June 17, 2010

"Sexy squaws" at Neon Indian concert

The Hipster Runoff blog reports on a band's recent appearance:

Topless entry-level sluts ‘crash’ Neon Indian concert to jiggle around their titties on stageBonnaroo is a music festival for zany stoner ppl in Middle America. Neon Indian, the 2k9 buzzband seems to have had a performance at this relevant music festival, and it seems like they hired some entry level sluts to strip topless, put body paint on their titties, and jiggle around on stage while the hit song “Deadbeat Summer” played. To intensify the meme, they had the girls dress up like slutty Indians.Adrienne Keene comments on this in her Native Appropriations blog:

Nudie Neon Indians and the Sexualization of Native WomenYes, the headdresses are wrong. But what gets me even more is the topless/feather pasties part. There's a legacy and history there that many people don't know or understand.

Native women have been highly sexualized throughout history and in pop culture. There are any number of examples I can pull from, the "Indian Princess" stereotype is everywhere--think the story of Pocahontas, or Tiger Lily in Peter Pan, or Cher in her "half breed" video, or the Land 'o' Lakes girl, seriously almost any image of a Native woman that you've seen in popular culture. We're either sexy squaws (the most offensive term out there), wise grandmas, or overweight ogres. But the pervasive "sexy squaw" is the most dangerous, especially when you know the basic facts about sexual violence against Native women:

  • 1 in 3 Native women will be raped in their lifetime

  • 70% of sexual violence against Native women is committed by non-Natives
  • Comment:  I'm not sure the word "squaw" is associated with "sexy" any more. These days I think of "squaw" as the flip side of "princess" or "maiden."

    But I'm confident that stereotyping contributes to rape and violence against Native women. Anything that portrays women as sex objects, as less than full-fledged humans, contributes to these problems.

    Anyway, good writeup, Adrienne. For more on the subject, see Indian Women as Sex Objects.

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