The statistics are atrocious. Native American women are 2.5 times more likely to be sexually assaulted than other women in the United States. At least 67 percent of Native women who report sexual assault say that their assailants were non-Native men. In Canada, over 1,200 Native women have gone missing or been murdered over the last three decades, a stunning statistic that the government has done little to improve.
Native nations have their own tribal court systems, which are separate from state and federal courts in the rest of the United States. Until recently, however, tribal courts have lacked the power to prosecute non-Native people for crimes committed on Native lands. Considering the rampant violence by non-Native men against Native women, this has often meant that sexual and gender violence goes unaddressed.
For years, legal scholar Sarah Deer has documented ways in which violence against Native women has been overlooked by tribal courts and ignored by state and federal governments while pushing for stronger responses to this violence. In 2007, she spearheaded the report “Maze of Injustice: The Failure to Protect Indigenous Women from Sexual Violence in the USA” for Amnesty International, detailing both the legal shortcomings and the hurdles Native women face when assaulted. Last fall, she received a huge boost to her work when she was awarded a 2014 MacArthur Fellowship, which gives her a no-strings-attached stipend of $625,000 to pursue her work for the next five years.
When I tell people I am a prison abolitionist and that I believe in ending all prisons, they often look at me like I rode in on a unicorn sliding down a rainbow. Even people engaged in social movements, people who concede that the current prison system is flawed, voice their critiques but always seem to add, “But it’s all we have.”
For all of our ability to analyze and critique, the left has become rooted in what is. We often forget to envision what could be. We forget to mine the past for solutions that show us how we can exist in other forms in the future.
That is why I believe our justice movements desperately need science fiction.
On June 9, 1963, Fannie Lou Hamer was arrested in Montgomery County, Mississippi, along with June Johnson, Euvester Simpson, Rosemary Freeman, and Annelle Ponder. The five women were on their way back from a voter registration workshop in South Carolina. Upon their arrival at the Montgomery County jail, Hamer, Johnson, and Ponder were subjected to vicious brutality at the direction of notorious racist Sheriff Earl Wayne Patridge.
Avenger. Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Member of the Fantastic Four. In her many superhero roles over the past 35 years, She-Hulk has proven to be one of the strongest characters in the Marvel universe. But it’s her role as an attorney that’s been truly groundbreaking for women in comics.
Scarcely a week goes by without a study on gender differences in the brain making headlines. “Female brains really ARE different to male minds,” reported the Mail Online on July 28, while a day later Salon framed the same research as “Women are getting smarter faster than men.” The tired old Mars-Venus debates play out simplistically in the media, like a never-ending tug-of-war, while feminists and anti-feminists alike rage, celebrate, or down their blood-pressure medication, depending on whose side has been thrown the bigger scientific-breakthrough bone.
Asia Monet Ray, 7, strutted onstage like a tiny Beyoncé in a white, high-cut leotard, complete with a fluffy dog tail made to wag when she gyrates.
Titled “Rock That,” her dance was a fusion of classic jazz, sexy pop-locking, and crowd-pleasing gymnastics that hasn’t yet been given a name. At one point, Ray, tail facing the audience, slapped each hand to her backside as she knocked her hips from right to left. Later, the 4'2" diva slowly sunk into the splits, fixing a sharp gaze at the judges with pursed cherry lips.
In the early 2000s, when I was a burgeoning fashionable fat girl, I stumbled across the LiveJournal community Fatshionista. I loved seeing pictures of women my size or larger dressed in stylish, interesting, sexy clothes, embracing bright colors and form-fitting cuts, performing liberation and defiance. Even while I stayed on the outskirts of body positivity during my high school and college years, I still found a well of confidence and self-esteem that television commercials and women’s magazines never offered me.
"By morning a family of baffled new bodies caress one another in the sun & each by each, we teach ourselves to dream." —Rachel K. Zall, “A Body Wakes Beneath a Sheet of Lightning”
For transgender women, the tides of each day bring triumph one morning and tragedy the next. Today’s legal victory or affirming media portrayal is chased by tomorrow’s murder or incarceration. But this duality is rarely captured in its full, panoramic spread by a media too interested in pat stories about trans women. For so long, the people who wrote about us were not us. Finally, that is beginning to change.
“I can’t compete with an Asian chick,” says the comedian Amy Schumer. When a busty, blue-eyed blond—a type that launched a thousand wet dreams—admits she can’t contend with Asian women, it signals a certain shift in our culture’s preferred sexual tastes.
Ask any World of Warcraft player about “Goldshire” and you’ll likely hear more than a little embarrassed giggling. The small town just outside the human capital of Stormwind is a known hotbed of ERP—shorthand for erotic roleplaying—derided but secretly loved in the gaming world in a way that mirrors the physical world’s vexed relationship with sexuality.