The soft and quiet tone of the book is seductive imbuing the reader with heightened sensitivity (and its consequent agreeableness). An emotional reader will likely be quickly swept away and become induced into searing resentment and a quiet arrogant bigotry (as I must confess I was initially). However, a little distance and a little thought is all that is required to see through the author's incapacity to see her own decisions and actions (and those of other native Canadians) as the source of travails they bear, and instead confabulate everything bad as coming from racism and sexism and colonialism and patriarchy (and utopianizing pre-contact native lifeways). It degrades into a racist screed against everyone non-native in Canada (though focussed on those of "European" heritage (what does a person of Moldovan or Lithuanian heritage have to do with colonialism?)), promoting negative attitudes towards everyone non-native - she (conveniently!) doesn't mention those who are, say, about 34% native (or "non-status" as they're called in Canada) - inculcating bigotry, ignorance, hatred, and prejudice. Other relevant considerations such as equality, responsibility, and liberty get little or no mention.
Originally published in 1988 and written from a Native woman's sociological and feminist perspective, I am Woman confronts the legacy of colonialism on First Nations women and girls as well as on Lee Maracle personally. Presented through poetry, stories and essays, the collection represents Maracle's struggle with womanhood, culture, traditional spiritual beliefs and political sovereignty.
Why haven't I heard of this important book before? Why hasn't this work been required reading at the high school level? Most importantly, why didn't this book move women to action decades ago?
While written 30 years ago, this book remains powerful and necessary today. In fact, it could be argued that it is more important in today's political climate of anti-feminism and intolerance. It is extremely significant given the staggering statistics of missing and murdered First Nation women and girls in Canada. http://www.cbc.ca/missingandmurdered/ Since this book was published, these women and girls have been dying at an increasingly alarming rate; they are roughly seven times more likely to be murdered than non-indigenous women.
I am a proud and patriotic Canadian. However, as the 150th anniversary of confederation approaches, the federal government plans to spend half a billion dollars in celebration. While First Nations women continue to live (and die) in crisis, perhaps the money would be better spent in beginning the hard work necessary to make amends for the legacy of colonialism.
I am Woman is an important and thought provoking read. I urge you to read it.
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