Tomi Lahren and feminism

Lahren has been pulled from the Blaze for being pro-choice. While, I can’t say I’m sad to know I’ll be seeing less clips of her popping up in my newsfeed, I can’t say I’m comfortable with why that is.

Lahren has been pulled for her opinion that small government policies apply to abortion policies as well. In terms of political ideology, makes sense to me.

But now, women are speaking about how we underestimated Lahren’s commitment to women’s rights or that she is a feminist or that we shouldn’t have been critiquing her. And that’s outrageous.

I would argue Lahren isn’t a feminist at worst and is a white feminist at best. But as an intersectional feminist, who disagrees with Lahren on many fundamental points, I can acknowledge that her being fired for her views on abortion sucks. Yeah, it really sucks. Women shouldn’t be fired for taking a stand for their reproductive rights. But that doesn’t give her a pass on all the other things she has said,and I don’t think we should be giving her that pass.

I can disagree with her. I can critique her. And still respect that she is a woman being handed an awful deal without giving her a pass for previous harm caused and it still means I’m a feminist.

So please let’s not hop on the bandwagon of claiming Lahren is a feminist icon, let’s continue our critiques.

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Pocahontas is now the face of the resistance

“Pocahontas is now the face of your party” – President of the United States Donald Trump to Elizabeth Warren United States Senator from Massachusetts.

This line was enough to cause me to start swearing out loud alone in my basement. In this line Trump is demonstrating his clear contempt and disregard for Indigenous people. To Trump it seems, an Indigenous woman is the last person we should have leading an American political party.

However before we break this down I will acknowledge Elizabeth Warren’s Indigenous identity has been called into question. Simon Moya-Smith breaks it down well here. However, regardless of the validity of her identity, Trump’s statement is inappropriate and harmful to Indigenous folks across the world.

In this line Trump chose to reduce Indigenous women to the stereotype of Pocahontas and to imply Indigenous people do not have a place in politics.

The use stereotypes such as Pocahontas is known to cause harm to Indigenous people. It is a documented fact*. Trump’s continued use of this slur (yes, slur) is demonstrating his lack of desire to put the first “Americans” first in any way. It demonstrates that he is willing to throw entire nations (yes, sovereign nations) under the bus to insult a political opponent.

However this line shows something else. Not only is Trump continuing to use the stereotype of Pocahontas to belittle Warren, but he is demonstrating his belief that an Indigenous person is not qualified or suitable for politics. This is just incorrect plain and simple. There are Indigenous business people, PhDs, doctors, athletes, celebrities and more. Indigenous people are just as capable as anyone else. Let me say this again for those in the back, Indigenous people are just as capable as anyone else.

When Trump contributes to the marginalization and oppression of Indigenous people through stereotypes and insults he is not “making America great again”, in fact he’s making it worse. By choosing to not work with Indigenous people, to not build a relationship and to not treat them with respect, Trump is not doing America any favours.

Indigenous people have been the face of resistance in North America for generations. We know what we’re doing. And that resistance will not wane. We will not stand by as our Indigeneity is used as an insult to degrade others. We will not stand by as our lands are pillaged. We will not stand by as our women’s rights to choose are restricted. We will not stand by as our allies from other marginalized populations are targeted.

Pay attention Trump, because we Pocahontas-es are now the face of the resistance.

 

*Fryberg, Stephanie A., Hazel R. Markus, Daphna Oyserman, and Joseph M. Stone. “Of Warrior Chiefs and Indian Princesses: The Psychological Consequences of American Indian Mascots.” Basic and Applied Social Psychology 30.3 (2008): 208-218. Web.

I can be a redneck and a progressive.

I was scrolling through my Facebook feed the other day and came across a video of the Blade Games from the Blade show held each year in Atlanta. The video was posted with a comment referencing the meme of “white people have no culture”.

The meme pokes fun at the idea a homogeneous white culture and “white” as one culture. But the meme isn’t the point. The video and comments it generated reference the idea of “redneck America” and the issues that can be associated with these demographics by those focused on social justice and equity.The idea of the associations of rednecks with racism, sexism and misogyny and more recently the election of Trump.

And I am the first to admit, I make these jokes and commentary, I give rednecks a hard time and I make judgements. But I am also willing to discuss rednecks/white trash/hillbillies and whatever else you might want to call them with more nuance. Because I am one.

However, what I found most frustrating about the discourse of the issues of redneck America, is that while rednecks can be racist and misogynistic, so can urban elites. Dismissing rednecks as racist and/or misogynistic can eliminate many allies to progressive folks in rural regions where they may in fact be needed the most. When we ignore the potential for allyship within certain demographics, such as the rural working class, we ignore some of the folks who can do some of the most effective ground work.

Many rural communities and regions are suffering from changing economies and the impacts of class. My community for example, is known to have a lack of access to healthcare and in particular mental health care. To the point in which the main source of mental health care is a clinic open by a family in memory of their son who died by suicide. Imagine a world where in instead of dismissing my rural redneck community of being backward, stigma-supporting, aggressive, toxic-masculinity promoting folks, we tapped into the needs the community knows they have and supported their grassroots methods to defeat stigma and form partnerships with urban communities with more resources.

While some rednecks are all of these things stated before, not all are. Just as in any demographic, there is a plurality of opinions and perspectives. As folks working in social justice fields, we need to recognize the possibility for allyship in the places we don’t expect. And this include the rural working class. We need to look beyond our comfort zones of social justice and seek out allies from other ways of life. We cannot afford to dismiss allyship wherever we can find it.

#election2016

#election2016

I had another blog post in the works. It’s about half way done. But I couldn’t work on that until I had got my thoughts about the election out.

Today, I think of Trump’s words describing his ability to use fame and power to assault women. And I remember the other men I have encountered in my life who have tried to use power to assault women and how unsafe and betrayed I felt.

Today, I think of Trump’s comments towards Latinx and their communities using his position to disparage their role in the United States. And I remember the Latinx in my family and my life who I care about so deeply who are now looking at a country that elected a man who viewed them in this way.

Today, I think of Trump’s action mocking those with disabilities. And I remember how lucky I am to not have to consider a disability when planning my daily routines and I consider how this mocking being deemed acceptable will only make these daily routines more difficult for those who do take a disability into consideration.

Today, I think of Trump’s use of the Pocahontas stereotype. And I remember the Indigenous students I have known who faced stereotypes and racism in ways which have caused them to reconsider their goals and whether or not they belonged in the spaces they were in and succeeding in.

Today, I think of Trump’s rhetoric around Muslims. And I remember the wonderful Muslims I have had the pleasure of knowing and the racism and Islamaphobia they already face and I fear the backlash they may face from the legitimization of those sentiments by this election.

Today, I think of Trump’s choice of a Vice-President who believes in conversion therapy. And I remember the LGTBQ folks who have honoured me so much by coming out to me and speaking to me of the stigma and fear they face and I worry their American counterparts will have to be much more careful before having those conversations with folks in their lives.

Today, I think of Trump’s views on race and Black Lives Matter. And I remember the day I spoke about solidarity at a BLM protest and the conversations I was lucky enough to be a part of that day that showed me the reality of Black folks I will never be able to experience.

Today, I think of Hillary Clinton and her efforts to break the glass ceiling. And I remember every time I have been the only female in the room. I remember every time I have been masplained to and every time I have been underestimated because I am a woman. I remember how unsafe it can feel to question the status quo in a male dominated space. And I thank Hillary Clinton for bringing us so close to breaking that glass ceiling and for providing a solid set of shoulders for the next generation of female American politicians to stand on.

Today, I think of the United States and the clear divisions facing that country. And I remember that while Trump has been elected and I fully believe it is a step backwards, there is significant outrage and from this outrage conversations are happening and I hope from these conversations come change, motivation and one day empathy towards those with lived experiences you will never have.

Today, I think of Canada. And I remember we are not perfect and that many of the sentiments that lead to Trump’s rise exist here within Canada and it isn’t enough to feel thankful we don’t like in the US but rather we need to question these sentiments and divisions as they exist today in Canada.

#NoDAPL

#NoDAPL

The Dakota Access Pipeline is something I must speak to.

This pipeline is heartbreaking and terrifying to me.

I’ve been thinking a great deal about pipelines lately. I recently realized that the “pipeline” that growing up was just the word for a clear track of land at the end of the road I grew up on where I would go to walk the dog, is in fact a pipeline that transports natural gas and is now set to be converted to move oil. Now, I can’t tell you why it took me this long for the reality of the pipeline I grew up with to hit me, but I can tell you how it haunts me. I picture myself as a child walking with my dog running ahead of me to the pipeline only to find a spill. I picture the cows on the farm I lived next to walking in a creek now polluted with oil. I picture the deer, coyotes and other creatures that use the corridor created by the pipeline confused and coated by oil as they searched for food and water.

The idea of a pipeline running under the Missouri River which will lead to a spill is something I cannot even imagine. Because it will spill. Maybe not in the first year, or the first five years or the first ten years but one day it will. And there will be death and destruction.

This pipeline is also contributing to the systemic destruction of a culture and sovereign nation. This pipeline is being developed on Lakota Treaty Territory. This includes culturally significant land that would never be the same and is worth no amount of potential revenue from this pipeline. This pipeline is ignoring the right of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to determine how their land is used. They have very clearly spoken. It is time others listened.

To some this may seem like just another pipeline. Just another protest. Just another hashtag. And it may be if we don’t stand. The Scared Stone Camp is filled with protectors from across Turtle Island. Indigenous and non-Indigenous folks. This could be a turning moment. This is a moment for the US government to do the right thing. This is a moment for self-proclaimed allies to do the right thing. This is a moment to start building a new future. A future with less pipeline and more clean water. A future in which Indigenous peoples’ rights are respected. A future without ongoing colonization and genocide. A future that won’t make us look back and wonder “What the Hell were we thinking?”

I hope with every aspect of my being, this moment won’t pass without change.

I stand with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the Sacred Stone Camp.