By: CSVANW Intern Natisha Toya
(Jemez Pueblo/San Felipe)
Indigenous womyn and gender queer have suffered and continue to suffer from the negative effects of patriarchy in many ways. About 4 out of 5 Native womyn have or will experienced violence at some point in their lives. 85% of Native Womyn that identify as LGBTQ2s+ experience sexual violence also. Many Indigenous communities were run on a matriarch system. Which means that families were traced through their mothers. Governing people in this way worked in Indigenous societies and there may have been flaws, like all systems have, it just did not affect women in the same way. Womyn, young girls, and our gender queer relatives were highly respected, protected and cared for.
Growing up, a young Indigenous womyn, I felt oppressed. I was always told that I could not do things, simply because of my gender. They told me things like my place was in the kitchen. It is unsettling to think about how much things have changed. From the respect and care indigenous womyn and gender queer once received, to the belittlement many of us now get. There might have been gendered roles, but there was not a hierarchy for genders. They were all respected in the same manner. The point of this article is not to blame all the problems we have today, solely on patriarchy, instead to bring to light ways we can move forward in respecting and caring for our indigenous womyn and gender queer relatives the way we once did.
It starts with the way we think and the way we talk to womyn and gender queer people. Here are a few suggestions on checking your patriarchy:
- Don’t talk over womyn or gender queer people
- Do not RE-EXPLAIN something they JUST said
- Don’t tell them where their place is
- Before doing anything, make sure you have consent. Silence does not mean consent.
- Clothing does not mean consent either.
- It is not anyone else’s choice, beside the individual, to decide what to wear
- Ask and actively use preferred pronouns
- Do not write off the ability for them to think for themselves
- Gender jokes are NOT funny
- Do not dictate the choices they make and the way they live their lives.
These are just some small ways you can check your patriarchy. If you see that womyn or gender queer relatives are not being heard, offer space for them to be heard. Use the privileges you have, to make spaces more inclusive.