Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 49 Share on Twitter Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 1/22/18

And Then Mother Earth Said, "Me Too!"

By       (Page 1 of 2 pages)   3 comments
Message Four Arrows
Become a Fan
  (12 fans)
When European settlers described the American landscape they would often use Native women's bodies as a metaphor to convey the richness and bounty. In doing this, women's bodies became part of the landscape representing the new and 'virgin land' as open for possession, consumption, and exploitation.--
Crystal H. Phillips (2007)

The "Me Too" movement's unprecedented number of courageous women speaking out against their famous male abusers could signal hope for our planetary crises. We just have to realize that the source of such rampant anti-feminine oppression is an uninvestigated worldview that places humans above Nature and ignores the importance of diversity and complementarity. With this realization, eventually we might re-embrace the Nature-based worldview that guided humanity for most of its history on Earth, before we began to destroy the life systems on which we depend.

Around nine-thousand years ago, after our point of departure from gather-hunter matriarchal cultures that did not place man over Nature, we soon developed rationalizations for this hierarchical ladder, creating social structures, educational systems and religions to institutionalize it. Respect for diversity was replaced with an acceptance of monolithic uniformity and male-dominated authoritarianism. Rivers, forests, animals, birds, fish, trees, women, those without sufficient wealth or who tried to hold on to the old ways were placed on the ladder's lower rungs. According to Teich, even early twin hero mythologies that once signified balance and complementarity were modified so the twin with perceived masculine traits (competitive, aggressiveness, directness) killed the twin with perceived feminine ones (cooperative, passive, indirectness). Contrast, for example, the ways collaborative Navajo solar twin, Monster Slayer and his Lunar oriented brother, Child Born of the Water, with Romulus and Remus; Cain and Able or Hercules and Iphicles whose solar twin kills or overshadows the brother.

I believe If conversations about the women accusers and their historical tormentors continues without making these deeper connections to our sustainability crises, no transformation significant enough to change things and our current trajectory toward extinction will continue. However, if we move beyond the important allegations, memories, degrees of insult, timelines, personalities and penalties and and make connections with the equally serious and broader reaching implications of anti-feminine violence, a violence that did not exist in our gather-hunter cultures (in spite of the lies or poor research in revisionist media), perhaps we can turn the tide.

Besides the Me Too movement, we might also consider how the treatment of differing sexual orientations were treated before and after the worldview shift. There is also hope in this arena in light of the election of a transgendered state official in Virginia and the new books in support of ending violence against LGBTQ persons. The growing resistance against the Trump administration's blatant representation of this problematic worldview can also lead to positive change. None of these possibilities alone will work though unless we seriously reflect upon the two worldviews and the variety of cultures that have developed under each.

There are four essential interconnected considerations to start addressing in our reflections. They include awareness of our language; the true history of the war against Indigenous women; the need for courage and fearlessness; and the importance of intentional and unintentional trance-based learning. Starting with language, think about the long-standing metaphors we often use to describe human relationships with the other-than-human world, such as:

virgin forest

control of nature

penetrating the wilderness

rape of the land

Such phrases are significant in creating and maintaining our current dysfunctional worldview. In their book Metaphors We Live By Lakoff and Johnson declare that such language actually structures our perceptions and understanding. Berman writes in her chapter of Ecolinguistics Reader that "when the word 'rape' is used metaphorically the experience of women becomes an acceptable metaphor, draining the term and the act of its violent and abusive connotations for women"reinforcing the legitimacy of the term and of the act, therefore perpetuating the conscious or unconscious acceptance of the view that both Nature and women can be managed for man's use" (p. 266).

Even the Indigenous concept of "Mother Earth" has been distorted in contemporary usage by New Age advocates or conservative critics who see through the unseen water in which our beliefs, ideologies, religions, and cultures swim (aka the "dominant worldview"). In the original language borrowed from American Indian tribes, the concept has a broader context. The Lakota terms is Unci Maka, generally translated as "Grandmother Earth." Un-ci means "wanting to be living as" and Maka refers to "earth, hummus (dirt and water) that produces life." This translation implies a desire to be a living entity that is mother to all beings on Earth. It embodies the high status of mothers and grandmothers and the authentic honoring practiced by children and grand-children in traditional societies.

This high status of Indigenous women was recognized by European colonizers and was seen consciously or unconsciously as a great threat to the dominant worldview. How Indigenous women and their power have been removed from consciousness is a largely untold story, but one crucial to understanding the importance of the Me Too women's courage as a potential force for re-balancing life systems on the planet.

Research that seldom makes it into popular media clearly reveals that most Indigenous cultures, especially those in North America, were structured on complementary gender systems where gender roles and responsibilities were egalitarian, interdependent and highly respectful of each other. In her chapter, "Where are your Women?' Missing in Action" for my edited text published by the University of Texas Press entitled Unlearning the Language of Conquest: Scholars Expose Anti-Indianism in America, Bear Clan Senaca scholar Barbara Alice Mann writes,

"In 1757, the great Cherokee speaker and chief Atagulkalu (attakullabukulla) arrived at a meeting in Charles Town, South Carolina, but he hesitated to conduct business with its all-male European council. Prodded by the Europeans to get busy, he turned impatiently to Governor William Henry Lyttelton and demanded, "But where are your women?" (p. 127). She goes on to say this is still a good question for Western commentators, popular and scholarly alike, because women have been eradicated in nearly all studies of Native America "because westerners are still reacting to the panic that European patriarchs felt upon discovering Turtle Island chock-full of self-directed, articulate and confident Native women, all demanding to be dealt with as equals" (p.121).

She goes on to cite a Jesuit missionary who wrote in 1724 that Haudenosaunee women were the "soul of the councils in whom all the real authority resided" (p.120). She reminds us that the Iroquois confederacy, upon which American democracy was partially based, was careful to stipulate that men had the same civil rights as women (instead of visa versa) and that conversion to Christianity was a high crime "a fact to consider in light of Christian misogyny."

Next Page  1  |  2

(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).

Inspiring 1  
Rate It | View Ratings

Four Arrows Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Wahinkpe Topa (Four Arrows) is a professor at Fielding Graduate University. Former Director of Education at Oglala Lakota College, he is a made-relative of the Oglala and a Sun Dancer. Selected by AERO for their text Turning Points as one of 27 (more...)
Related Topic(s): , Add Tags
Add to My Group(s)
Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEd News Newsletter
   (Opens new browser window)

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Trump's DAPL Memorandum: The End of Rule of Law?

Suspending Environmental Regulations Proves the Insanity of our Dominant Worldview and the Logic that Supports it

What Everyone is Missing".Again (Going "viral" is not sufficient)

Worldview Reflection and Coming to Terms with a Terminal Prognosis for Civilization

Shootings on Backwater Bridge

Utilizing Indigenous Thought to Cope in the Age of Trump

To View Comments or Join the Conversation:

Tell A Friend