The World of “Witchcraft”

It’s Halloween, and witchcraft is a hot topic (haha, get it?) these days, so let’s talk about it. I’ll leave the history of witch hunts in pre-modern Europe and the US aside for the moment — since those topics are being covered like whatever Kanye West is doing this week — and focus instead on something more immediate and hence — since it could theoretically be ameliorated — more important.

“‘We’re women and we’re the weaker people; that’s why we are here.”

Resident of a “witch camp” in Ghana

Witch camps — really, labor camps — only exist in northern Ghana and are populated chiefly by elderly widows who have been accused of witchcraft in their home villages, often by relatives using the accusation as a means to take over their deceased husbands’ property. Because, you know, why would an old woman who had served her husband like a slave for decades deserve to keep anything that her unpaid labor allowed him to accumulate?

Since an accusation of witchcraft comes with absolute ostracization and often brutal mistreatment including rape, torture, and murder, these women flee to witch camps where local chieftans offer them protection in exchange for labor and money. That’s right. Elderly widows, their lives endangered by the cupidity of their own relatives, get to pay for the privilege of performing backbreaking fieldwork, which often requires that they make and sell food items on the street once they finish their day in the fields so they can pay for their safety. And they’re not glamping. Many of them walk several miles a day to collect water since the huts they’re crammed into don’t have plumbing of any kind. I’ll give you one guess as to what kind of health care they’re offered.

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(Naturally, western tourists stop in by the busload to have a gawk at these “witches.”)

They’re the lucky ones. There are no witch camps outside of northern Ghana, which means even that dismal remedy is available only to a select few.

In sub-Saharan Africa, anthropologists have identified a “multi-crisis” that afflicts much of the subcontinent and has been growing over the course of the last three decades. The legacies of colonialism and the arrival of the culture of capitalism with all of the economic insecurity and jealousy that it foments have led to disruptions in traditional means of survival and in community and kinship structures. At the same time, the continent has been ravaged by warlordism, superlative poverty, public health crises including HIV/AIDS, and the strange constellations of political and economic corruption and abuse that attend the extraction of the region’s resources as repayment for exploitative development loans.

The admixture of indigenous beliefs in hidden spirit worlds and the virulent misogyny of the syncretized/”Africanized” proselytizing religions that have come to dominate the region — Islam to a lesser degree, and various stripes of regressive evangelical Christianity to a much greater degree — leave women and children open to accusations of witchcraft when their communities or families suffer misfortunes that appear to be inexplicable or to lack obvious or feasible remedies, misfortunes that vary from a bad dream to the wrong kind of weather to an unexpected illness to a sudden change in financial fortunes.

Some of them are simply exiled to face the dangers unaccompanied women and children endure, but they’re often beaten, whipped, gang raped, and tortured to death in their own communities. In just six months of 2017, for example, 479 elderly Tanzanian women were brutally murdered by hysterical mobs for the crime of being female and no longer of use to men or the market.

Children are, however, of use to men and the market, at least up to a point.

Over the course of the past twenty years, witchcraft accusations levied against children have exploded in urban areas in Africa and are increasing by the day. Pentecostal and revivalist ministers help to legitimize witchcraft accusations made against children in their communities and offer their parents expensive “exorcism” programs comprising repeated psychological and physical abuse including starvation, beatings, prolonged isolation, forced ingestion of poisons, and gasoline being poured into their eyes and ears. They often die during the course of their “treatment.”

These pastors have arrogated to themselves the authority to identify child witches, to oversee their “treatment,” and to collect hefty fees for their efforts. Christian ministers advertise their services via billboards, radio, and television commercials and spread the fear of child witchcraft among the pubic in an effort at self-enrichment so brazen it would make Joel Osteen wince. These pastors, with their wealth, connections to international networks, and semi-divine status as prophets, carry enormous power over the futures of the children they come into contact with; once they’ve “confirmed” a child as a witch, the stigma that follows leaves the child open to continued suspicion, repeated accusations, and a permanent state of vulnerability and exclusion. And, conveniently, repeat visits to the pastor for future exorcisms.

Again, we’re talking about lucky witches, though, whose parents can afford and are willing to pay for repeated “exorcisms.” Orphans, step-children, children born with developmental disabilities or deformities, and gifted or otherwise “troublesome” children are often labeled witches or sorcerers by their families or communities who can’t (or don’t want to) care for them. And, because sub-Saharan Africa is the world region most devastated by the legacies of imperialism and the contemporary realities of neoliberalism, there are a lot of reasons they can’t.

What do you think becomes of children who are shunned and abandoned by their families and communities in regions that suffer from extreme poverty? They’re still of some ephemeral use to men and the market — just different men and a different kind of market — and their exclusion from their communities leaves them with absolutely no protection from human traffickers, corrupt and exploitative authorities, and depraved men in general. The vast majority end up living on the streets of major African cities. The boys survive by begging, selling cheap goods on the street, petty theft, indentured mine work, and selling drugs. In Central Africa, they’re also vulnerable to impressment as child soldiers.

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The girls are — surprise — trafficked abroad or funneled directly into local sexual slavery, the average age at which this begins being six or seven years old. The police and other governmental authorities not only offer no help, but are often the chief agents of exploitation that these girls come into contact with. Their johns — despite the widespread awareness of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa — routinely either pay slightly more than the average price of $1-3 per paid rape to eschew condom use or, being that they’re adults raping children, they often just refuse to use condoms and refuse to pay at all.

“Sometimes men come and force themselves on me, and after, they go without leaving any money. That often happens. I started doing this work when I was ten years old. It’s not a pretty life. I’d like to go somewhere else and study.”

— Lumbashi, age 18, in an interview with Human Rights Watch

Lumbashi, being 18 years old, can be considered one of the “lucky” few children accused of witchcraft to reach adulthood. According to UNICEF, the majority are either starved or murdered before they even reach the streets of urban capitals, or they succumb to starvation, die of AIDS and other preventable diseases, or are murdered with impunity within a few years of being accused and exiled to the streets.

Whether a crazed mob carries it out immediately or it’s effected by the conditions in which discarded human beings exist, an accusation of witchcraft is almost always a death sentence for a woman or child in sub-Saharan Africa.


Let’s hop to another region of the world no one seems to care about, Papua New Guinea. The country has been absolutely devastated by foreign exploitation and forced integration into the market system and suffers from extreme poverty and social chaos as a result. In the past several years, gruesome murders of women and girls over accusations of “sorcery” (sanguma) have spread from rural areas to larger towns, including the capital of Port Moresby. As usual, the violence is aimed at the most vulnerable members of the community:

“[A]ccusations of witchcraft were usually levelled at those on the bottom of the social hierarchy, most often women who lived on the margins of society — the elderly, disabled, or those who had married into the village.”

The killings usually begin with a woman or girl being accused of causing the death or illness of a member of their community. They are then tortured by being beaten, cut with knives, whipped, or burned into providing a “confession,” which then provides justification for even more brutal abuse and murder.

Two recent noteworthy cases highlight just how ghastly PNG witch hunts have become. A 20-year-old woman named Kepari Leniata was accused in 2013 of causing the death of a young boy by means of witchcraft, after which she was set upon by an angry mob and “stripped, tortured with a hot iron rod, doused in petrol, and burned on a pile of rubbish and car tyres.”

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Less than a year ago, Leniata’s six-year-old daughter was also accused of witchcraft — serving by dint of association with her mother as a scapegoat for the community’s unexplained misfortunes — after which she was “tortured with hot knives.” The girl survived and her story became a national and international sensation, which prompted PNG’s Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, to acknowledge the reality of modern witch hunts in his country:

“In the modern day sanguma is not a real cultural practice, it is false belief and involves the violent abuse and torture of women and girls by pathetic and perverted individuals.”

The PNG government, however, lacks the resources or the will to do anything about the increase in violence against women and girls accused of witchcraft. Women and young girls are trafficked from all over PNG to Port Moresby and to logging and mining camps where they’re sold into sexual slavery in brothels frequented by migrant workers and the male employees of multinational corporations that have bought the rights to the nation’s natural resources. Women are considered commodities in this new economy, and accusations of witchcraft serve as an expedient means of disposing of them once their value has been extracted.

Their male family members sell them into sexual slavery, so it’s not exactly shocking to hear that these same men use accusations of sorcery to control women within the home:

“Sorcery accusations all too often become a form of family violence, with abusive husbands threatening or using sorcery accusations to silence and control women.”

If a woman’s husband finds himself a new and improved wife, what better way to rid himself of the troublesome old one than accusing her of witchcraft (or threatening her with an accusation if she refuses to accept being abandoned)? Once he has discarded her, she is rendered even more vulnerable to accusations of sorcery since she exists outside of the traditional social order.

As is the case in sub-Saharan Africa, men in PNG suffering new forms of economic and cultural insecurity and exploitation turn on the most vulnerable members of their communities and facilitate and profit from their sexual exploitation, and accuse them of using dark magic to create the misfortunes they either can’t understand or feel powerless to confront. Misogyny comes together with confused rage to exclude unprotected women and girls from the community, after which they are eligible for the most ghoulish forms of exploitation and violence.


Austerity, structural readjustment programs, and the resultant growing poverty in Asian countries have resulted in huge spikes in human trafficking from the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, China, and elsewhere (including Africa, of course) to the US, Europe, and the Middle East (especially Saudi Arabia and the UAE). If someone were to put a gun to my head and tell me to pick one of those regions to be accused of witchcraft in, I wouldn’t choose the Middle East.

Women who migrate or are trafficked to Saudi Arabia as domestic laborers find themselves at the complete mercy of their employers, mercy which is often lacking. They are routinely forced to work more than 18 hours a day, are rarely if ever afforded days off, are whipped and beaten for the flimsiest of perceived failures, and have no recourse to state aid when the abuse becomes unbearable. They’re often undocumented and do not speak Arabic, and even if they do approach authorities to allege abuse, they are open to counter-accusations of witchcraft that put their lives in danger.

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It’s noteworthy that the Saudi government inaugurated its “Anti-Witchcraft Unit” in 2009, since it coincides with the drastic rise in numbers of female foreign domestic workers entering the country.

By 2011, the unit had created a total of nine witchcraft-fighting bureaus in cities across the country, according to Arab News, and had “achieved remarkable success” in processing at least 586 cases of magical crime, the majority of which were foreign domestic workers from Africa and Indonesia…

In a country where public observance of any religion besides Islam is strictly forbidden, foreign domestic workers who bring unfamiliar traditional religious or folk customs from Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Africa, or elsewhere can make especially vulnerable and easy targets. “If they see these [folk practices or items] they immediately assume they’re some kind of sorcery or witchcraft.”

Accusers are guaranteed anonymity by the Saudi government, leaving foreign domestic workers especially vulnerable to retaliatory accusations made by their employers when they flee or report abuse:

“Recently, all family members has started to suffer from fainting and epileptic fits. After the housemaid fled, we found magic items planted in various part of our house,” the unnamed man said, quoted by Sabq Arabic language daily.

“I swear that we do not want to hurt her but to stop her evil acts against us and others,” said the man, who published a picture of the 31-year-old maid in newspapers.

I’ll bet.

Make no mistake: the Saudi state actively pursues these women, and though some of them are merely lashed and imprisoned, the vast majority are convicted on the shadowy basis of a male judge’s whim and sentenced to death.

The most economically, politically, and socially vulnerable women in the world are trafficked to or migrate to one of the richest countries on Earth out of desperation, only to be treated like chattel. When they display the slightest resistance to being brutally dehumanized, the Saudi state comes to the rescue of their abusers under the guise of protecting the socio-religious order from the “danger” these powerless and completely isolated women purportedly pose via labeling them as witches. It’s a tidy system that allows for the demonization and disposal, yet again, of women who have lost what little value they had to men and their market.

Spooky, huh?

19 thoughts on “The World of “Witchcraft”

  1. Thanks ND, and you’re right this is some truly scary and terrifying stuff. It’s also important to note that Christianity and Christian beliefs were driving forces of white imperialism and colonization. People often ask what the fuck is wrong with white people, well look at the Christian religion. The Christian religion promotes the ideology that the Earth belongs to white Christian men, so they can go tromping around wherever they want, staking claim to territory that’s already occupied and killing non-white “heathens” whenever they want. This attitude, even when manifested in less egregious ways, still exists to this day. Then of course there’s the forcible conversion that’s still happening in poorer countries and American homeless shelters where Christian missionaries offer food in exchange for worshiping Jesus. White imperialism is also Christian imperialism, and the identity of white is wrapped up in being a Christian Protestant which is why anti-Catholic and anti-Semitic sentiment was and still is a problem.
    PNG and Ghana are predominately Christian so it’s no surprise that they learned those practices from white Christian men who were already skilled at raping, torturing, and murdering white women who also became disposable and inconvenient for whatever reason.
    A lot of people think I’m just a big mean meaner for ripping on Christianity but damn if it isn’t one of the biggest contributors to global oppression to this day. I don’t know how anyone in the social justice community can ignore it, since it’s the ideology of white supremacy and creator of all the -isms we’ve gotten so sick and tired of dealing with all the time.

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  2. Spooky indeed – sociopathically so. Happy fucking Halloween sisters. What a god damn nightmare of biblical proportion. And thank you for this LOL —> “and they’re not glamping.” HA!

    It’s a real culture-clash shitshow, thanks wholly to the maniacs described by Meg and that you so brilliantly word ninja-d together, ND. Great tags too, btw.

    The thing about this horror show, is that it’s the same ole’ colonist/imperialist/greed-fueled template, applied slightly differently depending on the particular group of maniacs leading the madness, but Big-Picture wise, it plays out the same all over. With the more allegedly “developed” nations further along in the madness. Oops I mean “progress.”

    As the men themselves say, all so-called great empires crumble. It is not a question of if but when this will happen re. oh so grand “civilization” – nothing civilized about it – as John Trudell has said, what they call “civilization” and all that comes with it is one of the most savage, spirit-eating, mind-mining, blood-thirsty systems of destruction ever. Nature is mightier than any of these little fucks, and the rest of us, and Nature is the antidote and will correct things. A few humans will survive. Hopefully more of the non-psychopathic variety.

    The fierce freedom fighters I look to for learning and inspiration – indigenous decolonist folks – literally put their life on the line, and lose their lives sometimes, resisting all this. This is just how it goes. When you fight for your LIFE and your PEOPLE and what you deeply believe in, you never back down. That is the nature of resistance.

    These “witches” – and ALL women, children, the sick and the elderly anywhere in the world, always pay the steepest price when these greed-fueled maniacs are doing their genociding.

    “Misogyny comes together with confused rage” – so this. This applies to the neo-nazis & their brethren, who differ in degree and methodology, but not core values. I was just talking about this with a male friend the other day. He couldn’t understand how/why the likes of the Pittsburgh shooter or the Toronto incel guy who plowed his van onto a bunch of pedestrians here in the spring, and on and on the examples go. I said I thought it was a combo of misdirected and ever-growing rage, ignorant learning, coming together with random, snow-balling events in the guys’ lives that were LONG in the making – all culminating in one moment of “snapping,” and the victims being at the wrong place at the wrong time. That’s a little different from the situations you speak of here. But the cultural context from which this insanity is coming from, is the same, as far colonist/imperial/greedy motherfuckers hellbent on getting what they want AT ANY COST. They poison the lands, the ecosystems and the all beings within them, including humans.

    Africa. PNG. The women and girls….it breaks the heart and soul. You say this can theoretically be ameliorated – how? I’m sure there are some kick-ass feminist/feminist-type freedom fighting African women doing something about this there. We/they are everywhere, doing what we all can, when we can, to put a dent in the atrocities swirling around our backyards. Just curious what/how you think this can be fixed in the places you analyzed.

    I like how you brought up the western “gawking” tourists visiting these prison camps – just one more layer of WTF insanity. Native American reservations are also called prison camps among Natives/the indigenous people in the Americas – same template, different details and costumes and technologies of the psychopaths.

    Loved Meg’s comment. It really is the abrahamic religions (not sure about my people the Jews only cuz I don’t know enough about their geopolitics but do know many circles are misogynist), in bed with the capitalist/money shit, and government, with a revolving door between the two that separates them (one year they’re vice presidents of a country, the next year they’re back to being CEO’s of an oil company).

    An EXCELLENT deep-diving piece with a lot to it – thank you. May post more later.

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    1. Hi Natasha and thanks for your responses to my comment. It’s true that Judaism and Islam are misogynist cultures but those cultures weren’t the ones that took over the entire world and killed off entire continents of people like Christianity did. Jews and Muslims are also historical victims of Christians as well. The Holocaust is the most obvious example but there was also the expulsion of Jews from Western Europe and the crusades against Muslims in the holy land. Those oppressions including oppression against white women all contributed to the making of white imperialism. I think that in the event I criticize Jews and Muslims it will have to be in a way that Christian men won’t be able to take that criticism and use it to present themselves as less abusive and sexist. Just because Christian men aren’t performing public executions doesn’t mean they aren’t cruel and sadistic in a myriad of other ways that has a cumulative effect on Western women. White Christian men pick the worst examples of Muslims and Jews and then use that fear of men’s violence to get away with other acts of misogyny and atrocious behavior in general. That needs to stop.

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    2. There was a widespread women’s pact in PNG wherein they agreed to kill all male babies at birth to end male violence against women and war. Western feminists would do well to recognize “fierce feminist-type and freedom-fighting type” women and actions when they see them, but they never do. To be fair, most of the links to reporting about the “pact” have been scrubbed from the internet following rivers of man-tears in response to factual reporting of events involving and centering actual females acting in their own interests. But our fetishization of politics and disregard for actual, material pro-women policy and practice is a serious problem in Western feminism and frankly an embarrassment when we then ask “How can we help?”. Women in PNG and elsewhere are doing things to help themselves and their girl children that Western women are privileged enough to find abhorrent or to not know about at all. I seriously doubt they need or want our brand of “help” considering their needs and their willingness to do what it takes to help themselves (and our utter failure to recognize any women’s needs or to do much of anything to help any women in any real material way including ourselves). Western women just love boys and men too much to consider what a real solution actually looks like.

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      1. @Cannabis Refugee

        There are plenty of euro-western feminists who advocate murdering all males, including male babies, as well as castrating all males, etc.

        This is an example of why I look to and privilege/prioritize (traditional/decolonist) indigenous people’s knowledge & worldviews, because, among other things, these cultures deeply value and respect LIFE. From the land they live on/with, to the living beings they share land with (human and otherwise), to the humans they create, nurture and guide to adulthood. They would never even *think* to kill babies to solve a mental/emotional/spiritual dis-ease that comes from a very specific group of people/culture(s), even if this dis-ease spread to some of their own, which it has and does.

        Murdering males – and baby boys (!) – is reactionary and does nothing to address the root problem(s). That is eugenicist and no different from hitler-esque kind of thinking.

        “Western women just love boys and men too much to consider what a real solution actually looks like.” —> Not the “murder all men” women that I mentioned above.

        But aside from them, it is exactly from LOVE that our thinking and solutions should come. Not fear or hate. Of course we have to self-defend when in danger, and sometimes that self-defense is extreme, if the offense is extreme. But murder as a *preventative* measure – just makes no sense. Unless one thinks males are biologically wrong/fucked up/sick. And I KNOW this to be untrue, based on my knowledge and experience of other cultures (and a few men in my own life who aren’t like savage colonist men). To not respect this fact is to be racist or eurocentric or whatever word you want to use to describe dismissing and disrespecting huge groups of ppl and cultures that are drastically different from the dis-eased colonist culture. Especially if one is seeking answers.

        In other words, it’s not MALES that are the problem (no matter how much feminism says so) – it’s the CULTURE, and there are plenty of cultures that are healthy and balanced and respectful of all of LIFE and their relationship TO life, including between the sexes, and all unique beings who fill a very specific role in the web of life. And when I say “role”, I do not mean performative. These indigenous cultures are the ones being genocided, appropriated and misunderstood, which is horrific for so many reasons, including that they are the ones we can learn from in our own quest for good solutions.

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        1. @Natasha Sandy, thanks for your reply. What I see are actually a tiny minority of keyboard warriors who have gone to the ends of their thoughts on the issue and yes “advocate” from afar what the women in PNG were (are?) doing in real life. You grossly overestimate the numbers of women who favor that and sorry but you seem to be lying when you say “feminism” says men and nature/biology are the problem when “feminism” does nothing of the sort and strongly blames “culture” not men’s biology for what men do globally and across time (and thus transcending culture or colonial influence).

          Feminism and feminists are actually some of the biggest supporters of men and boys and almost all of them flatly reject all evidence that there is something inherently wrong with males, even the indigenous males whose patriarchal cultures you seem to admire and think are non patriarchal when the type of evidence used to show that they are non patriarchal is that they rape women “less” than colonial men do (for example). Murder as a preventative measure makes perfect sense to some indigenous women (pretty sure the PNG women were locals) but those indigenous people aren’t “traditional” enough for you, and not the ones Western feminists are looking to for answers because “preventative murder” isn’t what you think is best, despite what indigenous women have decided for themselves (you know better) and despite the obvious fact that they do respect LIFE/LOVE and that’s the reason they dispatch males specifically and not people. They just do it in a way that’s not palatable to man-loving Western feminists (the vast, vast majority of “feminists” who demonize the handful of keyboard warriors who think male biology is the problem).

          Obviously I cannot comment on “uncontacted” indigenous people and neither can you but the contacted ones seem to have been patriarchal before the colonizers got there and if they weren’t they might’ve rejected the colonists more vehemently than they did, using the “self defense” you mention. They didn’t do that. Why not? Obviously it’s a complex topic that won’t be worked out in the comments of a blog but all I see here are Western feminists who either didn’t know what the PNG women are doing for themselves, or reject their solution (once they know about it) as being colonized and reactionary based on your own values of “life and love” including what that should look like in practice instead of respecting what PNG women are doing and considering that they could be right. It’s kind of gross.

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          1. @Cannabis Refugee

            What I find gross is disrespect, disrespectful snark and assumptions and judgments. Especially as a response to respectful dialogue.

            There’s a lot to unravel in your comment, so this reply is lengthy, and I thank you in advance for hanging in ’til the end:

            I didn’t give any numbers re. feminists who advocate killing all men – I just know they exist, and am aware there aren’t a ton of them. It doesn’t matter to me how many of them there are, my point was they exist.

            Re. “you seem to be lying” – what kind of thing is that to say, other than rude and disrespectful? Just ask if you’re unsure about something, instead of accusing people of lying. My only point here was that similar to “kill all men” feminists, there are some feminists who think male biology is inherently The Problem. And this mentality is a huge problem because of it’s ethno-centricity – such myopic thinking will never lead to good or real solutions.

            Re. “feminism blaming culture, not men’s biology, for what men do globally and across time (and thus transcending culture or colonial influence)” — this doesn’t make sense because people don’t/can’t exist outside of the culture(s) we’re embedded in – we shape culture and culture shapes us. And how can you dismiss the “colonial influence” – i.e. violent land theft and slavery & oppression (including sexual violence) that goes with it – when it is such a central part of what these men from specific cultures do, across time?

            Re. feminists “flatly reject all evidence that there is something inherently wrong with males” – I believe there is something inherently wrong and dis-eased with a very specific CULTURE – the euro-western/domesticated/”civilized”/colonist/imperialist culture, to name the most recent and relevant one to where I live in the Americas – and the men IN it who self-appoint themselves rulers of said culture – AND the women who support them and want to be like them/want a seat at their table – the most conservative/libfem types, perhaps. But to say this about ALL men is ethno-centric and ignores & dismisses *whole cultures* with healthy, balanced people, including men and women who power-share/have equality (and this exists in “contacted” indigenous cultures too, right here in the Americas). Why women continue to ignore this, I don’t know, since it gives HOPE to an otherwise dismal, horrible picture. Unless ppl like/want to stew in rage and misery instead of look to ppl and places that get it RIGHT, or at least a helluva lot better than us “civilized” cultures.

            Which brings us to your claim that:

            “indigenous males whose patriarchal cultures you seem to admire and think are non patriarchal when the type of evidence used to show that they are non patriarchal is that they rape women “less” than colonial men do (for example).” —-> a) Sounds like pretty shoddy “evidence,” and b) this is grossly inaccurate and just not true re. indigenous cultures being patriarchal in general, and definitely not in the way that the euro-colonist culture defines/understands patriarchy.
            “Patriarchal” is a colonist term – matrilineal and patrilineal is more accurate when it comes to indigenous cultures of the Americas. As diverse as indigenous cultures are, one thing they have in common is BALANCE, which includes rships between the sexes, and other beings, and the earth.

            When learning about indigenous cultures (or any culture outside of our own), we must get our info directly from the SOURCE, i.e. the actual People from said cultures and their communities. NOT ppl who claim their great grandmother was a “Cherokee princess”, NOT academics, NOT non-indigenous “experts”, NOT “shamans” (a red flag that screams appropriation & bastardization of indigenous medicine people, especially if they charge money for their ”shamanism”, or what Native people call “pay for pray” – the word “shaman” is rarely used in actual Native communities – it’s a colonist term. But I digress).

            Re. “Murder as a preventative measure makes perfect sense to some indigenous women (pretty sure the PNG women were locals) but those indigenous people aren’t “traditional” enough for you, and not the ones Western feminists are looking to for answers because “preventative murder” isn’t what you think is best, despite what indigenous women have decided for themselves (you know better)” –—-> I DO know better, based on knowledge I’ve gained FROM indigenous people HERE, not PNG, because I am more concerned with what’s going on in my own backyard. I’m not telling PNG women what to do, nor am I going to agree with or support ppl/cultures that are poisoned with colonialism just bcuz they’ve retained some of their indigenous ways. That is for them to sort out, which they can’t do until/unless colonizers fuck off from their land and stop putting their noses in their business (like we’re doing here?).

            That said, I certainly listen when people from other cultures share their stories, and as far as PNG is concerned, I’d be interested in a) hearing directly from the women THERE vs. some “studies” or articles written by outsiders [no offense to ND, you did an awesome job with this story and better than any other outsider news source would do], and b) I would want to listen to a variety of PNG women in order to get a more accurate understanding of what all is going on there and the different perspectives that exist among PNG women themselves.

            Like I said, I certainly don’t and wouldn’t tell PNG women what to do, I’m too busy figuring out what to do HERE on the stolen indigenous land I live on, and the ongoing genocide of indigenous cultures happening right HERE. And I do this by privileging and prioritizing the indigenous voices of the land I live upon. Which by the way, are very diverse, and have conflict within their own communities in regards to decolonization (and so many other things, bcuz colonization has wreaked havoc on them) – some are assimilationists and are on board with the colonist mentality of “that was then, this is now, let’s get busy with modern colonist culture” while the traditionalists/decolonist folks are more of the mentality “we need to reconnect with our tradish ways, we have not, do not, and will NEVER accept the holocaust against us and jump on the genocidal colonist train of destruction no matter what. There was nothing wrong with us in the first place.” It’s very complicated and there’s so much to it. Bottom line for me is that I choose to listen to, learn from and support the decolonist/traditional indigenous voices bcuz they make the most sense to me.

            Re. “the contacted [indigenous] ones seem to have been patriarchal before the colonizers got there and if they weren’t they might’ve rejected the colonists more vehemently than they did, using the “self defense” you mention. They didn’t do that. Why not? ” – a) you make a big and wrongful and euro-centric assumption saying indigenous cultures “seem” to have been patriarchal pre-euro-contamination, they in fact were NOT/are NOT patriarchal – vast majority were (and are) actually matrilineal – in fact, many indigenous resistance movements here in the Americas have been spear-headed by Native American/indigenous WOMEN (it just doesn’t make the mainstream news, and colonized minds can’t seem to wrap their minds around indigenous female leadership), and b) indigenous ppl DID vehemently self defend against the euro-colonists (and still DO) – there is a lot to this and I don’t want to make this comment even longer than it already is, so I’ll just say that it wasn’t due to lack of self-defense skills/tactics/degree that so many indigenous ppl were killed in the Americas, it was bcuz of how dirty and psychopathically the euro-colonists fought – things like slaughtering villages while the men were hunting (how “brave” and “heroic” to kill women, kids, the sick and elderly), so not a fair fight in any way, and of course the biological warfare via smallpox blankets and the diseases that euro-colonists brought over in general that indigenous ppl did not have immunity to – this accounts for approx. 70% of the indigenous death count.

            But miraculously, SOME indigenous ppl here survived despite these horrors, and we are so damn LUCKY they are among us to connect with and learn from and SUPPORT. We need to rid all the racist garbage and lies and misinformation and disinformation circulating about indigenous ppl and their ways of life and them as a People.

            Also, it’s not just “uncontacted” indigenous ppl that we have much to learn from – colonized Native Americans have tons of knowledge and have retained much of their cultures, which can only be understood when spending much time with them – we are talking about RADICALLY DIFFERENT worldviews and ways of being.

            There are probably some people reading this who are thinking “You’re totes romanticizing these cultures! Wake up/grow up/reality check, duh!” – terms like “romanticizing” is one of the MANY slimy tactics of the colonist culture to attempt – as usual and a colonist MO – to dismiss, discredit and disrespect entire cultures that are deeply intelligent and that have SO much to teach us more colonized, ignorant, backwards folks. Not because we’re dumb, but because the ”civilized” culture we are shaped by is mentally, emotionally and spiritually dis-eased AF.

            That said, there ARE some non-indigenous people who indeed “romanticize” indigenous cultures – these are ppl who don’t know what they’re talking about and have no contact/connection/understanding of real/genuine/authentic indigenous ppl or their cultures (to whatever degree of “contact”). As for me, I am lucky to be married to a 2-spirited Anishinaabe woman who is a long time, fierce indigenous rights activist who has helped in my own decolonization process and learning about indigenous knowledge.

            Re: “Feminism and feminists are actually some of the biggest supporters of men and boys” — I agree with you here, and I feel like when women start not accepting the unacceptable from men in their lives, we will get somewhere – first personally, then politically. It has to start at home.

            Peace

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            1. I didn’t get a notification of your response, and I checked back for a few days and then figured the conversation had ended. I apologize for seemingly ignoring your reply. And you’re right, I should not have accused you of lying (or seeming to) since there is no way I could know your intent when you said that feminism is bio-essentialist. Not to be snarky, but it seemed to me (and still does) that anyone who actually says that either has no idea what they are talking about WRT what feminism is about, or they know and they are deliberately misstating the reality. And I have personally experienced a lot of lying on this issue from social constructionist feminists who play the victim and pretend social constructionism is a minority view within feminism (and therefore that social constructionist feminists are vulnerable to having their perspective oppressed by the “majority” — what they claim are bio-essentialist feminists. That is a reversal because bio-essentialist feminists are the minority within Western feminism and the ones vulnerable to being oppressed, for example, by having their work and archives destroyed and their very feminism questioned such as with the Brennan/Hungerford letter to the UN #2 which denied that Mary Daly and other bio-essentialist feminists were even feminists at all. That is patently misogynist, disrespectful, pandering, and untrue).
              Anyway. Your comment was indeed long but I don’t see a lot to really respond to. You are of course entitled to your opinion(s) but that’s really all I see in your response. You think we are lucky to have colonized Native Americans about so we can learn from them, but colonized PNG women are too colonized to take seriously. You say that humans cannot exist outside of culture, which is of course true but not relevant since humans create culture to reflect themselves (IOW men create patriarchal cultures that reflect male values, tendencies, and general and specific maleness, which comes from the men themselves. Which is the very definition if innate, IOW, male biology). You’re a social constructionist, I get it. Your online presence is also attached to your professional identity and website where you are trying to solicit psychotherapy clients. So hardly unbiased. You couldn’t agree with the bios even if you wanted to.
              I of course agree that the colonizers (meaning, men and white men) “fight dirty” which is how women have been oppressed by them in the first place (before anyone else was oppressed by them — females were the first slaves according to Gerda Lerner’s History of Feminism series IIRC). I don’t quite get why/how women let this happen to us either but we did. WRT indigenous people, I would like to know, when they saw how the colonizers were treating their own (the colonizers’) women, let alone when the colonizers started abusing native women, why did they “go hunting” as you say instead of killing the colonizers outright? It seems to me that only an already patriarchal culture would allow that to happen, or wouldn’t see it for what it was: unequivocally bad. Did they just not think they would ever be treated “as women” themselves if they lost? That seems to have been a mistake on their part but one based in misogyny (if that’s how it happened. Who knows if it did or not. You? No). If the natives’ worldview was so fundamentally different to the colonizers’ that they couldn’t deduce what they were “up to” then that at least makes some kind of sense (it’s probably why colonized white women didn’t nip it in the bud either — they had their own inner lives that did not happen to revolve around the sickos that surrounded them, which in hindsight seems to be unfortunate). But like, I have questions. And I don’t see any answers or hope for answers in your reply which you admit is based on your understanding of post-colonized indigenous people and importantly, explicitly biased toward “hope.” I do not see that as a constructive bias (if there is such a thing — you seem to think it’s constructive and also not a bias?) and it’s certainly not neutral.
              Anyway. You and others on this thread wondered aloud what PNG women were doing to “help themselves” in their particular patriarchal hell and I added some history and background there, which you rejected and no one else responded to. This is a social constructionist feminist blog so that’s about par for the course. But there are some commenters and readers here that do not share that particular bias.

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  3. I don’t know if I’ve digressed, as I’m not speaking to the very specific plight of the females you wrote about. I just see it as a symptom of this bigger predatory thing. Kinda like porn/prostitution here, being one of millions of symptoms of the dis-eased colonist culture.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Just wanted to add to Meg’s identifying of the christians behind the destroying / (and “saving”) of the poor heathen savages (!) – Spending millions on the commercials with little Black children with flies swarming around their heads, probably making them cry before filming their tears – to incite sympathy from the more “civilized” folks back home, so they can feel like heroes paying $20/mo with a picture of a little Black child on their fridge, when none of their money goes to any good. It is these christian’s VERY PRESENCE in these “developing” nations that is CAUSING the starvation and flies and tears and astronomical death counts. “We are entitled to take this land and save the poor stupid people in it.”
    Just like here in the Americas —> “kill the Indian, save the man.” And just like Native Americans here, the Africans in Africa don’t need (western) “education” or allegedly “enlightened” ways of living – they need to reconnect with their very intelligent, traditional indigenous ways of life, and for all non-Africans to fuck off out of there stat, along with their machines of destruction. Gawd knows how long it would take to rid the euro-western/christian/colonist poison running amok in these cultures that you analyzed, but that is for THEM to sort out, which they can only do when LEFT ALONE. Same here. Though kinda hard since so many of us non-indigenous are occupying their land and directly and indirectly fueling the genocide keeping them from living as they did and as they continue to fight for (at least, the non-assimilationist folks).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a tough one. Donating/volunteering must be done carefully, because there are a lot of shady NGOs for all the good ones. I would say raising awareness, educating ourselves and others, making sure we understand how our choices contribute to the way global capitalism functions, voting with these women in mind (though that’s a tough one because neither US party could possibly care less). I think the key thing we can do is seek out websites and works written by women in these places that lay out what they need and how they think we can help and follow their lead. I’m planning to try to put together a link/reading list for that purpose.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. “seek out websites and works written by women in these places that lay out what they need and how they think we can help and following their lead.” SO THIS! ❤ x infinity (and applicable to ANY issue/person/group we want to support).

        Liked by 1 person

  5. This is horrific almost beyond belief. At least the Salem witchhunt only lasted a year before being stamped out by authorities higher than the shitkickers who started it. When the Puritan 1600s look good by comparison, you’re deep in a horror story.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. PNG was the reported location of a women’s pact to kill all male babies at birth to stop male violence and war. Many links to those reports have been scrubbed from the internet but I thought I would mention that here. So yeah, “feminist-type and freedom-fighter-type women” in PNG, if we Western women are willing to recognize it when we see it. One thing Western women could do to support them is to recognize killing males as a feminist/pro-female action and support them in their decision to do that, but most Western women love men too much to ever do that.

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