Ashley Judd: The Costs of Speaking Out

Please note, the following information may be triggering

 

Social media has a funny way of making us all feel brave. When you live behind a screen, you can be anyone. You’re invincible. You have no face, no name, you don’t exist. You are free to speak your mind, your opinion is there for the world to see, and in a way, it can feel very validating. However, with lack of identity comes lack of accountability. The exhilaration of being able to say whatever you please without repercussions makes the internet a playground for sexism, misogyny, racism, and intolerance. Ashley Judd chose to speak out about her own experiences with online harassment after being subjected to brutal threats over a tweet about a basketball game. Not only was this response openly rejected, but it was met with even more vulgar and violent threats that eventually led her to call the police.

This in itself is a new, special brand of misogyny that really started to emerge with the Internet and anonymous culture. Aggressors not only were made to feel to like they were safe enough to openly dismiss her thoughts with rude and aggressive language, but also to send death and rape threats via twitter, facebook, and email. These messages terrified Judd, rightly so, and she chose to call the police after receiving serious and numerous threats. Once this information was released however, the public reacted even worse.

Judd was publicly shamed on social media as being “too sensitive” and “attention seeking”. Users told her to “Grow up.” and implied that if she wanted attention and publicity, she should have filmed a sex tape. (O’Neill) These are prime examples of both victim blaming and rape culture. By blaming the victim for coming forward and seeking help, you belittle their experience and remove their agency in the situation. The power they had from taking control of their trauma is stripped from them, as they are made to feel foolish and second-guess themselves, which they have probably already done many times before. Additionally, the act of threatening violence, rape, and genital mutilation to someone anonymously, and then simultaneously shaming them for being offended and afraid are classic traits of rape culture. The victim is both harassed, and then once again shamed for being upset by it. It implies that the victim’s body is not their own, and that everyone is not only allowed to have a say, but that what they say is “freedom of speech” regardless of how offensive or invasive.

What’s even more horrifying is that this is not a unique case. In fact, scrolling through your news feed and seeing an article or post about online harassment is about as common as seeing a video of a cute but unlikely animal friendship. Online harassment has led to severe bullying, forcing children to change schools, and even suicides. And as much as we see it day to day, and the rate at which it continues to get worse, we still don’t take enough precautions to prevent it, and certainly don’t take it seriously when it occurs.

Amanda Hess experienced an incident where someone on Twitter outlined a very detailed and thought out plan for her murder. Rightly so, she was terrified, and decided to call the police. When an officer arrived however, and she explained what had happened, he responded that he didn’t know what Twitter was. To make matters worse, when she showed him what they had said, his response was that she “should try not to look at it.”(Zetlin) People trivialize issues that would otherwise be taken seriously if they did not take place on social media. If someone received a hand-written death threat in the mail, police would probably assign someone to watch over the house. Bullies in schools are apprehended, while those on the Internet are dismissed, and sometimes even encouraged.

Social media has become a breeding ground for homophobia, racism, and sexism. It has evolved over the years as it becomes easier and easier for people to voice their opinions, regardless of how ignorant and hurtful, without receiving any consequences for what they say. It both normalizes this aggressive behaviour, making people feel as though it is okay, and make victims feel that they are not safe to come forward and talk to someone about what is going on. Whether there is a sure fire way to fix this is questionable, but by raising awareness and being able to recognize it when it happens will help us prevent it in the future.

Works Cited

Alter, Charlotte. “Ashley Judd Speaks Out About Twitter Abuse and Rape.” Time. Time, 19 Mar. 2015. Web. 08 Apr. 2015.

Zeltin, Minda. “Harassed on Twitter? Here’s How Ashley Judd and Others Are Fighting Back.” Inc.com. Inc. Magazine, 22 Mar. 2015. Web. 08 Apr. 2015.

O’Neill, Lorena. “Ashley Judd Suffers Renewed Backlash for Stance on Social Media Abuse: Read the Messages.” The Hollywood Reporter. The Hollywood Reporter, 20 Mar. 2015. Web. 08 Apr. 2015.

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Wage Inequality: More Than Meets The Eye

Wage inequality is evidently still an issue in our society today. In Ontario today, for every $1.00 that a man makes, a women makes 74 cents (Pay Equality Commission, “Gender Wage Gap”). For the most part, wage inequality continues to be somewhat hidden from public view. Unlike other forms of gender inequality that largely occurs in public view, wage inequality occurs on a pay cheque. This makes Randall Carlisle article, “Gender Equality Bake Sale Causes Stir at Utah High School”, very interesting. As stated before, wage inequality predominantly is seen behind closed doors and out of the public view, however this bake sale brought wage inequality into the public view. The bake sale charged male buyers $1.00 for a cookie and female buyers 77 cents for the same cookie (Carlisle, “Gender Equality Bake Sale Causes Stir at Utah High School”). This was done because women make 77 cents for every one dollar a man makes in the United States (Carlisle, “Gender Equality Bake Sale Causes Stir at Utah High School”). In Carlisle’s article he notes that when men were forced to pay more than women, there was a public outcry and people claimed that the bake sale was not equally fair. For wage inequality to be changed it needs to be presented more to the public. People need to see how wage inequality is occurring everywhere around them and how we need to change the systemic oppression that is wage inequality.

Canadian businesses are systemically built to pay women less. This is obviously instilled from the hegemonic belief that men are better than women. This misogynistic belief is quite obviously false, however this belief still occurs systemically in Canada’s wage gap. By changing the systemically oppressive nature of gender inequality, Canada’s work force would strengthen. Countries with the lowest wage gap currently have the highest rate of female participation and equitable sharing of household work (Anderssen, “Pay attention private sector: Public sector wages are higher because the gender gap is much smaller”). By making Canadian wages equal for both men and women then we can also help break down gender binaries in the work place and household.  Equal pay will encourage hegemonic masculinity to be dismantled as women begin to enter roles that men would have previously held. As the workplace changes with women holding more positions, what would also occur is that men would begin to enter roles in the workplace and household that are currently viewed as predominantly for females (Anderssen, “Pay attention private sector: Public sector wages are higher because the gender gap is much smaller”). Gender roles often define what job is for who, however with more women being active in the workforce the notion of gender roles would be dismantled. By changing the wage inequality and making wages for all genders equal, the end to systemic oppression for women in the workplace will be one step closer. As well, the discrimination against men who partake in household roles and jobs typically held by women will also begin to end.

There is an even larger issue with wage inequality when you look at the intersectional wage discrimination of aboriginal women in Canada. In Canada aboriginal women make 46 cents on every dollar that a man makes (Lambert 5). This means that aboriginal women make 28 cents less on each dollar as compared to non-aboriginal women in Canada (Lambert 5). Aboriginal women also have a higher rate of unemployment as compared to non-aboriginal women in Canada (Lambert 6). In fact, the rate of unemployment for aboriginal women is double that of non-aboriginal women in Canada (Lambert 6).  The unemployment rates are 6.4% for non-aboriginal women and 13.5% for aboriginal women in Canada (Lambert 6). This intersectional wage inequality stems from the systemic colonialism of Canada’s past. Colonialism in Canada is well documented and is something that the aboriginal community is still working to rebuild from (“Aboriginal Peoples In Canada: Repairing the Relationship” 184).  Aboriginal people in Canada are working to step away from the demoralizing stereotypes that present aboriginal people as hopeless welfare dependents (“Aboriginal Peoples In Canada: Repairing the Relationship” 184).  To change these stereotypes there needs to be a change in wage equality, especially for the aboriginal women of Canada. By raising the wages of aboriginal women, more women will be capable of supporting themselves. This would then lower the unemployment rate and help break down the demoralizing stereotypes of aboriginals.

Evidently there is an issue with wage equality in Canada. This is something that needs to be changed. However, to change this issue it needs to be brought into public view so that more than just those who are effected can know about this issue. The bake sale in the Utah High School is a great medium to show how wage inequality effects people. More actions like these need to be made in an effort to end wage inequality. Changing wage inequality is not just about paying everyone equally, it is also about breaking down gender roles that cause discrimination to women and men for their role in the work place. It is about ending intersectional oppression and discrimination to the aboriginal women of Canada based on stereotypes of their employment status. Ending wage inequality is about providing equality to all genders and races.

Works Cited

Anderssen, Erin. “Pay Attention Private Sector: Public Sector Wages Are Higher Because the Gender Gap Is Much Smaller.” The Globe and Mail. The Globe and Mail, 26 Mar. 2015. Web. 9 Apr. 2015.

Carlisle, Randall. “Gender Equality Bake Sale Causes Stir at Utah High School.” Good4Utah. Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc., 17 Mar. 2015. Web. 9 Apr. 2015.

Fleras, Augie. Unequal Relations : An Introduction to Race, Ethnic, and Aboriginal Dynamics in Canada / Augie Fleras. 6th ed. Vol. 1. Toronto: Pearson Canada, 2010. 425. Print.

“Gender Wage Gap.” Pay Equity Commission. The Government of Ontario, Canada, 18 Sept. 2012. Web. 9 Apr. 2015.

Lambert, Lisa. “Gendered Wage Gap Even More Pronounced for Aboriginal Women.” Native Counselling Services of Alberta, 2010. Web. 9 Apr. 2015.

Baking Their Way To The Bonus: Gender Wage Gap

A recent article summarizes an event that occurred at a Utah High School that many perceived as a forward movement, as well as brought forth controversy. Members of the young democrats club at the high school prepared a bake sale where they sold cookies that cost either 77 cents or 1 dollar depending on if you are female (who paid 77 cents) or male (who paid 1 dollar). You may question why the difference in cost, as did I. The interesting answer is that these cookies were exactly the same. The students’ goal was to raise awareness about the unequal pay of women and men in the workforce for doing the exact same job.

“Because in America, for every dollar a man makes, a woman only makes 77 cents. So we’re raising awareness for this. So boys will pay a dollar and girls only pay 77 cents,” said Kari Schott, a member of the young democrats club. An aim was to show the men how it feels to lose the 23 cents, or how it feels to be at a disadvantage solely for the reason based of your gender. “They were really mad about it. They didn’t think it was fair and I said yeah, it’s not fair. That’s why we’re doing it.” Kari says of the complaints she received of the cost difference. People, especially young people going into the workforce, are unaware of the difference is one of the problems about the gap. One of the students shows this by not standing by the statistics used by the club, and by scrolling through the comments posted in response to the article. It is evident how many grown adults refuse to believe a gap exists or provide half-hearted excuses as to why it continues to exist. One man’s comment talks about the difference of men and women in the construction field, “most women would freak if they cut their finger off, a guy would probably duct tape it and work the rest of the day before leaving work.” I find this bias as it is fair to say that the majority of all gender identities would be worried if they cut their finger off, as well as patronizing women in this way is exactly one of the reasons why some women do not firstly consider pursuing after what would be considered male-hegemonic careers.

Historically, women in the workforce have always been at a disadvantage, with no political rights until the 1920’s. The few women who did work though were at disadvantage for pay wage far less than men because men were seen as the primary wage earners and entitled to a ‘family wage’ (Aulette and Wittner 196). It was not until World War II, when a high percentage of the men had to go to war, that women were able to obtain factory jobs temporarily. Even after proving themselves and the capabilities of women in the workforce and some proving they could do jobs better than some men, women were forced out of their jobs when the men returned home due to the expectation of women was to stay at home, care for the children and cook. This led to the Equal Pay act of 1963 when women were outraged, making it illegal to pay workers differently solely on the basis of gender. Unfortunately, this act has not been revised since its enactment.

Although there has been definite improvement over the last century regarding the pay differences, there is still an overwhelming 23% difference in overall earnings of men and women. It is a highly debated argument over the reasons for this difference, primarily; the accepted reasons are the gender segregation of the labor market and discrimination. There are certain careers that many people of a general western society believe fits a specific gender role, such as women as secretaries, nurses, teachers and waitresses and men being truck drivers, construction workers, engineers and doctors. Both lists are considered gender dominated because they have over 75% of one gender as employees and the fact of the matter is, that of these jobs with the exception of nurse/doctor, men have higher weekly wages. The big question is that with all the equality movements we (try) to have today, why are women still dominating lower status and paid careers? It is exactly because we do not have (gender) equality. Society still follows a patriarchal way of life, with women, for the most part being the primary caregivers of children and it seems like child bearing is still more valued than education and career building. Many think it as odd for a woman to wait until her thirties or to never even have kids at all, but if a man waits so he can build his career or decides never to have children, it is not seen as abnormal. Many also think the president should never be a female because males are a stronger political figure. Women are forced to take lower paying jobs or part time jobs if they are single mothers and usually do not have the opportunity to attend higher education if they had children young, whereas the men do. Statistics are even worse for minority mothers who have a wage gap of 54% to white, North American male earnings (Hill, Simple truth about Wage Gap). This shows the intersection that race plays along with gender that discriminates women among the work force. So, the specific job differences are said to account for approximately 16-18% of the earned differences seen, so what about the other 5-7%, what are the reasons for this difference? The answer is discrimination. Studies have shown that replacing a male’s resume with a female’s name, has a lower likelihood of earning a response and that the likelihood decreases for women with children compared to men with children (A Compressive vie of Women in the US Economy). Women on average, with the exact same education and work experience as a male of the same job will be offered a lower salary in an interview. Why? Discrimination.

Some believe it’s the women’s choices that cause the difference and we “would have equal pay if women made the same choices” (Farrell). How is that fair wen women are pushed aside because of their gender or because they have children or because men think they cannot handle constructive criticism? Some men in company-based jobs actively seek sabotage of women working up by supportive discouragement and condensing chivalry in fear of the profession become ‘female dominated’ and would be viewed as ‘women’s work’ (Aulette and Wittner 192). It is this type of worldview that gives rise to the inequalities of women in the workforce.

The awareness that the teenagers of the Utah high school did was something that many high school kids do not pay attention to, which are exactly the type of people who need to notice this issue. Not many know about this movement and it needs to be noted. It is their future to change we will be able to see one in the next few years.

Aulette, Judy Root., and Judith G. Wittner. “Gender and the Global Economy.” Gendered Worlds. New York: Oxford UP, 2014. 188-94. Print.

Hill, Catherine, Dr. “The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap (Spring 2015).” AAUW: Empowering Women Since 1881. N.p., Mar. 2015. Web. 03 Apr. 2015.

‘’Why Men Earn More’’. Warren Farrell N.d. Web. Retrieved on March, 2015.

United States Congress Joint Economic Committee. Invest in Women, Invest in America: A Comprehensive Review of Women in the U.S. Economy. Washington, DC, December 2010.

Equal Pay for Equal Work: the truth about the wage gap

Upon reading the article, “Gender equality bake sale causes stir at Utah high school” it becomes clear that the awareness of the pay difference is something to be brought to the attention of the younger generation; but is the fix as simple as raising women’s salaries?

Across North America, the wages of women are on average 74-78 cents to the man’s dollar, depending on the country or province/state (Ontario’s Pay Equality Commission, 2014). Women consistently make up the majority of post-secondary graduates, and yet their wages are not reflective of this (Chamie, 2014). There are several factors that weigh into why this is the case, but two of the largest components that hinder women’s wages across the globe are racism and gender binaries.

The intersectionality of race, gender and age all interact together to create differing levels of wage inequality. Specifically race has shown to play a major role in affecting women’s wages, something that was noticeably missing in the bake sale awareness attempt. The gender pay gap affects women of all races but is far worse for women of colour. Women of Asian ethnicity show the smallest wage gap of 90 cents to a white man’s dollar, while women of Hispanic ethnicity have the largest wage gap at 54 cents to a white men’s dollar (“The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap”, 2015). In Canada, Native American women earn 59% of a white male’s salary (Covert et al, 2014), this sort of prejudice is stemmed from years of racism and colonization of the Native peoples of Canada.

Canadian colonialism was different in the sense that European settlers took over indigenous lands and created a predominantly white society. Prior to the settlers, men and women’s work was considered equally valuable because even though work was gendered, both relied heavily on each other’s contributions. It was not uncommon for women to hold positions of power within the indigenous community and maintain the respect of their male counterparts. If we analyze the role of colonialism in Canada, it becomes clear that indigenous communities were, in fact, far more progressive in regards to their approach on gender and politics. It was not until European culture became the primary mentality of the country that women’s contributions were seen as inferior and gender binaries began to flourish. This outlook has continued into the present day wage gap among many other sources of sexism in modern society (Matini, 2015). This systemic racism is not specific only to the Native women of Canada, but also the black and Hispanic women.

Black and Hispanic women are less likely to receive an education; they are less likely to graduate from high school and go to college (Hill, 2015). Because these women are entering the work world with limited access to education, employers are often able to reduce their pay grade without being held accountable for racism. This perpetuates the stereotype that women of colour are less intelligent and capable in a working environment.

Age also plays a role in women’s wages, as age increases the gap between men and women increases. At it’s largest, the gap at ages 55-64 is roughly 59% within the same ethnic group, meaning that white women would be likely to make 59% of what white men make, and Hispanic women would make 59% of what Hispanic men make (McInterff , 2015).   The rate at which women make money as they age compared to that of men might be attributed to the lack of advancement opportunities in a woman’s career. As men age, there is a social understanding that they gain wisdom whereas women are seen as less valuable and are therefore less likely to receive promotions (Innes, 2013).

A common response to the wage gap dispute is, “women take more time off for early child rearing”. This is in fact true, women tend to take more time off for maternity leave, and are more likely to take personal days off for their children then their male counterparts (McInterff, 2015). Although it’s shown that on average, the women of today have 1-2 children, meaning less than two years of maternity leave (McInterff, 2015). The average age at which women in Canada begin to have children is approximately 29 years old; if you look at the wage difference of men and women before the approximate age of childbearing years, there is still a gap of 10 to 20% (McInterff , 2015). This gap is between full-time working adults with no children and no maternity leaves.

Is the solution as simple as just raising women’s salaries? To truly resolve the issues underlying the gender age gap we must first address the racism, ageism and gender binaries that still exist in 2015.

Works Cited

Chamie, Joseph. “Women More Educated Than Men But Still Paid Less.” Women More Educated Than Men But Still Paid Less. Yale Global Online, 6 Mar. 2014. Web. 3 Apr. 2015.

Covert, Bryce, and Dylan Petrohilos. “The Gender Wage Gap Is A Chasm For Women Of Color, In One Chart.” ThinkProgress RSS. ThinkProgress, 18 Sept. 2014. Web. 3 Apr. 2015.

“Gender Equality Bake Sale Causes Stir at Utah High School.” Good4Utah. N.p., 17 Mar. 2015. Web. 3 Apr. 2015.

“Gender Wage Gap.” Ontario’s Pay Equality Commission. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 April 2015.

Hill, Catherine. “How Does Race Affect the Gender Wage Gap?” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 4 Apr. 2014. Web. 3 Apr. 2015.

Innes, Emma. “Wisdom Really Does Come with Age?” Mail Online. Associated Newspapers, 25 Sept. 2013. Web. 3 Apr. 2015.

Matini, Maria-Teresa. “Colonialism and Slavery.” Queen’s University, Kingston. 2 April 2015. Tutorial.

McInterff, Kate. “All Your Wage Gap Questions Answered.” Behind the Numbers RSS. Behind the Numbers, 26 Feb. 2015. Web. 3 Apr. 2015.

Legalized discrimination? Or religious freedom?

The video clip I chose to talk about is a local news broadcast about a same-sex couple’s experience with a local paediatrician. The title reads “Doctor refuses treatment of same-sex couple’s baby”. The article recounts the story of how lesbian new mothers Krista and Jami Contreras went to their first appointment for their newborn daughter Bay, only to meet a different doctor than the one they had booked the appointment with. They were told upon arrival that Dr. Vesna Roi, the original paediatrician they were booked with, would not be seeing them anymore and would not take Bay under her care. Her reasoning being that she had “prayed on it and wouldn’t be able to care for [her]” (myFoxDetroit.com staff: “Doctor refuses treatment of same-sex couple’s baby”). Naturally, the couple was shocked and offended, as it was blatant prejudice and discrimination based on sexual orientation.

One of the most alarming things about this was the fact that the doctor chose to take her personal views and prejudices out on a child whom, to the mothers’ knowledge, “…doesn’t have a sexual orientation yet…” (myFoxDetroit.com). She based her religious and moral beliefs on a child solely because of the lifestyle of her parents. While this may not be illegal in the state of Michigan, it does pose some morality questions on the part of the doctor, considering the fact that she refused care to a six-day-old infant. As a cis-gendered, straight, woman, there are power structures in place that allow Dr. Roi to deny care to this child. The mothers went on to recognize that this was something they had prepared for and knew they were bound to experience at some point, “but not at our six-day-old’s wellness appointment”.

The other issue that this article highlights is the fact that there are laws in place that essentially protect this sort of behaviour, and that more are being argued for that would actively allow discrimination based on sexual orientation. To quote the article “…the American Medical Association says physicians cannot refuse to care for patients based on sexual orientation, but doctors can refuse treatment if it’s incompatible with their personal, religious, or moral beliefs.” Because of this, what Dr. Roi did was technically legal, though most would agree, morally wrong. The article also cites Dana Nessel, an attorney on Michigan’s same sex marriage case. It explains the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, “which would allow people to discriminate based on their moral or religious beliefs.” This not only could apply to medical professionals, which in itself is horrifying and dangerous, it also applies to the rest of society such as storeowners, businesses, large corporations, schools, and more.

This creates a massive issue, as it essentially allows systemic discrimination against anyone who does not fit a specific religions set of criteria for what is right. This applies to many of the LGBTQ community, but also to people of other religions. It just feels as though we are legalizing more and more ways to judge, oppress, and hate each other. Freedom of religion is a privilege of living in North America, but is it right if it comes at the cost of the rights of others? By passing this law, we affect the health, education, rights, experiences, and most importantly safety of thousands of people. As a legal document, we legitimize the discrimination and further divide our society. This is a huge step backwards for us, not only if it passes, but even the fact that the bill was conceived and seriously considered. We can’t expect equality for anyone in our society if we constantly advocate and allow different systems of oppression to be considered a religious right.

Cultural Appropriation: Aboriginals

After reading “An Open Letter to Non-Natives in Headdresses” what becomes clear is that cultural appropriation is a real issue (Âpihtawikosisân, An Open Letter to Non-Natives in Headdresses). A large portion of this issue is that cultural appropriation is sparsely understood resulting in individuals acting offensively without the ability to recognize that their actions are offensive. To combat this we must define cultural appropriation to understand what is offensive and what is not. Cultural Appropriation is the act of “taking intellectual property, traditional knowledge, cultural expressions, or artifacts from someone else’s culture without permission” (GNDS Lecture, March 9 2015). This usually occurs after a long period of time where a dominant culture’s actions are greatly oppressive towards a non-dominant culture inhibiting that culture to act as it normally would. This provides an environment for dominant cultures to feel entitled to the cultural appropriation of what would be a non-dominant culture.

When looking to the culture of Canada and the United States, we can see many examples of cultural appropriation towards native Canadians and Americans. One of the most notable examples are some professional sports teams’ names and logos. In the National Football League there is a team by the name of the “Washington Redskins” (Care, Washington Redskins controversy: 3 things you need to know). The logo of this team presents a profile view of a Native American man with red tinted skin wearing a cultural feather head piece. What is obvious from this logo is that the term “Redskins” is in reference to the colonialist belief that Native Americans have red skin. The cultural appropriation of this is that the founder of this team, George Preston Marshall, took the image of a Native American wearing a cultural head piece for his own financial gain.

 Some may say that the cultural appropriation of team names such as the “Redskins” is fine and causes no issue. However this argument stems from the belief that in our culture all races are viewed as equal by one another and that colonialism is no longer present; this sadly is not true. The systemic colonialism in Canada results in the dehumanization of the Native Canadian population. According to the paper “Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women: A National Operational Overview”, as published by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, in 2011 Native Canadian women made up 4.3% of the total number of women in Canada (“Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women” 7). Of the total number of women murdered in 2011, aboriginal women make up 16% of all female murders in Canada (“Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women” 9). Aboriginal females also suffer in regards to the rate in which these crimes are solved. Murdered aboriginal women who work in the sex trade have a homicide solve rate of 60%, however the non-aboriginal solve rate for women in the sex trade is 65% (“Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women” 16). The average homicide case solve time for aboriginal women is 224 days and for non-aboriginal women the homicide case solve time is 205 days (“Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women” 16). From an intersectional perspective it is greatly apparent that the aboriginal women of Canada are being far more affected than the rest of the female population. This also speaks to the systemic colonialism that is still occurring in the Canadian legal system. There are more aboriginal women being murdered than non-aboriginal. The Canadian legal system is also statistically less likely to solve certain murders as well as have a slower murder solve time if the individual is an aboriginal female (“Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women” 16). As it stands now, what is obvious about the Canadian legal structure is that is does not favour aboriginal women. There is a lack of structural features in the Canadian police system to help prevent these violent crimes.

The cultural appropriation of Native Canadians is very disturbing due to the history of settler colonialism. The colonialism of the settlers coming to Canada seeking to conquer and dominate Native Canadians is stapled into our country’s history. With the past and present oppression that Native Canadians have experienced, what ultimately becomes deeply disturbing is the cultural appropriation that Native Canadians now face. It is odd that the same culture who once tried to abolish the aboriginal’s culture is now exploiting it for their own benefit (Hunter, Fashion Exploiting Native Wear Is Racist Read).

There is nothing wrong with appreciating aboriginal culture, in fact appreciating it is a very positive thing to do. What is not alright to do is appropriate it, take from the culture and use it in a manner that is not respectful to the aboriginal culture.  Just as Âpihtawikosisân states, if you choose to pull from aboriginal culture then you should educate yourself about the culture first (Âpihtawikosisân, An Open Letter to Non-Natives in Headdresses).  Cornell West states “justice is what love looks like in public”. If we can provide an end to the cultural appropriation of Native Canadians and bring in the appreciation of their culture, then the love for their culture will be publicly seen.

Works Cited

“An Open Letter to Non-Natives in Headdresses.” Pihtawikosisn. 10 Feb. 2012. Web. 12 Mar. 2015.

Care, Tony. “Washington Redskins Controversy: 3 Things You Need to Know – CBC Sports – Football – NFL.” CBCnews. CBC/Radio Canada, 1 Oct. 2014. Web. 12 Mar. 2015.

Hunter, Karlene. “Fashion Exploiting Native Wear Is Racist.” Indian Country Today Media Network.com. Indian Country Today Media Network, 5 Mar. 2015. Web. 12 Mar. 2015.

“Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women: A National Operational Overview.” RCMP National Operational Overview. Royal Canadian Mounted Police, 1 Jan. 2014. Web. 12 Mar. 2015.

Respect Lost Due to Lack of Cultural Knowledge?

Reviewing “An Open Letter to Non-Natives in Headdresses”, âpihtawikosisân, a Métis woman from the Plains Cree speaking community of Lac Ste. Anne, Alberta, provides information related to what is the establishment of cultural appropriation, concentrating in depth headdresses in native cultures (âpihtawikosisân, “An Open Letter to Non-Natives in Headdresses). In the beginning of the article, it discusses which items are restricted symbols such as, those that “represent achievements earned according to specific criteria”. Throughout the article there is an explanation of certain items that are non-restricted, and free for all people to legitimately access such that they do not “mock, denigrate or perpetuate stereotypes” (âpihtawikosisân, “An Open Letter to Non-Natives in Headdresses). Whether a person believes that they are entitled to be allowed to wear this type of headdress is irrelevant, and unless they “are a native male from a Plains nation who has earned a headdress, or [they] have been given permission to wear one”, it is disrespectful to do so (âpihtawikosisân, “An Open Letter to Non-Natives in Headdresses). She directs her main focus on the meaning and symbol of the headdress, which are worn and belong to various Plains nations. Illustrated through beaded moccasins, native art, there are other ways that a person can admire and respect this culture appropriately, without being profane, as there are “legitimate and unrestricted items crafted and sold by aboriginal peoples” (âpihtawikosisân, “An Open Letter to Non-Natives in Headdresses).

Continuing in various forms, certain emblems are restricted to only those who are a part of the heritage they arise from. A person may not belong to this certain heritage, due to the fact that they have not been given the rare entitlement by being born into it, or otherwise considered a part of this specific heritage from other exclusive means by other members on the inside, they should not bear these restricted and special aspects, as they are held exclusively for those who have earned the right to assume them (Culture in Development, “What is Cultural Heritage”). People, who are not part of the culture, fail to participate in the rights to practice it; therefore have no justified reason to appropriate and respect these restricted emblems. For example, a person who is not of South-Asian descent, specifically from India, Bangladesh, Nepal, or Sri Lanka, should not wear the forehead decoration of a bindi. It holds great religious meaning as well as cultural significance, and is more than just an aesthetic seen upon others in these countries who refuse to understand the true entitlement of this forehead piece (Aran, “Take That Dot Off Your Forehead and Stop Trying to Make Bindis Happen”).

It is clear in this article that it is disrespectful to appropriate restricted symbols of any culture if the person doing so is not part of the culture, or has not earned proper permission to bear it. This constitutes cultural appropriation, and it is improper and acts as an obstacle for respecting the culture (âpihtawikosisân, “An Open Letter to Non-Natives in Headdresses). This article brings forward thought-provoking ideals that go against the common misconception that bearing these sacred items is a form of appreciation for the religion and culture itself. There are other means to do so, without being offensive and disrespectful to the specific culture. The act of appropriating something, is harmful when the source community is a minority group that has been oppressed or exploited in other instances, such as the ways, historically, Indigenous peoples and native groups in North America have been, due to settler colonialism (Tolmie, March 9 2015). Therefore, it is important to understand the importance of the symbol of the headdress in the Plains native cultures. An example of this is when European colonizers had located what is now Canada, the inhabitants and indigenous peoples of the land were abused, killed, and stripped of their customs, forcing them into assimilation, through means of the Residential Institution Schools, that had the policy and vision of removing young First Nations children from the influence of their families and culture to assimilate them into the dominant Anglo-Christian and Catholic culture (Indigenous Foundations, “The Residential School System”).

In today’s day and age, these same sacred objects which hold great significance, are treated as mere aesthetics and accessories by not only members of the same dominant culture that once affronted them, but other people whom similarly may not have the proper education on the historical meaning behind these objects. Furthermore, if members who are a part of the culture are sometimes restricted to bear these emblems, such as women in Native Plains culture who rarely earn the right to bear the headdress, or few men in South-Asian culture who can not wear bindis in the decorative fashion, there should be no justification that the limitation goes further than stand against those who are associated with the culture these emblems come from. If otherwise, stereotypes are crated and members of the culture are dehumanized such that these symbols are seen as representative of an image of “authentic” members of those who practice it. Dehumanizing creates the conditions of these people, adding to the negative possibilities leading towards racism, violence, and other harm. As Cornell West famously stated, “Justice is what love looks like in public”, the publicity of these symbols brought by those who do not have the right to bear them is wrongful, and the people have a lack of knowledge. There are clear boundaries that cultures have put forth that should not be crossed by those outside of it nor those who do not seek interest in the culture.

    Works Cited

Aran, Isha. “Take That Dot Off Your Forehead and Quit Trying to Make Bindis Happen.” Jezebel. N.p., 16 Apr. 2014. Web. 10 Mar. 2015.
“What Is Cultural Heritage.” – Culture in Development. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Mar. 2015.
âpihtawikosisân. “An Open Letter to Non-Natives in Headdresses.” âpihtawikosisân. N.p., 10 Feb. 2012. Web. 06 Mar. 2015.
“The Residential School System.” Indigenous Foundations. University of British Columbia, n.d. Web. 05 Mar. 2015.