Undermining the Home Fires of Indigenous Feminist Work: A How-To (and therefore a How-Not-To, Too)
by waaseyaa'sin christine sy
Feel threatened by an IF critique of white men’s political thinking about Indigenous life.
In this threatened position, posture. Then, erase the IF critique and uplift the white man’s thinking. Tell everyone that you think his thinking is excellent.
Do this publicly.
In private, tell the Indigenous feminist labourer that the white guy is your friend. After suggesting they should have empathy for the white man because of his upbringing, tell them if they don’t like his work they should write an article. Identify this make-work-project even though the point has already been articulated clearly.
To make it that extra mind-warp, do this while in a position of power over the one doing the IF work.
When you are invited to collaborate on IF projects, and accept, agree to a process for identifying shared vision and goals for the project. Then, in order to advance your own agenda, ignore this agreement. Begin identifying what you want. When your requests are not responded to immediately, keep pushing to get what you want.
When the boundaries of the IF project are asserted, and you realize that the practice of collaboration will be a true practice of collaboration have a temper tantrum end all intellectual, creative, and community working relationships with the person who invited you to the IF project.
When you see Indigenous feminist work that engages in decolonial indigenous relationship-ing, use this to your advantage. Exploit the new spaces opened up by the refusal to reproduce capitalist or class-based hierarchies and the practice of generosity, inclusivity, and sharing. Exploit this and advance yourself. It’s super easy.
When you witness Indigenous feminist work generating life anew, if you are not close enough to exploit it for your individual benefit, try to squash it. Do this by any means necessary. If you are a cis-woman, use social aggression. If you are cis-man, interfere whenever you can in their ability to experience economic self-sufficiency. If you are in an intimate relationship with them, use physical aggression. If you are a trans-gender man or queer person, _____________.
Make more work on top of the existing IF work. Always. Be it making inaccurate public statements about territory; giving un-necessary hoops to jump through if in a position of power over them; or, giving them things to read that you never follow up on. Whatever, whatever. Just make more work because IF work isn’t enough.
When you have been invited to participate in IF work, be collegial only until the point you hear something you don’t like. Then throw shade, waste time, make work. For that little extra something, be super-duper respectful to the men on the project.
When you witness shade being thrown at your IF colleague, positively reinforce this behavior. Be pleasant, empathetic, inviting for further exchanges. Ensure the networking continues. What’s most important in a decolonizing world that thinks Indigenous women are important, is to keep networking with everybody because networking with everybody — even those who make more work or throw shade to IF work– may benefit you someday. That’s what counts. Loyalty is for suckers, even in a decolonizing world. Amiright?
When IF work requires calling out sexually inappropriate behaviour towards young ones in kinship or friend relations, harass and threaten the person doing the work. Do this to the point that relationships are irreparable. IF work cannot happen if relationships don’t exist. Bulls-eye!
In professional circles, tell those who do IF work how much they are disliked. Be open about it. Then everybody can do it. In this milieu, open season on IF work becomes normal, natural, popular. Yay.
Invite those who do IF work to tea and bannock. Tell them if they keep being assertive they’ll be inviting themselves to get hurt.
Legitimate those who wish to maintain patriarchal power in Indigenous worlds. Give them safe space so they can rail against those who don’t. Make sure the latter are not in the room.
Sit quietly, roll eyes, pick at your hang nails when IF work names and interrogates the reproduction of settler colonial power structures in Indigenous worlds, the symptomatic behaviours and hierarchies that emerge from them, and gendered-fuckery, in general. Say your silence is evidence of listening closely.
When the work of IF is to name Indigenous male violence against Indigenous women, and an abuser is identified say, “Well, he’s always been good to me”, “I’ve never had a problem with him,” or, “He’s my friend.”
Publically identify Indigenous men with power as Indigenous feminists even when you know they harm women. Do it to serve your own agenda, because obviously.
No longer is it the just the S, drudge, or s-drudge who is the enemy, scapegoat, or emotional punching bag. Enter, the Indigenist Feminist and IF work. In this new world we are working to create, be sure to persist in reproducing the tired and exhausted myth of the monstrous, angry, hostile, Indigenous woman. When you witness people engaging in this hostility, stay silent. For gawd sakes, stay silent. We made our bed, we should lie in it.
Also, peace, love, harmony. Rightright?
When nice white guys (nwg) interfere in the Indigenous feminist work of reclamation and the Indigenous feminist work is to question, challenge and refuse this, suggest they take the high road and let it go. Alternatively, suggest they remove themselves from work that is inherently theirs. Simultaneously, publically reinforce the white man’s goodness, innocence, and right to interfere in IF reclamation because well, nwg. Add to this the dynamic of nwg with Indigenous friends and you not only get undermining, you get the secured existence of patriarchal worlds. Double-woot.
Also, when (nice) Indigenous guys target the work of IF, stay silent in your witnessing. Later, make sure things are good with him.
IF work requires a person to provide for themselves and their dependents. What better way to undermine IF work than to undermine the ability for the IF to obtain work and make money.
When you witness the IF call in or call out misogyny, do nothing. I mean really, do nothing. Keep on keeping on even if it means maintaining the status quo with the person/people with the misogynist ideas. Go one step further and uplift the misogynist. Do it publically. Advance the misogynists work so they can provide for themselves and their dependents (if it is the case they do provides for their dependents).
Refuse to actually get Indigenous feminist work. Do not pick up a book. Do not try to see the world through this lens. Do not listen to those who do this work.
Refuse to ask yourself how you benefit by undermining or interfering with IF work. Once you get clear on how you benefit by undermining IF work, refuse to get right on that.
Note to reader: This is a living list. I’m pretty sure there a many ways that IF work is undermined right at the home fires of our lives. Please add to this/make your own from your own lived experiences or witnessing-s. Naming and documenting is an important intervention.
Also, in constructing this, I considered whether to write from a place of love or anger. Given it’s biboon, I decided that a little nanaboozhoo approach was just the medicine needed. TOTALLY feeling the need to recognize the embers burning and want to recognize and honour the little bit of that guy that dwells in me today . I also note that its maajii giizis which means Nokomis is happening in full force. Howah. The sexy round glowing lady always, always pushes and pulls, draws the thing out as though divining my heart.