Il Misogino Italiano

Autostraddle asked me to answer a few questions for their A+ subscribers, one of which was about the worst date I’ve ever been on. I’ve since ceased dating and all romantic activities because quite frankly, I think most people suck. However, back in the day I was a dating machine and I’ve been left with a lot of stories. I have so many dating horror stories that I started a book about them several years ago.

In the interest of keeping my answers for Autostraddle brief, I’m sharing two of my chapters here on my blog with the first below. I hope you enjoy reading about my tales of dating woe.

Trigger Warning: Intimate partner violence, emotional and physical abuse by a cisman.

Il Misogino Italiano

He was a pretty, Italian boy that I found online. He told me he was a former model, citizen of Italy, a law student, and the son of a former model and of a wealthy, Boston based business man. He came across as emotionally detached, spoiled, and arrogant with a sense of entitlement so big that it couldn’t fit on the small tin can of a subway we Boston residents call the T. I thought perhaps it was me and my so called bitterness that left me with a bad impression so I gave him a chance. After a few email exchanges we agreed to meet and stroll around the Boston Commons. We walked, we talked, we shared, and I still felt uncomfortable and ill at ease with him. But, I agreed to a second date with him.

Date two occurred after I was released from the shackles of my classes. We met at my favorite dinner/drink/jazz spot in a neighborhood not too far from my place. I was emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausted from juggling work, my political commitments, chronic health problems, and graduate school, but I wanted an exciting distraction. Perhaps that’s why my judgment was so cloudy about this obviously spoiled brat. After a few drinks we ended up back at my place where he behaved like an even bigger spoiled asshole than I thought possible. His royal highness voiced many complaints during the course of his short visit: The wine I offered tasted awful. It was too hot inside. On and on he did nothing but insult my home. Eventually I was fed up and my slight vodka high had worn off. I told him it was time to leave. He became violently angry and behaved as if I owed him something. How dare I, a mere peasant woman, throw his fabulous Italian ass out on the street? I told him again to leave when he suddenly got in my face and started screaming. I had a complete melt down and not in the way that I’m accustomed to. Normally in these situations I’m the first to raise my fist in self-defense, but for the first time in my life I became the trembling victim who wouldn’t fight back.

I ran into my bathroom hoping to lock the door and hide until he left, but he ran after me, screaming and yelling. I was terrified and unsure of what to do. Suddenly there he was standing behind me yelling at me. I could feel his venom laced breath on my face and neck. Finally some sense of survival began to click inside me and I pushed him away. I ran into the hallway of my apartment planning to open my door and push his sorry ass out when suddenly he had his hands on my shoulders and threw me into a wall. I was so fucking terrified and shocked that I was speechless. What the hell happened between him being a rude creep that irritated the hell out of me to him being a violent man that I was terrified of?

He had me pinned against the wall and continued to yell, referring to me as a bitch and a slut. I had my faced turned away from him with my eyes closed, terrified of what would happen next. Eventually I looked at him and told him to get his fucking hands off of me. He didn’t do it so I then began to quietly beg him to let go of me. I was trying to keep the situation from escalating. Unfortunately this tactic didn’t work and I became angrier than he was. Who the fuck did he think he was? No one talked to me in such a disrespectful manner! No man yelled at me! And no man in his right mind grabbed me and threw me into a wall! I yelled at him to get his fucking hands off of me and pushed him away, hard. I opened my apartment door and told him that everyone in the building could hear what he was doing and that if he didn’t get out the police would be called. This seemed to do the trick. He finally left. After I closed and locked the door I collapsed on my apartment floor in a sobbing heap.

A few days later he had the audacity to email me with a half-ass apology about how he was just too drunk and that it was the alcohol that made him behave that way. He then went on to say that if I had simply continued our date as planned then he wouldn’t have become so angry. Because clearly it was entirely my fault and the fault of the makers of the alcohol he consumed that night that he was a misogynistic, violent, piece of shit who believed women had to give him want he wanted. No blame on his model boy shoulders at all.

Here’s where things get really scary. I was so deep in my own victimization and PTSD that this creep triggered that I agreed to go out with him again. I still to this day am unsure as to why I went out with him one more time. I’ve experienced abuse at the hands of men a several times in my life, but I never went back. This was the first time I could understand in a very personal manner part of the psychology of the battered woman. I think that I was so desperate to be loved by anyone that I thought maybe he was sorry and would give me what I so desperately needed.

While in the middle of a conversation on our second date, he caught a reflection of himself and spent several minutes modeling in front of the mirror. I became frustrated with him and told him to “spend time with me and you can stare at yourself when you get home.” I was responded to with a disdainful snort and “when I’m ready.” It was at that moment that I really saw him as more than just an egomaniacal, abusive bastard. He was a part of a violent rape culture that had hurt me and countless other women. He believed, and had been told throughout his life, that because he was a man, a good looking man, a straight man, an able bodied man, a wealthy man that he could demand and have anything that he wanted, including women. His privileges led him to see women as lesser species that he could treat how he saw fit. If he wanted to yell at us, insult us, threaten us, hit us, well, that was within his right as a man. Thankfully my Indigenous Feminist values and sense of self-worth finally kicked in because I shudder to think what would have happened if I had continued to see him.

A few months later I saw him having a drink at the Newbury St restaurant that all of Boston’s Euro trash frequent. I wish that I could say that in the end he got what he deserved. That he was arrested, charges were pressed, a permanent legal record formed, that he contracted a scorching case of herpes that never went into remission, but sadly, I can’t say any of that. Guys like him get away with this abusive behavior everyday because we live in a world that sends a loud and clear message that women, particularly women who are like me (Bi, Disabled, and Native) deserve abuse. We deserve less pay at the same job than a man and our white, straight, and able-bodied women counterparts. We don’t deserve to feel safe on dates, with our families and friends, on the street, in the military and relationships, or at our jobs, schools, or homes. We don’t deserve to be believed when abused or legal protections. We don’t deserve the right to control our own bodies and our own lives. We don’t deserve to decide when or if we have children. We don’t deserve the right to be autonomous sexual beings. We are mere toys for the boys to play with when and how they see fit.

This story isn’t simply one bad dating story that happened to one unfortunate woman; it’s a symbol of how deeply embedded patriarchy and gender based violence are into our American way of life. It’s as American as apple pie. I hate apple pie.

Advertisements

Emergency Financial Support to Travel to Standing Rock

Osiyo Readers,

As many of you know I’m a citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and a journalist. I’ve never used my blog in this way, but my Native community is under attack and we need help. I’m reaching out to you for emergency financial support to travel to the Standing Rock Reservation in Cannonball, ND to stand in solidarity with the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux against the Dakota Access Pipeline and to report the news from the ground.

The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) is a 1,172 mile pipeline that stretches from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota to Illinois and crosses the Missouri River (MO) and the Oglala Aquifer which is the water supply for the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. The DAPL was originally planned to cross the MO River near Bismarck, but it was deemed a too heavily populated area to risk the water supply so it was rerouted to the reservation. This act of environmental racism and genocide led to the creation of the Sacred Stone Camp and many other camps near the DAPL construction site near the reservation. Since Sacred Stone was created in July 2016, over 4,000 people of over 300 tribal nations have traveled there to protect the water, Native lives, and our way of life. Since then, the ND government and the DAPL have unleashed extreme violence against our people through the use of the National Guard, drones, attack dogs, mace, helicopters, assault weapons, brutality, harassment, LRAD, cutting off the water supply, and many of those arrested have been sexually assaulted by law enforcement through the use of unnecessary strip searches.

The purpose of my trip to Standing Rock is to stand in solidarity with our people there, to help protect the water, but also to provide further Native created media content for primarily non-Native media sources. The Dakota Access Pipeline has been covered well in Native media, but has had little attention in mainstream media, as well as in this year’s election cycle. The coverage that has occurred, has been primarily by non-Native journalists and has been racist or misconstrued. It is crucial that Native People are able to tell our stories to the world in our own voices, especially for Native Women and LGBTQ Two Spirit Natives.

This request is coming on the heels of yet another attack of the people at Standing Rock. On Saturday, the paramilitary outfitted law enforcement of North Dakota maced and used brutal force on the peaceful Water Protectors. Eighty-three people were arrested, including journalists, and one was sent to the hospital due to the police brutality. They threw one of our peaceful girls to the ground with her face buried in the mud. The police have been confiscating people’s phones for weeks so that they cannot share videos and photos of the abuses there. The ND government has not only arrested journalists, but has attempted to charge them with trespassing and rioting and one documentary filmmaker now faces up to 45 years in prison. Native People at the camps are calling for more warriors to come and help protect the water.

As a Native Woman it is my duty to be there to stand with my relations to protect the water and lives of the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux, as well as those that will impacted by the devastation of the Missouri river, but also to further report the news. Our realities must be told to the world and they must be told by us.

Because I’m a freelance writer I do not have the financial support that some journalists may have. I’m asking the greater community to help me make the trip to Standing Rock, by making donations and purchasing the items on my Standing Rock Amazon Wish List. The majority of the supplies on the wish list will be left with the people at the camps. By helping me you’re also creating further resources for those at the camps, specifically for those with mobility impairments who require accommodations such as cots and chairs.

Any amount you are able to give is greatly appreciated and goes a long way to making this a reality. You can read some of my published work on Wear Your Voice, The Establishment, and Autostraddle.

My fundraising campaign is on YouCaring. I’ll soon have my Amazon Wish List ready to post. Please share my fundraising campaign in your networks. I’ve included my campaign link here, but you can also find me with youcaring.com/jendeerinwaterdapl

Wado!

Jen Deerinwater

1990s Jen to Now

Osiyo readers!

“Osiyo” is “hello” in Tsalagi or as many of you know us as: Cherokee.

So I am still around. I’ve just been all consumed with my move to DC and my new career as a journalist. I’m now all settled into my new place with more articles being published every day so I thought since insomnia is plaguing me I’ll write a little something here.

In an effort to unwind and get to bed at a decent hour for myself I decided to make myself a martini and listen to some music from the 90s. This of course led me to think about my high school self which led me to think about my college self and then down the rabbit hole I went.

The music from my late teen years brought to mind the movies and fashion which naturally led me to think about the body image issues I had. Grunge was easy for a chubby girl like me because I could hide behind big tshirts, flannels, and jeans. It was the late 90s crop tops that became an issue though. My eating disorder switched gears from hoarding food, over-eating, and trying to make myself vomit, and ultimately failing and hating myself for failing to severely restricting my diet. The later would continue on throughout my adult life. It still plagues me to this day.

I spent part of my high school years being the smart, cute, funny, chubby girl that boys were friends with and would talk to about other girls and secretly date to eventually being the thin, hot girl that they had zero interest in talking to. Both situations fucking sucked. Frankly, dating men isn’t much different. Yes, there are men out there that are into women for who they are and blah blah blah, but they’re few and far between. Yes, there are men that are into larger women, but many of those men are fetishists and still wouldn’t date a fat woman openly.

Anyway, I digress. I eventually began to think about myself at my thinnest point in college. I was a size 10 and 156lbs. I know that doesn’t sound small, but I was really freaking skinny. It was bones holding my skirts and jeans up. I looked like I had a giraffe neck. I would double up from pain because I was so hungry. The only thing that probably kept me from looking sickly is that I worked out often and had well rounded workouts so I had muscle on me. By senior year of college though, I was throwing up. During the summer between junior and senior year, I had a horrible drunken night because I was upset about some asshole, undeserving man. When I came to the next morning on my friend’s couch I instantly ran to the bathroom and prayed to the porcelain gods to make it stop. As absurd as this may sound to some, throwing up felt cleansing to me. It felt like all of the pain that I was carrying around inside of me was everyday was leaving me. I couldn’t make the nightmares, flashbacks, hypervigilance, and panic attacks from being raped and a survivor of domestic abuse and childhood abuse go away, but I could make myself feel better by puking.

Jump ahead a decade or so and I’ve finally mostly made peace with my appearance and was finally getting help for all of the abuse from my past and that had occurred since college. I won’t say all was well in candy land, but I was trying. Then my existing health issues became a problem. I’ve had health problems since I was very young, migraines since I was 13, and chronic pain due to knee and spinal problems since I was 14. This wasn’t new, but the intensity and frequency was.

These health issues have presented so many problems for me, which I’ve talked about here, but what it also did was present a new reason to hate my body. I had finally begun to accept my body for its size and shape, but now I hated it for all of its limitations and how it was ruining my life. It has triggered my eating disorder. I’ve been struggling with severely restricting my diet since 2012 which is unhealthy for even the healthiest of people. For someone with my health conditions it’s downright dangerous. My last PCP, Therapist, and myself were constantly working to find ways for me to manage my health, in particular checking my sugars (I’m diabetic) without triggering my eating disorder, as well as how I could safely take all of my medications even if I didn’t eat.

Believe me when I say it’s a difficult balance. What I intellectually know my sugars should be versus what my disorder tells me my sugars should be are two very different things. Fear is a powerful motivator. The thought of losing more of myself, more of my freedom, my autonomy, my life, my hopes, my dreams, my wishes, my ability to fight off potential abusers, is too much to bear. Sometimes I don’t eat when I know I should.

So there you have it. One martini and a little music from the 1990s and I have all of this, and a whole lot more, speeding through my mind. I intended for this to only be 3 paragraphs. My brain works an awful lot.

If you’re interested, and you should be, you can read my work on Autostraddle, The Establishment, Wear Your Voice, Medium, and the Matador Network.

Trump, Warren, and the Dehumanization of Native Women

I’m incredibly busy with fast approaching deadlines and article pitches, but I wanted to share one of my recently published articles that I’m immensely proud.

I spent countless hours on the research, writing, and editing process. My PTSD was triggered throughout this piece and I was constantly in fear that I would let my ancestors, Indigenous women, and people down by the work that I produced. Through the help of many amazing friends and an incredible editor (I now know why writers thank their Editors) Kelley Calkins, I made it through the other side. I was honored with the privilege to interview Madonna Thunder Hawk and Rebecca Nagle for which I will always be humbled and thankful.

With that said, I give you Trump, Warren, and the Dehumanization of Native Women

http://www.theestablishment.co/2016/08/08/trump-warren-and-the-dehumanization-of-native-women/

Antithesis of a (Queer) Beautiful Moment

On the final night of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Peter Thiel, Co-Founder of PayPal and an openly gay man, endorsed Donald Trump for the Republican Presidential Nomination. Thiel is only the second openly gay man to speak at a Republican National Convention and the first to address issues related to the Queer community.

Thiel, whose net worth is $2.7 billion dollars, spoke of a need to “rebuild America”. He spoke of how his parents were immigrants and brought him to Cleveland at the tender age of 1. In his parents’ time America was a place “where opportunity was everywhere” and “all of America was high tech.” For his white, settler family it was a land of milk and honey.

He soon launched into a list of the defense based technological problems that plague the US. “Our nuclear bases still use floppy discs. Our latest fighter jets can’t even fly in the rain. And it would be kind to say the government software works poorly because much of the time it doesn’t even work at all.”

Thiel waxed nostalgic for a time ”when I was a kid the great debate was how to defeat the Soviet Union and we won. Now we are told the great debate is who gets to use which bathroom. This is a distraction from the real problems. Who cares? Of course every American has an unique identity. I am proud to be gay. I am proud to be a Republican.” Thiel then went on to say that the Republican’s “fake culture wars only distract us from our economic decline.” As his speech came to an end, Thiel received much applause from the red, white, and blue adorned and bedazzled audience. In the post speech commentary Van Jones stated that this was a “beautiful moment” essentially because the Republicans didn’t boo an openly gay man off the stage.

I was watching this speech waiting for Trump to take the stage for an article I was writing otherwise I would have saved myself the Tums and Maalox and read a book instead. I became so enraged from Jones’ response that I had to sit down and write this. I know not to expect much from CNN or any other major media outlet, but to have someone, a person of color no less, state that because a person from a marginalized community that has experienced violence and oppression wasn’t booed off a stage was a “beautiful moment” is just too much for me to stay silent. The fact that a gay man would get up on a Republican stage and sell out his Queer family in the way that Thiel did is too much for me to remain silent.

I won’t begin to speculate on what the circumstances were that brought Thiel and his family here or how hard they worked to achieve the “American dream.” I have no doubt that they, like many others, have struggled and put in countless hours of labor to gain what they have in life. However, they had this “America” to come to because my people had our land stolen, our lives taken, and were relegated to reservations. Our continual loss was their gain. The irony is not lost on me that the very city Thiel and his family immigrated to, and that this year’s RNC was held in, uses my people as a sports mascot-Chief Wahoo for the Cleveland Indians’ baseball team.

Much of Thiel’s speech extolled the virtues of capitalism at all costs, including those of bodies of color in the U.S. and across the globe. He bragged of the U.S. accomplishment in the Manhattan Project which was responsible for creating the first nuclear weapons during WWII. The American government later dropped those bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Much of the development and testing of these nuclear weapons occurred, and has continued to occur, on Native lands and in the Marshall Islands which has led to devastating rates of cancer, miscarriages, birth defects, sterility, a litany of other serious health ailments, and loss of water and food supplies which have only added to our high rates of food insecurity and starvation.

Sadly, I find none of this money at all cost attitude surprising from a Republican. Even out of the mouths of many Democrats they will still justify oppression if it benefits the bottom line of those in power. What I find the most egregious about Thiel’s speech is that he claimed the Republicans have been waging a “fake culture war.” I ask you what’s fake about the multiple atrocities that people throughout the U.S. face every day at the hands of the Republican Party? What’s fake about women’s bodies being policed to the point that they’re incarcerated for having a miscarriage? Purvi Patel was serving a 30 year sentence for the charge of feticide and felony child neglect in the state of Indiana for having a miscarriage. Trump’s Vice Presidential running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence (R), signed fetal rights laws into place which gave more rights to a fetus than a woman. The court of appeals overturned the feticide charge on July 22nd, but Patel is still in prison for “neglect of a dependent.” What’s fake about the epidemic proportions of violence that Native women face in the U.S. at the hands of non-Native men? More than 4 in 5 American Indian and Alaskan Native women will be a victim of violence in her lifetime and more than 1 in 3 will be a victim of violence in the last year. Meanwhile, Trump has repeatedly made racist and misogynistic comments about Native women that have done unmitigated harm to us. In 2013 72% of hate crime homicides were Transgendered women. 2016 is on the way to being a record year for highest rate of murders of Trans women who have been predominately Black. Despite this Republicans felt that the real danger lie in where Trans people use the bathroom.

I could go on and on about the horrifying brutalities and discrimination that Women, Immigrants, People of Color, Queer, Disabled, Poor, and Indigenous people experience every day in the U.S. I’ll never discount my voice and the power that it has, but I have no where near the kind of privilege and clout that Peter Thiel has. He has so much privilege that he was able to stand on the stage at a major U.S. political party’s convention to endorse a candidate, and only moments before the candidate took the stage no less. People with the privilege that Thiel has, have a responsibility to their community to use that privilege to fight like hell for those whose voices are trampled upon by the government, whether it be by the Republican or Democratic Parties, or Trump or Hillary. Thiel took a very clear stand when he took that stage. He told his fellow Republicans and Queer community members that his bank account was worth more than doing right by people. For that Thiel should hang his head in shame and for the rest of us, we have much more work to do.

*You can read this article and soon others here https://medium.com/@JenDeerinwater

Fuck this privilege!

I’ve been doing a lot of writing lately much of which I’ve been submitting for publication. To my surprise my writing has been well received. I’ve already had 4 stories picked up out of the very few submissions I’ve sent out. Granted, I’m not being paid very much at all, but still, I haven’t been at this even a month and if I were to take a guess at the amount of pitches and completed stories I’ve sent out versus what’s been bought thus far I’d say I’m 70/30 in my favor right now. I’m also sending out some of my poetry which I don’t have high hopes for being published, let alone being paid for, but the fact that my voice and the communities I represent are valued so much that I’m being paid for any of my writing at all is awe inspiring and the fuel to the fire that I’ve really needed to keep me going in this dumpster fire of a life I’ve been living.

With all of that said though I am seriously enraged that it took 5 1/2 years of undergraduate and 3 years of graduate education for my voice to be important. That was $250,000 worth of student loan debt. Thankfully, I say ironically, because of my debilitating disability my federal student loan debt has been wiped away now. However, my private student loan debt is forever there until the federal government decides in their infinite wisdom to get off their asses and give private student loan debt relief to those of us who need it-unlike those motherfucking asshole banker dickheads they gave that shyte to. In the meantime there isn’t a fucking thing I can do about it. The mafia would be kinder in their interest rates and payment plans than these motherfucking private student loan lenders. Yet it took all of that education and debt for my voice to matter. Without it I highly doubt anyone would have taken me seriously. Scratch that. I can say with absolute certainty no one would have taken me seriously. As a Tsalagi (Cherokee)-member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, Bisexual, Disabled, Poor Woman I had to work 1,000 times harder than every white, able bodied, straight, American, woman, and man I encountered. That sadly even includes some  Gay men, Lesbians, and other People Of Color because of the Biphobia and Colonialism that we Bisexuals and Natives experience at the hands of Gay men, Lesbians, and other People Of Color is fucking intense and holds us down at all turns. I’ve lost out on jobs and have been denied healthcare because I’m Bi, Disabled, and Native and it hasn’t always been white, able bodied, and het people doing the discriminating. I guess my long winded point is that education is a right for one and all, not a privilege and not one that should weigh down and ruin our futures.

 

I was also thinking earlier about the oppressions and privileges I’ve had throughout my life from childhood until now. One of those privileges as a child was that while I didn’t grow up with an “educated” family with money who could guide me through my higher education and career, I also never had to worry about being evicted from our home, where we’d sleep next, the lights going out, or going to bed hungry. That’s some fucked up shit right there! Those aren’t privileges, those are basic, bare bones human rights! What kind of a fucked up, oppressive, hate fueled, capitalistic world do we live in that a child of abuse who has grown up to be a Native, Bi, Disabled, Poor Woman who’s legally homeless, living below the poverty line, and has spent almost her entire life being abused and yet she can  say she’s “privileged” because she didn’t go to bed hungry at night as a child? Seriously? This is the best we can do in the so called “land of the free?” This is it? The land of milk and honey where Trump and Hillary are our saviors to right the wrongs that so many of us suffer from? That’s some just fucking straight up laughable shit!

I say this as someone who worked for roughly a decade in liberal, mainstream (white) Feminist, and Democratic Party politics. By 2014 I was on my way to being a so called party insider, but I had seen and experienced too much. The racism, colonialism, sexism, ableism, saneism, ageism, elitism, bi/trans/homophobia, and so much more that I experienced first hand or saw others experience working in that environment was too much. I couldn’t keep going in that world. I left for a reason. Once upon a time, even though I ultimately felt that the system should be torn apart and built anew by those of us who have been oppressed by it, I still thought some good could come from working in it. A decade later and I knew different. I didn’t become this far left Radical out of nowhere. My revolutionary beliefs didn’t spring up overnight.

Sadly, we’re (currently) stuck with this colonizing, hate mongering system that has me thinking about how I was privileged to not go to bed hungry as a child, but it doesn’t always have to be this way. We can change this system. It won’t come through Trump, Hillary, Jill Stein, or any other white, able bodied, hetero, wealthy, cisgendered, American, colonizer or settler privileged, status quo candidate. Change comes with us standing up and challenging this corrupt system now! Remember this when you get beaten down and worn down by the system: Privilege isn’t having $250k in student loan debt so maybe people will take you seriously! And Privilege isn’t going to bed hungry!

 

Erasure, Hatred, & Data for the Masses/But We Live On

I’ve finally begun pursuing publication for my writing and lo and behold I’m actually finding success. I’ve already had one article published on Autostraddle and am currently working on another for The Establishment. Yay for finally getting off my (disabled) ass and sending my work around! Really it’s that I now have enough stamina to work for a couple of hours most days hence why I’m now able to pursue my dreams of being a published author. It is rather overwhelming though on many fronts. Presently, my current writing project is really draining me psychically, emotionally, and physically.

Without giving away the details of the article I’m writing I’ll just say that I’m digging into a lot of very heavy data on violence against Native women in the US. Most of it isn’t new to me. I’ve read, and shared publicly many times, the studies and statistics. I don’t know a single Indigenous woman that hasn’t suffered multiple forms of violence throughout the course of her life, usually at the hands of a white man. I’m no exception to this. Most sexual assault is intraracial-the predator is the same race as the victim-but we Natives are the exception. Even our men have horrifically high rates of sexual abuse and it’s also predominantly interracial. This should come as no surprise given our history of boarding school abuses and the current abuses our children, women, and men suffer in the foster care and criminal injustice systems.

In the last hour alone I’ve read that more than 1 million  Native women have experienced sexual violence in our lifetime. According to the 2015 US census we only comprise 5.4 million of the total US population. This is including those that self-identified as mixed race and Native. While I don’t believe blood quantum and tribal enrollment are the signs of a true Native (these are the tools of the colonizer after all), but there aren’t 5.4 million federally enrolled tribal members in the US. According to the National Congress of the American Indian we comprise 2.9 million, 0r .9%, of the total US population. If we’re only 2.9 million people and more than 1 million of our women have been victims of sexual violence that basically means that almost all Indigenous women in the US have been assaulted in some fashion at least once in our lifetimes. From what I’ve experienced and the stories I’ve heard, from many Native women, one time in a YEAR is a miracle. If you’re Two Spirit, Queer, Bi, or a Disabled Native woman then your likelihood and occurrences of abuse only increase.

I’ve had to sit for days with this heavy data and the extremely hateful and racist rhetoric of some of our Amerikkkan leaders and try to dissect it in a way that is intelligent, understandable, and gives a heartfelt and impassioned cry to the overwhelming non-Native readers that will see this article so they will hopefully get off their privileged settler asses and be our allies and fight for our rights. Needless to say, it’s eating at me. Last night I went to the anti-police brutality march in Roxbury, MA in solidarity for the Black lives that are being slaughtered by the police, but I also used it as my PTSD wellness break from my work. It says a lot about the state of Amerikkka when a Disabled, Bi, Native woman with chronic pain who can’t stand for long or walk great distances and feels panicky in crowds and near the police goes to a protest and march that has 1,000 plus people and is littered with police so she can get a break from her research. But hey, it’s the land of the free, right?

I can understand how it would be easy for many in America, and abroad, to write off some of what I’ll bring up in my soon-to-be published article. It’s easy to brush aside the hateful and ignorant comments of some people because they behave like jackasses so why would anyone take them seriously? But the thing is, when it comes to us Natives, people do take them seriously and it’s never just one jackass in the spotlight. It’s Victoria’s Secret hypersexualizing Native women and culturally appropriating war bonnets which are sacred to some Plains’ tribes. It’s the white hipsters at music festivals that also wear headdresses or Pharrell Williams, a Black man, who posed with a headdress for British Elle. It’s the Colonial Bros and Nava-hos frat party. It’s me as the only Native in a room full of so called Massachusetts’ progressives who repeatedly ironically ask “You’re Indian? That’s so neat! Will you speak at my child’s school for Thanksgiving?” Meanwhile, I’m Tsalagi. That’s Cherokee to you colonizers. I’m a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. When the pilgrims came, my people were in the Southeast nowhere near present day Massachusetts. It’s the Wampanoags that had to deal with those British wankers.

It’s me at the Boston LGBT health center with me feet literally in stirrups waiting for my Woman Of Color (WOC) doctor to replace my IUD, which I’ve already told her is incredibly painful, and she asks me “So your last name, are you Native American?” It’s the resident at my chronic pain management clinic, who I assume is Southeast Asian, asking me as I’m writhing in pain on the table after having several very large needles stuck in my spine “So you’re Native American? What tribe are you? Tell me all about it!” as if it’s any of his business, my job to teach him my history, or that he’s not taking advantage of his power in that situation and making me feel unsafe, and that it wouldn’t cause him pain and rage when people force their racist and colonizing microaggressions upon him.

And the one that’s really sticking in my craw right now is this: It’s me on a date with a white man who calls me “exoctic” and “Pocahontas” without the slightest irony that he’s the exoctic one because this is our land and that the story of Pocahontas as he knows her is a myth. Pocahontas’ real name was Matoaka. She was approximately 10-12 years old when she had the misfortune of encountering John Smith. She was soon taken captive by the British and “married” to John Rolfe, forced into Christianity, and then dragged across the Atlantic to England where she was paraded around as the so called noble savage until she died at the age of 22. Despite all of this I’m supposed to be turned on, bat my pretty exoctic eyelashes, and be ready to open my red legs when some asshole, racist, colonizing, misogynistic, rape culture loving white man calls me “Pocahontas.”

I could really go on for months, possibly years, about all of this because sadly our abuse and injustices run that deep, but despite all of the colonizer’s best attempts to wipe us out, we’re still here. I’m still here. I, a Bisexual, Disabled, Poor, Fat, Native Woman am still here. We’re hurting, and I’m most definitely hurting, but we’re still here. I may need a lot of PTSD breaks and I may not produce the same amount of work as the colonizer does, but I’ll keep writing. I live on through my ancestors. Our voices are strong and we will be heard. I will be heard.