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Violence Against Women in Fools Crow and Perma Red

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1 Violence Against Women in Fools Crow and Perma Red
Erin Fenner

2 In the U.S. Native women are more likely than any other racial group of women to be sexually assaulted. They also receive scant coverage in the media for those attacks. Most media, instead, focuses on violent crimes committed by men of color, even though 60% of rapes against Native women are committed by whites. (Smith 26-8) That is why it is essential for authors to explore issues of violence against Native women thoughtfully.

3 Fools Crow Explores the culture of American Indians.
Leaves women characters generally underdeveloped. Features rape, but does very little to deconstruct it. Ie…Yellow Kidney regrets what he did, but only because the girl was dying. Also, the community says nothing about the rape, and credits all of Yellow Kidney’s misfortunes to Fast Horse’s mistakes.

4 Character development
Red Paint’s character isn’t really expanded on past tanning hides and being with Fools Crow. Kills Close to the Lake is likely Welch’s way to show problems in a polygamist society, and how they were resolved. But, she features little character beyond being an entity of conflict and loneliness. The female characters who are strong, primarily devote their strength to men. Heavy Shield Woman makes her offering to be the medicine woman at the Sun Dance in hopes that it will bring back Yellow Kidney. Feather woman imparts valuable information to Fools Crow, but is forever longing to be back with her man.

5 Sexual Violence Yellow Kidney is described as “fornicating” with the Crow girl. It is not ever referred to as rape within the novel, even though the girl is young and of the opposing tribe. The remorse comes because she was dying, not because he thinks the act was inherently bad. The tribe does not condemn his actions, but focuses their anger on what happened to Yellow Kidney on the mistakes of Fast Horse. “Although it wasn’t said, there was no doubt that it was Fast Horse’s loud boasting that caused these bad things to happened to Yellow Kidney.” (Welch 81-2)

6 Perma Red There is more violence against women in Perma Red, but it does so in a way to specifically address that violence and challenge it. Humanity was portrayed in each character – so violations were understood. Baptiste’s actions against Louise are inexcusable, but Charlie’s reactions to it limit the community. Baptiste’s incarceration will not save Louise from threat of violence – nor other Native women.

7 Throughout Perma Red, Louise is dealing with the limitations she faces for being woman and being Native. The two are inexorably linked for her. “Because Indian bodies are ‘dirty,’ they are considered sexually violable and ‘rapable,’ and the rape of bodies that are considered inherently impure or dirty simply does not count.” (Smith 10) The mere fact that dominant culture views Native women as violable means that Louise will not be safe until dominant culture and its punitive practices are challenged. “Mainstream remedies for addressing sexual and domestic violence in the U.S have proven inadequate for combating sexual and domestic violence, especially for women of color. The answer is not simply to provide ‘multicultural services’ to survivors. Rather, the analysis of and strategies around addressing gender violence must also address how gender violence is a tool of racism, economic oppression, and colonialism, as well as patriarchy.” Andrea Smith, from her book Conquest

8 Baptiste’s hopeful change of heart at the end seems to substantiate it.
“He drank because the white man had told him he couldn’t drink. He had convinced himself he was winning the battle, but even with Harvey Stoner dead and gone he was losing his own life to drink. He had already lost the will to fight.” (Earling 301) He begins the process of healing when he puts aside Euro American culture and his resentment toward it. His violence toward Louise is likely a symptom of colonization. Louise, is an elusive, but well-developed character. She represents strength, passion and tradition. The community reactions against violence are representative of the roles violence plays in this environment. Earling’s argument seems to be that dominant culture is responsible for the majority of violence.

9 Perma Red accomplishes an intersectional approach to Native issues, where Fools Crow falls short.
It represents a culture more thoroughly and intimately from perspectives of men and women, and presents a possible argument for how to challenge it.

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