Author Topic: some thoughts on cultural appropriation  (Read 91773 times)

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Offline arthwollipot

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #510 on: April 14, 2017, 04:47:56 AM »
The analogy is between the person who says that wolf-whistling should be taken as a compliment, and the person who says that cultural appropriation should be taken as a compliment. The first is taking something that is offensive, and saying that it shouldn't be offensive. The second is taking something offensive, and saying that it shouldn't be offensive.

See the difference?

This is very strange to me. So to be clear, in reference to what he originally posted that you paraphrased, are you saying you believe that it is inherently offensive for somebody to enjoy any part of any culture other than their own?

His original post was that he is happy when he sees somebody enjoying his culture, and I cant find any reasonable interpretation of your phrase "taking something offensive" as referring to anything other than the clause "people enjoying my culture".
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Offline Caffiene

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #511 on: April 14, 2017, 05:22:52 AM »
I looked for a facepalm gif, but couldn't find a good enough one.

Thats nice.
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Online Harry Black

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #512 on: April 14, 2017, 05:37:08 AM »
Answering someones concerns about an action with "well I happen to like it" is absolute bullshit.
It doesnt matter how you think you would feel in their position, they are expressing THEIR concerns.

Offline NEKSkeptic

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #513 on: April 14, 2017, 06:04:15 AM »

I looked for a facepalm gif, but couldn't find a good enough one.

In other words, "I've got nothing."

Offline Caffiene

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #514 on: April 14, 2017, 07:07:35 AM »
Answering someones concerns about an action with "well I happen to like it" is absolute bullshit.

I dont see where that was his answer to anyones concerns. If anything, the latter half - that we can measure how many people are adversely affected and to what extent, and go from there - is the response to concerns.

"Someones concerns" are no less an anecdote than "I happen to like it", its just feeling vs feeling. If we want to make decisions or judgement based on feelings, it seems the best way to do so would be to start by gathering evidence of what those feelings are on a community-wide or culture-wide level.

As mentioned up-thread, the same statements of offense, upset and concern are made about blasphemy, which is a big part of what leads to blasphemy laws such as Ireland has - do you agree with those laws? If not, how do you reconcile that against the stance here? Id argue that in many ways its very similar - a cultural idea which is taken by others outside the culture and used in a way that devalues/ignores the cultural (religious) context in a way that those in the culture find upsetting and offensive.

Personally Im against the idea of blasphemy laws or even offense at blasphemy in general (its not just about it being a law), and generally in favour of dont-be-a-dick philosophy regarding cultural appropriation, but it makes me uneasy that the two things are conceptually very similar and I havent seen or been able to articulate for myself a good reason as to what separates them.
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Offline D4M10N

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #515 on: April 14, 2017, 07:28:42 AM »
I'd like to see this logic spelled out. How exactly is wolf-whilsting analogous to cultural appropriation?
The analogy is between the person who says that wolf-whistling should be taken as a compliment, and the person who says that cultural appropriation should be taken as a compliment.

Did I say it should be taken a certain way, or are you mispresenting my position again?

Would I like for more people to adopt ideas/hairstyles/jewlery/clothing from different cultures? Yes. It makes me happy to see more cultural diversity without regard to race or ethnicity.

Do I expect other people to feel the same way? No. People don't all have the same experiences and values.

Do I assume that one group should necessarily prevail and enforce their preferred social norms on everyone else? No. We have to figure out which system will do the most good, in general, based on shared human values.

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Online Harry Black

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #516 on: April 14, 2017, 07:28:59 AM »
So if you and I disagree about what temperature the room should be then that is your feelings versus my feelings and in that case it would matter to quantify who thinks it should be which way.
In the case of me chewing with my mouth open, it doesnt matter what the breakdown is of who it bothers or not. If one person asks me to chew with my mouth shut, I either need to do so or continue being a source of irritation/discomfort to another person.

Thats all this is. Its just that in this case, its never been safe or acceptable for people who have been annoyed by open mouth chewing to speak up and say so, and so those hearing that they have been causing distress feel unreasonably attacked and want to 'prove' that the person complaining is unreasonable or are placing a burden on the complainer to 'prove' that they are reasonable.
That has a veneer of reasonability and skepticism, but its not really how such categories of social issues have ever really worked.

Offline Caffiene

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #517 on: April 14, 2017, 08:10:16 AM »
So if you and I disagree about what temperature the room should be then that is your feelings versus my feelings and in that case it would matter to quantify who thinks it should be which way.
In the case of me chewing with my mouth open, it doesnt matter what the breakdown is of who it bothers or not. If one person asks me to chew with my mouth shut, I either need to do so or continue being a source of irritation/discomfort to another person.

I agree with the options you gave. You would be a source of discomfort. But the question is, is it sometimes reasonable to be a source of discomfort? Is it unreasonable to incidentally blaspheme? Some people are offended even by something as simple as the exclamation "Oh my god" - is it inherently unreasonable to say "Oh my god"?

I lean towards agreeing that we should not view it as reasonable to culturally appropriate (is that the verb of cultural appropriation?) in a way that causes distress to people, but I cant hope to justify that idea or consider it well founded if I dont have some level of argument as to why it is true in this case and not in others.

If 1 person in a million hates open-mouth chewing but the other 999,999 people actively enjoy it and want you to do it, is it unreasonable to be a source discomfort for that one in a million? I feel like at some point theres a transition, where more or less people being in favour vs opposed to an idea make a difference to its reasonableness. I dont expect to identify the line, but I want to have an understanding of why a behaviour might transition from reasonable to unreasonable. Unless we are to make a blanket statement that all discomfort is bad or all discomfort is good, we should be able to express that here are some reasons why it falls on one side or the other and here are explanations of why cultural appropriation fits those reasons.

I dont think anyone here has asked the complainant to prove their reasonableness. Even Damion just said that the number of people is an empirical question. A charitable reading, and certainly the way I did phrase it, is that we can measure it empirically. The onus is on us as skeptics if we want a reasonable foundation to argue from and to convince other people is to find evidence to support those arguments. In many ways I believe on a general level that skepticism is about grinding a topic right into the ground to get to a logical foundation, rather than saying "I cant be bothered with that level of detail" and just assuming there are no inconsistencies or logical pitfalls in the details.

(Sorry for the teal deer. It must be getting late, im getting rambley)
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Offline RGU

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #518 on: April 14, 2017, 08:10:30 AM »
OK, so I read this whole thread... yes it took forever.
So, in short cultural appropriation is when the Dominate culture "steals" cultural ideas from the Marginalized culture and uses them.
Right?
However, everything I have read appears from a very American (as in USA) view.
Do the people who have an issue with this appropriation also feel the same when it occurs in other countries and what happens when people cross country lines?

For example (using the hoop earrings)
A white girl should not wear them because they belong to Latinas (or black girls, whichever) because the white girl is in the Dominate culture.
So if that white girl moves to Peru, then she is allowed to wear hoop earring as she is no longer Dominate, but now the Marginalized culture.
And the Peruvian girls should stop wearing, i don't know... leggings? You know because that is a white girl thing.
So now that the girl who moved is allowed to wear hoop earrings, if she moves back to the US 10 years later, is she required to give up the hoop earrings again?

What if this girl was born in Peru because her white parents from Detroit lived there and she lived there for 18 years before going to the US. Who's culture is she part of and what does she get to wear?

This whole thing appears needlessly confusing. Especially since those judging the "appropriator" do not know the background of the person.

As with all things, context and nuance matter. Also the onus is on the "appropriator," not to do it. If you are insensitively appropriating, as with all social faux pas, you are going to get judged.

Edit: additional thoughts. I am mixed-race. I look white but I am half Indian. I am very aware of the fact that if I wear traditional Indian clothing that I look like I'm appropriating it, even though it is, at some level, authentic to my heritage. That said, choices have to be made. I know how it would look and I don't do it. This is not how everyone *does* or *should* act who is "white-passing," which is an extremely complicated topic in and unto itself. You also have to realize to some extent how you are being seen, but you are also allowed to make authentic choices for yourself. It is, and it is allowed to be nuanced and complicated.

I get that this is your choice, however I think it is quite sad that you feel you are not "allowed" to wear Indian styled clothing because you think someone somewhere might see you and be offended. Do you do the same if you travel to India? Would you not wear it because you don't want to hurt someones feelings who thinks "what is this crazy white person doing?" Or, are you allowed to because over there you would be the minority and are now the "victim" of western appropriation which allows you to wear the same clothing you cannot wear in the US, while at the same time you are allowed to get upset by any Indian wearing blue jeans. Do you approach those people and tell them, "Hey I don't wear Indian garb in the US, so you can't wear blue jeans in India".
Don't you think the whole things becomes very ridiculous when you look at it from a worldly view?
I would never tell my daughter, sorry you can do, wear, say that because you don't look enough like your mother...  you came out too white, my bad. Or maybe she is only allowed to do those things in the summer because she looks so much more Hispanic when she is tan, but white in the winter. So she is technically only a Winter Appropriator.

Online Harry Black

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #519 on: April 14, 2017, 08:28:50 AM »
Caffeine, do you have reason to believe that the numbers of people in affected groups who feel affected by cultural appropriation are similar to the example you gave?

That seems like a very unlikely ratio to me and I would feel like a dick insisting that people help me to verify to a reasonable standard that it was the case before I took their claim seriously.

If you wanted, you could just do the equivelant of checking left and right for PoCs before telling a slightly racist joke , because afterall, the number of people affected is small.
Or you could just modify general behaviour.
Its ENTIRELY up to you.
Nothing I say will remove the consequences of people making a decision about whether or not you are a dick because of it.
If you really think the numbers are as low as they are for your hypothetical for each and every individual example of appropriation, then go for it.

Offline Andrew Clunn

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #520 on: April 14, 2017, 09:04:03 AM »
I want a black person to come here and say they don't think white people should wear hoop earrings or certain hairstyles.  Find me somebody who is of the group being offended to come say as much and explain it to us.  That's what I want.  I want to hear it from them.
I'm just the victim of my cognitive privilege

Offline Caffiene

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #521 on: April 14, 2017, 09:10:40 AM »
If you really think the numbers are as low as they are for your hypothetical for each and every individual example of appropriation, then go for it.

Its called an example by hyperbole. I was clearly not saying the numbers are like that. The point of the example is to show that if you agree in that one extreme case, then thats evidence theres a spectrum of cases that may be in between and there is reason to consider how to differentiate parts of that spectrum. Are you making the counter-claim that all situations are fully black or white?

To be blunt, your reason reads to me as essentially "Evaluating is too much effort, so Im just going to act under the assumption that all examples are negative". Thats perfectly valid in terms of a personal strategy that will cause the least distress, but it is also completely invalid as a strategy to convince anybody else to modify their behaviour.

If you are only concerned about your own effects on others and are fine with everyone else appropriating whatever they feel like then you can get away with that strategy, but when discussing moral issues on a forum like this Im not interested in "how should I act" - thats usually pretty obvious. Im interested in "how are my actions justified by reason", and "how can we convince people in general to do the right thing".
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Offline Quetzalcoatl

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #522 on: April 14, 2017, 09:11:27 AM »
This was discussed on the forum of the Swedish Skeptics Association a few years ago. Roughly everyone but one person in that thread were dismissive of the concept. Below are some examples, translated by me.

Maybe you will conclude that that the Swedish skeptics are more rational than the American skeptics who champion this concept? Maybe not?

Quote
Sounds to my ears as if opponents of cultures mixing have tried to make up a more socially acceptable formulation of their opinions. "Intelligent design" was after all invented when people got their eyes open about how stupid creationism is.

http://forum.vof.se/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=20721#p661326

Quote
It becomes a little absurd when there are those who are priviledged who try to define what "the others" should be upset about.

http://forum.vof.se/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=20721#p661464

Quote
As the early hiphoppers gladly mimiced Kraftwerk, maybe only Germans should be allowed to hiphop? Or possible black people in Bronx who like German music.

On the other hand, Kraftwerk were inspired by soul...

On the third hand much of the soul from the 60s were written by white people (especially the "genuinly black" south state soul from Stax and Muscle Shoals)...

http://forum.vof.se/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=20721#p661581

Quote
I don't think "appropriation" is a fitting word for this. It rather describes "laying claim to", so that the original creators are shut out from their creation henceforth. That one group embraces another group's culture in this way I don't see anything wrong with. You can view it as cultural spreading. The whites laid claim to the land of the Native Americans, but Beastie Boys didn't lay claim to hiphop.

It feels unfair to accuse Miley to be false in her embrace. She might just as well think that twerking is the coolest thing there is.

http://forum.vof.se/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=20721&start=15#p661584

Quote
[In case it isn't clear, this post is written sarcastically.]

The negros who have the rhythm in their blood should be allowed to have their music for themselves, while the white, priviledged middle class should listen to Wagner as the closet-fascist bung they are. To allow the cultural expressions to cross-fertilize each other in both directions? God forbid!

http://forum.vof.se/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=20721&start=15#p661676

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What hits me is that very rarely there are entire peoples or cultures that are under-priviledged. If we take Muslims as an example; there is no shortage of Muslims who are very priviledged in all sorts of ways. And there are Muslims who clearly are non-priviledged.

The same applies to other peoples and religions.

Is it time to start to see offendedness as something that acutally affects real people of meat and blood, not entire peoples or entire groups of people?

http://forum.vof.se/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=20721&start=45#p661937
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Online Harry Black

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #523 on: April 14, 2017, 09:43:24 AM »
Caffeine,
I know you were being hyperbolic.
But that kind of ratio is the only one where I would really consider it worth following the kind of approach you are suggesting.
Its not that I think evaluating is too much effort, its that unless the answer turned out to be as extreme as your example, it would not change my approach.
I would say that the questions you are interested in can be addressed separately to this issue and this issue gets obscured by tangeants such as that so I think they are both best dealt with in isolation.

Quetz,
Non of that surprises me. A few years ago I would have been on that side myself. This forum was actually what turned me around on the issue.

Offline D4M10N

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #524 on: April 14, 2017, 09:59:03 AM »
I don't get why you'd need an extreme ratio, Harry.

Hypothetically, suppose...

⅓ of people from a fictional culture take joy in sharing their distinctive tattoo methods and designs with people from outside of that culture

⅓ of people from said culture feel pained when they see outsiders wearing their distinctive ink

⅓ of people from said culture don't care much one way or another.

Why assume that the second group of people should prevail, when it comes to the construction of a cross-cultural norm regarding this particular cultural practice?



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