Harassment of Social Media and Misogyny

Harassment of Social Media and Misogyny

This article discusses the harassment Ashley Judd received on twitter after tweeting about basketball. She received so much hate and so many derogatory comments that she had to delete the tweet and decided to talk about her experience. Unfortunately, this is happening too often in contemporary society. Young girls and women are being sexualized on social media for anything and everything. Judd states that, “Online harassers use the slightest excuse (or no excuse at all) to dismember our personhood” (cited in Alter). Females are constantly put down for no obvious reason. People took a stab at whatever they could: her body, age, intellect, appearance, and even her family (Judd cited in Alter). They needed to find any excuse to demean her. I’m not saying all men do this but often they take it upon themselves to use disrespectful names and phrases to talk down to women. Often these things are not meant to trigger a response, instead women are just supposed to take it. They are not talking to the women, but instead at them, like an object, as opposed to a human being.

Each day I learn about how harmful social media is becoming. The amount of misogynistic comments on social media in today’s society is unbelievable. The even bigger issue at hand is that there aren’t only sexist comments but racist and homophobic ones as well. Her situation also demonstrates that hurtful comments don’t occur just once or even twice but often multiple times. She was disrespected on a few different occasions. People are not afraid to say hurtful things over the Internet because they get to avoid the difficult face-to-face interaction that would most likely prevent them from saying these things. I think society would see a decline in hatred as well as malicious comments if social/mass media was taken out of the picture.

While she was on the topic of women being sexualized, Judd discusses the problem of rape culture. She expresses the realization that people blame the victim instead of the rapist. Who cares what she was wearing or if she was drinking, rape is rape no matter the circumstances. That’s the trouble with society: many people don’t see the problem with rape but instead see the problem in the victim. She tied this in perfectly with the original statement because in both instances the victim is being blamed rather than the person causing the harm. Another thing is how lightly rape is talked about. It’s an invasion of someone’s body; it is not a joke and should never be a joke. The people who joke about rape are the ones that are desensitizing the meaning of it. The worst part is that she openly spoke about how she was raped in her childhood and people still had the audacity to joke about and threaten to rape her.

As a female, I’ve grown up my whole life knowing that women were once oppressed and continue to fall below men. Equal opportunities are not given to women, which is something I still cannot comprehend. Gender equity is needed for cohesion of society to take place. I grew up learning from my mom that I am not responsible for doing all the cooking and cleaning in the house when I am married and that I am capable of fulfilling my ambitions. Sadly, not everyone is taught this but they should be in order to see change in society. A few years ago, the comment “go make me a sandwich” (a male commanding a female) was very popular among people my age. The era where women stayed home, took care of cooking, cleaning, and the children, is long gone. We don’t live in the past anymore, women are not responsible for taking care of their male counterpart. They are capable of achieving their goals and are not to be seen as vulnerable and compliant. Even as a joke, this statement shows us that society’s mindset is stuck in the past even though everything is progressing around us. Comments like these need to end or society will never move forward. This idea that women are only good for the “dirty work” is seen as androcentric. Men were capable of working for a living and so they were given the authority and power to dominate women, which is still taking place in many societies and needs to be changed.

References:

Alter, Charlotte. “Ashley Judd Speaks Out About Twitter Abuse and Rape.” Time Inc. Network. n.p., 19 March 2015. Web. 7 April 2015.

<http://time.com/3750788/ashley-judd-speaks-out-about-twitter-abuse-and-rape/&gt;.

Gender Equality Bake Sale

Gender Equality Bake Sale

This article recounts the event of school bake sale in which three female students are selling bake goods. However, this is not an ordinary bake sale. The girls are charging the boys one dollar for the baked goods and the girls only 77 cents. The purpose of this was to illustrate the wage gap in America, for every dollar a man makes; a female employee makes only 77 cents. It is astonishing that in the year 2015, there is still that much of a gap in wage. Often times in media and social platforms there is talk of the progress, and how great strides are being made to close this gap. However, when the realities are truly examined as a society we are stagnant in our efforts. It is the feminist movement that society needs to rally behind. It needs to become clear that the foundation of feminism is gender equity, not female or male superiority. When this becomes a universal truth, then and only then cant the strides bring about effective change. It is also important to understand the difference between equality and equity, equality is treating everyone the same, where as equity is giving everyone what they need to succeed. Although both are vitally important, perhaps it’s time to focus on universal equity. Equal and fair opportunity of all individuals should be a understood truth, however, no one person is the same, and therefore it seems unreasonable homogenize the struggle ethnic groups, genders, or whomever it may be, faces.

In the news clip accompanying the article, a field reporter was sent to the school to cover the “controversial” bake sale. It was interesting to see in the video that the in studio reporter as well as the field reporter were both men. Even more specifically, what can be deduced from a short clip, they were white, powerful, cis gendered males reporting on the injustice of the male/female wage debate. Even before reading the accompanying text or watching the rest of the video the first image one sees is one of white male privilege, in a news story about the unfair wages women experience in the workplace. Further into the video it should be noted that when the reporter is looking for opinions from the school, only one female student was selected for her opinion. Even in times of gendered unrest the people leading the conversation are those who come from the most privilege. This report alone so visibly demonstrates the androcentric world we are living in, and how hegemonic masculinity still reins supreme. It is time for those experiencing the struggle, whatever it may be, to lead the conversation. No one understands what those who are oppressed are going through quite like the oppressed. So why are we seeking advice about how to liberate us from these oppressive forces from those perpetuating the very problem we are trying to solve.

The fact that this demonstration was even considered “controversial” is a problem all in itself. Why should it be surprising that women and girls are upset about being viewed as less than, in the eyes of corporation? Where is the controversy, that women can actually think for themselves and are finally finding the mediums to do so? It is time to shatter the glass ceiling that so many successful women are subject to reaching day in and day out. The question is how do you altars ways of thinking that have been embedded in society for years. The answer in my opinion is to start at the beginning. As discussed in lecture, at such a young age girls and boys are socialized at such a young age to believe certain things about themselves. Boys are the strong providers and girls and the weak vulnerable caretakers who need saving. This is where it needs to end and we need to start teaching. Illustrating to young girls and boys that the previous binary ways of thinking are so outrageous. So outrageous, that they wouldn’t even think that something such as unequal pay would be something that could even exist in the world they live in. Starting the conversation is important, and I do feel we are making progress in getting the conversation out there. Talk can generate change, however, in order to see full restitution requires meaningful action. We can talk all we want but until we take the necessary steps to change what is unjust and unfair, all will stay the same as it always has been.

Carlisle, Randall. ‘Gender Equality Bake Sale Causes Stir At Utah High School’. Good4Utah. N.p., 2015. Web. 10 Apr. 2015. 

Gender Equality in Modern Societies

Gender Equality in Modern Societies

Gender inequality and androcentrism (practice of privileging males over females and feminine traits) were a significant issue for centuries (Hegarty and Buechel 2004). Women were in a subordinate social position for many centuries in human history with a significant presence of hegemonic masculinity (promotion of idealized male behaviour). Situation has changed in the last 40-50 years, but men and women are not yet equal nowadays.

We can find many examples of disadvantaged position of women and marginalization (social exclusion) throughout the human history. Archeology and cultural heritages provide us a great global historical perspective on reality of men’s and women’s position. Mostly they are revealing perspective of women’s subordination and oppression within the structure of domination of males (patriarchy). However, they are also showing women’s persistent effort in resisting the oppression (Rowbotham 2014). Women were not allowed to work, they were not allowed to participate in any kind of social life and their only duty was to deliver and raise children.  Woman’s position has been changed in modern societies and they are more present in social life, are employed, they may participate in a political life, but they are still not totally equal to men.  Example from the Utah public school is actually a good experiment which demonstrates inequality in salaries between males and females and reactions of people to a different price of the same bakery product based on their salaries reflects clearly the level of social awareness about gender equality.

Even in modern and advanced western societies we can still observe hegemonic masculinity and offering important managerial and executive positions to males. In the UK Royal family it is essential the birth of a male child who will inherit a royal throne and it is a good example to what extent the androcentrism is still dominant in very developed western countries. One extreme example of male dominance and social exclusion and marginalization of women in 21st century is a position of women in some Arab societies. Women are not allowed to work, drive, or participate in social and political life (Guity and Tucker 1999).

In Canada there is a good balance and gender equality is not a significant issue. However, we can still find employers who will be reluctant to hire woman for a certain position because of maternity leave and possibly more absence from work because of child care. There are also good examples of husbands who are taking now maternity leave to support their wives’ professional career. Women can opt now a wider variety of career choices, but due to a power structure (different types of hierarchies placed by the society) they are yet not able to get promotion in certain fields and reach the highest positions in military, in political life and the highest paid executive positions.

How to fight with gender inequality nowadays? In order to establish gender equality it will be essential to decrease level of gender polarization (societies expected spectrum of behaviour applied to each gender) during upbringing and throughout the school years. Some actions should be taken on the governmental level and it is important to work on further sophistication of the documents pertaining the human rights and gender issues, to develop policies and procedures and get some advancements in legal system to better regulate gender inequality issues. Another even more important segment of actions is increasing the awareness of the importance of equal and healthy relationships between males and females with mutual respect and dignity. Personal qualities and individual capabilities must not be assessed or judged based on the gender. There is still a lot of misconceptions about the gender relationships and prejudice about male and female capabilities inherited from the past and influenced by different religions, but increased collective awareness of human rights and different norms and values in modern societies can help in getting a more optimal level of gender equality. Finally, gender study programs at the universities such as our program can have invaluable role in fighting with a gender inequality.

In conclusion, gender equality has been a hallmark of contemporary societies devoted to respecting human rights and civilization advances. The influence of cultural and religious factors in some of non-western societies may have negative impact on a women’s position, gender relationship and it may foster androcentrism and women marginalization. In Western countries there is still an evidence of remnants of past and misconceptions about personal and gender values and capabilities that may influence negatively educational and job opportunities for women as well as their chances to get leadership positions. There is a number of possible ways to improve position of women in a modern society and get a higher level of personal growth, personal maturity, more healthy type of gender relationships, and a higher level of maturity of the society in general. This is a process in time, but all factors that may facilitate this process, such as increasing awareness about the gender problems such as gender study courses in schools and universities, should be developed worldwide.

References:

Hegarty, Peter, and Carmen Buechel. “Androcentric reporting of gender differences in APA journals: 1965-2004.” Review of General Psychology 10.4 (2006): 377.

Nashat, Guity, and Judith E. Tucker. Women in the Middle East and North Africa: restoring women to history. Indiana University Press, 1999.

Rowbotham, Sheila. Women, Resistance and Revolution: A History of Women and Revolution in the Modern World. Verso Books, 2014.

A Discussion of Police Brutality and Racism Sparked by the Unjust Arrest of Martese Johnson

A Discussion of Police Brutality and Racism Sparked by the Unjust Arrest of Martese Johnson

Dr. Tolmie expressed that finding new, relevant articles to support her lectures was often too easy. The point of this statement is to reveal how predictable and uniform news is. While researching police brutality to better inform myself I stumbled upon a Huffington post page that was solely dedicated to articles surrounding police brutality. It was apparent that the articles on the page were frequent and often outlined the same typical story in which white men of authority abused a black individual. An article by Robert Staples written in The Black Scholar, a journal of black studies and research, analysed racial politics in terms of white power and black crime. Staples concluded, “Whites and blacks have had different historical experiences with the criminal justice system. Mainly, whites see the law as a force to serve and protect their rights. Blacks have been more likely to experience it as an agent that denies their rights” (Staples, 2011) This statement is true in a historical context, as black people have been extremely marginalized. However, even with some aspects of equality improving, the criminal justice system still remains significantly unjust.

A debate has been started on an incident that occurred between Martese Johnson and agents of the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC). The situation has turned into a “he said, she said” debate in which fellow university smartesetudents are claiming that extreme force was unnecessary and the ABC agents are claiming that the student was agitated and belligerent after being refused entry into a local pub. Despite the allegations on both sides of the story, Martese Johnson suffered cuts to his face that resulted in ten stiches. An investigation is being held that will look at the closer details of the incident. Meanwhile, students at the University of Virginia continue to support Martese and rally against the brutish force used by the Alcoholic Beverage Control.

As discussed, the incident with Martese is not an anomaly. Many man of power, such as the ABC, display hegemonic masculinity in which aggression to instil authority becomes the norm. I watched a video clip of the incident that was quite disturbing because Martese kept exclaiming “how did this happen?” As an outside source this conveys to me that it did not take long for the agents to have Martese on the ground and bleeding from his head. Many factors may have been involved in this incident. However, we must make an analysis based on the facts present. Martese is a young, black student who is in good academic standing at his University. The bar that he was attempting to enter is popular amongst UVA students. Depicted in the video, there were other students that seemed impaired walking the streets. So why was Martese Johnson specifically targeted?

This issue has been prominent in the news with incidents occurring in Ferguson, Missouri and in New York City. People in North America have been outraged by these events and have begun to speak out against the institutional racism towards black individuals by police. To attempt to answer the question as to why twenty-year-old student Martese was targeting we can look at society as a whole. In many ways society has adapted the idea of black respectability politics. The concept of these respectability politics began with a group of black women from the Baptist church (Dolberry, 2013). The women had good intentions; however, set forth a trend of thinking that instilled the idea that black culture is broken and needs to be fixed. This ideology is detrimental to black culture and does not help to promote equality. By deeming black culture as “broken” it emulates that white culture is superior. Although this is not directly related police brutality, it lays a foundation for people to dismiss the lives of black people.

Furthermore, violence as a lens accompanies the dismissal of black bodies. The term violence through a lens indicates that black people do not need to be carrying a weapon to be seen as violent. It has become so that the colour of their skin is an indication of how they will act. This horrific reality influences how the police and authority figures treat black individuals. In the book “Violence, Visual Culture, and the Black Male Body”, Cassandra Jackson expresses that “these children were fundamentally shaped by a hyper-awareness of how the world saw them” (Jackson, 2011). Jackson is explaining how the parents of black males had to teach them what they could and could not do or say to increase their chances of survival. The reality of the statement is both immense and disheartening. Members of society should not have to succumb to such tactics to avoid being a victim of police brutality. The issue of police brutality and racism is far from being resolved. However, the more awareness is increased the faster society will begin to change.

In terms of the incident with Martese Johnson I believe that the Alcoholic Beverage Control agents acted more violent than necessary due to violence as a lens. Martese was not treated as a compliant citizen and was roughly thrown to the ground with little regard for his human and civil rights. I believe that this incident is a smaller scale example of the detestable problems with police brutality and racism.

References

“Black Lives Matter” Gender, Race, and Popular Culture Lecture. 02 March. 2015. Web. 07 Apr. 2015.

Dolberry, Maurice. “”I Hate Myself!”: What Are Respectability Politics, and Why Do Black People Subscribe to Them?”  A Line in the Sand. N.p., 05 Sept. 2013. Web. 07 Apr. 2015.

Jackson, Cassandra. “Violence and Visual Culture.” Introduction. Violence, Visual Culture, and the Black Male Body. New York: Routledge, 2011. N. pag. Print. Web. 07 Apr. 2015.

Staples, Robert. White power, black crime, and racial politics. Black Scholar, 41(4), 31–41. 2011. Web. 07 Apr. 2015.

Link to video (*Contains video of violence and curse words): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5m9qnH2B3mM 

High School Bake Sale Causes Stir 2015

High School Bake Sale Causes Stir 2015

On March 17 of this year, a high school in Utah held an unusual bake sale: if a male purchased a cookie, it sold for a dollar and an identical cookie sold for 0.77 cents if purchased by a female. The Young Democrats Club at the high school used this bake sale as a tactic to raise awareness about the pay gap between men and women that is still a concern in current society. This movement suggests that we live in an androcentric world, dominated by male thinking and male power. The bake sale is one of many examples of feminists acting towards a future that embraces justice, including equal pay for equal work.

The reporter for this event introduced the story as a quiz: two identical cookies, one sells for a dollar, the other sells for 0.77 cents, why? This was possibly a vague tactic allowed people to form their own ideas before the question was answered. After the report stated that there is a pay gap between men and women, it then proceeded to interview students at the high school to record their opinions about the event. Many were fully supportive of the message the bake sale was trying to spread. However, one student said that he would like to see some statistics because he did not believe such a severe pay gap still exists. This is interesting because this student is a male himself, unaware of the inequality women face around him. In addition, this student is incorrect because although the average pay gap between males and females have lessened over the last 12 months, men, on average, still receive 21% more money annually than women (Teresa 2015). Although the reporter engaged with the students at the high school, there was more of a focus on the stir the bake sale caused, leaving less emphasis on the subject the bake sale was attempting to spread: the pay gap between men and women.

While reading the comments section of the article, I noticed that someone mentioned the bake sale did not address the issues that both minority men and women suffer from a pay gap as well. Research shows that despite academic achievement, pay gaps likely continue between races with African Americans receiving the largest gaps followed by Hispanics and Asians (NA 2014). In 2011, the University of California Berkeley addressed this issue by holding a bake sale which required varying prices for different races purchasing identical baked goods (CNN Wire Staff 2011). Unfortunately, this bake sale is a much more realistic example of how society is structured compared to the bake sale at the high school in Utah.

In addition to not addressing all cultures, this bake sale engages in gender polarization, or placing males and females on opposite sides of the gender spectrum with no recognition of those in between. This alienates transgender, queers and those who identify as gender neutral. Although this bake sale is progressive, it continues to be narrow minded, failing to encompass all individuals. Both the high school students and reporter did not mention diversity among people which causes the report to lack depth and detailed description. An intersectional analysis may have been beneficial in this report in order to address that there is more to society than white, heterosexual men and women. There is an emphasis on the social construction of gender which give privilege to white men specifically, but also to white women. Therefore, this report and bake sale are biased towards what is perceived as “normal”.

The presentation of the pay gap between men and women represent one of many concerns surrounding modern day feminism. A novel by Susan Faludi discusses the repercussions many experience when fighting for equal rights. Faludi states that the average female college graduate today earns less than a man with only a high school diploma (1991). Although conditions have improved over the last 20 years, we remain in a juxtaposition where we reside within the same country, under the same laws, however we remain divided.

A pattern is created where problems arise and people respond in varying intensities. The inequality represented in the pay gap is pivotal to inspire young people to advocate for the growing need for gender equality, especially in the workplace. Therefore, I applaud the high school students who introduced this bake sale and the reporter who described the story. Although the reporter refrains from including the entire range on the gender spectrum, he focuses on the controversy the bake sale created. He states, “It raised some controversy, but it made a point.” This phrasing reflects the notion that young people are acting towards changing the future so they will not experience unequal pay when they enter the work force. This news report is beneficial because it spreads awareness in addition to allowing many to form their own opinions regarding the pay gap.

Allowing society to form their own opinions about the controversy surrounding the pay gap between men and women is an initial step that must be taken in order to create change. It will likely result in a cascade that stimulates those who believe the pay gap is unjust to continue to fight for equality. It is inspiring to see such young people standing up for what they believe is moral. The next steps in this process should involve including all minorities such as those of various racial groups and those who identify as transgender, queer or gender neutral in order to provide justice for all those within our society.

Sources:

Carlisle, Randall. “Gender equality bake sale causes stir at Utah high school.” Good4Utah.com (2015). Web. 1 April 2015.

CNN Wire Staff. “Controversy erupts over Campus Republicans bake sale plans.” CNN News (2011). Web. 1 April 2015.

Faludi, Susan. Backlash: the undeclared war against American women. New York: Crown. 1991. Web

NA “Despite academic achievement, pay gaps likely continue between the races.” China Weekly News (2014): 279. Web. 25 March 2015.

Teresa, Lucy. Marketing Week. London: Centaur Communications Ltd. 2015. Text.

Analysis of Cultural Appropriation in the Modern Day Society

Analysis of Cultural Appropriation in the Modern Day Society

Through globalization, immigration/migration, and developments in the technology the world became a place where different cultures intervene. Cultural diversity is the presence of a variety of cultural and ethnic groups within the population. Cultural diversity is a positive phenomenon, but at times due to lack of cohesion between races, religions, and cultures could lead to misunderstanding and stereotyping. One particular issue which can potentially arise with cultural diversity is cultural appropriation which is absorption of knowledge, cultural expression, or folklore of a certain culture by a member of another culture without permission. It is evident that cultural appropriation can occur in a number of forms, but I will be focusing on national costumes and ceremonial dresses.

A blog article with the title of “An Open Letter to Non-Natives in Headdresses” written by a Metis woman from Alberta touched on the topic of the appropriateness of wearing native headdresses by other cultures. She pointed out that wearing headdress without consent from the Plains nation community can be considered inappropriate and even disrespectful. Headdresses (war bonnets) are worn by Plains nation man during ceremonial occasions. Not all native man have the honor to wear the headdress since it is an honorary degree. If majority of the Plains nation members do not wear this ceremonial headdresses, then members of other ethnical groups should have even more respect towards Plain nation values and tradition. Non-indigenous people may have misconception about the meaning of headdress because they usually do not understand that it is not only a national costume, it is rather a ceremonial symbol with a strong spiritual meaning. Lack of knowledge of other cultures heritage and a tendency of young people to get public attention for their physical appearance or behaviour may be a possible explanation for using headdresses. Wearing the headdresses by other ethnicities can be seen by indigenous people as a form of colonial logics of conquering cultural objects, symbols, and traditions. It can also be perceived as a way of losing its sacred and venerable content and identity. First nations could also be concerned about assimilation of their culture and loss of the core features of their heritage. Beside headdresses there are other Plains nation objects or costumes with sacred ceremonial significance that also should not be worn by other cultures.

Non-indigenous people may see headdresses and other cultural objects as a demonstration of understanding, acceptance, and promotion of the indigenous people heritage. From the other hand, others can simply use the headdress as a fashion accessory. Nowadays the fashion industry is looking for uniqueness and distinctiveness of their brand, without considering cultural dimensions. The fashion industry is insensitive and uninterested in regards to cultural appropriation and to a certain extent encourages all people to behave similarly in the name of fashion. One striking example of this point is keffiyeh which is a traditional Middle Eastern headdress made from smaller square scarfs. The keffiyeh emerged as a fashion item around ten years ago and became an instant hit amongst non-Arab population due to numerous marketing campaigns from the fashion companies. Keffiyeh was in the past mostly used by Bedouins as protection from the sun and sand, but in the last century it also became a symbol of revolution within the Arab world and can be associated with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The keffiyeh was not only used as a clothing item throughout the Middle Eastern history, but it also holds a deeper meaning within the region. The keffiyeh demonstrates how designers and fashion companies imitate different culture’s items and ideas without looking into the history of those items and without making sure whether it is appropriate to globalize them.

Other people believe that they should have the freedom of choice to wear traditional costumes and use ceremonial objects of other nations and that should not be perceived in an offensive way. Some non-native people also believe that wearing headdresses and other cultural symbols is a form of art and they appreciate the aesthetic appearance of those objects. These non-native individuals view wearing of headdresses as a harmless artistic expression or even promotion of native art and culture. First nation people may perceive this process of overtaking their folklore as a way of theft of their cultural heritage.

I think that a balanced approach is essential in considering cultural diversity and cultural heritage exchange. If a particular cultural and spiritual ceremony with subsequent dressing is a part of cultural identity and possess a significant importance for a certain cultural group, other nations should be respectful towards it. However, this need to preserve its own culture should not be excessive to the extent of cultural isolation and losing contacts with other ethnicities and cultures. Besides cultural heritage of certain nations and ethnicities we should foster a global cultural heritage as a way of developing a well-established multicultural society.

References:

Coombe, Rosemary. The properties of culture and the politics of possessing identity: Native claims in the cultural appropriation controversy. 1993.

Damluji, Nadim N. Imperialism Reconfigured: The Cultural Interpretations of Keffiyeh. Diss. 2010.

Native Headdresses and Cultural Appropriation

Native Headdresses and Cultural Appropriation

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This article discusses the importance of honouring and respecting cultural symbols. Some cultures legally restrict some items from being replicated or used, therefore these items need to remain unused by those that do not have permission to wear them and the ones that are unrestricted need to be treated with dignity. The author focuses specifically on Native headdresses. They are very important to the culture and are often degraded by individuals who are not Native. They are only to be worn by Indigenous men who have worked hard for them or people who are authorized to wear them (Vowel).

Cultural appropriation occurs when other people disrespect the headdress by wearing it without approval (Scafidi). Often this type of clothing is worn on Halloween (Weston), which causes a number of problems. For one, it takes away from the culture because people don’t really know the true meaning behind why the clothing looks the way it does and they often don’t understand the cultural significance this clothing has. Also, dressing up as a Native individual dehumanizes them (Weston). They are not seen as human beings but rather fictional characters to imitate. The image Native people are stereotyped as is known as the “Imaginary Indian” (Crosby). Many individuals view all Indigenous people as wearing moccasins, feathered headdresses, war paint, and beaded jewelry. Often this is not the case, as there are many different tribes who have their own set of practices and ways of living. The majority of people who participate in wearing the headdresses are from Western culture, the culture that oppressed and forced Native people to assimilate to their norms (Scafidi). This makes the situation worse, even if people don’t realize what they’re doing. Colonialism exploited Native people and destroyed their families. The history of internal colonization within America makes the improper use of Indigenous headdresses an even more sensitive situation.

I found an article online that discusses the Bass Coast Festival’s decision to ban Native headdresses from being worn at their event. This event is a music festival taking place on “indigenous land” and the conclusion was made to show consideration for Native people (Freda). Celebrities wear cultural items, including headdresses and bindis, all the time without knowing any background on the culture. The problem is that when they do this, people who idolize them think it’s appropriate for them to do the same. The people who decided to ban headdresses at their festival are the people who are helping the situation and taking action to assist in eliminating cultural appropriation. We need more people in society like them to really change things but this is definitely a step in the right direction.

For a high school field trip I visited a Native Reserve. We were given a tour through their museum and they had exhibits showing many different aspects of their culture. We were also shown what was once a residential school and had a guest speaker talk about his own experiences. The part that confused me the most was when we took a picture in front of the residential school as a group and we were smiling. Why were we smiling in front of a place that had done such awful things to these people? It was all very odd to me, especially since we had just learned about everything that took place within them and how horrendously Native people were treated.

In grade 9, I dressed up as a “French person” for Halloween. I wore a black beret, a black and white striped shirt, and I drew on a moustache. Looking back on it now I wish I hadn’t done that because I was supporting the stereotype that most people imagine when thinking of French people. At the time I didn’t realize what I was wearing was disrespectful and I was partaking in stereotyping. Majority of people who are French don’t dress like that and it was ignorant of me to do. Reading this article really opened my eyes to consciously think about how cultural symbols are being mistreated because people don’t understand the meaning behind them and use these items to produce a stereotype of this culture.

I am intrigued to find out more about other cultures’ symbolic items and how special they are to different people. I would love to know the meaning behind them and what makes each culture unique from one another. I also intend to inform anyone I know who may be donning restricted items, or may be participating in stereotyping, that they should understand the culture before they do so and only wear what is unrestricted out of respect.

References:

Freda, Elizabeth. “Music Festival Is Banning Cultural Appropriation, aka Hipsters Wearing Native American Headdresses.” E! Online. n.p., 28 July 2014. Web. 9 March 2015. http://ca.eonline.com/news/563845/music-festival-is-banning-cultural-appropriation-aka-hipsters-wearing-native-american-headdresses

Vowel, Chelsea. “An Open Letter to Non-Natives in Headdresses.” âpihtawikosisân. n.p, n.d. Web. 9 March 2015. http://apihtawikosisan.com/about/

Pictures:

http://www.buzzfeed.com/tasneemnashrulla/a-canadian-music-festival-has-banned-people-from-wearing-nat#.fql3ADYX

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/pharrell-apologizes-for-wearing-headdress-on-magazine-cover-20140605

http://article.wn.com/view/2014/06/07/Here_is_why_wearing_an_American_Indian_headdress_is_not_hip_/