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Is Cultural Appropriation wrong? watch

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    (Original post by Avila.C)
    Thinking it's a 'costume' is where the appropriation comes from, a costume is something which is merely worn for fun and holds no significance, whilst traditional attire is used to represent cultures and their histories. To call it a costume is offensive because it removes all significance behind it and leaves it to be something which can be or is ridiculed.
    Ridiculous. I'm Asian and I'm actually happy if people of other races wear traditional costumes from my race - it shows that they are embracing my culture and values. It is not in any way reducing my culture and history - perhaps only self-righteous whites / insecure african americans with a lot of free time on their hands to think about useless things and be outraged think this way.

    Yes, I call it a costume, and I don't care whether you associate that word with any other meaning. Words aren't going to kill off a civilisation and culture which has been around for more than 4000 years.
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    (Original post by Avila.C)
    Thinking it's a 'costume' is where the appropriation comes from, a costume is something which is merely worn for fun and holds no significance, whilst traditional attire is used to represent cultures and their histories. To call it a costume is offensive because it removes all significance behind it and leaves it to be something which can be or is ridiculed.
    And if my employer in Mexico has decided to use the term that he believes could please other Mexican employees and children, who are you, a random British person who never even have met a Mexican person, to feel offended by it?

    As a Chinese person, I'd also speak for my culture and ask that white people refrain from feeling offended for me.
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    I think its disgraceful when I see asian people wearing suits and shades appropriating our western culture

    Its even worse when I see children from South America and Africa who have never even set foot in Europe wearing English football shirts and appropriating our footballers
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    (Original post by Bupdeeboowah)
    Ridiculous. I'm Asian and I'm actually happy if people of other races wear traditional costumes from my race - it shows that they are embracing my culture and values. It is not in any way reducing my culture and history - perhaps only self-righteous whites / insecure african americans with a lot of free time on their hands to think about useless things and be outraged think this way.

    Yes, I call it a costume, and I don't care whether you associate that word with any other meaning. Words aren't going to kill off a civilisation and culture which has been around for more than 4000 years.
    Indeed. This is also without mentioning the mere fact that traditional attire is a costume to most people in most cultures. In Hong Kong, where I'm from, people only wear traditional attire in weddings - hardly anyone thinks about the 'significance' or 'history' of these costumes. They wear them because they like the way they look and because that's what everybody else does.

    There's literally no difference between my wearing a Mao's suit during Lunar New Year and a white person doing it. And if a white person does do it, most people would be quite pleased and honoured.

    If someone puts on a costume to mock the culture, that's obvious bad. But most people who 'appropriate' them like them. If you don't like the way a costume looks, you most likely wouldn't put it on and show yourself to people.
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    (Original post by jensenbudz611)
    I guess the best way, at least for me, to show how it's wrong is through examples:
    Take Muslim women in hijab for example, many people say that the women who wear hijab have no "freedom" and that covering their hair is "backwards", even if it's the women's own decision to cover their hair... BUT when Khloe Kardashian visited Dubai and took a selfie of her in niqab (only her eyes were seen) the majority of comments towards her appropriating the hijab were "wooow *heart eye emoji*".
    In Rastafarian culture and (not to sound racist, just simply stating a race) black culture (I guess), some men and women choose to get weaves and/or dreads.. I've seen my own friend get made fun of for having a weave... Just telling her that her hair is nasty and to clean it and that it's fake (which it is, but...) but I've also seen (white) girls wear weaves/dreads and be complimented for it???
    Another example would be the bindi women wear on their foreheads in Indian/Hindu culture. According to the internet, the general significance of the bindi is supposed to show that the women wearing it (a red bindi) is married. People sometimes make fun of this symbol and call it weird and not modern, however if a woman from another culture were to wear the bindi, just for fun, people would be like "nice!"
    It's not fair for the people from the cultures which are mocked to be criticized for sticking to their culture and way of life when people from other cultures are praised for looking so beautiful in these styles. But also, I've seen women who find these cultures amazing and respect the cultures, etc. which is more like cultural appreciation. Angelina Jolie went to Pakistan a while back and wore the hijab while she was there, it wasn't to show to the media "hey look how hot I am in this hijab" it was to respect Muslim culture (as well as the religion.) I don't know if this helped but this is my reasoning as to why I believe cultural appropriation is bad.
    The bindi is not worn to show that a woman is married. Its original purpose is simply to symbolise the third eye. I have no problem with other cultures wearing it, but wear it for the right reason, respect my culture and do not sexualise it.
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    Non christians who celebrate xmas... Cultual apropriation?
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    Ditto easter eggs... Should i be offended when i see a guy in a turban tucking into a cream egg?
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    (Original post by jeremy1988)
    How do you know if someone is culturally appropriating, though? What if they look White, but they're actually mixed race Native Americans or Blacks? You might not know by looking at them.

    It also opens up a confusing idea of what I call "cultural usage rights", and "proprietary cultures". Who decides who has the rights to a certain culture, and what criteria do they use?

    Is it possible for Americans to appropriate British culture? Are we already doing so by speaking English, measuring stuff in feet, and using the King James Bible? Is there some kind of special rule where we can use any element of British culture that existed prior to 1776, but nothing they came up with after that time? Or would some of this be nullified by the fact that we have British ancestors, thus allowing us an indefinite license to use British culture just as third-generation Chinese immigrants have a license to celebrate Chinese New Year?

    More importantly, who decides where the boundaries lie if there's a dispute about which culture "owns" something? For instance, suppose both Blacks and Whites claim ownership of Rock music, Black Americans try to make it about an African music tradition and White Americans try to trace the lineage to English folk music (which is of course cross-licensed with the British, Australians, Canadians, etc). Who would settle that dispute? Do we need an International Cultural Appropriation board? And who represents each culture? Is that representative appointed or elected?

    I think in the best case scenario, all the English speaking countries will probably just cross-license one another's culture so that Americans can keep using common law and the Imperial system, while British people can keep watching Hollywood movies, American Football, and eating at McDonalds. We would probably have to decide whether we want to pay royalties to African cultures in order to use Rock music and Rap music, or else go back to Classical music and Opera (maybe the Italians will let us have that along with pizza in exchange for a baseball licensing agreement).

    Ultimately, I dislike the concept of cultural appropriation for the same reason I dislike proprietary software. I think it stifles innovation and exchange of ideas. Culture should be open source.

    It comes dangerously close to creating a system of proprietary cultures with boundaries defined by ancestry or birthplace. I really think allowing people to claim ownership of something cultural and dictate who can or can't use it opens a can of worms that really shouldn't be opened.
    Appropriating culture is different from adopting it. I think this answers your query about 'ownership' of culture. The problem is is not with sincerely adopting aspects of another culture, but treating them like fashion accessories.
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    (Original post by Biryani007)
    I think the main issue is not acknowledging where these clothes or styles come from, acting as though you've come up with it yourself kinda thing.
    Now you are getting very silly. Let's assume I choose to wear a sarong as an item of dress (as David Beckham has, in fact). Are you saying that I need to somehow indicate what its origins are? If you are then the same stricture would apply to anyone wearing transcontinental clothes anywhere in the world. What form would this signal take? A label pinned to the garment, perhaps? Shouldn't all those suit-wearing Asians have such labels?

    (Original post by TurboCretin)
    If you accept that it involves irreverence and disrespect, then I think that's the end of the debate.
    Yes, as you say, if. I don't but I'll come back to it in a moment. I was merely taking the case you posited further. In determining my right to wear an item my reason for wearing the item is irrelevant. Here's why:

    If I choose to wear it because I like it, then whose business is that, other than my own? Do you deny my right to do so? If you do then all those Asian suit wearers are on sticky ground, aren't they?

    If I choose to wear it to mock or otherwise show irreverence to its origin, then what is wrong with that? Mocking is a perfectly normal and reasonable means of expressing an opinion. If I can mock people in my own culture without censure, why should I be censured for mocking people in other cultures? If you give special protection to other cultures you are stating they are unworthy and incapable of standing up for themselves - patronising them.

    Or do you deny my right to mock people at all? If you don't, do you say I can only mock those of my own culture? In which case, you'll need to be specific about what my culture is. Can I mock any compatriot? Or only those of the same colour and religious belief? Or what?
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    (Original post by FridaKahlo)
    And why?
    Because people, trashy people and 'celebrities' like the Kardashians, will appropriate part of different cultures in an attempt to gain popularity, and nothing else. For instance, what do you think Kylie Jenner, and that entire trashy Kardashian family know about black culture? Not much would be a fair 'assumption', and what have they done as some of the biggest celebrities in America to challenge it's treatment of the black population? Nothing. And yet, they ignorantly associate themselves with our culture when it suits them, and say nothing when it does not, because for them to actually risk their popularity among naive brain-dead people and actually say something worth saying that could actually change people's lives and perception of the world around them, i.e other than having a picture of their hair braided saying, 'I woke up looking like dys' would require more backbone than every member of that spineless family has.

    If I were to wake up everyday, put on Indian clothing, drive to work listening to bhangra, exclusively date Indian women, and take pictures of myself on Instagram, tweet about it, facebook about it, talking about how great living like this is, glamourising it, and at the same time live in a society where Indian people are constantly oppressed by the police, the 'justice' system, and say nothing, well I think that's where you can see what's wrong with cultural appropriation. Don't appropriate part of my culture, if you don't support the right to belong to it without being oppressed, and if you have no substantive interest in it other than to appear popular. It's insulting.
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    Wtf is this stupid ass thread?
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    (Original post by 010197)
    Only people from that culture can tell you. For example, a lot of black people wouldn't like seeing a non-black person with dreadlocks (especially because it would be literal crap since fine hair can't dread) but others would willingly invite their white friends to wear braids as a way of appreciating their culture. Henna is a part of black culture and my own culture, and I'd never be okay with someone wearing traditional designs on their hands when I got made fun of for the exact same reason when I was younger.
    Don't be stupid I'm Black and any non-black person can do that . I really do not a give a flying toss.

    Btw dreads look horrible on both Black and non-black people. I would be more thinking why you choose such a horrible hair style?
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    (Original post by TurboCretin)
    Appropriating culture is different from adopting it. I think this answers your query about 'ownership' of culture. The problem is is not with sincerely adopting aspects of another culture, but treating them like fashion accessories.
    Isn't the difference a little subjective, though? It's not really something that would be easy to prove in court.

    It really doesn't seem like there's any consistent or clear definition here. It seems like it just revolves around the feelings of people that are frustrated that some other group of people makes fun of their culture when they express it, and others from the same group want to emulate aspects of it.

    There doesn't seem to be a rational principle or clear idea of justice at the heart of this. Just a lot of people putting demands on others because they're frustrated by what they perceive as hypocrisy.

    I'm probably just going to stick to my own culture to be safe. But I'm not bothered enough to condemn anyone who does engage in cultural appropriation. I just won't do it myself. I guess you might say I intend to stay neutral on the matter if possible.
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    (Original post by jeremy1988)
    It really doesn't seem like there's any consistent or clear definition here.
    And even if there were, so what? It is extremely patronising to the "appropriated" culture to claim that it isn't being shown respect (whether it is or not).

    Why do cultures deserve respect, anyway? The Aztecs' culture involved human sacrifice; does that deserve respect? What is it about dreadlocks, grass skirts or tattoos that requires respect?
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    (Original post by Good bloke)
    And even if there were, so what?
    Well, because if there were, then it would be easier to understand and respect the position of the people advocating it. If they were to say, for instance, that it should work like intellectual property and we should treat each culture like an independent corporate entity. An elected head that can make cross-licensing agreements, and a universal series of agreements about what things belonged to each culture, I would understand it and see it as fair, even if I didn't see a need for it and thought it was a bit arbitrary.

    Why do cultures deserve respect, anyway? The Aztecs' culture involved human sacrifice; does that deserve respect? What is it about dreadlocks, grass skirts or tattoos that requires respect?
    I could ask the same thing about intellectual property. Why does an author's work deserve respect? Why is no one else allowed to copy it without his/her permission? That's just the law, and I go along with it because I don't want to get sued. Not because I really respect the principle, but because they've laid out in black and white what I can or can't do, and I'm sticking to it because I respect the law.

    In my opinion, in a perfect world, we would all be a little more generous and willing to share our cultures and our intellectual property with one another freely, rather than hoarding them and demanding respect or credit. But I really think people's egos get in the way of that ever happening, so you just have to make concessions and respect ideas you may not like or agree with to keep the peace.
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    (Original post by jeremy1988)
    Isn't the difference a little subjective, though? It's not really something that would be easy to prove in court.

    It really doesn't seem like there's any consistent or clear definition here. It seems like it just revolves around the feelings of people that are frustrated that some other group of people makes fun of their culture when they express it, and others from the same group want to emulate aspects of it.

    There doesn't seem to be a rational principle or clear idea of justice at the heart of this. Just a lot of people putting demands on others because they're frustrated by what they perceive as hypocrisy.

    I'm probably just going to stick to my own culture to be safe. But I'm not bothered enough to condemn anyone who does engage in cultural appropriation. I just won't do it myself. I guess you might say I intend to stay neutral on the matter if possible.
    I don't see much to disagree with here.
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    (Original post by jeremy1988)
    I could ask the same thing about intellectual property. Why does an author's work deserve respect? Why is no one else allowed to copy it without his/her permission? That's just the law, and I go along with it because I don't want to get sued. Not because I really respect the principle, but because they've laid out in black and white what I can or can't do, and I'm sticking to it because I respect the law.
    Intellectual property exists to enable innovation. People make a living from inventing things or creating works of art or literature. If everyone else could profit from selling your work, without have invested time or money in that creation, what incentive would there be for anyone to create?
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    (Original post by Good bloke)
    Now you are getting very silly. Let's assume I choose to wear a sarong as an item of dress (as David Beckham has, in fact). Are you saying that I need to somehow indicate what its origins are? If you are then the same stricture would apply to anyone wearing transcontinental clothes anywhere in the world. What form would this signal take? A label pinned to the garment, perhaps? Shouldn't all those suit-wearing Asians have such labels?



    Yes, as you say, if. I don't but I'll come back to it in a moment. I was merely taking the case you posited further. In determining my right to wear an item my reason for wearing the item is irrelevant. Here's why:

    If I choose to wear it because I like it, then whose business is that, other than my own? Do you deny my right to do so? If you do then all those Asian suit wearers are on sticky ground, aren't they?

    If I choose to wear it to mock or otherwise show irreverence to its origin, then what is wrong with that? Mocking is a perfectly normal and reasonable means of expressing an opinion. If I can mock people in my own culture without censure, why should I be censured for mocking people in other cultures? If you give special protection to other cultures you are stating they are unworthy and incapable of standing up for themselves - patronising them.

    Or do you deny my right to mock people at all? If you don't, do you say I can only mock those of my own culture? In which case, you'll need to be specific about what my culture is. Can I mock any compatriot? Or only those of the same colour and religious belief? Or what?
    I think that we need to distinguish between whether someone has a right to do something and whether they can be legitimately criticised for doing it. Like I say, we're not legislating here. We're essentially talking about whether or not certain behaviour is dickish. And motives are relevant to figuring out whether someone is a **** for doing something. Similarly, I think that the practical aspects of proving in any given case what someone's motives are are beside the point. We're starting from the premise that people don't want to be dicks, or to be perceived as dicks.
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    (Original post by TurboCretin)
    I think that we need to distinguish between whether someone has a right to do something and whether they can be legitimately criticised for doing it.
    People can always be criticised for doing things. Whether that criticism is reasonable, sensible or justified is a different matter (and subjective). Those that claim someone is doing something dickish, as in the case of those that criticise so-called cultural appropriation, run the risk of looking dickish themselves (as, indeed, they are). Are you going to answer my questions?
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    (Original post by Good bloke)
    Intellectual property exists to enable innovation. People make a living from inventing things or creating works of art or literature. If everyone else could profit from selling your work, without have invested time or money in that creation, what incentive would there be for anyone to create?
    Then your argument also works for cultural property.

    "Cultures establish their unique identity by inventing things or creating works of art or literature. If other cultures are allowed to profit from using the creations of your culture (as happened during Imperialism with things like tea from China), without having invested time or money in that creation, then what incentive is there to create a unique cultural identity rather than just stealing someone else's?"

    It's essentially the same argument. People feel their cultural identity is diluted by people from other cultures copying it and spreading it to their own culture. Now instead of a unique culture, their culture is just part of mainstream culture somewhere else. They feel that it not being unique to them or used in a way they specify cheapens it or insults it somehow. Many authors dislike fan-fiction or fan movies for this very reason... they don't like their creations being used by others in a way they haven't specified.

    They want to control who can use them and in what way. This is just a broader concept of an entire culture wanting to control how their cultural expressions are used.

    I don't see why people even deny that there's an element of this involved. In order to appropriate a culture, it has to be acknowledged that it belongs to someone first. Like, suppose two people see a gold coin on the street, and one of them gets to it first and pockets the coin. The other one complains that he appropriated (stole) the coin from him. But this would not hold water because he didn't own the coin in the first place. It was just laying in plain sight waiting for someone to take it. But on the other hand, if the person took the coin out of the man's pocket or wallet lying on the ground, then he would have a valid argument for saying something was appropriated/stolen.

    With intellectual property, the concept becomes messier, but we're still largely talking about an individual's property, so some semblance of sense can be made. Cultural property is messier still, because we don't know who we're defining as belonging to a culture... people of a certain ancestry? People born in a certain place? Membership in a culture is not usually defined objectively like citizenship, and different people would disagree on who should enjoy the rights of being a member of a given culture.
 
 
 
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