August 28, 2012

Sexy chief vs. Jana

Someone posted this image on Facebook and asked the following: "In the side-by-side image below, 1) Which is 'OK' & which is 'Wrong'"?

Everyone agreed the first image was wrong, but several people defended the second image. Naturally, I disagreed:

No. 1 is wronger, but they're both wrong.

I dissed this video from Jana long ago:

Dissing Jana's video

Let the debate beginThe photo on the right is not of question...she is actually a tribal member, so leave her be and there is no stereotyping in that image on the right.

I don't like either one.

When people "stereotype" themselves, or don't think they are but the impression & result are, that makes the stereotyping somehow 'ok' bcuz the person is--in this case, Native, or Native looking? I'm asking. Remember, I don't get it.
I doubt many modern Native women would say they feel "honored" by either image. Especially if you explain the history of sexual objectification to them.I think we have become so obsessed with stereotyping that people don't know what is stereotyping and what isn't anymore. Where's the line?

Besides the obvious stereotyping like in image A.
Jana may think her stereotyping is okay, but I don't.Makes sense ... what you're saying re stereotyping.

How can you stereotype yourself with yourself? That's like saying you stereotype being atheist.
[This respondent incorrectly thinks I'm an atheist rather than an agonistic.]

Even though I'm a nerd, I probably don't look like one. But I could stereotype myself as a nerd with the Brylcreamed hair, black-framed glasses, high pants, pocket protector, calculator, etc. This would be wrong because it doesn't represent the real world of nerds.

Same with Jana, a Lumbee from North Carolina, wearing a Pocahontas outfit in Monument Valley for a music video in 2007. Her getup literally has nothing to do with her reality as a modern Lumbee Indian woman.Well, to be fair, I haven't studied the Lumbee tribe or the clothing that they have worn historically. But I gathered from the video that she was showing the many sides of herself.If she wants to show her sexy side, she can come up with something besides a Poca-hottie costume. That outfit is a centuries-old stereotype, not a unique expression of her individuality. There's nothing unique about it since it's been done a million times before.

"Bo Derek" look is "spot on"?I looked it up and Lumbee women probably wore knee-length dresses. So, from a historical and female perspective, her dress is too short and somewhat sexualized.

Again, the pic on the right isn't shown in context so we can't tell what it's message is meant to be. Ok. the dress does look a bit 'Bo Derek' but is it meant to be smutty? Is this 'style' not to be found anywhere among the many tribes? Should native women not be seen, in an appropriate way, as attractive as women from any other culture?

I see the one on the left purely as 50's pin up girl material where everyone was given the stereo treatment--dumb blondes, secretaries filing their nails, busty girls in sexy overalls banging their manicured nails with hammers and knickers falling down same sexy women climbing ladders. It was par for the course back then. The girl on the right looks pretty spot on with reality to me, but I'm an Oz, I could be wrong! We just romp around with kangaroos on Bondi Beach after all!
Here's the context for the Jana photo on the right. It's a music video with her and other Indians as noble savages. In the year 2007.

‎"The girl on the right looks pretty spot on with reality to me"...which reality do you mean? The reality of Indian girls like Pocahontas in the 17th century?

It wasn't real even then; Pocahontas probably went naked or topless. And it certainly isn't real now. No Native woman has worn a real-life outfit like that for centuries, if ever.

Native people don't care?Sure, I think it's just a funny pix nothing more nothing less....All women are beautiful, even in a wintercoat or buffalo robe or matter long as the real ppl know the real deal its all good. The mainstream ppl will alwys be mainstream. It's like let them have what's theirs, Native ppl know much better than that to get all restless about pin ups and Walt Disney Pocahontas...I still love mini skirts tho especially on brown eyed girl lol.Actually, Native people often protest images like the ones above. They know that stereotypical perceptions affect how they're treated in real life. IOW, if people think Indians are savages, they treat them like savages.So, you have gone and visited every Native woman and looked into her past to find out if she has dressed in a similar fashion?No, but I've read books that cover Native American history from the beginning to the present, with lots of illustrations. No Native women wore sexy buckskin mini-skirts that I recall.

I doubt Jana has read more Native history than I have. And found a culture I'm not aware of. It would be an incredible coincidence if an actual Native outfit just happened to resemble millions of sexy stereotypes objectifying Native women.

And that would be irrelevant anyway. Jana is a modern Native woman, so dressing as any Indian of the distant past is stereotypical. She's a modern Lumbee woman, so dressing as any Indian of another culture is stereotypical. Unless she can find one of her ancestors who wore such an outfit, she has no business wearing it.

And the only excuse for wearing a traditional Lumbee outfit would be to portray her ancestors accurately. But she's not doing that. She's cavorting in a music video set in Monument Valley, 3,000 miles from her ancestral home. She's singing, dancing, and playing with a hawk. None of these have anything to do with traditional Lumbee culture. Indeed, they're a complete fabrication of what Native culture is about.

You do understand that there were thousands of different Native cultures, right? You don't get a free pass for wearing a chief's headdress because some Indian, somewhere, once wore one. Unless your culture wears an outfit now, or your ancestors wore an outfit then, it belongs to another culture, not yours.

Sexy dress represents objectification

As for the context, the image on the right comes from a music video. It doesn't represent any era. What it represents is a fantasy version of what Native women looked like in the past. A fantasy used by the white, male, Christian powers-that-be to objectify, demean, and belittle Native women.

In other words, it's a stereotype. It is not an accurate depiction of tribal wear in any past era. It's certainly not an accurate depiction of what Jana's own ancestors wore.

Y'all are aware that Native women suffer horrendous rates of rape, violence, and abuse, right? Why do you think that happens? It happens in part because we've treated Native women as sexual objects for 500+ years. These images perpetuate the notion that Native women exist to fulfill male fantasies.I can agree with that. I already said, her skirt was too short, both from the female view point and historical one. I totally agree about the headress. There isn't one thing okay with the first picture.For more on the subject, see Review of For the Generations and Indian Women as Sex Objects

P.S. Do I have to explain what's wrong with the costume below? It's wrong for the same reasons that Jana's outfit is wrong.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

From looking at her You Tube page you can see this entertainer has decided that she has to join the crowd of sex kitten singers.. Eye candy is nice, but not at the expense of playing into the stereotypes.
On the other hand screw what the white folks think,we can be as bad as the next guy when it comes to chasing the almighty dollar.