When an individual belongs to two different disadvantaged classes, the risk of abuse and discrimination multiplies. Thus, Native American women are at a very high risk of violence and sexual abuse. As of 2007, “One in three Native American women will be raped at some point in their lives, a rate that is more than double that for non-Indian women, according to a new report by Amnesty International” (Fears and Lydersen 1). This is exemplified in the novel in the rape, murder and mutilation of Evelyn Rose McCrae and Madeline Jeanette Lavoix. There was the possibility of a third assault and it occurs in front of the two brothers on New Year’s Eve. A car full of white men, one of which Jeremiah believes to be in his history class, pulls up in front of a young pregnant woman whom the young men jeer and proposition. All three women were Native American and in seedy neighbourhoods at the time that they were offered a ‘good time’, and the two were assaulted and murdered. The two assaults and murders were perpetrated by young men, and to be assumed as young white men. Through these encounters we can see how Native women were treated in the city as a twofold minority. In the setting of the city, Native American women are treated as lowly sex objects by the young men in all three instances. They had a lower social status as being both women and Native...
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...hey lusted after, as it belonged to a Native woman, something that was beneath them and they were not supposed to want. The destruction of the genitalia allows the young men to realign themselves with their society’s views.
Another motive behind Highway mentioning the mutilation of the sex organs is that it is a symbolic removal of gender. The defining characteristic between male and female are the genitalia and by removing them, albeit violently, Highway may be referring to the genderlessness in Native American folklore and language. Perhaps the young Native women are returning home to the place of their ancestors and in death they no longer require the physical properties of a gender that has brought them so much pain. Or there may be a different, deeper meaning to the removal of gender characteristics and the stories in Cree folklore and the Cree language.
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