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Abstract

Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers’ 2012 short film A Red Girl’s Reasoning dismantles the narrative of colonial sexualized violence in its representation of the protagonist, Delia, enacting retributive violence against white men. Tailfeathers’ tense eleven-minute film depicts a First Nations woman seeking violent vengeance against white men who have sexually assaulted Indigenous women. This essay explores the political and transformative potential of such stories of revenge, examining A Red Girl’s Reasoning’s fictional representation of violence against the colonial oppressor alongside J. Halberstam’s discussion of imagined violence. I argue that this story of violent revenge is productive in its utopic depiction of a counterreality and futurity that destabilizes the relationship between imagination and reality, while simultaneously representing the ongoing community-based resistance of Indigenous women. A Red Girl’s Reasoning illustrates both an alternative present and vision for a decolonized future that are politically productive, depicting a space of violence that challenges both the white male rapist and the colonial white heteropatriarchal state that protects him. This argument is complicated by narratives of non-violence and forgiveness, but ultimately, I propose that imagined violence is a decolonial intervention, effective in its moral complexity and in its refusal to provide tidy ethical answers about the violence that it represents.

Note on the Author

Hannah Barrie is a recent graduate of the MA program in Gender Studies and Feminist Research at McMaster University and is a settler living on the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee and Anishnaabeg Peoples. Her research explores feminist transformative justice models with a focus on sexualized violence, arguing for sustainable community approaches to harm.

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