be asked to fight alongside men in the military. Furthermore, the National Review recently published an article where they did a whole story on why they felt that it is “barbaric” to have women fight alongside men. This sentiment is expressed through a quote in the article,Barbaric nations send its mothers and daughters to war, that states, “Men should protect women. They should not shelter behind mothers and daughters”

I believe that this topic of defending masculinity in politics is essential to understanding the world we currently live in, because it allows us insight into the contemporary dynamics of power. By understanding how our potential leaders think, it can enable us as average citizens to make better informed decisions on who we would like to see best represent our personal values in the White House.

Exploring the Intersectional Identity Constructimgres-15

The construct that comes to mind with this particular issue, is that of intersectional identity. Intersectional Identity can be defined as being a combination of the various components that make up an individual’s perceived identity. These various components include an individual’s age, race, ethnicity, sex, socio-economic status, religious affiliation and so on. Each identity historically carries sub-conscious implications of how an individual will be perceived in society.

In the case of Trump, he holds unprecedented power being a heterosexual and white business man. One could even argue that Trump represents the traditional and even stereotypical image of America. It is through Trump’s identity that he is able to successfully reach out to his audience, which consists largely of other white heterosexual men who more than likely feel that they are under attack in a country where they feel they are losing power. This concept is epitomized through the consistent fixation of guns by white men, and the increased intolerance towards the LGBT community, that includes hate crimes. This all ties into the premise of fear, and the fact that there exists a demographic of men who were once in complete power, and now feel seemingly powerless due to the nation shifting increasingly left.

Cruz is another individual who wields a substantial amount of power through his identity.  Although he is ethnically Cuban and a Canadian immigrant, he still resembles the appearance of a white man and is also heterosexual. This enables Cruz to come off as being more presentable to his conservative base, as opposed to if he looked more visibly Latin American.

Analysis of the Intersectional Identity Construct imgres-16

Trump epitomizes his status as a privileged white man by entertaining the notion  that was brought to his attention by a supporter, that Ted Cruz is indeed a “pussy”. By Trump not sincerely refuting this statement, he utilizes his position of power and privilege by condoning for traditional gender norms that disproportionately dehumanize and objectify women. Not only is Tump degrading women with condoning this, but he also is insulting the countless number of men who happen to take on more feminine attributes, along with the rest of the multicultural demographics of the LGBT community. By not seeing anything truly wrong with referring to another contemporary in his party as a derogatory word for a woman’s private parts, Trump is only reinforcing preconceived stereotypes about women and men who choose to be more sensitive. Furthermore, by the woman referencing Cruz the way she did, she also implies that she too has subscribed to the conventional worldview of perceiving gender. I find this to be rather disappointing simply because it seems that this woman has become programmed through various external influences, to think that it is ok for her to dehumanize another man by referencing her lady parts. What does this say about how she potentially perceives her identity?

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I think there’s a lot to be said about the source of these messages. In other words, why does it seem that all of these assaults on conventional manhood seem to be taking place in the republican party? I believe that this is simply due to the fact that the Republican party is attributed with being home to people who’s values and beliefs tend to be conservative. Conservatism, in its self, is rooted in traditionalism. In other words, people who tend to vote Republican hold values that are attributed to “how things have alway been” and many people with this mindset often have a hard time coping with drastic societal changes. Recent research has suggested that the vast disparities in political ideologies between conservatives and liberals are attributed to differences in how each individual actually thinks. With this being said, your average person who subscribes to a conservative worldview, is actually mentally programmed to perceive certain issues drastically different from their liberal peers. This could explain why there has always existed such a vivid divide between conservatives and liberals when it pertains to social issues. Conservatives have historically opposed on a mass level, legislation that would lead to some type of social reformation that would enable for more inclusive practices of social interaction. This could be attributed to the fact that historically the Republican party has been referenced as being the The White Man’s Partyimages-51

What is even more interesting, is that Trump represents a new sub-category of conservatism that more strongly identifies with the construct of the”white man’s party”. Therefore, several individuals who tend to lean conservative are typically white, heterosexual men. This suggests that the Republican party is rampant of individuals who hold a substantial level of privilege. With that being said, it only seems pretty natural that a party that is made up of privilege is somewhat either indifferent or overall apathetic towards the notion of social change, because for many of them they see radical notions of social change as being a threat to their historical level of power and influence. This brings me right back to Trump, who finds himself situated as the front runner of the Republican party, in the midst of several notions of anger and frustration by many of his supporters, who see Trump as a way give them more power in a society that not only recognizes blacks as equals, but that recently legalized gay marriage. To many “true” conservatives this is an abomination simply because it is so radically different from the cultural norms that they have been assimilated into from a younger age. So, it makes since that  the Republican party is so tense right now concerning masculine roles, because not only do they have issues with many of the things mentioned previously, but they also are facing an even greater social threat; taking on the nations first potential female president. This concept in itself, helps to explain why there is so much male agitation within the Republican party. The Republican party is ultimately trying its best to maintain a sense of dominance, especially coming from white, heterosexual men.

In conclusion, I found it rather eye-opening to discover that heterosexual men who hold positions of power are feeling threatened in some way. I think this allows us to better understand how the contemporary dynamics of power are constructed  and how the people who wield the most power feel increasingly threatened by change. So, I challenge you all to simply be authentic to your individual identity. Resistance of any type comes from fear. I believe that we as a society just need to open up our hearts and minds to accommodate the bigger picture.The fact of the matter is, we cannot change who we are, but we can utilize our own personal privileges that are interconnected with various components of our identities, to advocate for a more accepting and inclusive society. In addition, I also think that we should empower others who may be historically marginalized in society, and lead by our actions in actively attempting to reverse these outdated “norms” by simply having a level of respect and dignity for every individual that we interact with regardless of what identities they may subscribe too. imgres-1

 

Be you, boo boo!

Hey there friends! My names is Phillip Scruggs, but most folks around here call me Phill (but to each is own, I don’t have a preference really). I’m originally from Midlothian, Virginia, just outside of Richmond (I grew up a river rat by the James river, admittedly so) . I am currently a senior studying Communications/Public Relations at Longwood University http://www.longwood.edu/commstudies/ and technically serve as the current president for Longwood’s chapter of Young Americans for Liberty, although we aren’t too very active this semester. I personally love to research topics that pertain to current social phenomena and issues that are relevant to our very understanding of how society works. I love studying communication, because I believe that it is the blueprint of any free society, to be able to openly communicate through various ways with one another, and especially in this particular moment in time it’s pivotal for us to explore more efficient ways to openly and compassionately communicate with one another in this highly-complex era. I am very interested in pursuing a career in Entertainment PR, where I ideally hope to set up festivals and have my own Indie record label that advocates artist who tend to be unconventional with their musical approach.

I have experienced first hand the power of communication, and the ability it has to truly heal deep wounds that various societal constructs have inflicted on us psychologically. Among these wounds, exist the fallacy of racism, that has been socially constructed over time to promote division amongst the common populace. I had the honor to intern at the Moton museum http://www.motonmuseum.org/ in Farmville, Virginia, where this is the school that set the foundation for the Brown v. the Board of Education decision in 1954  that ultimately desegregated the schools. Farmville is still much of a broken community, where many people, both black and poor whites, were denied education from 1959 to 1964, due to Prince Edward county closing its public schools to resist integration. I mention this, because the pain of this episode, never went away, and the Moton museum has turned into a “safe place” where members of this broken community, both white and black, are invited to explore the history of this town together and to talk about how they feel on the matter. I was humbled to have interned over this past summer at Moton because it was truly amazing to witness people in this community finally using the power of verbal communication to express their concerns of the past and to understand one another’s perspectives. This, in my opinion, is how we as a society can overcome such adversity as racism, through finding the time to talk to one another about why we feel the way we do.

In addition, I find myself very fascinated with gender roles in our society and how they are branded into our minds at a very young age. Like, racism, gender is a construct and I have always found it crucial for me as a young man, to step outside the “norm” box. I am very androgynous. I dress metro sexual, and tend to not be afraid t express my emotions, yet I am sexually attracted to women. In addition, I love to partake in many things that society would consider “feminine”. For example, I love to sing, dance, cook,write poetry and song lyrics. I love to exercise compassion in everything that I do, and I am not afraid be intimate with someone if needed. I should also mention that even IMG_3411though I played sports in high school, I really am not a big sports guy at all (they bore me) I prefer keeping up with various bands and politics.  My existence is a mere rebellion of societal norms. I refuse to see myself as a linear man, because I am more than a societal construct. As I mentioned earlier, I believe that we live in some very exciting times full of many ground-breaking new societal changes. Communication and how we chose to express are personal truths, so to speak, are going to prove more crucial in this day and age more than ever, due to the increasing need for us as members of society to simply open up with our communication and be real with one another, but most importantly ourselves.