Michelle / Melbourne, Australia. Writer, medical student, cruciverbalist and cat aficionado. Creative subeditor at Lot's Wife and fiction editor at Voiceworks Magazine.
I am pro-choice, anti-bullshit and proudly feminist.
This blog features politics, gender equality, racial issues, pop culture and some daily shenanigans. All opinions my own. Join the conversation and drop me an ask. x
Anonymous asked: Have you read the gross article about David Choe admitting to raping his masseuse and then laughing and bragging about it. Society is gross.
God, I was so angry when I read that he claimed it was ‘art that sometimes offends people’. Like, no, you raped your masseuse (hint: it was the lack of consent) and your poor storytelling skills doesn’t change that fact at all.
Did you see his apology statement? It ends with: ‘In a world full of horrible people, thank god for us.’
Let science teach you a thing before you bring back smallpox. And for pity’s sake, stop listening to the that raging shit goblin Jenny McCarthy and her acolytes before you kill more people than you already have.
• Trying/eating/making a culture’s food • Listening to that culture’s music • Watching that culture’s movies • Reading that culture’s books • Appreciating that culture’s art • Wearing that culture’s clothing IF in a setting where that culture is prevalent and IF people are okay with it and/or it is necessary to fit in and not stand out weirdly (i.e. If you visit Pakistan, you can wear a shalwar kameez so you don’t stand out as an American tourist. Or if you visit a specific temple or religious setting, you may need to/want to adhere to specific dress forms. Or if you’re invited to a wedding and they allow/invite you to wear their cultural dress to participate in the festivities). • Using that culture’s dance/physical traditions in specific settings (i.e. taking belly-dancing classes, or going to an Indian wedding and trying to dance with them).
What is cultural appropriation:
• Wearing specific items of clothing that may (and probably do) have deeper meaning as a costume. Like on Halloween. • Wearing specific items of clothing to be trendy or fashionable. • Trying to imitate their natural beauty standards and possible makeup/markings (i.e dreadlocks and bindis and mehndi/henna). • Taking their rituals, old-as-hell traditions, and dances and turning them into cheap, tacky everyday garbage for you to have “fun” with (i.e. smoking sheesha. Y’all turned it into this janky nonsense that looks so trashy and stupid). • Taking spiritual/religious ideas and traditions and subscribing to them to be trendy or unique • Trying to act like you’re an expert in their food, music, or art, and that you can do it BETTER than them • Basically trying to WEAR that culture’s skin, clothing, & beauty traditions as a costume/trend and turn old traditions into cheap garbage
And WHY is this wrong? Because, in our society, white people or non-POC can get away with wearing another culture’s clothes and identities and it will be “cute”, “indie”, “bohemian”, “trendy”, and “exotic.” BUT when a POC who actually belongs to that culture wears their own culture’s clothing, styles of beauty, or does things that are specific to their culture, they’re looked down upon, made fun of, sneered at, told to “Go home, get out of this country, we don’t do that here,” and laughed at. The few times I wore a shalwar kameez in public—and I’m Pakistani—people gave me weird looks, like I had a disease. And yet if a white person (or, heck, even a different POC, because POC don’t have the right to appropriate other cultures either) wears a shalwar kameez, people will call her exotic and cute. Seriously? Do you see a problem? I do. Want some proof? When Selena Gomez and Katy Perry use other cultures as costumes in their music videos and stuff, they were thought to be creative and fun. But when an Indian American woman with brown skin won Miss America, there was a huge racist backlash and people said, “We don’t look like that here, we don’t need a curry muncher here, get out of this country.” So I guess Indian culture is only okay if Selena Gomez is stealing it, right? But not if an actual Indian woman is displaying it? Another example: white people with dreadlocks are seen as “soft grunge” and “hippie”, but black people with dreadlocks are looked down upon and seen as dirty and lazy for having them, even though they know how to take care of their dreadlocks way better.
Respect the fact that we are different. You don’t need to be culturally BLIND because that is just as ignorant. Trying to ignore cultures means you’re trying to erase peoples’ identities. You can appreciate/like/admire other cultures without trying to steal them, use them, cheapen them, and wear them as costumes. You weren’t born into it, so know your limits. And YES. There will ALWAYS be those people who say, “But my Chinese friends don’t care if ____!” and “I’m Mexican and I don’t care if people ____,” but they do not speak for all people of that culture and just because THEY don’t mind doesn’t mean other people don’t. Plenty of POC get harassed/taunted/degraded/fetishized over their own cultures WHILE people not of that culture are called “free-spirited”, “bohemian”, “quirky” and “trendy” for imitating the SAME culture—so yes, the people who oppose cultural appropriation do it based on actual microaggressions and bigotry they may have faced and it is NOT your job to try and convince then that they don’t have a right to their own culture or that the oppression against them should mean nothing.
Think about this. There are some women okay with sexism. Some POC okay with racist jokes. Some Jewish people don’t care about anti-Semitic jokes. And your friend might be one of these people. But suddenly that makes it okay for you to behave foolishly, immaturely, and ignorantly?
Wise up. It’s 2014. There is no excuse to be ignorant.
And if you ever need to explain to someone what cultural appropriation is, show them this post (credit me if you post it elsewhere). It’s a good starter and I think it encompasses the basics of what cultural appropriation is and isn’t.
I tell my students, ‘When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else. This is not just a grab-bag candy game.
“In 1981,” explains Giordano, “LEGOs were ‘Universal Building Sets’ and that’s exactly what they were…for boys and girls. Toys are supposed to foster creativity. But nowadays, it seems that a lot more toys already have messages built into them before a child even opens the pink or blue package. In 1981, LEGOs were simple and gender-neutral, and the creativity of the child produced the message. In 2014, it’s the reverse: the toy delivers a message to the child, and this message is weirdly about gender.”
If you really want a headache (the good kind), take a long look at this “photo”. No, this is not a photo of the cosmic microwave background radiation (which you can actually see for yourself if you change your television channel to one of the “fuzzy” stations) nor is it a collection of graphs of a cell structure. So, instead of telling you what it isn’t, how about I tell you what it is? This is, well… everything. Everything we can see and observe anyway. What you’re looking at is the “observable” universe. This particular map has a cellular appearance due to how the galaxies tend to collect into vast sheets and super clusters of stars that are surrounded by stunningly large voids in between them. You and I and everything we’ve ever known are smack in the middle there, along with our Local group, which is a part of the larger Virgo Supercluster. All of those other dots are also superclusters, each containing perhaps trillions of stars.
Since the speed of light is a constant in the vacuum of space, there is an outer edge to what is observable from Earth. That outer edge is defined by the objects within 14 billion years away (how old the universe is estimated to be), which is the time it would take for the light from these distant objects to reach us here on Earth. In this sense, the objects that are the farthest away from us are literally some of the earliest stars and galaxies in the young universe. it’s quite likely that the stars we’re observing are no longer burning and the ones that have formed from the gases expelled during the supernova of the previous stars are in another place entirely.
Since the universe has been expanding indefinitely since the big bang, the number of objects seen in the observable universe will shorten with time and it will appear as if the universe is much smaller than it does now - due to the light not having the proper amount of time to travel to the distant reaches of the universe. This expansion that’s going on in all directions is also the reason why our solar system appears to lie in the middle of the universe. In fact, every inhabited planet circling a distant star will look out into the universe and they will see that the universe is expanding away from them, giving the impression that they are located smack in the center of it all.
The “observable” universe consists of:
10 million superclusters
25 billion galaxy groups
350 billion large galaxies
7 trillion dwarf galaxies
30 billion trillion (3X10^22) stars (of which almost 30 stars go supernova per second)
According to some math that I have no desire to go into, if you imagine the size of the observable universe (13.7 billion light-years) to be that of one nucleus of an atom and compare that with the size of the unobservable universe, then the total universe is 10 billion times larger than the size of the unobservable universe compared to a nucleus of an atom AND IT WILL CONTINUE TO GET BIGGER.
I know some people have been posting this project today and expressing admiration, but honestly? I just find it incredibly boring. Not only are almost all of the models conventionally attractive outside of their supposedly unusual underarm hair, but I’m just tired of this ‘challenge traditional beauty standards’ malarkey. Surely women have to have higher aims than being ‘allowed’ to be considered beautiful?
Admittedly, I am exposed to numerous women who freely grow their body hair and seeing it is neither here nor there for me.
But for goodness sake - can we stop training the camera lens on women and pretending that all it takes to challenge beauty’s ritual of objectification is to create a larger sample of those considered ‘good enough’ to be objectified? Especially in cases like this when such supposedly transgressive artistry is being claimed by a guy whose entire catalogue of subjects conforms to a pretty typical standard of attractiveness.
Jesus, if you want to see amazing, subversive photographs of women with hairy pits who are also in control of how those images are presented, all you have to do is run a cursory search on Tumblr. This stuff isn’t new, and celebrating it as if it is doesn’t just reinforce some pretty damaging ideas about the commodification of women’s bodies, it also once again praises the work of a man as original when he’s actually doing nothing more than stealing from women who have been saying this stuff (and creating art about it) for years, and in far more interesting and confronting ways.
Hopper argues that women shouldn’t be told what defines beauty (even while the narrow catalogue of his work seems to do exactly that), and that’s true - but nor should we be fooled into thinking that being considered beautiful is one of the greatest gifts the world has to offer us. We have to want more than the reassurance that our bodies and the way we look when we walk through the world are acceptable and pleasing to an outsider’s gaze.
TW: This post will be dealing with whorephobia. Specifically the kind leveled at full service sex workers. I got really worked up the more I wrote and I’m hoping my language isn’t offensive. I welcome feedback and other people’s opinions on…