Monday, 23 February 2015

Dear Patricia Arquette: You are Right AND Wrong

As many know the Oscars were a big focal point this past Sunday, with many well-paid Actors and Actresses strolling down a red carpet, to partake in an awards ceremony for the creme-de-el-creme of the acting world. Additionally, as many of you know Patricia Arquette won her first Oscar last night because of her work and performance in "Boyhood." I congratulate her on her stellar performance in a movie of amazing talent. Additionally, I was enjoying her acceptance speech until this popped out of her mouth:

"It's time for all the women in America, and all the men that love women and all the gay people and all the people of color that we've all fought for to fight for us now." (Patricia Arquette, February 22 2015).

My mouth, on the other hand, dropped in astonishment that someone who claims to be of such humbleness, not to mention support for the disadvantaged, would say such a thing without fully comprehending the entire background on the situation - let alone the problems her comments create for Indigenous, 'coloured,' and 'LGBT' women & men.

Now, I am very much in favour of women deserving/having equal pay to that of men. I grew up learning women are stronger then men - this from a family where the moms, aunties, sisters, grandmothers, and female cousins were/are the strongest - The 'cornerstone' or 'rock' of the family. I grew up with a mother who served in the military, as a single parent, doing everything a man could do, but probably being shafted on equal pay because she was a woman BUT, as stats show, because she was also an UNWED INDIGENOUS women. Similar stories exist for many women of colour, Indigenous women, as well as bisexual, lesbian and transgender women.

In other words, Patricia Arquette's comment is extremely problematic - straight white women still trump 'people of colour,' Indigenous, LGBT (to name but a few human grouping caveats) women and men. 

To tell Indigenous peoples and 'People of Colour' that they have been fully stood up for when they, in most cases as research and stats show, are still far more disadvantaged then white straight women, and must therefore stand up for Women ... is a slap in the face and glossing over the fact that the issues of identity and ethnicity are not solved; acting as if women of colour, Indigenous women, and bisexual/lesbian/transgender women are considered equal to that of straight wealthy women goes against the research and statistics that have existed over the last 50 years.

Matter of Fact: The differences and division have not been solved - ethnic and identity differences, are arguably more divisive then women/men. Now, am I saying there is not a problem between men and women in various ethnicities or societies? No I am not saying that because I know there is a problem. But to act as if ethnicity/identity doesn't play into the factor and divides women themselves is a misnomer... Canadian stats show that when looking at social hierarchy on pay English Men outrank everyone, followed by French Men.... Then English Women and French Women; Next is Asian Men and then Asian Women.... at the bottom two 'seats:' Indigenous men rank second lowest and Indigenous women the lowest.

Thus let us remember: some of the most ardent first wave feminists only cared for upper-class white women to have the same rights as men.... Some second wave feminists choose to pretend that identity and ethnicity is a sub-issue to that of gender ... not to mention some take advantage of their privilege, such as Patricia Arquette, on stolen Indigenous territory ... In her fashion designer friend's (Rossetta Getty) gown - at an awards ceremony, for the best of the acting world here in North America ... you know, the lifestyle of the rich and the famous.

So yes, I as a a Indigenous/European Gay Male who has worked hard to get to where I am (who has come from a reservation, a single parent family who's mother served the Canadian military only to get early retirement and for my mom, sister, and I to live in very humble means while fighting racism, homophobia, sexism, etc) do stand proudly next to the many many women who have influenced me and demand their equality... and the equality of all women, no matter their ethnicity or identity. 

BUT I do not stand next to those badgering others who stand as a movie star, with a wealthy bank account, telling those who are still treated unfairly to stand up for equal pay when - while that actor enjoys the fruits of a high-paid acting career... on Indigenous land... that was also tilled by slaves, migrant workers, and those impacted by low-income wages (whether women or men or children). Allies are good, but perhaps if you 'talk the talk' you should completely 'walk the walk' (I have the same issue with Bono).

So Patricia Arquette - congrats on your oscar win .... and congrats for potentially pushing the equal rights movement for those of different ethnic and LGBT identities back a notch by utilizing your privileged position to assume, and tell your followers, that LGBT, people of Colour, and Indigenous people are equal now, despite the stats and research that shows you are, in fact, one of the reasons that accounts for the unequalness of Indigenous, LGBT, and coloured people - whether a man or a woman 

But I guess when you are entrenched in the lifestyle of the rich and the famous, it may be hard to notice that by the select few people of colour and the few LGBT people, and the extreme few Indigenous people, who were there alongside you at those oscars.

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