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Author Topic: Can't say the only thing I really think about your tattoo: KEY UPDATE Post 13  (Read 26561 times)

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purple

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Sounds like she got you a good one!!  :P

I think that if it were a real situation, you really shouldn't say anything.  IMO, people's tattoos are their own private business.

Promise

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That's a good one! BTW...in our area dreamcatchers are fairly mainstream. However, I get how some might be annoyed without knowing her or her experience with it and its meaning. It annoys me to see nonreligious or people who are not Christians wear crosses or have cross tattoos when Jesus means nothing to them.

#borecore

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That's a good one! BTW...in our area dreamcatchers are fairly mainstream. However, I get how some might be annoyed without knowing her or her experience with it and its meaning. It annoys me to see nonreligious or people who are not Christians wear crosses or have cross tattoos when Jesus means nothing to them.

That was EXCEPTIONALLY common where I grew up, actually. My best friend and I ran a "business" making cross necklaces with leather string and pony beads when I was in second grade ... then I realized what we were doing (and grew bored, maybe--I was 7) as far as a faith we didn't share with our classmates, and cut it out. These days, it really does bother me to see people decorating their homes and bodies with crosses when it's not part of their faith. Or buddhas, or any number of religious symbols that are "cool."

AngelicGamer

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That's a good one! BTW...in our area dreamcatchers are fairly mainstream. However, I get how some might be annoyed without knowing her or her experience with it and its meaning. It annoys me to see nonreligious or people who are not Christians wear crosses or have cross tattoos when Jesus means nothing to them.

Crosses aren't exclusive to Christianity though.  At least not in my area or my circle of friends.



gellchom

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Wow, that is funny, OP!  I like your sister.  She's funny.

Crosses aren't exclusive to Christianity though.  At least not in my area or my circle of friends.
They're not?  What other groups use them --  or are you talking about "appropriation," as discussed in this thread?

Or do you mean that the Christians in your area feel that the cross should not be exclusive to Christianity?   This is the flip side of the same cultural insensitivity problem: well-meaning people who want to feel like their symbols and holidays (and the culture they symbolize) are "everyone's."  We had an interesting discussion about this a few months back when someone posted about a mom insisting on supplying gifts for a Christmas gift exchange at a school for non-Christian children whose families did not want them to participate.  http://www.etiquettehell.com/smf/index.php?topic=131613.0

Or maybe there really are groups besides Christians that use the cross as a symbol.  I would be interested to learn about that.  This thread has been so interesting!

MommyPenguin

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That's a good one! BTW...in our area dreamcatchers are fairly mainstream. However, I get how some might be annoyed without knowing her or her experience with it and its meaning. It annoys me to see nonreligious or people who are not Christians wear crosses or have cross tattoos when Jesus means nothing to them.

Crosses aren't exclusive to Christianity though.  At least not in my area or my circle of friends.

Well, crosses were just originally a Roman method of torture/punishment.  Christians appropriated the cross as a symbol of Christ's death.  The word "Christian" is actually similar, in that it was meant as a derogatory word for followers of Christ, calling them "Little Christs," but then they were like, "Hey, it's actually an honor to be called Little Christs, let's go with that," and so they took two things that should have been commemorating torture and martyrdom and embraced them.  Given that, it's *possible* that maybe the cross is also used for something else Roman-based?  Or maybe the ankh was meant, as it's sort of cross-like?  Just some ideas.
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Jones

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Regarding dream catchers....Years ago when I had a very rough time, the depression was winning, I was put into a hospital live-in facility. One of the things they had us do to break up the boredom was make crafts, dream catchers in particular (actually that's the only thing I can recall making). If I had chosen to put one into one of my tattoos, it would have been commemorative of that time and my triumph (for a while every day was a triumph), not anything to do with the culture that originally made the item. Not that I would want to slam the N. American cultures at all, certainly not, but the symbol itself meant something to me, on a personal level. And it's difficult to believe that people can look at another person and automatically determine if a symbol they wear should mean anything to them or not; that's a personal choice. Just because someone isn't born into a belief doesn't mean they can't accept and even use some of that faith for their own personal development.

Regarding the cross, I recall learning once that the symbol was used on funeral implements for certain cultures in the Bronze age, perhaps that's what's being referred to here?
A real desire to believe all the good you can of others and to make others as comfortable as you can will solve most of the problems. CS Lewis

AngelicGamer

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Crosses aren't exclusive to Christianity though.  At least not in my area or my circle of friends.
They're not?  What other groups use them --  or are you talking about "appropriation," as discussed in this thread?

Or do you mean that the Christians in your area feel that the cross should not be exclusive to Christianity?   This is the flip side of the same cultural insensitivity problem: well-meaning people who want to feel like their symbols and holidays (and the culture they symbolize) are "everyone's."  We had an interesting discussion about this a few months back when someone posted about a mom insisting on supplying gifts for a Christmas gift exchange at a school for non-Christian children whose families did not want them to participate.  http://www.etiquettehell.com/smf/index.php?topic=131613.0

Or maybe there really are groups besides Christians that use the cross as a symbol.  I would be interested to learn about that.  This thread has been so interesting!

More towards what you said in the link.  However, it was when I was a kid that it was happening, so I'm not sure how much (or if anything) was made over it.  That was late 80s to six months into 2000 as I was class of 2000 at my high school.  When I came back home from college after two years and was volunteering as an after school tutor at my old elementary school (so 2003-2006), I was continuing to see it happen.  Again, I wasn't apart of what happened behind the scenes with parents being happy/unhappy with it.  I just know that it was happening and that it seemed very commonplace, if possibly accepted with maybe a mentality of "oh just throw it out".  Not fair to families, but again, not sure what was happening behind the scenes.

As for in my circle of friends, I was thinking about this and realize that they're crosses that are somewhat different.  When I think Christian cross, I'm thinking the crucifix because I was raised in the Catholic faith.  That's my go to when you say Christian cross but that's probably not what others mean but just ye olde cross.  ;)  I'm thinking MommyPenguin is right in the idea that it's cross like in some senses.  I have a couple of my friends believe in Egyptian Gods and Goddess so it's ankh and some believe in the Goddess Brigit so they have her cross displayed in her home.  For myself, I have a Budded Cross which I connect to the forms of the Triple Goddess while others connect it to the Holy Trinity. 

The reason behind why I commented on Promise is saying it annoys her about non Christians wearing crosses because Jesus means nothing to them.  I'm more of the belief that the symbol is always has more than one meaning. 

Also, I love EHell because I'm learning too.  I didn't know that Christianity came from the idea of Little Christs.  That's just awesome.



lowspark

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I'm coming to this thread late but it's a very interesting discussion.

I am genuinely baffled by the idea that a representation of a dream catcher by a non-Native American is offensive. I totally get how the headdress being worn by the runway model is offensive since each feather is earned and only specific people within the culture are allowed to wear one. But dream catchers? They are sold by the side of the road and at every tourist stop in Native American populated areas. My own experience includes seeing them ubiquitously in Oklahoma and Arizona.

If they are really that sacred, why are they sold as trinkets for a couple of bucks? I'm not trying to be contentious or offensive, I'm truly baffled. I just don't see that you can have it both ways.

I totally agree with gellchom regarding "borrowing" traditions from other cultures and religions because you think it's cute or different not being ok. I've just never heard of a dream catcher being lumped into that category and the main reason I don't understand it is that I haven't seen it being treated with any exclusivity by the Native Americans themselves. I emphasize "I" -- I have not seen it, myself.

I will say that I agree with one of the comments in the linked article that this kind of thing really can't be policed. I may not like it if a non-Jewish couple decides to step on a glass at their wedding for some perceived meaning which is incorrect. But to be honest, I'm probably just going to keep mum about it because I don't see any good coming from me pounding my fist on the desk while proclaiming how inappropriate and offensive it is.
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Outdoor Girl

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One province in Canada was trying to bring in a law that no overtly religious symbols were to be worn in the workplace.  It was quite restrictive, from what I recall.  I don't live in that province.

Discussion of the law lead to an interesting discussion in the lunchroom one day between a few of us.  One guy agreed with the law; that religion should be a separate thing, particularly for us as we are a government office.  And then I came out with, 'But what if the symbol they are wearing isn't worn as a symbol of religion but for some other purpose?  For example, I wear a cross.  I don't wear it as a symbol of Christianity but as a rememberance of my mother because the cross was bought by a friend of hers, in her memory.'  And he was flummoxed.  He'd just never thought of somebody wearing something for any other reasons.

I did choose to stop wearing the cross on the 10th anniversary of her death so the point is kind of moot now.  I do wear it if I'm going to church, which isn't all that often these days.
After cleaning out my Dad's house, I have this advice:  If you haven't used it in a year, throw it out!!!!.
Ontario

California Dreamin

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I'm coming to this thread late but it's a very interesting discussion.

I am genuinely baffled by the idea that a representation of a dream catcher by a non-Native American is offensive. I totally get how the headdress being worn by the runway model is offensive since each feather is earned and only specific people within the culture are allowed to wear one. But dream catchers? They are sold by the side of the road and at every tourist stop in Native American populated areas. My own experience includes seeing them ubiquitously in Oklahoma and Arizona.

If they are really that sacred, why are they sold as trinkets for a couple of bucks? I'm not trying to be contentious or offensive, I'm truly baffled. I just don't see that you can have it both ways.

I totally agree with gellchom regarding "borrowing" traditions from other cultures and religions because you think it's cute or different not being ok. I've just never heard of a dream catcher being lumped into that category and the main reason I don't understand it is that I haven't seen it being treated with any exclusivity by the Native Americans themselves. I emphasize "I" -- I have not seen it, myself.

I will say that I agree with one of the comments in the linked article that this kind of thing really can't be policed. I may not like it if a non-Jewish couple decides to step on a glass at their wedding for some perceived meaning which is incorrect. But to be honest, I'm probably just going to keep mum about it because I don't see any good coming from me pounding my fist on the desk while proclaiming how inappropriate and offensive it is.

Because if it is a choice between pride and paying rent most people are going to choose paying their rent. 

While I'm not Native myself, the people I do know in the Native community don't like dream catchers used by non Natives - same for the term "Spirit Animal"

My rule of thumb is when in doubt try and do some research before I make any decisions.  Either in the form of asking people of that culture (while understanding that no one person is representative of an entire culture) or just google the heck out of it to see if there is any consensus.   
« Last Edit: April 22, 2014, 12:54:31 PM by California Dreamin »

lowspark

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I guess my confusion arises from the fact that dream catchers are sold, like I said, at tourist stops, while head dresses are most certainly not. So I can see the respect and awe being reserved for the head dresses but not for the dream catcher.

My rule of thumb is when in doubt try and do some research before I make any decisions.  Either in the form of asking people of that culture (while understanding that no one person is representative of an entire culture) or just google the heck out of it to see if there is any consensus.   

Regarding the bolded, before reading this thread, it never would have occurred to me to be in doubt. Just seemed like another item the Native Americans made and sold, similar to say, turquoise jewelry, for example. Just as I wouldn't assign any specific cultural or religious meaning to turquoise jewelry, I wouldn't (again before reading this thread) have ever thought to assign any specific cultural or religious meaning to dream catchers.

And that is exactly why I'm bewildered.
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gellchom

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Lowspark, I agree, I wouldn't comment.  If someone asked me in advance if it was a good idea, I'd discuss it with them then, but if I were sitting at the wedding as a guest, I'd keep my mouth shut.

As for things being sold by the side of the road -- well, I see crosses, hamsas, chais, rosaries, stars, kippot, and all kinds of things being sold at souvenir stands and jewelry stores all over the world.  I don't think that's a reliable barometer of whether they aren't sacred or ritual objects so that it's okay to use them any old way.

I was surprised about the dreamcatchers, too.  But it's not up to me to decide.  So now I know that it isn't just something I don't even need to think about.

I wouldn't be too fast to judge anyone, though.  Not only because they may be honestly unaware, but also because you don't know why they have it.  My in-laws had a beautiful dreamcatcher that was a gift from a close friend who is Native American and made it for them. 

Outdoor Girl's story is a good one.  She wore the cross in remembrance of her mother, not as a symbol of Christianity, but that didn't stop it from being a symbol of Christianity, and she wore it in a way that was respectful of that.  In my opinion (and I would imagine in just about anyone's), her use of that cross was not cultural appropriation or inappropriate in any way.  I think it's lovely.  It's not the same as someone without even any family connection to Christianity buying a cross and wearing it just because it's sparkly or something.  The Christian symbolism was presumably of some meaning to her mother, after all.  This use of it does not disrespect that, even if Outdoor Girl herself doesn't share her mother's religious views.  Decorating the fishbowl with it would.

And to me, that's the key. Am I using the object or ritual in a way that is respectful of what it means to the culture or religion that takes it seriously?  Or am I just treating it as any old decorative object or nice poetry?  I feel much more strongly about actual ritual or sacred objects and liturgical and religious-legal formulas than about things that are just customs or folkloric or artistic motifs, although I would be cautious even with the latter.

lowspark

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As for things being sold by the side of the road -- well, I see crosses, hamsas, chais, rosaries, stars, kippot, and all kinds of things being sold at souvenir stands and jewelry stores all over the world.  I don't think that's a reliable barometer of whether they aren't sacred or ritual objects so that it's okay to use them any old way.

That's an excellent point. I think for me the difference is who is doing the selling and to whom are they aiming to sell?

So ok, yes, a jewelry store who is selling crosses and stars for example, is clearly happy to sell them to anyone and isn't going to ask for some sort of proof of belief before closing the deal. But I think the target customer is assumed (and this may be a mistake on my part) to be people who would find the item meaningful in their own life as opposed to someone just looking for bling. Additionally, this is a non-religious establishment selling them, as opposed to how a church or synagogue or other religious organization might handle the sale of symbols of their beliefs.

The dream catchers I've seen are being sold by Native Americans in tourist shops and roadside stands to Non-Native Americans. Their target customer can by no means be assumed to be other Native Americans who clearly do not shop in these tourist markets.

I agree that just because someone is selling something it doesn't mean that it's ok for anyone to usurp it for their own unintended use. I think it just seems disingenuous (to me) that the very people who are presumably offended by misuse are the ones selling it specifically to those who might misuse it. It would be like a church selling rosary beads with a sign up that said "won't these look cute around your neck!"

I really hope I'm not offending anyone as that is totally not my intent. And I agree that it's not for me to decide. Again, just sort of stating my confusion about a situation which seems to be at cross purposes with itself.
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Lynn2000

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What an interesting thread! I wouldn't have thought of dreamcatchers as problematic before reading this, either. I have one in my home which was sent to me by a Native American charity as part of an inducement to donate money to them. (I am definitely not Native American.) Actually they've sent me several over the years and I've just kept the one. I think it's pretty but I also like the general idea behind it, of it catching bad dreams (at least that's what the insert said about it). It's also a windchime, which I don't know is typical, so it might be a melange on its own.

I think these things are what make such conversations so complex. If there was a simple way to determine what was offensive appropriation and what wasn't, there would be a lot fewer words in the world.

On the subject of a real tattoo, I think if someone has already gotten it, there's not much negative that can be politely said. Perhaps, down the road, when one hears that the tattooee is going for a job interview or something, one could say, "Hmm, I wonder what the company's feeling on tattoos is. You know, some people suggest covering them up at work, in case they offend someone," and just throw that out there.
~Lynn2000


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