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Author Topic: Can't say the only thing I really think about your tattoo: KEY UPDATE Post 13  (Read 26537 times)

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Piratelvr1121

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SamiHami, that's lovely!

The first time I learned of the claddagh was when I was 16. My aunt was  getting married and said she and her fiance would have claddagh rings, and she explained the meaning behind them. The heart representing love, the hands friendship and the crown loyalty. And depending on how you wore it showed people where you stood on an availability level.  I believe on the right hand with heart pointed out means you're single and looking. Right hand pointed in means you're  not married but in a relationship.  Left hand ring finger pointing in means you're off the "market".

I think, for the most part, that so long as the symbols are used appropriately and with the respect they're due, you're fine. I personally love learning of other's cultures.  In fact, a part of me often considers going back to school at some point to study anthropology and photography cause anthropology was really one of my favorite subjects in school, as was Native American Culture Studies in high school. 

I certainly wouldn't wear a Star of David or a pentacle as a fashion statement since that would be disrespectful since they are signs of spiritual faith and should be given the respect they're due. 
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

gellchom

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I  believe some people overthink things and find offense where none is intended.

It's not just about "offense," though.  For me, the question is whether I am behaving the best I can, including sensitivity toward others and not caring only about my own perspective, whether or not anyone is offended. 

And I also don't think it's up to me to decide whether others have the right to be offended.  That, in my opinion, is exactly the kind of arrogance that is at issue here.

SamiHami

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I  believe some people overthink things and find offense where none is intended.

It's not just about "offense," though.  For me, the question is whether I am behaving the best I can, including sensitivity toward others and not caring only about my own perspective, whether or not anyone is offended. 

And I also don't think it's up to me to decide whether others have the right to be offended.  That, in my opinion, is exactly the kind of arrogance that is at issue here.


Ah, but that is where it gets sticky. If, for example, I wear my Claddagh pendant, and all of my Irish friends think it's wonderful, but another Irish person takes offense, then who is right? Who decides what is offensive and what isn't?

It's not a matter of arrogance or insensitivity. It's a matter of perspective and it's impossible to judge who is "right" or who is "wrong." One person's appropriation of a culture is another person's admiration of a culture.

I think the only thing to do it to assume good intent on all parts unless there is a real reason to think otherwise.

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Rohanna

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Technically the only Aboriginals with any right to complain about Dreamcatcher "appropriation" are the Ojibwe - the folks who originated the idea. To speak of Natives as a homogeneous culture is rather like asking an Italian to debate on the cultural relevance of Belgian symbols- they are both Europeans but not of the same specific culture. None of the Natives I know up here object to dream catcher use the way they do the use of headdresses or feathers which are far more sacred to them. Seeing  Native activists of other tribes complaining about the "appropriation" of a cultural icon that they themselves appropriated in the 60s/70s is amusingly ironic.
My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world. ~ Jack Layton.

gellchom

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I  believe some people overthink things and find offense where none is intended.

It's not just about "offense," though.  For me, the question is whether I am behaving the best I can, including sensitivity toward others and not caring only about my own perspective, whether or not anyone is offended. 

And I also don't think it's up to me to decide whether others have the right to be offended.  That, in my opinion, is exactly the kind of arrogance that is at issue here.


Ah, but that is where it gets sticky. If, for example, I wear my Claddagh pendant, and all of my Irish friends think it's wonderful, but another Irish person takes offense, then who is right? Who decides what is offensive and what isn't?

It's not a matter of arrogance or insensitivity. It's a matter of perspective and it's impossible to judge who is "right" or who is "wrong." One person's appropriation of a culture is another person's admiration of a culture.

I think the only thing to do it to assume good intent on all parts unless there is a real reason to think otherwise.

I agree.  By the same token, though, just because someone had only good intentions and therefore it's wise for others not to take offense doesn't mean that whatever they did was just fine.

My point is just that whether others should or shouldn't take offense is simply a different question from whether I should or shouldn't do something.  They aren't unrelated, of course, but they are separate questions.  The first is unanswerable.  The second is a choice I have to make about my own values and behavior.  This is true of many of the topics we discuss here.

Amanita

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I heard a really good explanation of the whole Headdress/War bonnet issue once- That a War Bonnet is comparable to military medals or decorations- you can't just pick them up and wear them even if you're a part of the group. You have to earn them, and wearing something you have not earned is not cool.

Somebody made a comment upthread about judging people- I read an interesting comment on an article somewhere about that. The commenter said that with so many people these days coming from racially/ethnically mixed families, how is somebody to guess just by looking at another person, what "right" somebody has to wear something?
They also said that just looking at somebody and making a snap judgement that they have no business wearing something based on their skin tone is a form of Identity Policing, which is "pretty gross" in their words.

Recently I read an article about bindis- the author (who was white) ranted about other white people wearing them, saying it was wrong. Somebody in the comments stated that there's a difference between the religious bindis (which shouldn't be worn if you're not a member of the religion) vs the fashion kind- religious ones tend to be plain and round, either red or black. Fashion bindis are essentially a form of jewellery. As one person stated "South Asian teens buy these things at the malls and mix and match them with their outfits, it seems odd to rail at American teens for doing the same thing."

Something else that comes up in regards to offense is this- "If somebody says that what you're doing/wearing offends them, the only proper thing is to say you're sorry and promise not to do it again".
Respectfully I disagree. If Person A from a certain culture says it's okay for an "outsider" like me to wear their ethnic dress or practice an art form from their culture, and that they like it when others take an interest in their things, but Person B of that same culture says they're offended by it, what then?
Why should the offended person's "no" always overrule somebody else's "yes"?
I'm not going to tell the offended person that they have no right to be offended. They can feel however they want. But I don't think that feeling offended should grant anyone unilateral veto power*.

If somebody came up to me and said that they were offended by something I was doing or wearing, I'd ask them why. Not in an accusatory way, but simply because I'd like to hear why they feel that way. And in return, I hope they would listen to my side of things, why I chose to wear or do something. There's a chance that either of us might learn something from the other.

*If that was the case, then the entire western hemisphere would have to give up cosplaying as Anime characters. On a cosplay forum I'm on, there's an individual (who has been identified as being from Indonesia) who goes by the name "ProudAsian", and he HATES western people who cosplay from Anime. He goes on at length about how racist and offensive it is for western people to cosplay characters from Japanese media. 


blue2000

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*If that was the case, then the entire western hemisphere would have to give up cosplaying as Anime characters. On a cosplay forum I'm on, there's an individual (who has been identified as being from Indonesia) who goes by the name "ProudAsian", and he HATES western people who cosplay from Anime. He goes on at length about how racist and offensive it is for western people to cosplay characters from Japanese media. 



How very odd. If the anime character they are cosplaying is a Caucasian, then by that logic, no one from Asia could cosplay it. Only Europeans. And what about anime fantasy worlds? Who decides what nationality gets to 'own' it?

And if the story the Japanese media are basing their show on is European but they are doing a version that is set in Japan, which culture wins the right to the cosplay?

Some people just boggle the mind.
You are only young once. After that you have to think up some other excuse.

Piratelvr1121

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*If that was the case, then the entire western hemisphere would have to give up cosplaying as Anime characters. On a cosplay forum I'm on, there's an individual (who has been identified as being from Indonesia) who goes by the name "ProudAsian", and he HATES western people who cosplay from Anime. He goes on at length about how racist and offensive it is for western people to cosplay characters from Japanese media. 



How very odd. If the anime character they are cosplaying is a Caucasian, then by that logic, no one from Asia could cosplay it. Only Europeans. And what about anime fantasy worlds? Who decides what nationality gets to 'own' it?

And if the story the Japanese media are basing their show on is European but they are doing a version that is set in Japan, which culture wins the right to the cosplay?

Some people just boggle the mind.

Makes me think of Oh (or Ah) My Goddess. It's anime but is based on Norse Mythology, or at least Urd, Belldandy and Skuld are the names of the Norse fates.  I think the original spelling of Belldandy is Verdande but they changed it for the Anime.
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

Amanita

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Yeah, the guy has never clarified that- to him, all Anime is off limits to western cosplayers, simply because it's of Asian origin. He believes that the exaggerated and stylized way Anime character's faces are rendered was based on Asian features, and that westerners, with our "long noses, long faces" can't portray them accurately and it's racist to even try.


Jocelyn

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And that leads me to wonder if really, every Native American symbol is off limits to non-Native Americans. And that thought leads me back to... it's really impossible to police. I think it's fine to try to educate people and make them aware of what these symbols mean and why they shouldn't be taken lightly, but I also think that unfortunately, there's about as much chance of that actually working as there is of [some] people who aren't Christian buying a cross as a fashion accessory.

Cultures share. For example, the 'traditional' velvet skirts of the Dine only go back so far. I've been told that they were the discarded skirts of US Army wives, who found velvet too oppressively hot to wear in the desert SW, and the Dine women found them so beautiful that they (being better acclimatized) were willing to put up with the heat. The Lakota have an equally 'ancient' tradition of quilt making, again somethin0g they got from Anglo culture. While the Lone Star quilt isn't considered sacred, it's used to honor someone's selfless service to the nation (either in the tribal sense or the USA sense), much as Anglo quiltmakers have created the Quilts of Valor to honor individual veterans's service. And, having been shared, symbols don't always go back and forth easily. I'd feel very awkward wearing a Dine velvet skirt, or buying a Lakota Lone Star quilt for my collection, because although those symbols originated in my culture, they've become linked with another culture so that they're no longer mine to use however I see fit. (I'm referring to not just any velvet skirt, but to one made in the Dine style, and not to any and all Lone Star quilts, just one made by a Lakota as a quilt of honor.)

guihong

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This reminds me of a huge debate on another board I belong to.   Someone posted an article by an Egyptian/Turkish woman who was angry whenever Caucasian women did belly dancing (there's another word for that, but I can't remember it), especially as a performance in a restaurant, for example.  Is it "more wrong" for a Caucasian woman to perform as a belly dancer in public vs. taking a class (the author was upset about that as well)?  Her point seemed to be that anything outside of your own culture or background is off-limits.  By that logic, there would hardly be any dancing at all, as it comes from all kinds of cultures.



Twik

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Cross-cultural transmission of ideas, artistic forms, and other intellectual property has been going on since, well, people started to create such things. While members of a culture may want their art forms to be treated with respect, they will never, ever be able to keep other people from using them or adapting them for other uses. And in the interest of human free thought and expression, it would be a bad thing if such control could be exercised.

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#borecore

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Cross-cultural transmission of ideas, artistic forms, and other intellectual property has been going on since, well, people started to create such things. While members of a culture may want their art forms to be treated with respect, they will never, ever be able to keep other people from using them or adapting them for other uses. And in the interest of human free thought and expression, it would be a bad thing if such control could be exercised.


I understand the spirit of what you are saying , but since when is copying someone else's sacred symbol for a non sacred purpose "free thought"? It seems more like cheap mimicry than adaptation, whether the minority group can keep the dominant group from doing so or not.

And some things are definitely mine, and not for others' use. I don't see why cultural groups should not have that right.

Ms_Cellany

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This is the article mentioned above, "Why I can't stand white belly dancers"

I've been taking belly-dance lessons for about six months, and read this about two months in. I love her term "Arab drag."

The group that I study with uses veils and jingly hip scarves, because veils and jingly hips are signatures for the dances. One woman made her own belt out of chains and beads, specifically to avoid co-opting the Arab look. For our first performance (in two days!), we'll be wearing black tank tops and leggings. I'm not going to adopt an Arabic nom de danse, wear a wig (I have a crewcut), or do "exotic" makeup.

I have no idea how far I'll be taking my study/performances, but this article is going to remain a touchstone for me. I love the exercise and body control I'm getting out of this, but will be very careful about my white privilege.
« Last Edit: June 03, 2014, 01:35:54 PM by Ms_Cellany »
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Rohanna

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There's a difference though between sacred/important like religion icons or military medals and cultural symbols/patterns/art. Dream catchers are more like good-luck talismans than anything- rather like the Greek Evil Eye or the Portuguese rooster. They can be made with sacred items, and they definately are significant- but they're more of a middle ground than a cross, a veterans medal or a ceremonial headdress.
My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world. ~ Jack Layton.


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