« Let the Judgement Begin -Thanksgiving Edition | Main | Palate Cleanser »

December 02, 2013

The Newest Danger Lurking In Our Midst

Yes, the Editorial Staff are talking about The Horror That Is Cultural Appropriation. "What the heck is Cultural Appropriation?", you knuckledraggers may well be asking yourownselves?

Cultural appropriation refers to picking and choosing elements of a culture by a member of another culture without permission. This includes traditional knowledge, religious symbols, artifacts or any other unauthorized use of cultural practice or ideation.

It's the "ideation" part that really frosts our cornflakes. But seriously, we were rather encouraged to read the following:

Cultural appropriation is always disrespectful when it incorporates religion. Using an item that holds spiritual significance as jewelry is not only insulting to Hinduism, but the specific importance of the item in question.

Hmmm... wouldn't this make disrespectful (and unauthorized!) use of Christian regalia instances of cultural appropriation? Surely the creator of "Piss Christ" doesn't self-identify as a devout believer in the divinity of Jesus Christ?

And just who gave this guy permission to appropriate the sacred symbols of another faith (being "always disrespectful" as such acts are known to be by those in charge of offense-taking)? Come to think of it, where does one go to obtain such permissions? Is there a form? Does every faith/ethnicity/nation/culture/race have an Official Bureau of Cultural Permits? How does one, whilst appropriating the ideation of another culture, properly notify the Public that one does so by permission? Is there a protocol for displaying proof of permission?

Why is cultural appropriation so wrong?

Borrowing from another culture is most problematic when it plucks from a minority group (especially one that has been exploited or otherwise oppressed). Using aspects of another culture from a position of privilege is a means of additional exploitation in that it disregards the shared experiences that led to the development of the culture in question and uses ideas and traditions for their benefit.

Oh.... you mean this sort of thing:

Once upon a time Linda Walther Tirado aka KillerMartinis wrote an essay about what it feels like to be poor. In spite (or perhaps because) of its nihilism and hopelessness, Linda’s story enchanted the internet and went viral.

...If it hadn’t been for a bunch of haters poking holes in her fairy tale, Linda might have been able to keep on fundraising and reach her final $100,000 goal. But trolls kept asking inconvenient questions like how it was that the mother of a baby and a toddler, working two jobs and carrying a full-university course load, could spend so much time on the internet.

The trolls uncovered not just the Vegas trip but the fact that Linda was a homeowner – no mortgage either — who had recently crowdfunded some overdue bills. They also discovered Linda’s multiple Facebook accounts and internet personalities. Before she became a downtrodden young mom making bad decisions, Linda was a lesbian taking on the Mormon church and a feisty fast food franchise manager putting entitled customers in their place.

It's so upsetting to see a white woman of privilege exploiting the culture of the poor and near-poor for selfish, financial gain. Hard to think of anything worse, really.

Except, possibly, the unauthorized appropriation of facial hair:

... what message does Movember convey to those whose moustaches are more-or-less permanent features? With large numbers of minority-ethnic men—for instance Kurds, Indians, Mexicans—sporting moustaches as a cultural or religious signifier, Movember reinforces the “othering” of “foreigners” by the generally clean-shaven, white majority. Imagine a charity event that required its participants to wear dreadlocks or a sari for one month to raise funds—it would rightly be seen as unforgivably racist. What is the difference here? We are not simply considering an arbitrary configuration of facial hair, but one that had particular, imperial connotation to British men of our grandfathers' generation and currently has a separate cultural valence for men from certain ethnic groups. Moustaches, whether or not “mo-bros” mean theirs to be, are loaded with symbolism. We often wonder how our fathers (both life-long moustached men) must feel each November, when their colleagues' faces temporarily resemble theirs, and are summarily met with giggles and sponsor-money. No doubt they draw the obvious conclusion, that dovetails with many other experiences of life as an immigrant: there are different rules for white faces.

Further, the inclusivity of Movember deserves examination. For one, only men (and even then, only some men) can grow a moustache. The decision to focus on the moustache to raise awareness of men's health issues might seem like an apposite one (though there's no obvious relationship between moustaches and cancers), but it reinforces the regressive idea that masculinity is about body chemistry rather than gender identity, and marginalises groups of men who may struggle to grow facial hair, such as trans-men. Ironically, Movember also excludes the very men it is supposed to uplift; many men who have undergone radiotherapy or surgery to treat testicular cancer are rendered “hypogonadal” and are therefore unable to grow facial hair.

Whatever these people are on, it is obviously prime stuff.

Posted by Cassandra at December 2, 2013 06:12 AM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:


Hello Kitty: The symbol of imperialist aggression in American pre-teen girls.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at December 2, 2013 10:01 AM

For years, whenever I read things like this I assumed they were satire.


Posted by: Cassandra at December 2, 2013 10:25 AM

Thank you. I have a new name for my Lunatic Enemies List – Lauren Duca.

As I understand it; Cultural Appropriation would fall under the rubric of MicroAgression which is itself a stolon of Libido Dominandi which was begat by Archimedean Points that was the bastard child of False Consciousness that had, alien like, exploded from the sternum of unassuming Labor Theory Of Value that had been the kinder, gentler, version of Property is Theft. Wheras Cultural hallmarks as Cultural trademarks assumes property may we assume Ms. Duca is... Criminally Insane?

Posted by: George Pal at December 2, 2013 10:28 AM

George, George, George:

You typical pasty persyns of privilege are so predictable. Just by looking at your face, I can tell everything I need to know about you: what you're thinking, how you feel about The Other, what you *really* meant when you said whatever dumb thing you just said, etc.

It's all SO familiar...

Mind you, none of this constitutes stereotyping (or arrogance) on my part; rather. it shows the unique brilliance that only *I* bring to the table. I can't ever be wrong - after all, I'm just too smart to do what other people do!

Do not attempt to imitate me - that would just prove what an insensitive racist you are.

Posted by: Barack Obama at December 2, 2013 10:46 AM

Barry, Barry, banana nana Bo Barry, fee fie foe fairy - Bar-ry,

Privileged! I was not the one carried about Harvard in a sedan chair!

Posted by: Differently Superior at December 2, 2013 11:34 AM

It is good to be King.

Posted by: Barack Obama at December 2, 2013 01:02 PM

"For one, only men (and even then, only some men) can grow a moustache."

Ohhh, I don't know about that. I've seen some pretty hairy women in this world. And I'm not *only* looking at the First Wookie.....

Posted by: DL Sly at December 2, 2013 01:19 PM


For godssake put some clothes on. You're not emperor yet.

Posted by: Differently Superior at December 2, 2013 01:49 PM

Yeah, big talk for a guy who never grew a Movember moustache.

Posted by: Grim at December 2, 2013 10:34 PM

I don't know that America "picks and chooses" parts of a culture as much as it traps it down a dark alley, beats it up and rifles through its pockets looking for loose bits it can run off with quickly.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at December 3, 2013 09:54 AM

The only sensible way to deal with this sort of navel gazing claptrap is to mock it. Am soo glad I found this blog.

As for 'appropriating' culture, the navel gazers are welcome to explain why oh why indeed any rational modern society (i.e. Western European culture back to ancient Greece as influenced by Judeo-Christian values) would have significant interest in 'appropriating' Hindu or Arabic culture.

Best Regards,

Posted by: CAPT Mike at December 3, 2013 10:20 PM