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Author Topic: Can't say the only thing I really think about your tattoo: KEY UPDATE Post 13  (Read 26563 times)

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Lynn2000

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Yes, I do think one factor in one's decision should be how big an investment the object is. A small, free/cheap piece of jewelry or home decor is not something I'd expect most people to exhaustively research the significance of, especially if they bought it at a mainstream store. And, if it does happen to offend someone, it's something the person can easily remove/put away, at least temporarily, if they choose.

A quite large, expensive painting, or a tattoo (more or less permanent on your body), or painting symbols on your car, or something like that--I would find it strange and possibly offensive that the person didn't take the time to look into the symbol before using it in so prominent and permanent a fashion.

On the other hand, unless I was the person's friend, I probably wouldn't get into a discussion with them about it at all, and would just automatically assume that they knew what they were doing before they chose that symbol, as I was casually passing them on the street. Granted, something like a swastika would still be eye-catching and probably make me question their taste and opinions, but if it was a dreamcatcher or crucifix or something, I wouldn't question them down about whether they were a Christian or a Native American of the correct tribe; I'd just assume it was "okay" for them to use it.
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LadyL

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On the other hand, unless I was the person's friend, I probably wouldn't get into a discussion with them about it at all, and would just automatically assume that they knew what they were doing before they chose that symbol, as I was casually passing them on the street. Granted, something like a swastika would still be eye-catching and probably make me question their taste and opinions, but if it was a dreamcatcher or crucifix or something, I wouldn't question them down about whether they were a Christian or a Native American of the correct tribe; I'd just assume it was "okay" for them to use it.

Interestingly swastikas have been a symbol of peace in many religions for centuries before they were appropriated by the Nazis. I'm pretty sure we can all agree that that is the textbook example of inappropriate appropriation!

I have a colleague who has a very large tattoo on her upper back that merges the symbol of one cultural group (which she belongs to) with another one used by an ethnic group she is not a member of. I definitely consider it appropriation and somewhat offensive, but I had already deemed her kind of a vulgar and immature person based on her behavior (before I'd ever seen the tattoo) so it just confirms the opinion I already had  of her. If the same tattoo were on someone else who I did like and/or respect more, I might be more willing to withhold judgement or ask questions before assuming they were ignorant of the ethnic association of the symbol.

purple

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Yes, I do think one factor in one's decision should be how big an investment the object is. A small, free/cheap piece of jewelry or home decor is not something I'd expect most people to exhaustively research the significance of, especially if they bought it at a mainstream store. And, if it does happen to offend someone, it's something the person can easily remove/put away, at least temporarily, if they choose.

A quite large, expensive painting, or a tattoo (more or less permanent on your body), or painting symbols on your car, or something like that--I would find it strange and possibly offensive that the person didn't take the time to look into the symbol before using it in so prominent and permanent a fashion.

On the other hand, unless I was the person's friend, I probably wouldn't get into a discussion with them about it at all, and would just automatically assume that they knew what they were doing before they chose that symbol, as I was casually passing them on the street. Granted, something like a swastika would still be eye-catching and probably make me question their taste and opinions, but if it was a dreamcatcher or crucifix or something, I wouldn't question them down about whether they were a Christian or a Native American of the correct tribe; I'd just assume it was "okay" for them to use it.

It's their body.  It's "okay" for them to tattoo it with whatever they like.

I can see that we are going to have to agree to disagree here and that's cool.  (I can't seem to find any "it's cool dude, no hard feelings" smiley-icon, or I'd put one here).

YoginiSaysYes

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I think it's a bit unreasonable to expect the whole wide world to respect this symbol or item or whatever just because it's special to some certain group.

I mean no offense, but you basically just defined privilege and appropriation.

ladyknight1

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We have many friends active in the Native American community. We volunteer at and our DS works at NA events all over the area. We have had some issues with people not respecting others' requests for no photography at the events that are open to the public.

I see this as no different. Some people will not respect the desires of others.
ďAll that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost; The old that is strong does not wither, Deep roots are not reached by the frost."
-J.R.R Tolkien

EllenS

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I always want to be respectful of others and work to understand their point of view, especially when it is new to me. This thread has been very educational.

I do wonder though - at what point does this become one more way to judge someone on first sight? I mean, if you see someone with a tattoo, or jewelry, that is culturally specific, how can you as a complete stranger judge whether or not that person is "entitled" to wear it?

Obviously if the wearer is blatantly or publicly holding the symbol/object up to ridicule, or using it an inappropriate way, that's wrong but if they just have/display it? Who's to know?

Library Dragon

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I always want to be respectful of others and work to understand their point of view, especially when it is new to me. This thread has been very educational.

I do wonder though - at what point does this become one more way to judge someone on first sight? I mean, if you see someone with a tattoo, or jewelry, that is culturally specific, how can you as a complete stranger judge whether or not that person is "entitled" to wear it?

Obviously if the wearer is blatantly or publicly holding the symbol/object up to ridicule, or using it an inappropriate way, that's wrong but if they just have/display it? Who's to know?

This is an excellent point. I have a family member who is a blue eyed, blonde haired Californian, whose husband is Arikara (Sahnish).  They live in North Dakota on the Fort Berthold Reservation. This is her community and family.  It would be easy for an outsider to see her and assume that her dress and the decor of her Jeep are appropriation.  No, gifts from family and friends.

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Piratelvr1121

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I always want to be respectful of others and work to understand their point of view, especially when it is new to me. This thread has been very educational.

I do wonder though - at what point does this become one more way to judge someone on first sight? I mean, if you see someone with a tattoo, or jewelry, that is culturally specific, how can you as a complete stranger judge whether or not that person is "entitled" to wear it?


This brought to mind the claddagh ring, the design which was originally Irish and worn by Irish, but over the last 10-20 years I think it's really become quite popular in other cultures as well because people have learned of the meaning behind it and like it. And I don't think many Irish people are terribly offended by it being appropriated and heck, many Irish jewelers even make them to be marketed here in the states because hey, if they're popular then there's a market to sell them.

And I suppose that's different as there's no religious or spiritual meaning tied to the design, as there would be with the feathers of a headdress, a cultural face marking or a dream catcher.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars.  You have a right to be here. Be cheerful, strive to be happy. -Desiderata

EllenS

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This thread makes me think of a discussion I had in a church choir some years ago, and I am hoping those on the thread who have a better grasp of what cultural appropriation is/means can help me understand, because I did not get it at the time and I think I may have a chance to get it now.

The choir  and the congregation were ethnically fairly diverse for the area we lived in. A slight majority of choir members were Green (dominant culture). The choir director was Purple and Purple was probably the second most common group in the choir and the congregation (but not in the local population). There were also singers of Orange and Blue backgrounds. The congregation also had some members of Pink background, but there were no Pink singers in the choir at that time.

The choir director liked us to sing all different sorts of music, and was herself a composer. At one point she brought in a piece, which was a formally published arrangement of a traditional Pink song, arranged by a Pink composer, including some lyrics in a Pink dialect.  Several of the Purple choir members said they did not think we should sing the song, as it might be insulting. The choir director didn't understand what they were talking about, saying, "but I sang this with my old choir at a different church." The objecting members replied that that was okay, because the old choir and its church were majority Pink members.

There was a rather awkward discussion, with some people advocating that music is music, this was a published arrangement that was meant for public consumption and there is nothing insulting about it as long as we do it well, as written and don't try to impose stereotypes of Pinkness onto the performance. Others wanted to know how it was different than singing a Green song in a Green foreign language, which we did frequently. Those who objected really weren't able to articulate why, but just said it felt "off" to them.

So I think it would have helped us all if someone there had known the term "cultural appropriation" and been able to explain it. I'm still not sure that I could do so, if the situation came up again.

We wound up doing the song. It was awesome music. Nobody complained (but I'm not sure if they would).

Thoughts?

Lynn2000

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Hmm, interesting question. The part about the song using "Pink dialect" is what stood out to me. If this general dialect is something that has been made fun of over the years and/or become part of a Pink stereotype, I could see why a non-Pink choir attempting to imitate it might seem a bit dodgy or tasteless to some people, even if they're trying to do it in a serious and respectful way. It might just be too reminiscent of historical bad-intentioned uses. So that's one thought.
~Lynn2000

Ms_Cellany

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I think it's a bit unreasonable to expect the whole wide world to respect this symbol or item or whatever just because it's special to some certain group.

Andres Serrano's infamous photograph just jumped to my mind. (You can Google it, but prepare to be offended.)
Bingle bongle dingle dangle yickity-do yickity-dah ping-pong lippy-toppy too tah.

EllenS

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Hmm, interesting question. The part about the song using "Pink dialect" is what stood out to me. If this general dialect is something that has been made fun of over the years and/or become part of a Pink stereotype, I could see why a non-Pink choir attempting to imitate it might seem a bit dodgy or tasteless to some people, even if they're trying to do it in a serious and respectful way. It might just be too reminiscent of historical bad-intentioned uses. So that's one thought.

Sorry, "dialect" was poor word choice on my part. It was a foreign language, not a pidgen of the dominant language. Not everyone of the same ethnicity is also from the same language group, which is why I used the term dialect. My bad.

Lynn2000

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Hmm, interesting question. The part about the song using "Pink dialect" is what stood out to me. If this general dialect is something that has been made fun of over the years and/or become part of a Pink stereotype, I could see why a non-Pink choir attempting to imitate it might seem a bit dodgy or tasteless to some people, even if they're trying to do it in a serious and respectful way. It might just be too reminiscent of historical bad-intentioned uses. So that's one thought.

Sorry, "dialect" was poor word choice on my part. It was a foreign language, not a pidgen of the dominant language. Not everyone of the same ethnicity is also from the same language group, which is why I used the term dialect. My bad.

Well, if it's actual language used correctly in the song, then it doesn't seem as dodgy to me. I mean, you could make noises that you think sound like Pink and thus offensively mock their culture; or you could even string random Pink words together and pretend you were "speaking" Pink, and that could be offensive. But if you were actually, in fact, speaking some sensible Pink phrases as part of a song, I don't see much wrong with that. It happens with many languages, like Italian, Latin, and French. I suppose a native speaker might roll their eyes a bit at bad or stylized pronunciation, but I shouldn't think that would really offend a reasonable person.

ETA: At least, that aspect doesn't seem dodgy to me anymore. There was apparently something else about the song that made some people uncomfortable... Did the song address a particular experience more or less unique to Pink people, especially one in which they were oppressed by others? I could see how it might be weird to sing about that, for someone of the historically-oppressed culture.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2014, 01:31:11 PM by Lynn2000 »
~Lynn2000

EllenS

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ETA: At least, that aspect doesn't seem dodgy to me anymore. There was apparently something else about the song that made some people uncomfortable... Did the song address a particular experience more or less unique to Pink people, especially one in which they were oppressed by others? I could see how it might be weird to sing about that, for someone of the historically-oppressed culture.

Oh, Heavens, no! None of us were obtuse. That would be extremely and overtly icky.

The song was a hymn used in a Pink nation of origin, in use for several hundred years, based on our shared religious text and set to a traditional tune. The contemporary arrangement wove together the English translation of the same text with the foreign text, in a stylized version of the tune.  The folks who objected couldn't put their finger on exactly what bothered them, just they didn't feel like it was okay to sing Pink music since they weren't Pink.

I didn't feel it was inappropriate or offensive, but this discussion has made me wonder if it would appear to some as cultural appropriation, since nobody in the conversation at the time knew or used that term. As I say, nobody complained after we sang it, but I am not sure if they would feel comfortable doing so.

SamiHami

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I always want to be respectful of others and work to understand their point of view, especially when it is new to me. This thread has been very educational.

I do wonder though - at what point does this become one more way to judge someone on first sight? I mean, if you see someone with a tattoo, or jewelry, that is culturally specific, how can you as a complete stranger judge whether or not that person is "entitled" to wear it?


This brought to mind the claddagh ring, the design which was originally Irish and worn by Irish, but over the last 10-20 years I think it's really become quite popular in other cultures as well because people have learned of the meaning behind it and like it. And I don't think many Irish people are terribly offended by it being appropriated and heck, many Irish jewelers even make them to be marketed here in the states because hey, if they're popular then there's a market to sell them.

And I suppose that's different as there's no religious or spiritual meaning tied to the design, as there would be with the feathers of a headdress, a cultural face marking or a dream catcher.

It's hard to tell whether it's "appropriation" or respect for another culture. I like your Claddagh example. I am not Irish at all. If there is any Irish in me, it is many generations back. However, I have some dear friends from Ireland and on one of their trips back home they bought a beautiful Claddagh neckace for me (this is the one http://www.theirishstore.com/maureen-o-hara-claddagh-pendant-clear-emerald.html ). I love it and wear it often.

That doesn't mean I am trying to appropriate Irish culture. I wear it with the good feelings and love that I associate with it. I believe some people overthink things and find offense where none is intended.

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