Archive for the Sexual/Reproductive Health/Wellbeing Category

What I am Reading: Orientalism by Edward Said

Posted in Activism, Andrea Smith, Indigeneous People's Rights, Literature, Racism, Sexual/Reproductive Health/Wellbeing, White Privilege on April 9, 2012 by talibahseeks

“What I do argue also is that there is a difference between knowledge of other peoples and other times that is the result of understanding, compassion, careful study and analysis for their own sakes, and on the other hand knowledge-if that is what it is–that is part of an overall campaign of self-affirmation, belligerency, and outright war.  There is, after all, a profound difference between the will to understand for purposes of coexistence and humanistic enlargement of horizons, and the will to dominate for the purposes of control and external dominion.” (Said, xix)

“In analyzing spiritual appropriation as a form of sexual violence, I start with what may seem a strange source: the Bible.  The Hebrew word YDH, which translates as “to know a person”, carnally, or sexual intercourse, is used frequently in the Hebrew scriptures to connote sexual relations. . . Consensual sexual relationships require the loosening of the boundaries of one’s physical and psychic space–they involve not only allowing another person to become close to you physically, but allowing her or him to know more about you.  Sexual violence then suggests that the violation of these boundaries operates not only on the physical but on spiritual and psychic levels as well.  In addition, sexual violence is ultimately structured around power relations–its entails establishing the power to control someone’s life.  Similarly, “knowledge” about someone also gives one power over that person.  Withholding knowledge, then, is an act of resistance against those who desire to know you in order to better control you.

It is with this understanding of sexual violence that I wish to explore how the “New Age” movement and other forms of indigenous spiritual/cultural appropriation constitute a form of sexual violence.”–Excerpt from Conquest: Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide by Andre Smith (119-120).

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Andrea Smith: Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide

Posted in Activism, Andrea Smith, Feminism/Womanism, Indigeneous People's Rights, Racism, Sexual/Reproductive Health/Wellbeing, White Privilege on March 21, 2012 by talibahseeks

A must read! Purchase at South End Press

“A cutting-edge scholar and cofounder of INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence, the largest grassroots, multiracial feminist organization in the country, Andrea Smith (Cherokee) is an emerging leader in progressive political circles. In Conquest: Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide, Smith places Native American women at the center of her analysis of sexual violence, challenging both conventional definitions of the term and conventional responses to the problem.

Beginning with the impact of the abuses inflicted on Native American children at state-sanctioned boarding schools from the 1880s to the 1980s, Smith adroitly expands our conception of violence to include the widespread appropriation of Indian cultural practices by whites and other non-Natives; environmental racism; and population control. Smith deftly connects these and other examples of historical and contemporary colonialism to the high rates of violence against Native American women-as a group, the poorest women in the US, and the most likely to suffer from poverty-related illnesses and to survive rape and partner abuse.

Essential reading for scholars and activists, Conquest: Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide is the powerful synthesis of Andrea Smith’s intellectual and political work to date. By focusing on the impact of sexual violence on Native American women, Smith articulates an agenda that is compelling to feminists, Native Americans, other people of color, and all who are committed to creating viable alternatives to state-based “solutions.”