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exotic = offensive? - Page 5

post #81 of 165
So it's perfectly fine to say something nice when someone is just like the minority, but rude to say something nice if they are different?

To be honest, it sounds like being the majority is ok but being a minority is not. Everyone has eyes and everyone has skin, why is it rude to make a nice comment just becaue the skin is different from your own or their eyes aren't the same shape as yours?
post #82 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by EdnaMarie View Post
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 do. I tell strangers this very stuff. ANd I haven't once been met with anything other than appreciation, smiles and gratitude.

Quote:
I don't see why white people feel the need to comment on my appearance.
So, as Musician Dad said, it's okay if a minority compliments you but not okay if a "white" person compliments you? That sounds a bit racist, doesn't it?

You seem kinda grumpy about being complimented.

For me, one of the main reasons why I sometimes compliment people who are of a different race than myself is precisely because they are different than me. Not different in a bad way, but different. Just as all my kids are different from one another. I can tell one child I love his smile without hurting the other kids whose eyes or hair I may love. They are DIFFERENT. I don't know where we ever got this notion that different = bad or lesser.

I was standing in line one day and a gorgeous African American lady was in front of me, with hair done up like I'd never seen before. It was stunning and yes, I did stare. I told her "I'm sorry I'm staring. Your hair is beautiful. I don't think I've ever seen a prettier hair style." And she smiled and told me that "I'd made her day." Then we talked about it, who did it, what gave her the inspiration, etc. I've also commented on the gorgeous brown eyes and long lashes of another AfricanAmerican boy, and got nothing but kindness returned to me by his mother.

I think it must be the rare person who doesn't like to hear themselves (or their children) complimented. You can bet that when a room full of Middle Easterners at a church here told me how much they loved my daughter's blonde hair and blue eyes, I wasn't the least bit offended.

PS- no one answered my question about complimenting other things - can I compliment the Indian woman wearing a gorgeous sari, or will it appear as though I am focusing too much on her minority status if I say such a thing? What about complimenting an African American family on their living room decorated in Ethiopian style? Can I not comment on that either, since I'm white?
post #83 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sancta View Post
PS- no one answered my question about complimenting other things - can I compliment the Indian woman wearing a gorgeous sari, or will it appear as though I am focusing too much on her minority status if I say such a thing? What about complimenting an African American family on their living room decorated in Ethiopian style? Can I not comment on that either, since I'm white?
I would. I've complemented people on clothing or decorating style that had cultural or religious backgrounds. And no one has even gotten offended.
post #84 of 165
I am finding it a bit odd that there is an argument about whether or not people have a right to be offended on the Multi-Cultural board.

The word doesn't mean beautiful. It just doesn't.
post #85 of 165
ITA, abimommy.

Are those of you who really want to use this word suggesting that those of us who find the word offensive just suck it up? Do you not see the cultural implications the word brings or do you just not think they are important enough to cause you to make a small shift in word choice?

I don't assume negative intent from people who use this word to describe me. But, if I explained to them why the word is problematic for me, and I am met with the kind of dismissive and condescending "well, what CAN I say then?" attitude---well, that would be where I'd start wondering how much of a relationship I'd like to pursue with a person so unwilling to consider my feelings and position on the matter.

I really don't understand the need to hold on to a word once a number of people explain that it offends them. Our language is enormous, even-growing. There are so many other words to use to compliment people.
post #86 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sancta View Post
I think it must be the rare person who doesn't like to hear themselves (or their children) complimented. You can bet that when a room full of Middle Easterners at a church here told me how much they loved my daughter's blonde hair and blue eyes, I wasn't the least bit offended.
I guess my question is: are there people on this thread who really imagine that, given the historical and ongoing "Bluest Eye" type global epidemic of holding up light-skinned, blond haired, blue eyed people as being the paragons of beauty, leading to active trades in things such as permanently damaging caustic skin bleaches, any cultural trend toward looking at those characteristics as unusually beautiful is the same thing as the trend towards "exotification" which has so often been used to lay a fantasy culture upon a real culture for a kind of voyeuristic amusement? I'm not even all about "exotic=offensive" ... but that the blonde/blue thing is related to a history that is the flip side of, not the same as, the history that results from European/American fascinations with "those exotic savages," "that exotic near and middle east," "exotic India," "exotic China," etc, is really quite obvious.
post #87 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by Liquesce View Post
I guess my question is: are there people on this thread who really imagine that, given the historical and ongoing "Bluest Eye" type global epidemic of holding up light-skinned, blond haired, blue eyed people as being the paragons of beauty, leading to active trades in things such as permanently damaging caustic skin bleaches, any cultural trend toward looking at those characteristics as unusually beautiful is the same thing as the trend towards "exotification" which has so often been used to lay a fantasy culture upon a real culture for a kind of voyeuristic amusement? I'm not even all about "exotic=offensive" ... but that the blonde/blue thing is related to a history that is the flip side of, not the same as, the history that results from European/American fascinations with "those exotic savages," "that exotic near and middle east," "exotic India," "exotic China," etc, is really quite obvious.
Not every place in the world has America's idea of beauty.
post #88 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by MusicianDad View Post
Not every place in the world has America's idea of beauty.
But huge swaths of the world did adopt the colonial one.
post #89 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by dawningmama View Post
ITA, abimommy.

Are those of you who really want to use this word suggesting that those of us who find the word offensive just suck it up? Do you not see the cultural implications the word brings or do you just not think they are important enough to cause you to make a small shift in word choice?

I don't assume negative intent from people who use this word to describe me. But, if I explained to them why the word is problematic for me, and I am met with the kind of dismissive and condescending "well, what CAN I say then?" attitude---well, that would be where I'd start wondering how much of a relationship I'd like to pursue with a person so unwilling to consider my feelings and position on the matter.

I really don't understand the need to hold on to a word once a number of people explain that it offends them. Our language is enormous, even-growing. There are so many other words to use to compliment people.
Why should your offense over the history of a word overrule, say, Bad Mama Jama's feeling that it is a compliment?
post #90 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sancta View Post
I do. I tell strangers this very stuff. ANd I haven't once been met with anything other than appreciation, smiles and gratitude.

For me, one of the main reasons why I sometimes compliment people who are of a different race than myself is precisely because they are different than me. Not different in a bad way, but different. Just as all my kids are different from one another. I can tell one child I love his smile without hurting the other kids whose eyes or hair I may love. They are DIFFERENT. I don't know where we ever got this notion that different = bad or lesser.

I was standing in line one day and a gorgeous African American lady was in front of me, with hair done up like I'd never seen before. It was stunning and yes, I did stare. I told her "I'm sorry I'm staring. Your hair is beautiful. I don't think I've ever seen a prettier hair style." And she smiled and told me that "I'd made her day." Then we talked about it, who did it, what gave her the inspiration, etc. I've also commented on the gorgeous brown eyes and long lashes of another AfricanAmerican boy, and got nothing but kindness returned to me by his mother.

I think it must be the rare person who doesn't like to hear themselves (or their children) complimented. You can bet that when a room full of Middle Easterners at a church here told me how much they loved my daughter's blonde hair and blue eyes, I wasn't the least bit offended.

PS- no one answered my question about complimenting other things - can I compliment the Indian woman wearing a gorgeous sari, or will it appear as though I am focusing too much on her minority status if I say such a thing? What about complimenting an African American family on their living room decorated in Ethiopian style? Can I not comment on that either, since I'm white?

Your compliments you illustrated in your posts are just compliments. They are not stereotyping comments, or offensive words. There is such a difference between what you are talking about and what this thread is discussing specifically about the words exotic, jewed, gypped (and those seriously piss me off!) because saying you have beautiful hair is nothing like saying you're exotic. It really truly is different.

Oh, and I was very offended by my great uncle's wife's comments on my younger daughter's appearance. This woman's inability to contain her exuberant approval of my little one's (direct quote following) 'all american, postcard-perfect blue eyes, blonde bouncing curls, makes me love her so much and want to kiss her' comment... while my other daughter was not being all fawned over. So wrong. Who the hell cares what f**** color my daughters' hair is. I sure don't.
post #91 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by Liquesce View Post
But huge swaths of the world did adopt the colonial one.
Every culture has it's own definition of beauty. Some cultures view larger women as beautiful. Some cultures view darker women as beautiful. Some cultures view hary women as beautiful. Some cultures view the blonde, blue-eye, skinny, hairless woman as beautiful.
post #92 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by MusicianDad View Post
Every culture has it's own definition of beauty. Some cultures view larger women as beautiful. Some cultures view darker women as beautiful. Some cultures view hary women as beautiful. Some cultures view the blonde, blue-eye, skinny, hairless woman as beautiful.
It doesn't mean beautiful
Quote:
1: introduced from another country : not native to the place where found <exotic plants>2archaic : foreign, alien3: strikingly, excitingly, or mysteriously different
Quote:
1. From another part of the world; foreign: exotic tropical plants in a greenhouse. See synonyms at foreign.
2. Intriguingly unusual or different; excitingly strange: “If something can be explained simply, in a familiar way, then it is best to avoid more exotic explanations” (Chet Raymo). See synonyms at fantastic.
3. Of or involving striptease: an exotic dancer.
post #93 of 165
From the thesaurus.
Quote:
alien, alluring, bizarre, colorful, curious, different, external, extraneous, extraordinary, extrinsic, far out, fascinating, foreign, glamorous, imported, introduced, kinky*, outlandish, outside, peculiar, romantic, strange, striking, unfamiliar, unusual, way out, weird*, avant garde, enticing, peregrine
Alluring
Glamorous
Romantic
Striking
Enticing

Why can't people be happy to have a word that is synonymous with these words used to describe them? Why does your dislike of the word over rule that?
post #94 of 165
EdnaMarie, I think perhaps you misunderstood me, because I pretty much agree with you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by EdnaMarie View Post
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?
Oh, many people do. It's so rude. Strangers just walking up to strangers and making rude, personal remarks. "Oh, your child looks so exotic," or, "wow, look at those pretty blue eyes!" Both are rude. The first is worse because it is objectifying and carries all of the connotations of the word "exotic" used as a racial descriptor which were explained previously. But my post was in response to people saying, "so is it always wrong to give a compliment?"

Quote:
Originally Posted by EdnaMarie View Post
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 :.
Right? I totally agree! I have had lots of compliments of, "What a nice smile" "you look very well-groomed today" which can be okay in most contexts-- but strangers also compliment my skin a lot, which makes me feel quite awkward, although I try to respond graciously. But it's kind of weird. Still, because I'm white, I realize it doesn't carry anywhere near the same overtones or connotations at all, as it would if someone called me or my child "exotic". But my point to some other posters was, yes, it is generally always rude to comment about someone's personal physical attributes unless you know them quite well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by EdnaMarie View Post
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.
That wasn't my point at all. Using "Exotic" is very, very much an ethnic/racial issue. But it's also just rude, because it is making a personal physical remark. But it's much more serious than some other personal remarks.
post #95 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by MusicianDad View Post
Why should your offense over the history of a word overrule, say, Bad Mama Jama's feeling that it is a compliment?
I don't see that she is trying to overrule anything. Bad Mama Jama feels how she feels, Dawningmama feels how she feels, and it's good to understand that so that you know how to choose your words. Dawningmama is disturbed by the deeper implications of the word and wants people to be aware of the issues that may be so inherent in the word that we can't untangle them. By choosing to listen to her and be made aware this is an issue, you are extending compassion and showing sensitivity. Just because one person is fine with it doesn't mean it is acceptable to use for everyone, so its not like one person's feeling about the word gives you a pass to use it without offending others.
post #96 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by MusicianDad View Post
Every culture has it's own definition of beauty. Some cultures view larger women as beautiful. Some cultures view darker women as beautiful. Some cultures view hary women as beautiful. Some cultures view the blonde, blue-eye, skinny, hairless woman as beautiful.
I'm sorry, but that colonial history deeply affected concepts of beauty is undeniable. Sure, there are cultures where darker is better or bigger is better or whatever. But to look at those cultures and say "see? It means all cultures' beauty concepts have arisen in independent vaccuums" is not very connected to reality. The broader idealization of the light skinned, etc, is connected to a traceable history. The use of the word "exotic" to describe "acceptably fascinating characteristics of an otherwise unacceptable 'other'" does have a history. And in all sincerity I do suggest doing some reading on third world histories, histories of racial politics, and orientalism before arguing otherwise.
post #97 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by abimommy View Post
It doesn't mean beautiful
Exactly the point several seem to be missing.
post #98 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by MusicianDad View Post
From the thesaurus.


Alluring
Glamorous
Romantic
Striking
Enticing

Why can't people be happy to have a word that is synonymous with these words used to describe them? Why does your dislike of the word over rule that?

The thing about synonyms is that a word means all of those things simultaneously one doesn't pick and choose which meanings they want to use and which they do not.

One cannot say the word without also implying the other synonyms. It doesn't just mean beautiful. One can't just decide what they want a word to mean for everyone and insist they take it that way
post #99 of 165
Why can we compliment people who are the same as us but not people who are different?

Are people who are different not as deserving of compliments?
post #100 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by MusicianDad View Post
Why should your offense over the history of a word overrule, say, Bad Mama Jama's feeling that it is a compliment?
I did not say one overrules the other. Although, in this context, I think the fact that many people find the word offensive is a good reason to use it with caution. There are plenty of words that some people find offensive and others consider a compliment, and plenty of words some people have chose to reclaim while others still find quite hateful (and, of course, context is everything). Instead of making assumptions and forcing people into accepting those words or our positions on them, is it really asking too much that we all take a moment to discuss it or err on the side of caution and use "beautiful" or "gorgeous" or "lovely" or thousands of other words over "exotic?"

If you are talking with a friend, you can probably judge by social cues and just past conversations whether or not this word will be well-received. If you misjudge, a friend will likely tell you if she is offended, and hopefully you will hear that with grace and compassion. When complimenting strangers, I think it's often best to go with broad strokes and use words that are as universally well-received as possible. I don't understand why this would be a large imposition.
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