Although they’re out of fashion now, in the cinema and on TV, there was a time when westerns were a dominant cinematic genre.
There was a time when John Wayne could be relied upon to ride to the rescue, fight off ‘redskins’, save the damsel in distress and bring peace to a land still marching westward across undiscovered tracts of land. Often, a bugle would sound and the US 7th Cavalry would ride to the rescue.
Thus, we think we know about ‘redskins’/Red Indians or, more accurately in the 21st century, indigenous people of America or ‘First Nation’ peoples. We think we know about their reservations, their smoke signals, their capacity to ‘scalp’ victims and drink ‘firewater’.
I’ve been thinking about the indigenous people of America lately, due to them being in the news regarding Native Americans battle against the Keystone XL pipeline. It’s a battle not confined just to them, as there have been other battles across the north American continent to defy it being built.
It’s part of an ongoing battle to defy big business from scarring the land forever, rather than for them to examine alternative sources of energy -wind and wave. I alluded to the arguments surrounding this in a post earlier this week, ‘This Planet Earth‘.
An ongoing trope in erotic/soft porn/glamour photo shoots is to cast the ‘squaw‘ as some kind of sexualised and ‘unattainable’ being. We tend to see a similar thing occur in other ‘unattainable’ women, from nuns to hijab wearing Muslim ladies and it’s an image also portrayed in sexploitation films as far as native American women and nuns are concerned.
While researching Keystone XL to satisfy my own curiosity and the issues involved, I discovered that, in some native American tribes, going topless was an accepted form of dress, particularly in summer months (like naturists, it appears that native American women were pragmatic in this approach. Dress or undress according to the weather).
I found, and have used, some photos of these native American ladies at the top of the page.
Naturism doesn’t always get things right. The photo (below) is one I’ve seen on various genuine naturist web pages, and shows three (white) girls participating in some naturist club costume play.
These days, such costume play would be frowned upon as ‘cultural appropriation‘.
I suppose the only defence of it is that we used to live in simpler naturist times, and while many of these displays of native culture costume play may well have been faux-nativism, there was not, I imagine, a lot of malice involved. Just the lack of awareness (in the 70s and 80s when these photos were taken) compared with today.
As a lot of Second Life revolves around role-play, it’s hard for me to condemn those occasions where people dress up in roles that they don’t fit into in real life, as long as that role-play isn’t malicious. Some is. For instance, there’s probably more than a few people who adopt black, female avatars with the intention of reinforcing stereotypes – that ‘she’s black, so she must be played as a hooker’ mentality. But where’s the line drawn? Is it OK to live your life as a furry, an alien life form, a cat, but not OK to adopt a native American avatar if you’re white? As I say, as long as there’s no malice involved, I’m OK with that in the context of SL.
I logged in my alt, to see how well, and how cheaply, we could replicate native Americans in SL. First stop was Entwined Hair, to grab a free hairstyle in plaits. We found that this works equally well on a male avatar for that native American or Willie Nelson look.
I did buy the outfit you see in the first SL photo from the Marketplace, for L$10, after which we found there were a couple of places where you could pick up a similar item for ‘free’. I still think this outfit was worth the cost just for the feathers that could be attached to the hair (not photographed).
The ‘free’ outfits were found at Cherokee Sensations store. (By ‘free’, there’s a group join fee of just L$1).
In search of a good photo location I went to Amazon River, where an avatar told me her loincloth, complete with moccasins, cost L$20 from Yuma on the Marketplace, so I added this to our native American’s wardrobe as well. As with the hair, I’d suggest that the loincloth would suit a male avatar too, even if it isn’t totally historically authentic in isolation.
Remember: it should be harmless, role play fun within SL. Educate yourself as much as you can on the ways of other cultures (be they native American or anything else) in order to fend off accusations of cultural appropriation. Or just ignore any of those accusations anyway. We sometimes live in a far too uptight, has-to-comment-on-everything, po-faced, lemon sucking naysayers world.
Why not have a bit of fun, even if it’s not historically accurate or politically correct?