Tag Archives: patriarchy

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 Peoples: Language Revitalization & Gender Identity

More posts tagged From Kwe Today: fierce indigenous feminism

At the core of European legal thought is sustaining binaries such as the colonizer v. the colonized, the conqueror v. the conquered, the civilized v. the savage, or the male v. the female. During her lecture on systemic violence at Concordia University, Andrea Smith explains how colonialism legitimized gender violence through the installation of patriarchy, a male system of domination over females (Smith, 2011). Smith (2011) states:

Of course, patriarchy is built on a gender binary system. You can’t have patriarchy unless you have two genders, one that dominates another gender. So consequently, in many Native communities that were not built on a gender binary system, those who did not fit that system were often targeted for destruction as well (at approximately 2:05).

Patriarchy in Native communities was essential to create a hierarchy “so that colonial domination would seem natural” (Smith, 2011, 2:13). Many North American Indigenous communities were matriarchal, which is in direct opposition to patriarchy and colonialism (Smith, 1999). The ways in which patriarchy furthered the expansion of colonialism occurred through sexual violence, the forced removal of children from their homes to residential schools, and the annihilation of Indigenous languages and cultures (McGeough, 2008). For Indigenous peoples, the loss of language translates to a loss of connection to their culture and other systems of being.

In Medicine Bundle of Contradictions, an essay authored by Lous Esme Cruz (2011), the limitations of the English language are examined in relation to Indigenous identities and gender identities. Cruz (2011) writes, “English is a very limited language that doesn’t give very many options for explaining gender expression and roles” (p. 54). Frantz Fanon (2004) in his work entitled Wretched of the Earth defines colonialism as the “entire conquest of land and people” (p. 14). Indigenous peoples were colonized through the loss of their land and languages and through—the less often talked about—the loss of important gender roles within their culture. Cruz states further, “gender is not a culture, it is a role within culture” (p. 55). Sometimes erased from this discussion of colonialism and loss of culture for Indigenous peoples is the loss of gender roles that exists outside the Western gender binary, male/female. For this paper, I will explore the connection between loss of language and colonialism and how the loss of language impacts gender identities in Indigenous populations. This paper will contribute to the larger discussion of gender identity, how both Western concepts and the English language is restrictive for gender roles and expressions, and the importance of language revitalization for Indigenous peoples.

Click here to read the entire article on Kwe Today

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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Monstrous Settlers: Zombies, Demons, and Angels

From Settler Agrarian:

I am a monster (but I’m working on it).

With the birth and growth of Idle No More, now more than ever, lots of settlers are understanding colonialism as a problem, and trying to think through our relationships and obligations to Indigenous peoples, the history of colonization, and what all that means for us as settlers.  This shifts colonialism from an “Indian problem” to a “Settler problem.”  In spite of the mainstream media, many Canadian settlers are learning that they are implicated in an ongoing colonial relationship.  For me that’s encouraging, because I didn’t grow up in a context where colonialism is actually something discussed and debated, where settlers see colonialism as a problem that involves us.  I move through some spaces like this now, and they continue to challenge me.  This is about how settlers respond to these challenges.

I’m a white, male, educated, cis-gendered, able-bodied, hetero-sexual, middle-class settler, so I basically benefit from every major axis of oppression.  What follows is a reflection of my own experience with the politics of colonialism, decolonization, and settler solidarity efforts with Indigenous peoples, over the past few years.  I’m drawing on some feminist, queer, trans, and anti-racist writers and activists here too.  Even though dynamics are always different and complex, I think there are also some similarities in terms of the way privileged folks (like me) conduct ourselves across these struggles, especially when we’re trying to to prove that we’re good, in spite of our privilege.  When I use “we” and “us” I’m talking about other white settlers who benefit from ongoing white supremacy and settler colonialism in Canada.  I am glossing over lots of complexities and nuances of colonialism and decolonization.  I’m experimenting with monster metaphors in hopes of getting at some of these issues in a different way, but I recognize that this is serious shit.  And I want your feedback, critical or otherwise.

Upsettlers, Monarchists, and Manarchists are monsters that plague settlers in Canada, making it difficult for us to grapple with our colonial privilege, engage with other settlers, and effectively support Indigenous struggles.  I started out as a Monarchist, had stints as an Upsettler, became a Manarchist, and now I’m trying to avoid relapsing into all three monsters.

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