Saturday, October 3, 2009

Indigenous Feminist Reproductive Justice Freedom Fighter: Sexual Health Sundays spotlights Jessica Yee

Jessica Yee is the founder and Executive Director of The Native Youth Sexual Health Network (NYSHN). "a North-America wide organization working on issues of healthy sexuality, cultural competency, youth empowerment, reproductive justice, and sex positivity by and for Native youth." All of that, and she's only 23 years old. In an article entitled "Reclaiming Choice for Native Women," Yee writes,

First and second wave feminism did not "give" my people reproductive rights; in fact those of us in Native communities had them a long time ago. And how "pro-choice" identities play out in our communities now probably looks a lot different than what most people think.

I'm inspired by Jessica Yee, who is working to address themes of indigenous sexuality and empowerment, decolonization, harm reduction and media literacy as well as sex education. Feminism, which has historically been associated with white, middle class women, must grapple with issues of colonization, racism, class stratifications, and the zillions of other factors that affect the lives of individuals (male and female) if it is going to stay relevant.

This summer, I trained with Scarleteen to be a Peer Educator. In the process, I was "introduced" to Jessica Yee. In a forum thread, I asked her about intersectionality and sexual education, and she responded,

Within the sexual health world we are actualizing things like queer-positive, even pro-choice tools and resources - but we've still got a long way to go before we acknowledge colonization, or even where the origins of sex positivity and sex education began. And that starts with understanding Indigeneity.

Looking around the sexual health advocacy world in Canada and the United States I don't feel represented - but mean while the people in my own community are over-represented in every negative statistic to do with sexual health (highest rates of STI's, domestic violence, etc).

I think until we understand that we have fundamental rights over our own bodies - that are inextricably linked to land, spirituality, and our world in general - someone will always be losing out.

I'm very inspired by Yee's work and activism, and I wanted to share her words with you this week.

Check out the rest of Yee's article here

Read more of Jessica Yee's work

Visit the NYSHN's website

Buy her book, “Sex Ed and Youth: Colonization, Communities of Colour, and Sexuality”


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