Saturday, September 23, 2017

Battling Misogyny in the Indigenous Community


I had to look up the word misogyny the other day. I mean I know generally it has to do with the hatred of women but I was not sure of context. The way it is used historically and how it applies when we label someone a woman hater. We kind of know the President of the United States is a misogynist (among other things) a woman hater. We know because of his actions. I was wondering if there were different levels of misogyny or is it just one label to describe all the type of wrongs done towards women. I was wondering because there are tales of abuse to women in the media.

A battle is going on in the media regarding the new leader of the NDP; the Manitoba provincial left leaning political party. The newly elected leader of the NDP, Mr. Wab Kinew has been accused of throwing his ex-girl friend onto the rug causing her injury about 14 years ago. He has denied it occurred. Wab Kinew is an Indigenous man and he is the whole package; very articulate, educated, talented, well liked and handsome. He was raised by a father who was a Traditional Anishinabe, respected Elder and a respected, well educated white mother. Is he allowed a pass on his past transgressions? Or will the label of misogynist stick with him forever?

I think Women (oops, almost wrote our Women) have been at the shit end of the stick in society (and the people of color as well, in Europe and America specifically). I say it starts with any of the belief systems.  Christian society is notorious for its subtle and not so hidden views of domination on Women. The Indigenous community, after years of being bombarded with persecution for being who they are have embraced many of the nuances of Christian beliefs. Its funny the media seems to focus on the Muslim as the typical Woman hating belief system.

We as a community regardless of how Traditional beliefs we hold onto, are living with remnants of the Canadian onslaught to rid the country of the Indian. So of course we have those Woman and Indian hating traits. If you know Indians you know this. So when we see Indigenous people saying or doing something, we can guess as to what is happening. We know there is baggage, lots of it. With baggage there tends to be clutter.

The problem with the Kinew thing is not that he didn't do something to his ex-girl friend, its the nature of how it came out and the now denial by him. Media is saying "we believe her" and what does she have to gain by bringing it out? That's the thing, they dealt with it those years ago. The result of them dealing with it, is that they split up. So it is weird that the media makes it seem like the fight took place last week? Kinew and the Woman have been played by the media and by players in the world of politics. No matter what has happened the incident has made both of them scapegoats.

With Men in the Indigenous  community we try to give homage to the Women in Ceremony. A very good gesture and needed. However,  much of it is mostly words and actions don't follow the words; Mother Earth, Water Carers, Givers of Life and such.  We do that a lot in the community say good things; words like we need to look after  our children, our Elders and our Women. Our actions are different. Of course there are exceptions as is in all communities. There are those who are earnest in their words and their actions. So I am speaking generally about men in the Indigenous community.

We are so insecure and so jealous that we carry that into our lives and actions. "You were fucked before I fucked you!" "I wish I knew you long before." The types of statements you will hear men say to their "loved ones".  It is so ugly the way we think of Women. We use the "C" word (cunt) as the ugliest thing we can say to a person. When I grow up a couple of words were Pahgun and Frog. Both were meant to be euphemisms for the Vagina. So by association, the words to me, seem ugly, just as the C word was.

So where do we go with the battle to stop misogyny in the Indigenous community?  I think the word may lose its  impact with the way it is used in some cases. Doing harm or abuse to Women, children, Elders is plain wrong. When we harm them does that automatically mean we hate them? Or is it because we are selfish and stupid?

I hope to see a time where we really know how Sacred Women are. We have lost the action of seeing them in that way. We are conditioned to look at them in the second. To see them as lesser. That is not the case and we have to understand that. We have to make amends everyday, every hour, every minute to let them know we see them as the Life Givers they are. We can start with trying a little awareness, like calling them Babe, and other names. We call them words that seem harmless but really its part of the problem.

I watched a documentary on the Vietnam war.  On the show you heard a war Veteran say something profound about killing in the War. He was very upset at the first man he killed. He hated them for doing that to him. Making him kill them in war. So to combat his guilt he said "I stopped thinking of them as a human being and thought of them as a thing, an object; Gook, Zipperhead, Sloat. It made so "I never killed another man" but I killed a thing.  He went onto say it is text book racism.  Take the man out of the equation and make them an "it". I wonder with the amount of Indigenous Women that have gone Missing or have been Murdered in Canada, if that is one of  the reasons?  Where they are not thought of as a person? The extreme of hating and abuse to Women is on display for Canada to see. I hope Canada is looking. Society has made Women into an object. So the object loses its humanity in the eyes of society.

This making someone into a thing is what we have been doing with Women. Society is good at that: Bitch, Temptress, slut, whore, home wrecker, Barbie, etc. Its the constant labeling them as something other than a person.  To overcome this, we can start with seeing them as a person and not a thing. Of course we may not consciously realize that we are doing it, (labeling them as things) but that is why we need to become aware. Men abuse Women in other ways as well; with the disloyalty of being a partner, (a cheating dog) with hard words (you dirty)  and with neglect . Abuse is more than the hair pulling and tossing them to the ground or kicking them in the head. Abuse has many forms.

Like many folk I have skeletons. I have a bad history of not being good and being abusive. I was ashamed to say the abusive term and said things like, "I was volatile".  Like using different name for it makes it cleaner. We should be ashamed but we should also be judged with how we have tried to make  amends and continue to make amends. How does growth happen if we keep chopping the tree and keeping it down?  Still there are times when we need to see and wait to see if the past abusers are sincere in their repentance. For me I have a difficult time accepting the gang member. They are abusers of not only women, kids and Elders but are to the whole community. Yet after they "have left the gang", even for a short period, they have the ear of many folks; Chiefs, Councils, Grand Chiefs etc. They are the repugnant ones, only interested in a selfish lazy greedy life. So the amount of time where we see amends and label them as abusers is an unknown thing.

I think in my community people may know of my ugliness. My sister will bring it up once in a while to make sure I never forget. I don't forget. I live with the regret and the ugliness of who I am and was. It makes me try and be better. I will never get there but the journey will be taken until I am gone.