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exotic = offensive? - Page 4

post #61 of 165
I've never found the term to be offensive personally. I've been called it a few times, even though I guess I'm in the "dominant majority". I do look different, and I'm good with that. Honestly if a guy came up to me and commented that I was "beautiful" I'd resist the urge to deck him and know immediately he was blowing smoke up my you-know-what. I am *not* beautiful. Striking and exotic, possibly, but my face will never grace the top 100 list of most beautiful people - and I'm good with that as well. Honestly I have to say of all the people I know, even those who are most militant and PC have never expressed offense at the term. This conversation really surprises me.
post #62 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by seriosa View Post
Words are manifestations of a person's thoughts, feelings and intentions. If you take away a word, without having eliminated the sentiment it expressed what will happen is that another word will slip in to take its place. There are words that are universally aknowledged as negative, and their use is open aggression. There are also, however, a vast quantity of words that are ambiguous. Is "average" a good or bad word? "Normal"? "Unique"? "Different?" Does "fat" have to be bad? How about "short"? how about "old"? Do I want to be called "black", or "person of color" or something else again? In this wilderness of uncertain terms, I prefer to look beyond the sequence of letters, and try to perceive the intentions of the person behind the word. If the intent is malign, it doesn't matter how politely it was expressed. personally where the intention is not clear, I am happy to assume that it was benign. I may sometimes be wrong, but I live better that way.
Great post!

The other thing I do want to mention is several posts state that staring and making comments on physical appearance is considered rude and that is simply not true for all cultures.
post #63 of 165
No, the "word" exotic does not offend me. I don't spend my life looking for reasons to be offended by people who are genuinely trying to complement me.

I get far more offended when people ask "what are you?". Exotic in my world is far more pleasing to hear, and BTW my dh has always called me exotic, it didn't hurt his chances with me.
post #64 of 165
as a woman of color, i don't find it offensive. i actually like the terminology when it's used toward me. i agree with the previous poster that it is taken by some to mean "unusually beautiful." i, personally, have never taken offense to it.
post #65 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by pokeyrin View Post
Great post!

The other thing I do want to mention is several posts state that staring and making comments on physical appearance is considered rude and that is simply not true for all cultures.
That's right, but the OP asked our opinions, so I personally am speaking for my culture and myself. And again, while I do think it's a word and attitude we could do without, it's not something I'd make a big deal of because I know that most people who use it do not mean (and probably do not understand) it in the same way as I do.
post #66 of 165
Exotic doesn't mean just mean different.

"Exotic" means "foreign" and that is what the connotations generally are. They mean, "you aren't from here."

People have called me "exotic" and I point out my ancestors fought in the Revolution and the Union army, maybe they were the "exotic" ones?



I do not like to be called, "exotic." Sure I will call food or plants exotic but not people.

Generally I just try and take intentions in mind when people say something. I am not running around trying to be offended, I just don't happen to like it. I have heard it all my life and it isn't always kindly meant.

Here are some definitions, which might help clarify.

Quote:


1: introduced from another country : not native to the place where found <exotic plants>2archaic : foreign, alien3: strikingly, excitingly, or mysteriously different or unusual <exotic flavors>
Quote:
ex·otic (eg zät′ik, ig-)

adjective

1. foreign; not native
2. strange or different in a way that is striking or fascinating; strangely beautiful, enticing, etc.
post #67 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by EdnaMarie View Post
but because it is rude to make comments on personal appearance in general...
It is? It's rude to tell someone they have beautiful eyes? Or stunning hair? Or a gorgeous smile? Am I missing something?

I agree with the pp who said the word exotic has a different colloquial meaning. To most, it means "beautiful", "extraordinary" or "rare." I suggest before some of you get your fists up ready for a fight you ASK the person what they meant by using that word, because they may very well have meant "beautiful" or "extraordinary" when all you're hearing is "different" or "other."

Kinda like when I moved down here, people kept telling me my kids were a mess. Until I asked someone and discovered that was actually a compliment, I was a bit offended.
post #68 of 165
[QUOTE=Sancta;14020934]It is? It's rude to tell someone they have beautiful eyes? Or stunning hair? Or a gorgeous smile? Am I missing something?
QUOTE]

Getting any of the above comments from some random stranger would positively make my skin crawl. It would make me very uncomfortable, and I also think it's presumptuous. Yep, bad manners. Who asked you (not you you, the general you. LOL) what you thought of how I look?
post #69 of 165
Thread Starter 
I agree, I've always hated having anyone comment on my looks, aside from those I was intimate with, and even then, only when we're alone, in very specific situations! It draws attention that I don't feel comfortable with, and makes me feel instantly "assessed". I'm more comfortable with it now that I'm a little older and don't get oogled anymore, but I still don't like it, and don't like it when people do it around me either -- it feels like it sets up a weird competition among everyone present, with attractive features being the key to winning...

I don't think I've ever been called exotic, though some drunk guy at a party told me I had "beautiful silver eyes" one time, and that's about the same thing... silly.
post #70 of 165
i had no idea so many people get offended by comments on their appearance! i do it all the time, that's just my personality. if i see someone who is beautiful, or wearing something i think is beautiful, or has a beautiful purse or something, usually i'll say so! personally, it makes me feel good to hear that sort of thing, and i've always assumed that it would do the same for others. sort of like a little "pick me up" for the day. just yesterday i told a semi-stranger (we ride the same bus to work, but i've never spoken with her before) that she had beautiful hair. i'm pretty sure she wasn't offended!!

and, similar to a PP, my DH has said i'm exotic and it didn't hurt his chances either i always kinda liked being different from everyone else (i was one of 4 or 5 visible minorities in my school growing up). my skin color and heritage is something i can't change about myself, so i've found it healthiest to embrace it and be proud of it. to me, different does not mean inferior. there's this great quote i used to have hanging on my bedroom wall as a child: "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." don't remember who said it, but to me it's something to live by.
post #71 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by SilverWillow View Post
I find it offensive, because it perpetuates the idea that the empowered group is "normal" and anything that differs from it is the "other." it's also a sexualized term, and used to objectify people. people of color are termed "exotic" sometimes to relegate them to the status of animals who cannot control their sexuality in order to titillate people
Yes, it is offensive to me mainly because it is objectifying, and it is also disturbing to hear because it has sexual or at least sensual tones which are disrespectful except, perhaps, in an intimate environment.
post #72 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sancta View Post
It is? It's rude to tell someone they have beautiful eyes? Or stunning hair? Or a gorgeous smile? Am I missing something?
Certain compliments are okay if they are made in a respectful way. Commenting on personal attributes which differentiate someone from the general population (almond eyes, different color skin, natural curls, freckles, long legs, etc.) is always very rude, however. The only kind of acceptable compliment would be very general, such as "lovely smile" (everyone has a smile) or something about how they styled themselves (such as, "I love how you did your hair today"). Even these acceptable compliments are considered very familiar and to comment like this to someone you don't know is certainly very forward and implies condescension (as though to a child).
post #73 of 165
So, who's opinion of what's ok "wins", then? Cultures, personality, upbringing, etc, all play a part in what we consider polite.

We could all hurry around avoiding eye contact and speaking in monosyllables to avoid offending anyone, but then someone for sure would find that offensive too--"He just ignored me! Hmpf! Can't even say hello or look me in the eye!".

I agree that we should try to respect the general etiquitte rules of the culture we're in, but in a culture where there are so many different cultures living together, and as many opionions of what's rude and what's not, what is a well-meaning person supposed to do? I suppose those of us who are sensitive and nice and not wanting to hurt anyone should just shut our traps and not say anything, nice or negative because you never know if what you say is going to send someone flying into a rage and accuse you of having racist or derogatory thoughts. :
post #74 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by cappuccinosmom View Post
I suppose those of us who are sensitive and nice and not wanting to hurt anyone should just shut our traps and not say anything, nice or negative because you never know if what you say is going to send someone flying into a rage and accuse you of having racist or derogatory thoughts. :
No kidding. What kind of a world are we living in where we can't comment on the beauty before us, just because it happens to be found in a person?

What about commenting on how lovely one's decorating style is? Or how lovely one's outfit it? Is it offensive if others are around who might feel competitive or slighted? Is it offensive if the decorating style or outfit is, say, Asian or African or Native American, and we are drawing attention to that? I just don't get this mindset.

If I spent all my time worrying about offending someone by the GOOD and NICE things I say, then I think I'd end up a very grumpy, cynical person.
post #75 of 165
I should add, on top of being generally polite, I do think that if I *know* something offends a person, then it's the nicer thing to do not to say or do whatever it is that offends them if I can avoid it.

However, the rest of my concern still stands. How can one be kind, outgoing, and conversational when there are so many ways to make people angry without knowing it? Do I look at someone and worry they think I'm staring? Do I avoid looking at them and worry they think I'm ignoring them? Either way, if they're a person of color, there's a whole new layer to the worry, hoping they are not thinking either of those things and assuming I'm doing so because I'm a racist, or giving them a subtle snub? That's not my intention, but the internet has opened my up to a whole new world of things some people consider racist. If I say "What a gorgeous baby!" will they blog about me angrily? But if I don't say anything, will they do the same?
post #76 of 165
I agree with SilverWillow in the x-post about the "well, what CAN I say to a person of color then?!" attitude. It's somewhat passive agressive. Of course you can talk to a person of color, or any person for that matter, but is it so much to ask that you learn about which words are offensive and avoid them? We're not talking about eliminating a significant portion of your vocabulary. You're not going to have to walk around with a list, or struggle to find words to say.

The "what CAN I say" reminds me of my father and how he reacts to conversations like this...when I pointed out that "jewed" was not a good way to say "bargained," he threw up his hands and acted as if I was trying to take away 20% of the English language. Please. You can find plenty of words to describe what you want to say without resorting to a stereotype. You just don't want to.
post #77 of 165
I mean to be nice. Be tollerant - my idea of nice may not be the same as yours. At least give me the benefit of doubt. If you feel you are in a position to do so, educate me on your philosophy of nice. I will remember it and try to be nice to you the way you like it. (I may also put you on my list of prickly pears, but that's another story ).

ETA: I xposted with redoak - this was in response to cappucinosmom and sancta's posts. I am refering to behvioural "gray areas" like compliments, "exotic" etc.
post #78 of 165
10. "Attribute to children the best possible motive consistent with the facts."

This is in the UP support thread. I think it works great with adults too!
post #79 of 165
I always try to assume the best of people and their motives; when people say rude or inappropriate things, I think, for instance, that they could have autism or Tourette's-- you never know with strangers-- however, I myself choose to be as sensitive and polite as I possibly can, adhering to the rules of etiquette (yes, they do exist, even in a melting pot) as much as possible, not only because I care about people's feelings, but also because I know that my social manners reflect on me and directly affect my reputation and success in many areas of life.

OT How was that for a run-on sentence?
post #80 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by LionTigerBear View Post
Certain compliments are okay if they are made in a respectful way. Commenting on personal attributes which differentiate someone from the general population (almond eyes, different color skin, natural curls, freckles, long legs, etc.) is always very rude, however. The only kind of acceptable compliment would be very general, such as "lovely smile" (everyone has a smile) or something about how they styled themselves (such as, "I love how you did your hair today"). Even these acceptable compliments are considered very familiar and to comment like this to someone you don't know is certainly very forward and implies condescension (as though to a child).
But really, when you know someone personally, you get a feel for what's acceptable. And since you'd never normally go up to a stranger and comment on her hair or whatever, this just is not an ISSUE, you know?

I don't see why white people feel the need to comment on my appearance. I've NEVER had ANYONE come up and comment on my straight teeth, the straightness of my hair, or anything. Well, once someone involved in direct marketing told me I looked "put together" and would I like to join her company :.

But lots of people comment on ethnic features. So please let's not pretend that somehow this is not an ethnic / racial issue. Come on.

Quote:
I agree with SilverWillow in the x-post about the "well, what CAN I say to a person of color then?!" attitude... [] We're not talking about eliminating a significant portion of your vocabulary. You're not going to have to walk around with a list, or struggle to find words to say.

The "what CAN I say" reminds me of my father and how he reacts to conversations like this...when I pointed out that "jewed" was not a good way to say "bargained," he threw up his hands and acted as if I was trying to take away 20% of the English language. Please. You can find plenty of words to describe what you want to say without resorting to a stereotype. You just don't want to.
I agree. I mean, since I've NEVER heard people outside of our family make comments on my mom's white appearance, why is it so freaking hard not to talk about my non-white appearance? Seriously. Is it so hard not to talk about the color of people's skin, the shape of their eyes?

What about, "So, what do you do?"

"Do you come here often?"

Sorry if someone feels that ancestral physical attributes are just too fascinating to ignore, but my suggestion is to just get over it.

NB I remember the first time I heard "jewed". I was SHOCKED. I was like, "as in, a Jew? As in, a Jew cheats you???" I was a teenager. The guy who said it was all, "Gee, I didn't even think about it. So what, I can only say "gypped"?" : ARRRGGGHHHHH. Would be funny if not so utterly offensive. Sorry to those who feel they need to use these terms when talking about scams, but...
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