i think it’s one of the things that the social justice warriors tend to misinterpret. for example, they get seriously riled when a white girl (for example) wears a geisha costume to a party - because it’s apparently offensive to dress yourself in someone else’s culture. but if there was a non…
You could not be more wrong.
1. Cultural appropriation is the misuse, misrepresentation or decontextualization of traditions from marginalized groups by individuals that are relatively privileged. A cheerleader is a incorrect comparison (also known as a false equivalence) because it is not a culture and does not even represent a group of people: cheerleaders are of any and all races and culture. Additionally, men wearing women’s clothing is a false equivalence.
Wearing traditional clothes, or more usually, stereotypical and misrepresentative versions of traditional clothing from other cultures because a) it reinforces stereotypes if incorrect b) it decontexualizes the tradition and contributes to Eurocentric beauty standards if incorrect. Additionally, treating other cultures as costumes is a form of symbolic dehumanization, even if it’s not intended. It’s a form of colonialism/imperialism, a left over harmful behavior that’s sadly continued into the present day.
2. It’s actually very easy to learn about and even participate in other cultures and not culturally appropriate. You’re making it like it’s only one or the other: you either are ok with appropriation or you are a segregationist. The reality is that there is an in-between.
You can appreciate and learn about another culture without needing to imitate them. I’ll say it again: you can appreciate another culture without imitating them. Imitation is not appreciation in this context. As I’ve already detailed, it’s harmful in several ways. What’s a step backward in development and evolution is using the traditions of other cultures for our own benefit, which is (as I’ve mentioned) a harmful colonialist behavior.
Learning about cultures and participating in them with your family and close friends is the easiest way without appropriating. They are raised in it, know what is and isn’t ok to do, and can teach you about it. That however is not an all-access permission to do whatever you want.
1. that definition of cultural appropriation is loaded, and is quite specifically not what i’m discussing here. at its most basic form, cultural appropriation is exactly what the name suggests: “the adoption of some specific elements of one culture by a different cultural group" (and as a side note, the fact that the only official definition i could find of this phrase is from wikipedia shows that it is really not a recognised thing by anyone aside from your typical ‘blogger-who-thinks-they-can-change-the-world’). a cheerleader is not a redundant comparison to make. geishas are traditionally figures of entertainment in japanese culture. cheerleaders are arguably as integral to american culture in an undeniably similar role of entertainment, so by saying that it is not part of that culture, you are denying the very existence of western traditions and culture. and reducing the cultural significance of a race to nothing is (in my opinion) far worse than acknowledging it and even borrowing an element of it. additionally, it is not a false equivalence regarding men wearing women’s clothing. by segregating groups of people into their own specific cultural attire, you can just as easily say that men should only wear men’s clothes and women should only wear women’s clothes. there are cultural attachments to each. but a man born into a woman’s body cannot express himself through a culture he identifies with if this is the case. it raises the exact same issue of the question ‘who are we to tell people what to wear ?’
again, you’re here assuming a white dominance that was not part of my discussion. i’m not talking about eurocentric beauty ideals or colonialism, and it’s ridiculous to suggest that i am. wearing elements of traditional clothing of other cultures (contrary to what you seem to believe) doesn’t dehumanise or devalue the culture being represented. and in the case that the culture is misrepresented, those doing the misrepresentation usually end up looking like dickheads. (eg. person who cannot speak/read chinese getting a tattoo with meaningless chinese writing). that’s not contributing to any kind of westernised concept of beauty. furthermore, the representation of more than one culture in the (unfortunately) white majority of media exposure is a step away from imposing western beauty ideals on those who otherwise strive towards that…
2. i think you’ve missed the point. my argument was quite simple in that i don’t believe that cultural appropriation is a valid term to use when someone is wearing an item of clothing that allegedly ‘belongs’ to a different culture. i think there are far more important issues with the world than whether a white girl is wearing a sari. obviously, if there is clear malicious intent behind how someone chooses to dress, and their motive is clearly to offend or marginalise the culture they are displaying - then yes, there is a problem. but that still isn’t cultural appropriation.
as for being able to appreciate cultures without imitating them. yes, but more often than not a person is not trying to imitate a culture. they are borrowing elements of a culture they particularly admire and integrating them with their own culture. it’s a form of participation for most - and let me reiterate that no one ought to be told they can’t wear something because they don’t belong exclusively to the group of people who are allowed to wear it. no one is able to grant someone permission to dress a certain way and inhibit individual liberty like that. that is far more dehumanising than the minority of the ignorant people who don’t understand the significance of the culture they’re choosing to wear a part of.
i think the fundamental difference here is that my beliefs are centred around the idea that segregation of cultures is ultimately detrimental to social progression. barriers between races and cultures have plagued humanity for centuries and caused so much stupidity and fear of ‘the other’. cultural retention =/= cultural segregation. and i believe that groups of people are able to retain what is ‘theirs’ and still have the outside world able to find their own kind of cultural identification with any elements involved in that. i also believe that telling someone what not to wear on the basis that it offends someone is a pretty fucking stupid thing to do and the most ridiculous quelling of freedom of expression there is.
thoughts on ‘cultural appropriation’
i think it’s one of the things that the social justice warriors tend to misinterpret. for example, they get seriously riled when a white girl (for example) wears a geisha costume to a party - because it’s apparently offensive to dress yourself in someone else’s culture. but if there was a non white, non american girl dressing in a cheerleader costume, would it actually create offence? not to anyone rational or not overly-sensitive to the great ‘social injustices’ in the world…
the whole point of costume parties and halloween and everything is that you can be a different person - you don’t have to express your own identity. if we told boys not to dress as princesses because that’s exclusively ‘feminine culture’ then there would be uproar by the same people saying it isn’t okay to wear traditional dress from a culture that ‘doesn’t belong’ to the person wearing it, because of limitations placed on freedom of choice and because telling people what to wear and what not to wear is actually kind of dictator-y. can you see the hypocrisy ?
furthermore, when people aren’t in costume and choose to express themselves via the style of a different culture, why should their form of self-expression be penalised ? besides, is their way of carrying this out actually offensive ? when a person chooses to adorn their body using elements of different cultures, it can be generally said that their motives aren’t spiteful or malicious. at the worst end of the spectrum there’s those who are probably ignorant of the meaning behind what they wear, choosing to do so because it ‘looks pretty’, but mostly, integration of other traditional body adornments into western society are a celebration of that culture itself and a nod to multi-ethnic societies & diversity. people throw around the term ‘cultural appropriation’, but isn’t it favourable for people to have a strong mix of cultures within any society, and for people to be able to choose their own values and styles without different groups of people claiming that their culture cannot belong to anyone else but them ? doesn’t that seem to be a huge step back in social progression ?
one more thing to note is that the thing that seems to annoy most people about this whole thing is when the cultural significance of something becomes inextricable from its religious significance. on the one hand, i do believe that it can be disrespectful when people turn religious symbols into fashion statements - which has been fairly predominant recently with crucifixes. but again, at the most, it’s purely ignorance in how a person is devaluing the meaning behind the faith that the crucifix represents. another thing i will say is that south asian body adornments such as mehndi and bindis do have religious significance as well as being there to look a certain way, but i know plenty of pakistani and indian women who wear them without their religious meaning and purely for their appearance. in this case, there is a definite separation between religion and aesthetics, and the only thing to be mindful of is crossing that line.
i belong to a very white british family, but my sister is muslim, my boyfriend and a number of my friends are pakistani & indian, my best homegirl is nicaraguan, and as a result, i have an interest and admiration for all of these cultures. but when i read about so-called ‘cultural appropriation’, i feel as though i am being told to effectively stay exclusively within the bounds of my own culture. to me, that feels like racial segregation and not something i am willing to advocate when i think that society would benefit so much more from a celebration of every single culture and faith - but that’s an entirely different discussion.
tl;dr - i don’t think cultural appropriation is even really a thing
(let me know if i’ve missed anything glaringly obvious)
not sure if zooey deschanel is actually unbelievably annoying or if those are just the roles she’s chosen for… either way everything i’ve ever seen her in has given me the urge to stamp on her irritating face
if you’re not fuckin pumped for the holiday season then you’re feliz navidead to me.