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Author Topic: Deflecting hometown questions...  (Read 39873 times)

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Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
« Reply #15 on: December 07, 2009, 07:53:47 AM »
I can see how annoying it must be to a) have people trot out every stereotype about your country of origin whenever you mention it and b) have people try to apply (or force) those stereotypes on you. Especially if you don't particularly fit those stereotypes or even dislike them.

Every piece of info I give out about myself can lead someone to stereotype me. I'm Irish, therefore I must drink a lot (as the old saying goes, God invented whiskey so the Irish wouldn't rule the world). I'm Scottish, so I must be stingy with money. I majored English in college, so I must have a real hard time finding a job. I'm from Boston, so like all Northerners, I'm cold and distant. I like Star Trek, therefore I am a geek. I drive a Volvo, which is even geekier. When I was in Europe, I had to deal with the "American girls are easy" stereotype. I don't want to get into the comments that have been made when I tell certain people I attended a women's college.

People can and will make assumptions about you based on the tiniest scrap of information they have about you. And there's really not much you (general you) can do about it.

What  you can do is deflect these comments. "That's an interesting assumption," is tailor made for these situations. Or if you can, inject a tiny bit of humor. "You should be a summer girl because you are from Lavenderland." "You know about the exception that proves the rule? That's me!"

Don't bean dip the question of where you are from. Bean dip the responses to the fact that you are from Lavendarland.

Some people will never see beyond the stereotype. And that is their loss. Other people can see beyond stereotypes and may become your friends.
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Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
« Reply #16 on: December 07, 2009, 09:03:02 AM »
   Whiterose your update helped....I have to clarify because it's important to my answer, I'm trying to keep in the spirit of your being vague.   At 17 you emigrated from another country that country has some stereotypes associated that seem to dominate people's view of you once they know where you from?  Some of what your dealing with is more racism/cuturalism then just a "weird" assumption about a city/place  ie oh your from Detroit you have a gun ? your from Idaho you grew up on a farm? is a different animal then all the people from X country are Y. Also, because people may be being more persistent because they have prejudices against people from country X and not country Y and they are trying to determent which you from.

I don't think you can avoid answering all the time it's a common getting to know you question and the surest way to make people interested is to be mysterious. So I'll try some ideas for acquaintances and some for potential romantic partners.

    If I came from Vegas and everyone asked if I gambled or if my mom was a showgirl I could be more vague and say Nevada or the southwest.  The opposite may be true , if you name the city/town is it possible no one has heard of it? " I move to Fla when I was a kid I was born in "name of city" leave the country out."  or if it's a very recognizable city name a small city near it " I grew up near (small tome near big city where I lived)" two things are happening here , you've answered a common question without making them more curious and if you say it in a matter of fact voice people will hopefully assume they should know where your talking about.

   For those you aren't close to but have regular contact with. You can also keep people from being curious by being open, but open about what you chose to be open about and redirect the conversations by sharing.  Where did you grow up would be answered with "small town" there was this pond we like to swim in as kids ..... fill in with childhood story  .  You can name anything that exists in most towns a ice cream shop all the kids went to , park, library or a person the nice old lady that gave all the kids treats the grumpy old man that yelled at all the kids.  I'm not suggesting you share something deeply personal you but the kind of things that happen in some form to tens of thousands of people and you can erm sanitize the details to make where you from more general.   You can be specific about innocuous details ,when I was 7 and my best friend was 6 we went was a 30 minutes walk. make the answer 5-10 sentences your not trying to be boring.  does that make sense?  the idea being one of three things will happen

The person wanted to be your friend and now you've just had a friendly conversation, you can ask what about you? a person wanting to be friends will probably share a story of their own, or ask questions/comment about your story and follow with a story of their own

The person was just making polite conversation ,well it was polite but they may now ask obligatory getting to know you questionsonce you know someone is just making obligatory social niceties you can bean dip or be vague they really don't want to know

The person is determined to know where you from , you can now say "enough about me how about where you grow up?" if someone is aggressive in trying to get you to answer it's right to be leery, ie "yes, but where are you from"

A romantic prospect I'd answer.  and then judge them how they respond , do they ask stereotypical question and how to the respond to being dissuaded.  Asking cultural specific questions is a normal . I may ask an English person about Guy Faulks day or someone from Mexico about day of the dead, or how about the lock ness monster?  what you think about universal health care. It's trying to personalize ice breaker conversation. The conversation you have will very likely tell you something you really want to know about the person, and in my personal opinion this sort of conversation can be much more reveling then "I like walks in the rain and pina colas" After a some conversation it's fine to redirect the conversation.    


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Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
« Reply #17 on: December 07, 2009, 10:10:51 AM »
I'm from metro Detroit (where the weak are killed and eaten) and I have a very ethnic surname (assumption is we're of low intelligence). Occasionally someone makes a stupid comment, which I ignore and/or ridicule* and then make a mental note to myself that the person is an idiot. I always picture Hugh Laurie as House saying, "you're a moron!" Just thinking it cheers me up.

*Always politely, of course

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Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
« Reply #18 on: December 07, 2009, 10:15:39 AM »
I'm from metro Detroit (where the weak are killed and eaten) and I have a very ethnic surname (assumption is we're of low intelligence). Occasionally someone makes a stupid comment, which I ignore and/or ridicule* and then make a mental note to myself that the person is an idiot. I always picture Hugh Laurie as House saying, "you're a moron!" Just thinking it cheers me up.

*Always politely, of course

we are also all armed to the teeth Audrey ....I actually was at a meeting we did the whole interdiction thing the leaders answer he only commented about me was " see not all people from Detroit (something to the effect of ) gun wielding manics you don't have to be scared "


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Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
« Reply #19 on: December 07, 2009, 10:32:01 AM »
Maybe I am coming at this from a different perspective...

I think you need to work first on being comfortable with this part of your heritage.  Not everything about ourselves is something we are going to love (or even like) but you have to learn to accept those parts.  You sound like you really hate that it is obvious your origin is from Lavenderland and that seems to be the problem moreso than people's comments, since some are quite innocent.  You can *love* Florida and feel like its your home and your true identity--but that doesn't mean you need to erase or cover up any other pieces of you.  That bit of Lavendarish is part of what makes you who you are.  I think if you can accept it and make peace with it, you're going to have a much easier time with interactions.

Also, be clear that nearly *everyone* deals with stereotypes.  *Anything* that is remotely obvious about your ethnicity, region of origin or even hair color can bring about comments and stereotypes.  If they aren't malicious, just deflect them with good humor.  (And I do think a majority of the time people are joking around--most people do not take stereotypes uber seriously).

Someone says "oh, you're from Lavendarland but you don't like X?  That's suprising!"
You respond, "Everyone likes different things and besides I really feel like Florida is my home and it just suits my personality so much more."

Basically just keep it lighthearted and mention how much you enjoy living exactly where you are and that it suits you well.

And just another side note--and I mean this completely respectfully--I think you take things in general far more seriously than they are intended.  I have read a bunch of your threads and that seems to keep happening.  Most people make the kinds of statements you are mentioning very lightheartedly and in a fun/joking manner.  Perhaps, you could keep in mind and next time try to see if perhaps it isn't something that's meant to be serious.
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Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
« Reply #20 on: December 08, 2009, 09:23:08 PM »
I agree that the best reply to rude stereotypes is "What an interesting assumption," said coldly, with a lifted eyebrow. Or, said cheerily, followed by immediate bean dipping.

A friendlier response could be something like, "Oh, stereotypes, aren't they awful?" with a laugh.

I've got that American News Anchor accent. Nobody ever asks me where I'm from. Oh, well, can't have everything.


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Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
« Reply #21 on: December 08, 2009, 09:53:46 PM »
Perhaps you are meeting tons and tons of racists/culturalists (is that even a word??).  Or perhaps its something different...

When I was in training, I was griping to a supervisor that I kept having the same frustrating thing happen over and over with different people.  The inspired response I got was "Every time we talk about this its with someone different.  So what part of the equation stays the same?"  The answer of course, was ME!  My way of dealing with things and my *stuff* kept prompting this response. 

You mentioned that one of the guys querried you quite a bit on the date after you told him where you were born.  Then you commented that it was your second to last date.  Since this issue bothers you so much, I'm thinking he may've picked up on that.  If he did, then I can imagine that it might be your hesitance to discuss it rather than where you were from that made him uncomfortable.

Either way,
I'm with those who encourage you to get comfortable with where you're from and find what it gifted you with.  Then make peace with it and let it be part of your past.  You've got nothing to be ashamed of.  You didn't choose to be from there or to live there as a child.  You got to FL as fast as you could!  I would handle those situations with humor as much as possible and minimal secrecy. 

Now that I think about it, you said that one person though you were from Russia.  If you add secrecy to boot, it'll just make it much much worse.  American stereotypes couple all things secretive and Russian/Eastern European as being KGB-ish.  Just a thought!

I live in Texas and have all my life.  Here, there's a joke that's even on bumper stickers.  It says something along the lines of I wasn't born in Texas but I got here as fast as I could.  Perhaps it would be simple to say:  "I was born in Eastern Europe, but I got to FL as quick as I could.  I just love it here, with the warm sun and great people!  What's your favorite thing about living here?"


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Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
« Reply #22 on: December 09, 2009, 03:49:14 AM »

I know very well how frustrating that is.

When I was in North America, I dealt with a lot of guys thinking that girls from where I come from are "liberal" and "free-spirited". And those where the ones who knew where the country is or that it is a country  ;) The others asked me if I'd ever eated ice-cream or used a computer...
Here in Germany I've dealt with questions and assumptions, too. Some think I must be extremely intelligent and well educated, others wonder if I married my hubby to come to "the Golden West" as they called it. Or there are the people, who know a lot and don't really go into stereotypes and still get all surprised that I don't like fish, am not a great skiier and actually do get cold at times  ;D

I tend to agree with Red, if you could learn to feel a bit more comfortable with your heritage (you don't have to love the country or want to go back, but you can be ok with your heritage - after all, it's a part of you and always will be), you might find that it's not such a problem anymore.

Be direct and matter of fact, don't make a secret out of it. Then, the guys who have a problem with it - well, they don't deserve a great girl like you anyhow and you can be happy to find that out early on.

Don't take one strange/odd comment the wrong way, though. Those can happen. I know my DH has made a comment or two about my nationality, some funny and cute, one or two not so much, but it was out of nervousness and trying too hard to be funny (when we were first dating - it was a strange transition from friendship to "in love" and at times neither of us knew what to do ;))


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Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
« Reply #23 on: December 09, 2009, 04:42:36 AM »
So being secretive is not the best way to deal with it then.

I just do not want something like this to happen again:

Guy and I meet at a photoshoot. He thinks my accent is Russian. I tell him the truth about my background. We go on 3 dates that go great. My hometown and ethnic background are not mentioned at all! Then on 4th date, he is not in the best of moods. He apologizes for the attitude. It comes up that I do not get angry easily. He says that he can see me as having buttons that can be pushed. I say yes, but that overall I have a long fuse. He then replies:

"I have never met a Lavender woman with a long fuse".


Or like this (ok, so this is to a lesser extent).

Guy and I go out for lunch and he asks me where I am from. I tell him. He says "cool". We go into the specifics a bit since one parent is from one country and another one from another hence my accent is not what you'd expect. But not much is said. We talk more about video games and music and the sort.

Yet at the beginning of the second date, while we are on the way to the mall, he asks one too many questions about when I moved here, about which parent was what, and had a bit of trouble getting everything straight. But he asked a bit too much about it- as if it were no longer "cool" and as if he may have had an issue with it. This was the second and last date :(

It is not the easiest pill to swallow due to reputation- hence I wonder if being secretive may have been better. If it added mystery and mystique and thus allure. But I see this is not the case.

First guy was an idiot, however I'm not going to judge the second guy too harshly.  My OH has dual citizenship between the country where we both grew up and the country one of his parents is from.  This country has a rather mixed reputation with a lot of people in home country but obviously its not remotely an issue for me.

When we were first dating, I did ask questions about it like your second guy did.  I wanted to make sure I had everything straight so that I didn't end up months into a relationship with facts all muddled up and so that I didn't offend his family when I met them.  Also because I was just interested!  OH's background is a big part of who he is.


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Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
« Reply #24 on: December 09, 2009, 05:11:53 AM »

that too. I forgot to add that to my response.

A lot of people ask me a lot of questions about my home country. It can get tiring and repetitive for me, but I just think of it as a possibility to educate them a little and to tell them that we're not all that different than they are themselves. Or to deflect some of the stereotypes.
I'm happy to say: "Oh, no, we're not all blonde and blue-eyed, even if I am" or "No, no, we're not all quiet and melancholic, just look at me!"
Also, if you don't know someone well, it's hard to know how much they'd like you to ask them about their background. Some people love telling about their home countries/cities while other would rather not.


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Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
« Reply #25 on: December 09, 2009, 06:44:03 AM »
Well, the second fellow did not make any negative comments about it. He may have been just asking. After all, his father was of one ancestry and his mother of another. So he may have been curious about my particular case- after all, my accent does not match my hometown. So I will give him the benefit of the doubt. I answered all questions very matter of fact and even told me that my mother did identify with the hometown.

The guy who thought I had a Russian accent I told upon meeting him that it was a Purple accent and that I was from Lavenderland. We went on our first date that night (we had met at an event during the day). We went on two more dates that went well and where this had not been discussed at all. Hence I am so surprised, shocked, and hurt that he held it against me in the middle of the FOURTH date. Almost as if he thought he could deal with a Purple woman, even if it was not his preference, but eventually he came to realize he could not. He ended up marrying a woman who was his preference- he had mentioned in passing liking women of this persuasion.

It's just that people seem to remember this fact more than pretty much any other fact or vital statistic. It's as if my education or my love for dolls, anime, science, exercising, etc. were nonexistent and the first thing they could recall about me was my hometown and ethnic background. Most people are very respectful and polite about it, but there is much more to me!
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Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
« Reply #26 on: December 09, 2009, 07:10:38 AM »
sure there's more to you - and to me.
For most people your heritage and ancestry just seem like a thing that is easy to ask about and talk about in contrast to hobbies they may not know much about. For me those would be ceramics, reading, linguistics and choir, sure, nothing out of this world, but there are people who don't know much about those. Or my job. But the fact that I wasn't born here is an easy one to use to ask questions once the obvious ones:
So what do you do?
What are your hobbies?
What kind of movies/music/books do you enjoy?
are all done  ;)


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Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
« Reply #27 on: December 10, 2009, 02:49:27 AM »

The consensus here seems to be that it's not a good idea to deflect the question. However, if you really don't want to mention lavenderland at all, you could always try another tactic:

Nosy Person: "So where do you come from?"
Whiterose: "(current home town)".

It's not a lie--you consider yourself "from" your town, don't you?

For my part, I always thought it was rude to ask about someone else's ethnic background, but that may be a cultural thing.
« Last Edit: December 10, 2009, 02:53:11 AM by nyarlathotep »


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Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
« Reply #28 on: December 10, 2009, 09:43:15 PM »
I can also relate to people remembering you only for your ethnicity; I remember one teacher who wrote down a fact for each person to help her remember our names, and next to mine she wrote my ethnicity (she did not do that for anyone else). I agree about using your current home town as the answer if you really want to avoid mentioning your home country. Though I've found sometimes that's not good enough for some people, and I end up having exchanges like this:

Person: "So where are you from?"
Me: "(home state, where I was born and raised)"
Person: "No, I mean...what ARE you?"

I like to think the best of people (unless they give me a reason not to) and assume they were not trying to be offensive, and I can understand the curiosity, but...I don't know, that last line still kind of rubs me the wrong way. I suppose it's in the implication that I'm somehow alien and not, you know, a person (depending on the tone of voice used), especially when they follow it up with an offensive stereotype. Though I know most of the time they actually want to ask what my cultural background is but just don't know how to phrase it.


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Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
« Reply #29 on: December 11, 2009, 04:43:07 PM »
Person: No I mean... WHAT are you?


In your best goofy cheerfull voice ---

"I'm a GIRL" (or BOY as case may be)

Or if you really want to be obnoxious --- Look inside the front of your shirt first.....

I don't think that they will ask you THAT again.
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