Don't know where you acquired the headdress but the artist who crafted it deserves recognition. Having crafted a few of these and other Native American leatherwear over the years, myself, can attest that these are complex and and not easy to fabricate. So I just have to say I am impressed with the graceful and artistic beauty of this headdress. You could have chosen a far inferior specimen (as I seen done far too many times), in my mind insults not just the culture drawn from but also the model. On another track, the unusual pairing of the traditional Native American gear and the Steampunk inspired tattoos could lend itself to a new sub genre of Native American Steampunk. The storyline potential could prove quite interesting.
I abolsutely agree, I wish I knw who made it though. I purchased the headdress in New Mexico and speak a bit about it on my website. I know it is Navajo but I don't know the artist. It took my breath away when I spotted it though. I only hope a great portion of the money that I spent on it goes to the artist.
I think this is beautiful! I'm not Native American but it bothers me when people say head dresses were only for the men to wear.... If any other races refused to allow a women to wear something that's considered men's attire it would be considered sexist. People can say its a culture thing all they want but just because its a culture thing doesn't make it right... look at Yemen...men can have child Brides.
Beautiful, as always, Vera. I hope you don't let these people complaining about cultural appropriation get you down.
People, if you aren't Native American, don't speak for an entire culture. Talk about "cultural appropriation." You don't even care about or think about this issue at all until you see an image like this. Then you see an image of a girl in a headdress and you say to yourself, "Hey, I know some people find this offensive," and you see an opportunity to be morally superior. You come on here and wave around an indignation you don't even feel, because someone told you this kind of thing was bad and you have a chance to make yourself feel good and upright by shaming the artist. You think you look good by comparison standing on your soapbox.
But when is the last time you took the time out to write an article raising awareness about the misrepresentation of Native culture? When is the last time you even took a minute to read one? When's the last time you spoke with a Native historian to try to correct your own understanding of Native culture? Are you out there providing accurate representation of Native Culture in your art? When is the last time you organized or even attended a charity to benefit a Native American community? There might be one of you out there who's done any one of these things, but most of you are just trading on an issue you don't even care about for some moral superiority. Shame on you.
Vera, I'm sorry for getting on a soapbox in your comments section. These pseudo-PC censorship police make me so angry, though. Sometimes I just feel a need to speak out against it. As someone for whom gender equality and related issues are deeply personal, I get so angry when someone cheapens the cause by using pseudo-feminist language to slut shame and equate sexuality with sexism. I see this kind of thing in much the same light. I'm sure Native Americans have better things to be concerned about than what a model posts on her deviantArt page, but any number of armchair PC police are willing to make an issue out of nothing just so they can feel morally superior without really having to think or do anything themselves.
To those (likely few) of you who are Native American, and really did find yourself offended or hurt by this image, that's unfortunate. I feel certain that was never Vera's intention. I think that should count for something. I think the fact that Vera isn't doing what she is doing in an effort to hurt you should mean that even if you dislike it, you shouldn't try to make her feel ashamed for doing it. Intent matters.
I understand the need for accurate representation and cultural awareness, but it isn't any one artists responsibility to deliver those things or confine themselves within their bounds. This is just art. It's okay to educate people that a piece of art is not representative of your culture, but I don't think it's okay to censure the artist because it's not.
I find what Vera created here to be beautiful. If you disagree or you find it distasteful, that's your right. But that opinion doesn't give you the right to disrespect and disparage the artist by casting aspersions on her moral character for doing something harmless and benign. Even a casual appraisal will tell you that there's no malice here. There's not even any real risk of accidental negative influence. Anyone with any sanity or intelligence knows this sort of image doesn't reflect or represent your culture.
Intended or not acts of cultural appropriation are still bad. Even anything 80% of cultural appropriation and racism aren't intentional. Using art as an excuse to do things that are offensive is a cop out. Out is huge complex and creative, anyone who considers respect limiting isn't an artist. An even bigger issue is this is more than a drawing.
This is red face. No one dare touches blackface, but redface is totally fine? But like many people who perpetuate racial offenses do so by accident and use that as a shield, in which it isn't. If you do something wrong, you own up to it and avoid doing it again, you don't stab someone(or should I say a culture) in the back, say sorry and stab again.
Just because you find something offensive, doesn't mean it's morally wrong or rationally objectionable. Unless you can demonstrate how someone's behavior is tangibly hurting someone else, shaming and demonizing them for it is bullying, and bullying is wrong (because I can demonstrate how bullying hurts others.) Your own personal dogma is not a good enough reason for that. It's not appropriate for someone offended by homosexuality to shame a homosexual for their behavior, for example, because homosexuals are not hurting anyone with that behavior. Similarly, it is not appropriate to censure an artist for dogmatic reasons.
True black face is objectionable because it is used to belittle and degrade black people. Black face, in reference to the objectionable act, is a specific thing where someone paints their face in a caricature of a black person and represents black people as dim witted or with other distasteful characteristics. It's reasonable to be offended at someone doing such a thing and portraying the message that black people are unworthy of respect.
There have been times where the reasonable objection to black face has been dogmatically overextended, though. Somewhat recently, a fashion model was airbrushed with black skin and photographed portraying an African princess. The image wasn't portraying anything offensive, the artists involved were just trying to create something beautiful. The woman was just portraying a character, and the character was never meant to send any message, much less a disrespectful one, about race. Still, some people reacted negatively, forgetting that what is offensive is not a person portraying someone of another race, but the act of disparaging another race.
Similarly, there have been times where art has been used to portray Native cultures in a negative light. Old cartoons did it all the time. There are compelling arguments to be made that "Redskins" is a racial slur and the football team's mascot is a degrading stereotypical caricature. But I don't see any hate or degradation in this image. All I see is some artists trying to make something beautiful with objects that originate outside their culture.
Also, black face (or "red face,") is not cultural appropriation. That's not what cultural appropriation means. Black face is more akin to offensive racist jokes. Cultural appropriation is about the use of things that are important to a specific culture by people outside that culture in a way that doesn't respect the original cultural dogma. Someone who isn't pagan taking an Athame (ceremonial dagger) and mounting it on their wall because they think it looks cool would be cultural appropriation. Having a Buddhist statue on your shelf as art rather than as a representation of Buddhist belief is cultural appropriation. Dressing up as a priest and pretending to be a exorcist in a movie that exaggerates and embellishes Christian lore that you don't believe in would be cultural appropriation.
Objecting to cultural appropriation is basically saying "This is ours, and it means something special to us. You cannot have or use it or anything too similar, because it doesn't mean the same thing to you and you won't respect our dogma." The specific cultural appropriation in this image is the use of a ceremonial headdress as an aesthetic accessory.
The argument is that the Headdress is meaningful to certain Native people and to use it in a way that doesn't respect that dogma is offensive. However, if I have a headdress, how I use it has no impact on how you use and feel about yours. If I come around and use something you actually own and disrespect it, I can see you being offended, but you can't just dictate that an item is off limits for me because I don't see it in the same light as you.
I'm not going to stop eating certain meats because certain religions find them objectionable, and I'm not going to allow what art I enjoy or create to be limited by dogma. I'll no more support someone saying artists can't use headdresses in images like these than I would support saying South Park can't portray Jesus in the way it does. Your dogma is yours, keep it to yourself.
If you have an objection to this image that you don't think is dogmatic, I invite you to try to convince me. I'm open minded, but I do warn you I have heard a number of arguments and I've never heard one I find convincing. If you think you can explain to me how someone using cultural artifacts from a culture not their own in a way that doesn't respect cultural dogma, but isn't aimed at disrespecting the culture or people of the culture, is harmful or rationally objectionable, please give it a try.
Until then, I remain unconvinced. Because I am unconvinced that artists creating images like the one above are doing anything tangibly harmful, I find attempts to demonize and shame them to be the distasteful behavior of bullies. I don't like bullies, and I will always stand up for someone I think is being unfairly pushed around.
So you think its all right for a headdress, typically a symbol among many native American tribes of respect and power, to be worn in such a way as this? Further you add that if you had one you would do as you pleased with it and that I should not find offense in what you do because its yours and ownership-blah-blah-blah. If you use something that is sacred to others in a way not in tune with that, I don't think you have a right to tell me I'm not allowed to be offended by your misuse of it. The reason for a lot of the hubbub surrounding things such as this, is how we're largely portrayed in the media. It is seen as yet another example of disrespect. I know many, (as I was one myself) who would find the Redskins name an offending term, then I just stopped letting that word have power. I removed meaning from it. Me. I'm only one person here, and I get where you're coming from about folks jumping up and pretending to be offended by something that really has nothing to do with them, however, I do believe they have that right to express that this may not be the most tasteful of images. I'd disagree because Vera is incredibly beautiful and all she's doing is rockin' a headdress. Others, well, its a touchy thing. Racially Native American issues have been largely swept under the rug and when a complaint is filed it's promptly ignored. There's a lot to consider and unless you're a native, you don't know about it, which you mentioned, on that same token, I don't find offense to someone standing up for a cause that exists outside of their own. If someone wanted to rail against this image because they felt it insensitive, okay. Let them. You are. You're railing against those them because they're doing it. Again, I personally like this image, (Vera brings it to life), but I don't think you need to be a Native American to find offense in this, you just need to respect us, and understand how this may be seen as a bit of a slight. Just because you don't doesn't mean others aren't allowed to. You claim you're open-minded and that you've heard arguments regarding the matter, but if that were the case, one of those arguments would've brought into your thoughts a bit of respect for a culture, a people, who have been all but destroyed. America is all too unwilling to discuss that holocaust of its indigenous people. So when it comes to cultural artifacts being on display or misused some folks are going to get upset. Personally, this whole, "You're just being too sensitive" argument is a cop out to the real issue. Is Vera a chief, or a respected member of the Navajo (just an example) nation? Was this a gift (she said she purchased it in New Mexico so no)? Now, I don't know her personally, but I hardly think her intentions would ever be harmful, but again I can understand why some may find this offensive, and why others sensitive to our cause would take offense. Even if I had taken offense to this you're telling me I shouldn't because the headdress isn't being misused and because she owns it, she's allowed to do what she wants with it. That's the same thing Dan Snyder is saying about the Redskins team name. Going even further he says it's to 'honor' us. You're just one step away from that argument, an argument I've heard all too often. So if you happen to own an artifact of an American Indian tribe, think of its meaning and your use of it, it's called being mindful of others. Honestly, you're just being a dick. Oh sorry, I know you like to use words, but I figured since I had access to them, I could use them how I saw fit, and leveling that label on you seemed appropriate, being that those are my words, don't get upset.
Be offended all you like. Don't try to tell other people what they can and cannot do because you think your values should apply to others. Don't try to shame artists using values that the artist doesn't subscribe to. I don't care what objects you find sacred, they are just objects, and what I or anyone else does with them is our business. Vera's image isn't hurting anyone. She didn't steal that headdress from some cultural museum or something, it's something a prop maker made. It has no significance.
So yeah, be outraged. Quiver with rage. Just don't expect people to not think you sound like an uptight asshole when you tell other people how they should behave and that your culture has exclusive ownership of certain items and gets to dictate how every individual in the world can use them.
I don't begrudge you your feelings on an item. I may think it's silly to invest so much emotional baggage into a mere symbol, but go ahead, that's your prerogative. What I won't tolerate is you dictating to others how they should be allowed to use those items. I won't mindlessly kowtow because you threw out the 21st centuries' magical word, "offended." Where does it stop? Do I get to cast shame on you for wearing a silly T-shirt, claiming that it disrespects my history? After all, the first T-shirts were issued by the US Navy to soldiers fighting for our country. Maybe you plastering a silly catchphrase on one of them offends me.
But no, I don't get to make you feel bad for wearing a T-shirt without serving in the navy, do I, because that's fucking stupid. Well guess what, your fashion accessory isn't special either. It's just an item, worn on the head, that symbolized something specific to specific people.
Go ahead, try to find a single symbol that it's misuse would offend me. You won't do it, because I realize that symbols only have meaning to the people that ascribe them meaning. They are not inherently sacred. I'm not going to get upset at some girl wearing a military uniform or a nun's habit, a cross or a star of david, draping herself in a flag of any country including my own, or any other such thing. If I did, however, I would not have the audacity to tell her that she should stop what she is doing because it makes me uncomfortable.
You know why? Because it has zero affect on me and my opinions. She isn't showing the proper respect to a headdress? So what? How is it hurting you, besides you feeling all offended inside? What does her opinion matter to you? She isn't relevant to your beliefs. What she thinks about the sacredness of that headdress has no bearing on you.
Further, whether she poses in it or not is not going to change her opinions. She's not going to find that headdress suddenly important and significant just because you whine and shame her into not taking pictures like this. Does her lack of respect for this symbol somehow diminish your own? Well suck it up and get used to the fact that different people value different things, and they may not always see the things you value in the same light.
This isn't about Native culture. It's about symbolism in general. I'd rail against anyone trying to shame an artist for using their symbol in a way they don't approve. Don't think for a moment I wouldn't make the same arguments to the Muslims who object to drawings of Muhammad. This is about freedom of expression. Just because a symbol means something to you, doesn't mean the rest of the world has to abide by your rules when using it. If it did, it would mean anyone could dictate how anyone else uses anything.
Its folks like you that would appropriate native artifacts, ceremonial devices and have them on display like some common decoration. You claim to be open-minded, okay, perhaps your brain box is exposed, but mindful of others you are not. The message here, that some may find issue with lay in the sexual nature of native women (despite her not appearing to be of native heritage I don't know her personally so I can't say). Rape among young native American woman is quite high, images like this are seen to promote this rape culture. Natives in large have been exposed and marched along and robbed, so when it comes to inappropriate images of Natives I think we have a right to rail against it. Just because it is labeled art does not make it immune to social pressures. We have the right and freedom to express our ideas, however that freedom does NOT remove us from its recourse.
You're dismissing someone's view just because it does not jive with your own, you're not even bothering to listen to it. Again, your claim of open-mindedness has quickly lost weight. You express openly and quite clearly your view that you don't actually care, but that's all you're really saying. I get artistic expression, but not all expressions are good just because someone slapped the label 'art' on it. All that means is "hey look at what someone made." Where is the expression? Is she trying to express her feelings of native Americans as sexually liberated folk? I don't know, again, I really don't have an issue with this. I trolled the comments looking for a response just as yours about why people shouldn't be upset.
I'm not saying people need to shut their face-holes about things that don't pertain to them, but your argument of "it doesn't bother me so I'm going to keep doing it regardless of whether you find it offensive" is actually rude and disrespectful. Were a neighbor living above your head jamming with his band at all hours of the night whilst you sleep would you not complain? If you say no, you're lying, change the time if you're a night owl and he decides in the wee hours of the morn to start his jam session with his buddies. Does he get to claim artistic expression when the cops show up and hit him with citation because his neighbors (I all ready know you're not going to complain because what he does with this things clearly is none of your business whatsoever despite the fact that his actions are disturbing everyone else around him), can't stand the noise he's making? And maybe it is just that, noise.
You maybe open to experiencing new things, as open-minded folk are wont to do, but being mindful of others is a wholly different thing. This you are not. You understand as much as you see on the surface and that being; they're mad because someone else is using something in a way they find disrespectful, but you don't understand why they're really honestly bothered by it, and that's where the problem is. You don't care why, at least that's what I'm gathering by your responses. Not bothering to hear the why of the matter, is the whole meat and potatoes of their railing against the image. All you see is the steam from the pots man. There's more to it than "this is sacred to us". It's also "hey man, you white folks keep taking more land, screwing us over and trying to kill us, or leveling our earthen mounds and relocating our dead." There's over five hundred years of oppression, murder, injustice, that is coloring the view of those who dare to stand up say "I don't like this." Then people like you stand up and say "So what? Get over it." For you there is no connection, but to others there is. And art is about connections, otherwise how can the expression be successfully related to the viewers? Art would fail otherwise. Sometimes, a lot of times, it does. Not all things expressed are worthy of being cataloged for the ages nor does considering them art free them of a critical reaction.
It is not about you being open-minded, if you're an artist, you have to be able to see things differently, from all views, not just your own. This image is quite wonderful, I can't say that enough. I am not speaking for all native Americans as there are very few of us and we're well and thoroughly scattered North America, as such we all have varying opinions of ourselves and the outside world. The only commonality being that we see the governments that surround us as separate from us and the society that flourishes within those confines is still, in many ways, unwelcoming. It isn't just the nature of the object we see being paraded about that bothers us, it is the history of the culture of the society it comes from that has historically tried to murder us now attempting to mimic us but in fashion only, as if all we could ever be seen as is the solemn Indian that weeps before his defiled homeland, because we're all chiefs and that's how we rolled.
I don't agree with your points because they aren't based in logic and they aim to stifle freedom of expression.
It has nothing to do with the fact that it doesn't bother me. When I say to go ahead and try to find a use of a symbol that would bother me, it's not to say that since I'm not bothered no one should be. It's because the first action of people I've spoken to who share your point of view often resort to is to accuse me of hypocrisy because they think I must have my own symbol that is equally important to me, and I just don't care about this one because it isn't mine.
The point is to demonstrate that my views on this matter are internally consistent, the very first test of a logical argument. I'm not dismissing people's views because I think my sacred things are special and theirs are not. I'm dismissing them because I don't believe in sacred things, period. More importantly, I'm dismissing them because there is no causal link to the horrors people associate with these types of images. I'm dismissing them because no one can demonstrate a good reason to be upset about these things.
It's terrible that women are raped, but they are not raped because other women choose to pose sexually, no matter what garb they wear. They are not raped because an artist who was unafraid of her sexuality was not ashamed to pose nude and show off her body, and she happened to wear an item you find sacred. They are raped because some people are disgusting, terrifyingly unsympathetic, racist, misogynist psychopaths.
Pictures like this do not make people psychopaths. Pictures like this do not make people targets. No one is looking upon an image like this and finding a hereto unknown desire to rape Native women. The idea that this image contributes to the rape of Native women in any tangible way is nonsense akin to the idea that video games turn people into monsters.
Even on the off chance that someone who is already unhinged were to see this image and get some sick ideas in his deranged head, that isn't the author's responsibility. Blame lies squarely upon the shoulders of the individual committing horrors. You can cast some blame around, to a justice system that has probably run into this guy before but still he's free, and a mental health system that should be detecting these people and helping or containing them. But you don't get to stifle an artist's freedom of expression because of what some psychopath may think, and you don't get to repress a woman's sexuality because of the thoughts in a monster's head.
Your neighbor analogy is flawed, because the neighbor in question is imposing himself onto my home. She's not walking around a Native community like this, she's not sending out flyers to Native people with this image on them. She took this image and posted it in her gallery, where you can choose whether or not to view it. Yes, you may see it in the course of visiting an art site, but that is the appropriate place for it to exist.
Instead of getting mad about your neighbor playing his music loudly and making it so you can't sleep, you are going to a music festival and screaming that a certain band you don't like should have to stop playing. Go to a different stage and ignore the musician you don't like.
Don't make claims about my personal sense of empathy, you do not know me. We disagree on this, not because I have no empathy for Native people, but because I disagree with the logic of the arguments being made. I've never said I can't empathize with being upset about something. Anyone who says they've never found something offensive and upsetting is a liar. I understand that some people have values that lead them to find something like this upsetting. I disagree with those values, but that does not mean I cannot empathize.
Empathizing with someone who is upset does not, however, mean supporting them in whatever they want to do about it. Just because I understand why one of my friends is crying and upset about a recent breakup, and in that moment just wants to strangle her boyfriend for cheating -and indeed that I also want to strangle him for making my friend this upset- does not mean that strangling him is in fact a good idea.
When you make ad hominem attacks and judge someone for their views on an issue, it just makes your points look weak. Also, you specifically mentioned that you saw this image, sought out a comment like mine (which is months old), and sought to start some shit. So you'll have to forgive me for not having much empathy for your specific brand of offense. You sought out an opportunity to be offended. I posted here because I followed the artist. I clicked on the image because I liked it. I didn't come here looking for an argument, you did. You got agitated and went spoiling for a fight.
I never, ever, once in my life told someone to get over injustice. I do NOT agree with what was done to Native people and what continues to be done to them. I was not a colonial. People do not deserve to be lumped in with their ancestors and judged because of what people did hundreds of years ago. Not only that, but I, like many Americans, descend not from colonials, but from immigrants who came along later.
I feel nothing but sympathy and anger about what was done to the Native Americans. I find it disgusting that genocide was committed to make way for this nation. I cannot change that, however. I had no hand in it, I had no say. I may benefit from it now, by virtue of being born in this nation, but that was not my choice. I do not look down on Native people, and I would never support their further exploitation.
This image is not exploitation. This kind of art has no tangible affect on Native people. The worst that may come from it is that someone sees it and feels offended or upset, but that's not a crime. People get offended or upset every day, and they move on with their lives. In my experience, most of the people who get all upset and indignant about this stuff aren't even Native, they are just PC warriors standing up to do battle because they were told once that this sort of thing is bad. Which is offensive in it's own right.
There is no causal relationship between this image and any harm to any Native person. This image can coexist with a respect for Native people and their culture.
Just like I don't have to look at a sexy nun Halloween costume and come away with a degraded view of Catholics, viewing this image doesn't force me to come away with disrespectful or predatory thoughts about Natives. I am smart enough to separate fact from fiction. If someone is not smart enough to distinguish fantasy and reality, the onus is on them to mature. The reaction to such a situation should be to educate the ignorant, not to suppress art that the ignorant might not understand. We raise people up, not baby-proof the world.
Once again, this isn't a Native specific issue. Some Muslims get upset about people drawing Muhammad. Some Christians get upset about the use of Christian iconography. Native Americans don't have a monopoly on horror stories to justify these offended feelings, either. I imagine someone who survived a concentration camp might find a story with Nazi zombies in it distasteful.
The point is, once you give one group special exemption and say no one can express themselves using their iconography, where does it end? How do we measure what horrors are worthy of this special exemption? Is it in the number of lives? How do we determine which lives lost are applicable to which symbol? Do we just err on the side of caution and just say not to produce any art that offends anyone? Where are we then? What's left?
You are right that not all ideas are worth expressing, and that expressed ideas are open to criticism. I just think the criticism should be logical. You aren't objecting to a message, here. You admit yourself you don't even know what the message would be. Neither do I. Personally, I doubt there even is a message. I think she just set out to take a cool looking picture, and that's fine. What you are objecting to is the mere use of an object or theme you disagree with. There is no message of hate here, you are just trying to take ownership of an object and prohibit others from using it to express themselves.
If this were an image expressing a message of hate, I'd be right there with you telling the artist that it isn't acceptable. If it were derogatory or dismissive, or expressing any sort of harmful message, I'd be with you. But that isn't what's happening. All this image is a young woman in the woods having fun and expressing herself, not intending to hurt anyone. Intentions matter.
If she came out with the intention of hurting feelings and sending hate into the world, I wouldn't defend her. However, what I see is a bunch of people turning their outrage meters up to 11 and casting an innocent woman in the light of a villain, trying to make her feel shame just for trying to make something beautiful. I see bullies. I do not like bullies.
I'm Native American and I approve this image . For the ones that are talking about this being disrespectful at least try to be from the culture you speak for before opening your mouths about a subject you know nothing about. People have different tastes some native Americans might hate this but others like myself love it.
Headdresses are used for important ceremonial purposes such as weddings, and each feather represents a brave or important deed that the indian had done. They are almost always woven by the closest male family of those in power (who are almost always male). They are all uniquely works of art and woven in intricate ways.
So unless this is a handmade headdress that her family/friends made to show off their work of art, this has no meaning whatsoever aside from it being a picture of a woman wearing a piece of important ceremonial clothing.
Really nice shot, but it's disrespectful to wear clothing that has cultural/religious significance of whom you are not a part of, even if that was not your intent. You might as well be dressed as a Masai, wearing a hijab or have a congressional medal of honor around your neck - not all accessories are fashion, some have meaning attached to it.