I just read Rebecca Mott’s excellent (as always) article about how there is no such thing as “self-defense” in prostitution when your Self is routinely terrorized, raped and beaten out of you as a condition OF the sex trade. This happens because a prostitute’s compliance is demanded by men paying for the greedy sexual “right” to thoughtlessly and inhumanely use her any way they desire.
Since being bought and sold for sex is fundamentally inhumane (i.e. primally unnatural), women will naturally initially react in a self-defending manner against it. To get in the way of a man’s demanded compliance of a prostitute is to bring attention to the fact that you are not the living porn doll his money is buying, and you will be punished for it. How dare you not be the perfect product their hard-earned dollars feel so entitled to!
Rebecca explains how actual life-saving self-defense is to NOT defend yourself when embedded in the torture and genocide that is the sex trade:
To survive prostitution, is to learn not to care for your Self, to be as detached from being human as possible.
To be a prostitute is to become nothing – so there is nothing to defend.
In all human torturing, the purpose is to make other human[s] into nothing, with no will left.
[T]he sex trade is structured to keep the prostituted without access to their own power or routes to full safety.
Being human whilst still prostituted is to be in constant danger – there should no light in your eye, no thoughts that cannot be controlled, and certainly no desire to defend yourself.
I learnt that to be a prostitute – I had no right to fear, no right to know pain, and no right to have a Self.
This is such important information to understand, because it flies in the face of everything mainstream society teaches us. The mainstream colonist culture looooooves to blame, and it’s especially good at blaming victims. Guess that shouldn’t be a surprise given that the colonist culture, at its core, is an abusive, judgmental and shaming one. And as Rebecca points out, blaming the victims/oppressed is very convenient and necessary for the oppressors (and their supporters/enablers), for they can just carry on mistreating others and not have to take some personal responsibility for the harm they inflict.
It is so dangerous, not to mention offensive and disrespectful (as well as simply intellectually lazy) to suggest that it is somehow victims’ fault for not fighting back hard enough or fast enough or smart enough or good enough to not get hurt. That is the whole definition of victim, someone who has been harmed by someone else. At its core, to be victimized is to not have equal power dynamics present in order TO have a fighting chance.
Rebecca’s explanation of not self-defending as self-defense got me thinking of Dee Brown’s heart-breaking book, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, which details battles that went on between Indigenous peoples of the Americas and the European colonists when the latter group began stealing Native American land over 500 years ago. I think it’s very fitting here because porn/prostitution is literal sexual colonization; it is an industrial-scale male conquering and mass consumption of (mostly) female bodies in the most spiritually bankrupt of ways.
In the colonization of the Americas, year after year, century after century, bloodshed after bloodshed, the template was and remains the same: the colonists feel vastly and perfectly entitled to take whatever the hell they want to take, and any Native person or group who gets in their way (i.e. standing up for and protecting what was theirs) was/is perceived as a great threat, and was to be savagely destroyed. The methods of this destruction differ across time and technological “advances”, but the template is always the same.
The colonists sincerely think (then and now) that “peace” between the cultures means Native people rejecting their own culture, values and ways of life and becoming like the colonists in appearance, values and ways of life. According to the colonist mentality, as long as Natives DID WHAT WAS DEMANDED OF THEM, “peace” would be had. Culture clash happened (and is still happening) because the colonist culture was (and remains) so wildly, vastly and radically different from Indigenous cultures. The very concept of all sorts of different things differ so wildly between these cultures.
Take the concept of war, for example. Joseph Marshall III tells us that the traditional Lakota concept of war is one that values bravery. He gives an example of a warrior going up to his enemy, touching him, taking one of his feathers, leaving him unharmed, and then returning back to his clan unharmed. What a wildly different concept of courage and warfare than the colonist one, which thinks bravery is dropping bombs or shooting guns, with the intention being to obliterate as many people as possible. A critical component to this is the emotional and spiritual removal from the carnage being created — it’s easier to cause so much destruction when you’re doing it from afar as there is no blood dripping from your hands. That is not courage, that is pure cowardice.
In early colonization days, some Native leaders and their clans assimilated, while others fought til their death, often outsmarting and winning many battles against the colonists in the process. This is so interesting to me because the colonist oppressors had way more manpower and way more weapons, as they always do. The power of the mind and the ability to outsmart your enemy is no small thing. In fact, Natives could very well have driven all the colonists away if it weren’t for the colonists’ dirty warfare of biological terrorism via small pox blankets and other deadly diseases, which wiped out more Natives than actual warfare.
The power of a dark, twisted, hateful and fear-riddled mind is powerful due to its treachery and trickery; it plays so dirty, and as a result, causes way more destruction than those who self-defend themselves by outwitting and outsmarting their enemies. It’s just not a fair equation, which is what oppression IS at its core.
How we deal with oppression depends on the situation. Sometimes we have to fight back with everything we’ve got. Other times, such as how Rebecca explained of prostitution, our best bet is to do nothing and go along with whatever is happening, waiting for the right opportunity to escape if one should present itself. Native assimilation to the colonist culture, then and now, is also an example of this, as it literally saves lives, though at a high cost: cultural genocide and post colonial stress disorder, which will never go away until Indigenous people retain and regain their traditional cultures and homelands.
Make no mistake, I dream big and do think humanity can do better. But at the same time, I also wonder, is this just how things are, always have been, and always will be? Like, sometimes you’re the lion, sometimes you’re the gazelle? Metaphorically, we have (human) lion-oppressors running around all over the place, terrorizing victim-gazelles who as a result are hobbling around with missing limbs, broken teeth, bitten off ears and anxiety disorders. I don’t want to believe that it is the “nature” of some people to be cruel and inhumane to eachother, because culture really does shape us in very profound ways, and make no mistake, it is very PARTICULAR kinds of cultures that behave this way.
For me, culture clash is at the heart of all this. With colonization/globalization, groups of vastly different people are forced to live in close quarters and somehow expected to magically get along. That’s just not gonna happen when one group has a MASSIVE entitlement and superiority complex (which they excuse and explain away through cultural artifacts like science and religion), and has no concept of respecting others’ boundaries.
And when the oppressed start rocking the boat about being oppressed, and too many waves are being made, they get silenced in the most horrific ways. Take John Trudell for example, a real revolutionary who was making huge waves with his activist wife Tina back in the 1970’s. The colonist government ended up murdering his entire family, including very pregnant Tina, all of their (very young) children, and Tina’s mother, in order to destroy and silence him. What a cruel way to punish someone — keep him alive, but assassinate everyone he loves. Of course this hasn’t been “proven” in the colonist theater of iron-fisted illusions, delusions and double speak known as “The Law”, but it’s a commonly known fact amongst Native communities in-the-know. Same with revolutionary freedom fighter Leonard Peltier; he’s been rotting away in prison as long as I’ve been alive, because he too was a huge boat-rocker and wave-maker against the oppression of his people.
I don’t think there is a fix to this oppression hell, or at least, not an immediate one. Oppression is way older than us, and it’s naïve and arrogant to think we can overhaul it. This doesn’t mean we lay down, die inside, and just submit forever. We have to be smart, pick our battles, and sometimes, fight til the death over life and death matters.
I think true warriors have a combination of fearlessness and wisdom. You need to know when to act and how, and when not to. I like how Joseph Marshall III explains wisdom:
The word wisdom is used frequently every day, whether it is spoken and heard or written and read. Yet it is debatable, in my opinion, if most of us know what it is.
There are wise people in the world from all walks of life, from many nations and cultures. But there is one unalterable reality: No one who is truly wise is young. By the same token there are many old cultures on this planet of ours. Therefore, if we universally regard elders as repositories of wisdom, then those old cultures would have much to offer. [Except of course, those elders who haven’t un-mined their minds and are heartless, abusive assholes, which I hate to say, sadly exist.]
A popular axiom says that “whatever does not kill you will make you stronger.” If that is true, native societies have endured much to survive to the present day, so we should be among the strongest people in the world. That strength is not physical, however, and certainly has nothing to do with military might. That kind of strength has to do with the experiences we had and the insights we gained from it.
Therefore, what is wisdom? There are many answers. Here are a few:
- Wisdom always takes the path of reason.
- A wise person never speaks before immersing himself or herself in a long and thoughtful moment.
- Wisdom is the most effective antidote to fear and the absence of reason.
- The wisest man or woman is also the most humble.
Among our ancestors there were some values that were held very high, among them humility, compassion, courage and generosity. But all values lead to the one we consider the greatest: wisdom. And it is our hope that one day wisdom — rather than might, arrogance and bluster — will rule the world.
Mine too. I’ve immersed myself for a long time in the thoughts I’ve just shared, but I don’t feel very wise in expressing them. I’m only 36 years old, I have much more living and experiencing to do before gaining more wisdom. I don’t know about you, but there isn’t a whole lot of wisdom around me for me to readily draw on, so I stumble, fumble and bumble my way through, and hope the mistakes I do make don’t cause too much damage along the way…
A NOTE BEFORE COMMENTING ON THIS POST: When talking about Indigenous cultures, well-meaning but ignorant, colonized minds will often accuse people of “noble savage-ing” or “romanticizing” when speaking of traditional Indigenous cultures in a decolonized light. Ignorance hurts people; we must think things through, and consider this: Accusing Native people or their allies of “romanticism” is very offensive to Indigenous people who are fighting for their lives to reclaim their traditional ways of life. It is not “romanticizing” to get back what was yours, and it is ignorant and disrespectful to accuse and dismiss entire cultures of people mourning for and trying to rebuild their ways of life that were so savagely and non-consensually stripped from them. It’s kinda like telling a woman who’s been abused by her husband for 20 years that she’s “romanticizing” the idea of not being abused because she dares to remember, yearn for, and fight for the days she wasn’t abused.
As for the concept of “noble savage”, I think it is clear who the real savages are. “Savages” are mentalities that violently disrespect boundaries by not leaving people the hell alone to live as they please. If you listen to AUTHENTIC Indigenous voices, you will learn that their traditional warfare was and is truly noble, and completely without savagery as we know this concept to be. “Savagery” came straight from the rotten bowels of colonization, and whatever the hell created this inhumane way of thinking and being. We must be so, so, so careful to not look at things through colonized eyes, which is difficult given that we’ve been saturating in this mindset from birth. DECOLONIZATION = LIBERATION, and it starts in the mind, heart and Spirit.