What’s Missing from #MeToo and #TimesUp: One Indigenous Woman’s Perspective

Collaborative artwork by Christi Belcourt and Isaac Murdoch

As I have watched the national dialogue unfold around sexual harassment and sexual violence, I can’t help but take notice of the lack of tie in to a much larger picture: namely, how men have abused their power to dominate and inflict violence upon not only women (and women of color in particular), but our Mother Earth. And they absolutely are related.

The roots of colonization and patriarchy in the Americas, included the strategy of stealing lands from Indigenous peoples, inflicting violence and domination over women, and further exploiting those lands for monetary gain. But this is not some distant past — it is happening at an alarming rate today. Both the land, water, and Indigenous women have been ‘othered’ and devalued in our society. Native American women are 2.5 times more likely to experience sexual assault and rape than any other ethnic group and the unsolved cases of Murdered & Missing Indigenous Women (#MMIW) are staggering. Extractive industries play a major role in this violence and I encourage you to visit www.landbodydefense.org for a report and toolkit on how to support these resistance efforts. Another resource on MMIW community-led work is at It Starts With Us.

This patriarchal worldview of how we relate to Mother Earth and to the non-human is so toxic that academics are referring to it as a new epoch — the Anthropocene. Under a patriarchal, colonialist mindset we find ourselves consuming and polluting the natural resources of our Mother Earth at a rate that is exacerbating climate change and threatening life on this planet. Yes, TIME. IS. UP. Time is up for unjust patriarchal systems. Period.

Artwork by Erin Marie Konsmo

It was empowering to see the Time’s Up Movement intentionally elevate the voices of women of color, immigrant women, and lesbian, bisexual, and transgender women at the Golden Globes — including having Suquamish Tribal Member, Calina Lawrence, speak out on MMIW.

The creator of the #MeToo movement, Tarana Burke, had this to say: “Sexual violence knows no race, class or gender, but the response to sexual violence absolutely does,” she told TIME last fall. “Until we change that, any advancement that we make in addressing this issue is going to be scarred by the fact that it wasn’t across the board.”

Let us include the voice of our Mother Earth in this dialogue — because as I write this our oceans and lands are being polluted by oil — look here (if you dare) for the most recent catastrophe in the East China Sea. As we seek social justice we must seek environmental justice. The Trump Administration has opened up places like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling and all of our coastal communities are once again threatened by offshore oil development.

Business as usual isn’t working for the world, so we must change it all from the ground up. The challenge before us is not insurmountable, but we cannot build movements on superficial or extractive relationships. We must do the hard work of taking into consideration our various backgrounds and experiences and we must educate ourselves as much as possible as we come together to organize and remind ourselves it’s okay to feel uncomfortable and misunderstandings are bound to happen but it is how we react to those challenges that give us the possibility of building greater unity. Ask first how can we be of service? There are so many grassroots organizations that are doing meaningful work and there’s so much we can do — volunteer, uplift marginalized voices, donate our time and/or money to these organizations, and by all means play an active role in creating a better relationship with one another and with all life on Mother Earth!

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