Thanks to Latoya Peterson of Racialicious for alerting me to this and the Shameless blog for writing about it:
It’s Exposed and In Control, so read Spirit!
This current publication is their very first SEX issue and I am so darn excited and happy that it exists. The beautiful young woman you see on the cover is none other than Métis burlesque extraordinaire Veronika Swartz, photographed by the Über talented Ojibwe photographer Nadya Kwandibens.
Within these pages you will read some of the most progressive and provocative literary masterpieces as they pertain to sex and sexuality. The sweet essence of breaking down social taboos will linger in your mind as you are drawn into the demystifying truths of how beautiful and sacred sex really is in the Indigenous world. What remains is pride and ownership over our own bodies (a concept we actually started!).
It moves me to tears to know that we are taking back what has been exploited so harshly from us and letting it out now on our own terms. And it’s a pretty powerful thing.
I don't have anything against half-naked Native women. Far from it. But I do have something against magazines exploiting half-naked Native women. Even if the purpose is allegedly noble and the women are allegedly willing.
But compare this to Redskin magazine's approach to selling sex using Natives (or selling Natives using sex). At least Spirit's people are, er, upfront about the magazine's contents. They aren't trying to, er, titillate us with a coyly controversial title. They aren't pretending to be fighting a highminded battle against stereotypes while engaging in stereotypes themselves.
No, Spirit's approach is arguably better. Without reading the magazine, it seems to be a case of WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get). That's always the best approach if you ask me.
Still, does "sex issue" have to equate to "semi-naked woman on the cover"? A third way would be better than either magazine's approach. If you need to illustrate the concept of sex, do it the way movie posters or album covers or romance novels do it. Suggest sex with subtle looks and poses, but don't spell it out. Be provocative, not blatant.
Overall, there are too many women on magazine covers and not enough in parliaments, boardrooms, and laboratories. And neither Redskin nor the Spirit sex issue does anything to address the issue. What will a Native girl say when she sees these mags? "Mommy, I want to be an astronaut?" Or, "Mommy, I want to be pretty like the cover girls?"
I trust you'll never see a semi-naked Native woman on the front of a Blue Corn Comics product. (Unless it's absolutely essential to the story, that is.) I don't need to make a living from exploiting women. Life is too short to be part of the problem rather than part of the solution.
For more on the "redskin" and Redskin magazine, see Red·skin n. Dated, Offensive, Taboo. For more on semi-naked Native women, see Indian Women as Sex Objects.
Below: "Buy me and get your