How Does Sexual Violence Affect Native American Women

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Register to read the introduction… Colonial culture strategically uses sexual violence against Native women as a weapon to ensure the oppression and marginalization of Native people. This section of the book not only looks at the steps of this strategy, but also at its extensive lasting effects. One such effect is white feminism’s skewed perspective on Native women and their power in their culture; often white feminists feel that Native women have a dire need to be “rescued” from the grips of a patriarchal system, when in fact they do not. Smith begins her argument with an explanation of the importance of taking an intersectional approach when studying the system of oppression. She writes that “it is inadequate…to investigate the oppression of women of color by examining race and gender oppressions separately and then putting the two analyses together, because the overlap between racism and sexism transforms the dynamics” (7). This additive approach fails to understand the true workings of oppression against women of color and therefore must be substituted with the intersectional approach which looks at race and gender together and also how the system of oppression acts on these dynamics simultaneously. …show more content…
Indian nations had very low counts of sexual violence before the arrival of the settlers, and for the most part were very peaceful, which is why Smith posits, that the colonists had to demonize Native tribes and Native women, by means of lewd sexual depictions, to keep white women from joining the Native tribes. Towards the end of her chapter, Smith returns to the concept of misconstrued perceptions of women of color that exist in all aspects of our society as a result of colonial thinking. She writes that “even within feminist circles, the colonial logic prevails that women of color, indigenous women, and women from Global South countries are only victims of oppression rather than organizers in their own right” (25). This statement relates back to the additive approach and the limiting views it places on these women. It’s as if they cannot be more than one thing, the oppression from which they suffer and the viewpoints that it causes depict these women in a stunted light, not as they truly are. One of the concepts to Smith’s argument that I feel is significant is that of “ethno-stress.” Although LaDuke mentioned this term in the foreword, and not in the chapter itself, I think that this term is a true description and representation of the effects of colonization and the tools of sexual violence and genocide. As LaDuke states ethno-stress is the summation of Native American women’s

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