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I'm a woman, a student, a lover, a debater, a feminist, an idealist, a depressive, an optimist, a dreamer and I love food
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Asker Anonymous Asks:
Selena Gomez got a new tattoo written in Arabic saying "love yourself first". Is this cultural appropriation?
cleverandundercover cleverandundercover Said:

countingnothings:

cleverandundercover:

fuckyeahmelissafabello:

Mmhmm.

Why??????????????? I know 5 languages,sometimes I read it, sometimes I speak it, sometimes I even write it. I am of Chinese-Irish background born and raised in Canada… Is my existence cultural appropriation?

At what point can we allow people to appreciate and participate in other cultures. I believe in cultural appropriation, and it is very important but, when we make all cultural interchange into appropriation we miss the entire point. 

Please! Please debate me on this, tell me your thoughts. Let’s have a dialogue that makes sense. Thanks.

One of the reasons I, as a non-Arab Arabic-speaker, have ultimately rejected the idea of getting an Arabic tattoo, is because of the identity, if you will, of a language. Language, in many parts of the world, is more than simply a method of communication; it’s a carrier of cultural and religious significance in and of itself. Sanskrit and its linguistic descendants are some of the most extreme examples of this: the very phonology of the language is sacred, such that mispronunciations are potentially spiritually disastrous, and the use of the language by “polluted” people can be the same.

Other languages carry significance because of their associations with particular religious traditions; Arabic is one of these. The language is sacred, although not quite in the same way that Sanskrit is, because of its status as the language the Prophet spoke; whether or not he actually spoke the same Arabic in use on the Arabian Peninsula today is immaterial. In certain branches of Islam, being able to read and recite the Qur’an in Arabic is more important that being functionally fluent in the language - here, the language itself, understood or not, has some form of spiritual power. Whether it is the phonology or the orthography, the Arabic language has a deep religious significance in and of itself - not simply as a carrier of meaning.

(But Jessica! Are there not many Arabic-speakers who are not Muslim? Absolutely there are. That doesn’t change the fact that there is a spiritual significance to Arabic. There are lots of non-Hindu Sanskrit speakers - I happen to be one - but that doesn’t change Sanskrit’s significance, either. Because these languages and others like them have significance attached to the very shape of words, to the very structure of the language, regardless of lexicographical meaning, there are different rules that apply to them. It’s a hard thing to understand, because most Western languages are significant as carriers of meaning, for their function rather than their form. But I think it’s an important one to try to grasp - I’m certainly still pretty mystified about it.)

On a certain level, I think it’s correct to say that stripping that significance from a language - which is what happens when you put it on a t-shirt or inscribe it on your skin - is cultural appropriation. But I think getting an Arabic tattoo is a bad idea for some other reasons (I’ve given it a lot of thought):

- Branching from the significance of language, given that Arabic is religiously significant in and of itself because of its association with Islam, and given that many interpretations of shari’a hold that tattoos aren’t lawful, to get an Arabic tattoo would go against the spirit of the language. Which, I don’t know, seems to me like a pretty awful thing to do, but, then, I have a lot of pretty strong feelings about languages beyond their functions. (to top that off, I don’t know if “love yourself first” is something that holds with the spirit of Arabic as a language, either, but that’s getting a little far from my point and into debatable socio-linguistic territory WHICH IS SUPER COOL but also not necessarily super reliable for accuracy)

- Arabic as a language has a lot of cultural baggage tied to it, too. One of the Grand Theft Auto games (which I think we can agree use some pretty racist stereotypes with respect to black “gang culture”) takes place, at least in part, in Karachi, where the predominant language is Urdu. The signs around town in the game, however, are in Arabic. The Middle-Eastern terrorist in every international espionage/homeland security/whathaveyou show speaks Arabic - not Urdu, not Pashto, not Farsi, which are much more realistic languages for people from Afghanistan (from whence they are mostly portrayed to come) to speak. Arabic’s cultural status in the West is as a symbol of terrorism, of despotism, of brutal murder - a bearded face and the shahadah are tropes in all of our media. As a person not of Arabic descent, when I speak Arabic I do not have to confront that cultural baggage. I do not have to worry about everyone from children to security guards treating me differently because of the language falling from my lips.

If I were to get an Arabic tattoo, I know what it would say. And people would ask me what it said. And people would ooh and ahh and tell me how beautiful it was (although my grandmother would likely see it as another sign of my clearly impending conversion). If my friend Trisha, who wears hijab, or my sister’s friend Rayan, whose beard and skintone and Pakistani passport have seen him randomly selected at almost every airport he’s passed through, were to get an Arabic tattoo, things would be a little different. “Does that say ‘death to unbelievers’?” I can hear people say, along with other things I’d rather not type. As long as white girls getting Arabic tattoos is beautiful and culturally aware and brown girls getting Arabic tattoos is likely to get them more ridicule and abuse, as long as the standards for us are different, my getting an Arabic tattoo is cultural appropriation.

(tl;dr) I think, for me, the main reasons Selena Gomez and I should both avoid Arabic-tattoo-getting, are really simple ones. 


1. Language does not always have the same significance. Arabic is a language whose value is calculated differently than that of most of our Western languages. Its value is tied closely to its position as the religious language of Islam, where it is significant in and of itself. To get an Arabic tattoo, even as an Arabic speaker who is both non-Arab and non-Muslim (because I think even non-Muslim Arabs have a relationship with Arabic that I am not in any way qualified to judge, and obviously non-Arab Muslims do as well), is cultural appropriation because it takes something outside of the sphere of its cultural significance.

2. Language does not always carry the same baggage. Arabic is a vilified language of a vilified people, an excuse and a justification for oppression and injustice against ethnically Arab Arabic-speakers and against non-white Muslims, whether they are Arabic speakers or not. So long as it and its speakers are victims of prejudice in this way, it remains a part of a culture that is only acceptable when used by white people. Just like South Asian girls and women in bindis are ridiculed but when Selena Gomez wears one, suddenly it’s cool, when we take things from someone who would be ridiculed or the subject of violence for using them, it’s cultural appropriation. 

Learning, reading, speaking, writing a language? Not cultural appropriation (I mean, I guess it probably can be, like when weeabos do it with Japanese, but I think language fetishization as a part of cultural fetishization is a WHOLE other story). I think how we use the languages we learn is where we can tread fine lines, and I think how different communities use different languages and the impacts that those uses have are worth thinking about. 

Thanks Jess this was a great response. I love the dialogue that issues like this open up, versus just an mhmmm response to a vague question. I totally see your point on this specific issue.

Archie Panjabi is so damn sexy

New Williams + Hirakawa outtake, credit to lanaboards

(via marypoppinsfandom)

The Fall (2013)

I find this man very appealing.

angryasiangirlsunited:

PROUD, PROUD FILIPINA, 19.

I can’t stress enough how many times this past year alone I have been fetishized and dehumanized for being Asian. In fact one of my “friends” has long since stripped me of my name only to shout “ASIAN!” whenever he sees me, despite that I’m not the only Asian person he hangs around with in school+he very well knows my name. He’s tried to bite me. He has grabbed my hips and otherwise inappropriately touched me many times. One time it was at Subway’s. Subway’s. 

The first few weeks of college, I was introduced to this 29 year old guy who made it a point to get my number and on my first phone call with him he admitted to having had a “thing” for Filipino girls. Of course, that definitely turned me away from him. Then he was quick to point out that I was not making it easy for him to get to know me. Gee, I wonder why? I, on the other hand, have gotten to know him well; he wants to be with an Asian girl. To him, Asian women—“I don’t know. There’s just something about them.” A conversation we shared at Wendy’s (I don’t like to eat on campus, could you tell?) divulged into him putting Asian Women on this pedestal that has since made me very, very uncomfortable. He loves to put Asian decor in his 3D model designs (He, of course, isn’t Asian and had to ask me COUNTLESS times advice on his model for what would make it more Asian-looking). He has grabbed my ass and thighs multiple times and demanded sex from me on multiple occasions. Sometimes, even when we’re next to another one of my older male comrades. Needless to say; I don’t want to be his Asian sex toy. Thanks.

College has been one hell of a ride for me. I go to an art school and I’m a Game Art and Design Major. I do 2D and 3D art, I even write and do poetry. I’m supposed to be here to prepare to break into the industry; laptop and canvas ablaze! When I first entered this school I thought I would get along with everyone here. I knew there would be people making art to carry messages they believed in. And I figured I could resonate with that awareness and passion. In fact I once thought could share in my problems as a feminist with racism, sexism, and fetishization.

Instead, I was the very one being fetishized and treated with racist stereotypes. A man I really liked at one point declared he strongly believed in all sorts of stereotypes. He, a white man, as well as a mixed MOC “friend” of mine, also declared that there is “NO SUCH THING AS RACISM.”

So thankyou, you ignorant, fetishizing shitbags.

Yes I am mad. Yes I am fucking angry. Because as long as these people think that stereotypes and discrimination will go away so long as you turn a blind eye, there will always be a Hydra-like monster feeding systematic oppression into the world. Thank you “friends” who fight against everything I believe in. Thank you sexist fucks who only view me as a non-human toy for you to touch and re-name. Thank you for discrediting me for my personal experiences because you sorry asses are the very ones who perpetuate them, even in college.

xoxo, I-Way-Way‏

kindlewood:

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I’m not talking about calling out shit like the above. That’s disgusting and racist, fake, promoting a stereotype, sexualizing something, and is just distasteful in general.

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These are not. If you call out these as cultural appropriation - you are being racist. You are assuming that…

I don’t know if i agree that it’s “racist” I wouldn’t use that word so liberally, but I think it’s misguided. 

shady-brain-farm:

I guess if using Henna or having dreadlocks is “cultural appropriation” then all other countries better throw out their TVs because the television was a British invention and if you watch TV you’re just trying to be British and are offending my culture.

This it literally how fucking ridiculous you sound.

this is not true. This is not how cultural appropriation works. I’m not going to explain it because I am tired, but this is not it… ok ok. I am going on a weird cultural appropriation tear right now.. ok ok

thisisnotchina:

in all honesty, i really want to move beyond “cultural appropriation” per se.

for one thing, it is often very difficult to categorically define something as appropriation or not. a lot of people come here with black-and-white understandings of appropriation, when there is a lot of gray area….

whitepeoplestealingculture:

Is this a joke or do white people have no idea what a kimono really is.
- Jess

This person does not know what a kimono is.. this is true.

whitepeoplestealingculture:

Is this a joke or do white people have no idea what a kimono really is.

- Jess

This person does not know what a kimono is.. this is true.

banglebanger:

This outfit was inspired by the Balmain Fall 2014 Ready-To-Wear Collection (x)

wearing: f21 croptop, vince camuto shoes, natasha necklace

makeup: smashbox photo ready illuminating primer, mac studio fluid fix nc42, buxom illuminator, nyx eyeshadow natural palette, nyx matte cream lipstain in copenhagen, anastasia beverly hills eyebrow pomade in dark brown, nyx matte bronzer, nars blush in liberte

Whenever my friends ask me what to do to improve an outfit, I almost always say.. but a BELT ON IT!. This outfit is stunning no matter what, but mmm yeah I love that belt.

I am going to put it out there. I think a lot of what is deemed “cultural appropriation” is bullshit. Fucking unfollow me, I don’t care, it’s bullshit. 

there is a place for interchange, interaction and cultural appreciation… 
I don’t think cultural appropriation does not exist. I think it does! but not every thing has a simple answer, and calling “appropriation” is much too easy.

Asker Anonymous Asks:
Selena Gomez got a new tattoo written in Arabic saying "love yourself first". Is this cultural appropriation?
cleverandundercover cleverandundercover Said:

sammie-darko:

quotesbymel:

sammie-darko:

cleverandundercover:

fuckyeahmelissafabello:

Mmhmm.

Why??????????????? I know 5 languages,sometimes I read it, sometimes I speak it, sometimes I even write it. I am of Chinese-Irish background born and raised in Canada… Is my existence cultural appropriation?

At what point can we allow people to appreciate and participate in other cultures. I believe in cultural appropriation, and it is very important but, when we make all cultural interchange into appropriation we miss the entire point. 

Please! Please debate me on this, tell me your thoughts. Let’s have a dialogue that makes sense. Thanks.

I’m on mobile so I’m not going to type a whole thought out essay here.


Selena Gomez is getting a tattoo in a language she may or may not know that relates to a culture that she may or may not have studied. I don’t keep up on Selena Gomez.

But my personal opinion is that even if she did study and does care about the language, culture, and people connected to what she is about to tattoo on her, I still think it’s gross of her to do simply because here in the u.s., Arabic isn’t really welcome.

Which means if people hearing people speaking Arabic, things can get ugly. If people see anyone they assume is middle eastern (or more exactly from there), things can get ugly. People are attacked for wearing their religious head clothes in particular if it’s related to Islam.

Here in the u.s., if you talk about Arabic, we instantly think of Muslims (well at least the white people do). Anyone who pretends otherwise is lying.

And basically what I’m trying to say is that getting this tattoo is bad because she’s a pop star and it’s going to encourage others to start getting these tattoos and I really don’t think they’re going to be like, “oh, let me find information on this culture and I dunno, stop fucking harassing and attacking Muslims and middle eastern people. I should also stop making jokes about them and so on.”

They’re taking a part of Arabic speaking people’s culture without giving them a safe space to embrace it for themselves.

(Sorry. I’m not as elegant at communication on mobile)

I think as humans we need to get to a point where all languages and cultures are equally accepted. I speak Spanish frequently with my Spanish-speaking friends and never once have I been accused of cultural appropriation.

I think learning/studying a language or culture that is not your own should be praised. It’s he first step to acceptance, getting to know why other people act/think the way they do.

Every culture is important and beautiful. And everyone should be allowed to enjoy that beauty regardless of whether or not it is their “origin”.

And personally, I think Arabic is beautiful to listen to, even though I don’t speak the language.

And you’re completely right. Really you are.

I just don’t like that people will like Arabic when it’s associated with her and maybe go out and get similar tattoos, but will go out and be a dick to the people that Arabic is a part of their identity, and I think that’s part of the point of why people bring up cultural appropriation in this discussion; because when whites (because white people do this the most I believe) take these things without offering respect to those that these things really matter to or when they don’t bother stopping other douches from hurting the people associated with what they’re supposed to be appreciating, it’s shameful. You know?


So like, I’m white, and my husband is Mexican/El Salvadorian. His mom is the El Salvadorian side. I love his family and they love me and all that. They’d love if I learned Spanish and learned about Spanish traditions, particularly those from El Salvador. I wouldn’t be appropriating if I did any of that.

What would be appropriative is if I claimed to know more than them or made arts and crafts related to El Salvador and made money from it or got attention for it instead of actual El Salvadorians. Or I guess another way is if I decided to wear something that relates to El Salvador (like clothes or make up or whatever they have) and I got complimented on it and all that without giving credit back to the tradition and those it was created by. I think it’s important to do that because my husband and his family may not feel comfortable doing these things in public for fear of racist backlash. It wouldn’t be fair or nice or anything to allow myself to be congratulated on something they’d be attacked for.


Does that make sense?

You’re making a lot of assumptions…