A Feminist Critique Of The #MeToo Movement's Blindspot

A Feminist Critique Of The #MeToo Movement's Blindspot

I'm a feminist, but here is my problem with #MeToo.

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The recent discussion of sexual violence in American society has sparked a fiery debate over how to create change for women everywhere. A topic which was once a whisper in the back of the room has become a national discussion of women's rights. But what about the rampant sexual violence towards Native American women? There is no #MeToo conversation inclusive of the atrocities which Native American women are facing.

Society has been so focused on a relatable narrative when creating #MeToo, that America has completely sidelined and consequently exacerbated the issues of the Native American community. Just because the poverty which Natives face is not relatable in the way the middle and upper-middle class stories of #MeToo are, does not mean that the stories of the more powerful are the only ones worth listening to.

According to Amnesty International, Native American women are 2.5 times more likely to experience sexual violence, yet there seems to be no hashtag or mass movement inclusive of them. These high rates of sexual violence, mixed with low rates of prosecution, have created a vicious and shocking cycle of violence on reservations. The severe sexual violence being experienced by Native American women is a widespread and pressing issue that is lacking proper attention and legislative action and it's truly appalling.

In a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control, 94% of the nearly 300 Native American women surveyed reported being raped in their lives. This figure is absolutely terrifying. To put this into a more local context, the Navajo Nation reservation in Arizona has had "more rapes [between 2008-2014] reported than in San Diego, Detroit or Denver," according to FBI's reports. This issue has plagued Natives for generations but remains overlooked and undiscussed by the majority of Americans. The #MeToo discussion revolves the idea of a relatable platform, but just because poverty isn't relatable does not entail that those in poverty should not receive justice. It's baffling how an issue can be this salient to one group of people yet go completely unnoticed by another.

To break the issue down, tribal courts have several large obstacles preventing them from acting as an effective means of justice. The main difficulty is the inability to prosecute non-Natives. Even though in "86% of the reported cases of rape against American Indian women, survivors report non-Native perpetrators,” justice cannot be served because tribes don't have the jurisdiction to prosecute. One can only imagine the frustration of a minority group which cannot receive justice in the face of a more socioeconomically powerful perpetrator.

Most recently, the Violence Against Women's Act of 1994 created an amendment in 2013 to give tribal courts the right to prosecute non-Natives who committ domestic and dating violence. This amendment fails to take into consideration however, that most rape cases against Native women are not domestic or dating violence. It seems inconceivable how such injustice is occurring but the media and movements like #MeToo simply aren't aware of it. In order to affect change for women everywhere, everyone's issues must be accounted for, even if issue of those in poverty aren't "relatable."

In the search for justice, tribes often send cases they do have jurisdiction over to U.S. Justice Department. In his New York Times Article, Timothy Williams cites that the Justice Department however did not pursue 65% of rape charges on reservations and 61% of cases involving the sexual abuse of Native children in 2012. So, while Native American women are two and a half times more likely to be raped, only one-third of them have a chance at receiving the justice they deserve. It almost feels as though it comes from a place of elitism that there are very few cases in which Natives can receive justice because they don't have jurisdiction over a seemingly untouchable group of richer people.

Sexual violence and the lack of prosecution to address it in the Native American community is a crisis which will never improve if continued to be left alone. Nothing will change until tribal courts have the power to fully enact law and order in their communities. It's been shown that the U.S. Justice Department ignores the issue and the U.S. public is unaware that this is even happening. With the current efforts which are being made to empower and protect women, American society has gotten lost in framing the issue to be relatable to the point where they have forgotten an entire group of people.

Until the public has been made aware of the severity of this issue, no legislation will be passed to help these women and the elitist injustice will continue. #MeToo is meant to give a voice to victims of sexual violence, but this mission will never be successful until the plight of Native American women has been heard.

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Let's Get One Thing Straight: Nobody WANTS An Abortion, But Everyone Deserves The Right To Choose

You can choose not to get one. But you don't have the right to make that choice for anyone else.

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As the United States turns into "The Handmaid's Tale's" Gilead right in front of our eyes, the fight against women's reproductive rights comes to the forefront again. Rape, incest, they don't care: Abortions are bad, and so are those who seek them and perform them.

But let's all align on one thing, shall we? Nobody wants an abortion. Nobody.

And here is the amazing thing... If you don't believe in abortion, you don't have to get one! No, really. The existence of safe, legal and accessible abortions does not require you to get one! How about that? It is almost like you are able to choose based on your belief system and your personal situation.

That is the great thing about being pro-choice... You can consider yourself "pro-life"... for you. You do not have to get an abortion. You can believe that you would never even consider an abortion. All of your pregnancies can lead to a baby. You have that right.

You don't have to get an abortion. But you don't have the right to tell the 11-year-old victim of incest who is still years away from even being able to legally consent to sex that she has to carry her relative's child to term.

You don't have to get an abortion. But you don't have the right to tell a rape survivor that she has to carry the product of her trauma for 9 months.

You don't have to get an abortion. But you don't have the right to tell a woman in an abusive relationship with no familial support has to bring a baby into a world where he or she cannot be provided for.

You don't have to get an abortion. But you don't have the right to tell a woman who has no interest in being a mother that the rest of her life is no longer in her hands.

You don't have to get an abortion. But you don't have the right to tell an expectant mother who just found out her child will die once she is born that she has to endure that earth-shattering heartbreak.

Here's the thing: Some women in all of the above situations would keep their baby.

They'll comment below this post and say that their son or daughter is a light and their life and they are so glad they decided to keep their child.

Sure, I was young, but I made it work.

Yes, my child was conceived in trauma, but I didn't hold that against them.

Raising a child single with no support was so hard, but so worth it.

I never thought I wanted a child, but I can't see myself as anything but a mother.

The doctors told me that my baby wouldn't live, but now he's 18 and thriving.

And that is wonderful. It is beautiful. It takes love and strength to raise a child, let alone in any sort of adversity.

But that does not mean that the women who made the opposite decision are monsters or hate children.

It means that, based on their beliefs and their personal situations and the unique challenges that come with their own life, it was the best choice for them.

Being a child, I was not even near ready to have my own.

Carrying the child of my abuser is making it difficult for me to move past this.

I will not be able to provide this baby with the love and support that he or she deserves.

It is not fair to bring a child into the world that I do not want.

I would rather endure the heartbreak of terminating my pregnancy than the heartbreak of watching my child die in my arms.

And guess what? It takes strength to make these decisions, too. You do not live in the shoes or the head of anyone but yourself. You do not understand the complexity of this decision for anyone but yourself.

You do not get to make an extremely difficult and personal decision for anyone but yourself.

Nobody wants an abortion. Nobody has "terminating a pregnancy" on their list of life goals or milestones. In all situations, making the decision to terminate a pregnancy, for any reason, is an extremely difficult decision.

And you DO NOT have the right to tell a woman what is best for her or her life.

If you cannot fathom ever getting an abortion, great. You don't have to. Most people can't fathom it themselves, either. People do not want abortions. But having access to safe and legal abortions when the often scary and heartbreaking situation arises is crucial for all women. All women deserve to make their OWN choice.

Your choice can be no, absolutely not, there is no situation where you would get an abortion. And nobody will stop you from having that belief or not getting an abortion.

But your choice cannot be someone else's. Everyone deserves to have their own.

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The Different People Responsible For Rape In Every Different Situation

Rape always has a cause and there is only one.

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Rapists.

That's it. Rapists are the cause of rapes. Nothing else is to blame. Not what someone is wearing and not what someone is drinking. It's time to put the responsibility of rapes back where it belongs.

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