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exotic = offensive? - Page 9

post #161 of 165
One of my closest friends is stunningly gorgeous. However she very much dislikes any reference to her appearance because she is prejudged or treated a certain way because of it. Being called beautiful or gorgeous or whatever offends her and she's not the only one I've known that dislikes any comment on their appearance whether it's in the positive or negative. In some cultures it's highly offensive to make any comment on appearance and in some it's totally acceptable.

MusicianDad, FWIW I understand where you are coming from and I agree with you. I understand many find the word "exotic" offensive and I also understand that almost as equally that many do not find offense to it. It reminds me of the word oriental, some asians who feel it's Eurocentric find it offensive and some do not and it is a word you see used quite often much like exotic. I even casually suggested once to my MIL that some asians found it offensive, so I discussed the word on another thread here on the boards and with a few of my friends and I found that there are many who don't find the word offensive at all and some do. That thread made me think about the fact that what it boils down to is my own perception of the word and it's how I decided to take it and of course it also depended on who was delivering it and how. Unless the person using the word oriental is trying to be offensive to me, I'm just going to chalk it up as one of those words that some like and some don't but not all mean to be offensive by using it. So now I can happily order my Oriental Chicken Salad without being irked.

Everyone is different and has different ideas of what is acceptable and what is not. I decided that I'm not going craft my conversation or actions or tell someone else how they should craft theirs with others based on what some deem offensive and some do not because we can't possibly know what everyone's personal experience and feelings are on any word or action and we personally cannot speak for them, but they like all of us here they can speak for themselves.
post #162 of 165
The difference between the number of people who find "oriental" in reference to a salad and the number of people who find "oriental" in reference to a person offensive is substantial.

***

I realize it's a kind of extreme example, but my great-grandmother -- a basically kind woman who really meant no harm -- in my mother's presence once used a kind of obscure racial slur to point out a baby. All she meant to do was draw my mother's attention to a cute baby for the sake of mutual cooing ... in her mind it was normal to identify people first by race and the word she chose was a normal racial identifier. The mother of the child gave my mother an "it's ok, don't worry about it, no big deal, etc" look and nod. By some of the logic here, because the woman wasn't offended, or at least was unwilling to express offense -- because she took into consideration my great-grandmother's clear intentions and, most likely, her age -- and because it's entirely plausible that this woman is not the only person who would do the same, my mother was in some way wrong to later explain to my great-grandmother the connotations of the word with the full expectation that she would use that information to make changes to her future word choices.

At any rate. This is the story that keeps coming to mind over and over when I read some of the responses here.
post #163 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by cappuccinosmom View Post
As I said, it's not part of my normal vocabulary.


Interestingly enough though, I was reading a Madeline L'Engle book and ran across the phrase "exotic beauty" referring to.....a white girl with blond hair and blue eyes. Was watching "Bizarre Foods" and heard the word used in reference to a fresh, local food "exotic local fare" .
Language and culture and social attitudes change. I agree that the treatment of Sarah Bartmaan and the portrayal of Africans at that time was horrendous. But neither I nor anyone else I know has ever used "exotic" in that context, ever. So again, while I don't normally use it anyway and wouldn't use it around someone who'd expressed offense at it, I don't agree that it is universally offensive and should be dropped from the language.
i think that was well-stated.
post #164 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by seriosa View Post
Since "different" is there anyway, I'ld rather be "different in an attractive way", lol.
i also think that was well said, and the point of my earlier post. what kills me about the whole debate is there's a very clear undercurrent of worrying about what other people think about you (or your children). why is this so important? on a basic level, i understand that we all want and need to be accepted and to feel that we're normal. but, those who would form negative opinions based solely on appearance are not the type of people i'd want to be friends with or accepted by anyway!

despite the cultural background of the word "exotic," or perhaps in spite of it, i've embraced it and welcomed it into my life. so when someone says that i (or my DS) am exotic, i will say "thank you" and continue about my day. if they meant it in an imperialistic or derogatory way, that is their problem, not mine. removing the word itself from their vocabulary will not change how they perceive me and mine.

my favorite quote when i was young was by Rosario Morales: "I am what I am, take it or leave me alone."
post #165 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by Liquesce View Post
The difference between the number of people who find "oriental" in reference to a salad and the number of people who find "oriental" in reference to a person offensive is substantial.

***

I realize it's a kind of extreme example, but my great-grandmother -- a basically kind woman who really meant no harm -- in my mother's presence once used a kind of obscure racial slur to point out a baby. All she meant to do was draw my mother's attention to a cute baby for the sake of mutual cooing ... in her mind it was normal to identify people first by race and the word she chose was a normal racial identifier. The mother of the child gave my mother an "it's ok, don't worry about it, no big deal, etc" look and nod. By some of the logic here, because the woman wasn't offended, or at least was unwilling to express offense -- because she took into consideration my great-grandmother's clear intentions and, most likely, her age -- and because it's entirely plausible that this woman is not the only person who would do the same, my mother was in some way wrong to later explain to my great-grandmother the connotations of the word with the full expectation that she would use that information to make changes to her future word choices.

At any rate. This is the story that keeps coming to mind over and over when I read some of the responses here.
reminds me of the first time i met DH's great-great grandmother. she asked if i was "colored." she was 94, of poor sight and from West VA, so i took no offense. she was a wonderful woman and i miss her.
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