Tag Archives: heteropatriarchy

Settler Sexuality

Resistance to State-Sanctioned Violence, Reclamation of Anti-Colonial Knowledges & Liberation for All – An Indigenous Feminist Zine

From K’É Infoshop
(download PDF in booklet format)

Created with the knowledge shared at the K’é Infoshop in Tségháhoodzání, Dinétah (Window Rock, AZ) and among the indigenous students living in Quinnipiac, Mashpee Wampanoag, Pokonoket Wampanoag, and Narragansett territories.

“Indigenous feminisms transcend the general fight for rights and recognition within a nation-state — indigenous feminisms speak to the responsibilities we have to one another and to our relationship to the physical and non-physical world.”

Key Terms and Definitions

  • settler-colonialism — the ongoing process of non-Native settlers occupying Native land, demanding their world views, morals, and economies be followed, while attempting to erase and assimilate the original inhabitants
  • heteropatriarchy — the societal structure in which heterosexual men possess the most amount of control and power compared to womxn and queer people, who are disempowered by the system
  • imperialism — policy, action, and ongoing process of extending power over foreign land and people often with the violent intent to control their affairs
  • capitalism — an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state/by the people, exchange relies on currency, overall system relies on individualistic thought and competition
  • subjectivity — ideas, perspectives, feelings, experiences, and desires of an individual/collective expressed with agency and consciousness
  • queer — unspecific non-heterosexual identity/subjectivity, cannot fully describe Indigenous perspectives of gender/sexuality
  • Two-Spirit — contemporary pan-Indigenous term for non-binary/queer individuals, unspecific.
  • globalization — the process of international interaction and integration between people, goods, technology, governments, and economies
  • neoliberalism — hyper-capitalism; deregulation of the market, free-market capitalism alongside liberal agendas to erase race and homogenize queerness
  • decolonization — the action and practice of dismantling harmful structures of power, reclaiming previous subjectivities, and envisioning a future built on previous and current understandings of compassion, relation, and accountability
  • Indigenous feminisms — intersectional theory and practice of decolonial feminism, directly challenges settler-colonialism, capitalism, and western conceptions of “gender” and “sexuality.”

The policing of indigenous genders and sexualities as a means to further the larger settler-colonial project led to the development of a “settler sexuality.” Scott Morgensen (settler scholar) defines settler sexuality as “a white national heteronormativity that regulates Indigenous sexuality and gender by supplanting them with the sexual modernity of settler subjects.” In non-academic speak, settler sexuality can be described as an “exceptional” form of sexual expression enforced by the settler-state. The setter-state deems heterosexual monogamy as “exceptional” and “normal,” and anything beyond those confines as “primitive” and “unexceptional.”

Beginning with the early violence inflicted upon indigenous people in North America and the origins of settler sexuality, the zine goes onto to describe how such regimes were used to further the larger settler-colonial project to pillage Native land and eradicate Native populations. Indigenous feminisms are then presented in order to illuminate paths toward decolonization. Radically different from mainstream conceptions of feminism, the zine highlights the need for Indigenous feminisms in the larger aims to eliminate structures of power harmful to indigenous existence, such as heteropatriarchy, capitalism, and white supremacy. Indigenous feminisms act as a way to challenge settler sexuality and settler colonialism on the whole.

The language used throughout, such as “gender” and “sexuality,” do not and cannot fully describe and communicate the ways in which our ancestors understood them. Western interpretations of gender and sexuality have, from the time they have been articulated and policed, been used to define each other. For instance, “homosexuality” focuses on the “act” of “same-sex” relations. Indigenous gender and sexuality extend beyond such definitions. Gender encapsulates the mental, emotional, and social experience and expression of an individual; Gender has never been about the biological or physical.

“Queer” is also used minimally throughout the zine to loosely refer to sexual subjectivities generally not accepted or embraced by settler-colonial heteropatriarchy. The broadness of the term can be violent, but the English language can’t really describe something so complicated and abstract. Most recently, the pan-tribal term “Two-Spirit,” a translated Anishinaabe word, has been used to reclaim Indigenous trans subjectivities. However, there is pushback both within and beyond academia due to the broadness, the perpetuation of the gender binary and colonial understandings of gender. “Queerness” as we understand it today differs largely from the way our ancestors understood gender and sexuality. The term “indigenous,” as used in this zine refers to the native inhabitants of so-called North America.

So much more could also be added to this final product, this only does a fraction of the work grassroots organizers throughout the world manage.

SETTLER SEXUALITY ON STOLEN LAND

Capitalism, Imperialism, and Race

Indigenous womxn, “queer,” transgender, and non-binary people endure unspeakable violence at the hands of non-native settlers and even their own community members, however they continue to resist and pave a path toward brighter tomorrows. Indigenous womxn, trans folk, queers stand at the forefront of the larger decolonial movement to reclaim previous subjectivities and to build bright collective futures. Decolonization is often mistaken as an effort to “go back” to precolonial ways, but the active process of such carries much more gravity than that. Indigenous people not only demand the total repatriation of land, but we continually envision and push for a world void of structures such as settler-colonialism, imperialism, capitalism, racism, fascism, and heteropatriarchy. Decolonization involves reclaiming previous ways of living – horizontal leadership, collectivism, and recognition of universal relations — and pushing such lifeways into practice and action in order to develop a sustainable future. It’s not all about the past, it’s about what we want for our communities in the years to come. Indigenous womxn and queers lead the larger movement for such futures despite the violence they experience under settler-colonialism, capitalism, and heteropatriarchy.

Click here to read the full text…

Call For Submissions: Gender, Sexuality & Decolonization

Image via 2spirits.comDecolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society invites submissions from scholars, artists, and activists for a new special issue of the journal exploring gender, sexuality and decolonization, guest edited by Karyn Recollet (University of Toronto), in conjunction with Eric Ritskes, Editor of Decolonization. This issue invites us to consider both the centrality of gender and sexual violence to colonization, but also, relatedly, the centrality of gender and sexual justice to decolonization. Too often these issues have been seen as peripheral to the larger struggles against colonialism, too often cis-heteropatriarchal normativity has been justified in the name of decolonization. This has to stop. To us, it seems impossible to discuss Indigenous sovereignty without a discussion of body sovereignty. It seems impossible to discuss environmental justice without connecting the violence against the earth to the violences against our bodies, particularly the bodies of women, Two Spirit, queer, transgender and others who fall beyond and in resistance to the male cis-heteropatriarchal norms of colonial society. Not only do these bodies bear the brunt of colonial violence, they also embody, create and sustain the theories, movements, and creative actions that resist it. Decolonization is impossible without gender and sexual justice as articulated by women, Two Spirit, queer, transgender and others who fall beyond and in resistance to male cis-heteropatriarchal norms. These are the experiences and voices that this issue seeks to center and honor in seeking ways forward for decolonization. As always, we are interested in papers that connect theoretical discussions with active decolonization work by engaging the intersections of theory and practice. This issue invites contributors to consider the following questions and themes that, while far from exhaustive, are at the forefront of our thinking for this issue:

  • How is colonial violence predicated on and enacted through cis-heteropatriarchal gender norms and understandings of sexuality? How are these forms of violence complicated by race, age, location, and space? As colonial violence is enacted on bodies, how is resistance and decolonization also embodied?
  • What does decolonial love look like? What is the role of decolonial love in resistance and resurgence? What is the role of hope, of envisioning future modes of relationship that both transcend and reconstruct the present? Relatedly, thinking of Audre Lorde’s uses of the erotic, and the Native Youth Sexual Health Network’s (NYSHN) use of the term “Resistance is Sexy”, what role does the erotic have in resistance? How are decolonial understandings of what is sexy or erotic reconstituted through resistance and struggle?
  • How are the experiences of Two Spirit, transgender, queer and others who fall beyond and in resistance to the male cis-heteropatriarchal norms of colonial society central in engaging and generating a politics of refusal, particularly refusal of the settler colonial state and its definitional power? How, through this refusal, are we generating spatial (de/re)orientations of decolonial love, reconstructing and remapping the spaces where gender and sexual justice might happen outside and at the margins of the state, as part of a trajectory against and beyond the state?
  • How do we pull back or unlayer the colonial violences that hyper- or de-sexualize Indigenous, Black and peoples of color, by renaming where we find beauty in our communities and our selves on our own terms?
  • What are the creative practices in which Indigenous, Black and other non-White feminisms intervene into cis-heteropatriarchy, coloniality, and other related systems of oppression? What vocabularies of feminism are being (re)imagined and (re)generated, what practices being created, in these communities to combat colonialism and create solidarity against colonial patriarchy and white supremacy along the lines of gender and sexuality?
  • What are Indigenous and other traditions of gender and sexual justice? How has the ‘traditional’ been mobilized in ways that further, and are complicit in, colonial cis-heteropatriarchal violences? How might tradition and traditional practices be re-conceptualized, re-generated, or re-understood through gender and sexual justice paradigms?
  • How are youth, as well as other gender and sexual justice advocates, mobilizing in new ways, utilizing new tools, and establishing new forums for decolonizing practices? What generative critiques are being encoded into and through these new tools; for example, in and through digital territories? How might intergenerational dialogues be created to further the decolonization of gender and sexual justice?
  • Often anticolonial violence has been theorized and enacted within cis-heteropatriarchal norms, enacting problematic tropes of the soldier, the warrior, or the revolutionary that are rooted in gender violences. How have women, Two Spirit, transgender, queer and others who fall beyond and in resistance to cis-heteropatriarchal norms been silenced and marginalized in anticolonial and decolonization movements through these tropes? How might decolonization (and conceptions of anticolonial violence) be reconceptualized or reimagined within feminist, queer, transgender, Two Spirit, or other paradigms?

Contributions are to be submitted at www.decolonization.org no later than March 16, 2015. This issue is scheduled for release in Fall 2015. Articles should follow our journal style guidelines, which can be found here. Scholarly articles are subject to a double-blind peer review and details can be found here. Submitted contributions may also include short non-peer-reviewed papers and commentary, visual art, audio, video, poetry or interviews. If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us at editors@decolonization.org

Indigenous Women and Two-Spirited People: Our Work is Decolonization!

“Be a Good Girl” (2006 woodcut print, courtesy of the Collection of Aboriginal and Northern Affairs Canada) is a reflection on the gendered work expectations and training of women in the 1950s. I have explored this topic by looking at Indian residential schools, and the ways in which young Native women were trained in an effort to transform them into good working-class wives and workers. The Indian residential school system had a half-day labour program for girls, which was abolished in 1952 out of concern that children were not receiving an education, but were only serving the financial needs of the school. Residential schools forbade Native children from speaking their languages or practicing their culture in an attempt to mold them, for their “salvation,” into productive members of white, capitalist society. The residential schools were part of a dark history of racism and genocide in Canada and continue to have negative effects. This sort of gendered work training, however, was not reserved for the assimilation of Natives; training schools like the Ontario Training School for Girls rehabilitated young women with “loose” morals and other traits that were not tolerated in the ’50s. Both white working class and Native girls attended these training schools. This piece is about the conflicts, spiritual paradoxes, and societal expectations of young women in the ’50s.  Tania Willard, Secwepemc Nation, is an artist and designer based in Vancouver. Through her art and design she hopes to communicate the stories and voices we are unable to hear—the voices that are missing and erased from our histories and realities.

“Be a Good Girl” by Tania Willard

By Chelsea Vowel, GUTS Canadian Feminist Magazine

Indigenous women and two-spirited* people are leading a resurgence movement in iyiniwi-ministik, the People’s Island.* They draw on their traditional roles as protectors of the land and water to inform their work in our communities, and root themselves in their specific socio-political orders to counter colonialism and to revitalize language and culture. Rather than being defined as a struggle against patriarchal gender roles and the division of labour, Indigenous women and two-spirited people’s work combats the imposition of colonial barriers. The goal is not to attain gender equality, but rather to restore Indigenous nationhood, which includes gender equality and respect for gender fluidity.

As I write this I can hear Khelsilem Rivers (Skwxwú7mesh-Kwakwaka‘wakw), a community organizer from Vancouver, pointing out that not all Indigenous peoples have the same traditions, and that to avoid perpetuating Pan-Indian stereotypes, we need to have honest discussions about the diversity of our traditions. This is an important point indeed, as not all Indigenous nations have the same traditions with respect to the fluidity of gender roles. Romanticizing ourselves as a collective unfortunately plays into “noble savage” stereotypes and does damage in the long run. With so many Indigenous people disconnected from their specific traditions, even so-called positive stereotypes are a form of continuing erasure.

Even among nations with traditional binary gender roles or hierarchical socio-political orders, there is nothing that can accurately compare to the system of patriarchy imposed by colonialism which mainstream Settler feminism aligns itself against. Our internal struggles with traditional roles are not analogous to the issues that Settler peoples have with their traditions, and so using western liberal theory to deconstruct them is inherently incongruous.

Indigenous traditions are not frozen in time any more than other people’s traditions are. Our peoples have been trading more than goods for thousands of years, passing along ceremonies, medicines, and ideas just as easily as copper and fish. We are capable of change and have no reason not to embrace it, as long as that change respects our reciprocal obligations to one another and to the territories in which we live. We do not need to look to western liberal notions of individual equality, which so often ignore our communal existence and insist that land and resources must be thought of as property. Instead, we can look to the laws of our Indigenous neighbours if we need to review our traditions. It is precisely this approach that is being taken up by many women and two-spirited individuals in Indigenous communities as they pursue sexual health, revitalization of language and culture, and renewal of relationships with the land.

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Spaces Between Us: Queer settler colonialism and indigenous decolonization

Morgensen, Scott Lauria. Spaces between us : queer settler colonialism and indigenous decolonization. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2011.

From Settler Agrarian:

I skipped over a chapter in this summary and I found myself quoting Morgensen extensively as I tried to summarize, because so many of his claims were quite complicated and nuanced.  I’m still digesting this book; I might be able to say more about what I actually think about it later…

Morgensen’s book tracks what he calls “the biopolitics of settler colonialism” in queer movements.  He shows that the biopolitics of settler colonialism structures Native and non-Native queer movements, and their interrelationship.  Colonialism is always there; it structures desires and relationships, and it tends to remain naturalized in settler society: the targeting of indigenous communities for death seems natural, necessary, or already-accomplished.  In the intro, he advances three claims:

1)   “In the United States, modern queer cultures and politics have taken form as normatively white, multiracial, and non-Native projects compatible with a white settler society.

2)   Within broad transnational alliances (focused here in the United States), Native queer and Two-Spirit activists directly denaturalize settler colonialism and disrupt its conditioning of queer projects by asserting Native queer modernities.

3)   Settler colonialism and its conditioning of modern sexuality produce an intimate relationship between non-Native and Native queer modernities that I interpret as conversations (ix).

Thinking settler colonialism ‘biopolitically’ means “reading ‘modern sexuality’ as the array of discourses, procedures, and institutions that arose in metropolitan and colonial societies to distinguish and link primitive and civilized gender and sexuality, while defining racial, national, gendered, and sexual subjects and populations in biopolitical relationship.  The colonization of indigenous peoples was a “proviing ground for the biopolitics of settler colonialism,” which, he argues, “defines modern sexuality as ‘contact’ between queered indigeneity and its transcendence by settler sexuality” (23).  In short, settler colonial biopower affects all modern sexualities (32).  Heteropatriarchal settler colonialism sought “both the elimination of Indigenous sexuality and its incorporation into settler sexual modernity” (34).  He argues that the sovereign power of death and the relegation of indigenous people to a state of exception worked in tandem with “a modern and siciplinary education of desire that produced normative subjects of life” (34-5).  European sexualities fostered misogynist hierarchies and ‘queered’ indigenous peoples, interpreting transgressions of heteropatriarchy not only as abnormality in individuals, but as symptoms of a flawed society, requiring heteropatriarchal interventions and discipline (36-7).  This is part of a shift from the singling out of individuals (the regime of sovereignty) towards their subjection “with their communities to military attack, containment, or removal” (38).  Thus residential and reserve schools “used disciplinary education to try to break Native communities, languages, and cultural knowledges” without the need for “brute violence” (39).  This is part of the “deadly logic of regulation,” which never precluded overt and extreme violence, but nonetheless represents a distinct and pervasive aspect of colonialism (40-1)

So what are the implications of biopolitical settler colonialism for settlers?  Morgensen situates the subjugation of indigenous peoples as “proving ground” for the sexual regulation of settler societies and modern sexuality more generally.  Colonial settler subjectivity was still in formation, not yet naturalized: “far from reflecting the finality of conquest, this period was one of tense negotiations of active and contested settlement.  Any iteration of modern sexuality in this time that placed Native people in the past knew itself to be a contingent claim that remained open to challenge” (42).

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