The cashier called DS "Oriental." UPDATE post #73 - Page 3 - Mothering Forums

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#61 of 99 Old 02-16-2010, 07:13 PM
 
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Anastasiya, YOUR statement, and I quote, was:

"I personally get tired of being PC."

Your words, not mine.
Not my words at all. Please quote correctly next time.

I actually said, "I personally get tired of 'PC'." No 'being' in there anywhere.

And what I meant by that is that I get tired of how people get judged by how 'PC' or 'unPC' they are according to what words they use, even when they may be coming across as very gentle, kind and sincere, having no knowledge that what used to be appropriate is now inappropriate.

Therefore, the little old lady who told me I had a sweet negro baby nephew probably meant no more offense than the cashier did in the OP. They may be ignorant, but they certainly aren't rude or lazy.

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Once you know the proper term, being 'tired' of changing your own vocabulary is lazy. Not bothering to change your language because it 'tires' you mentally...well...

I'm not white, my DH and kids Asian/Eurasian. Yeah, this kind of post really picks me at a personal level. Must be nice to have the privilege to pick and choose how you identify other people.
Implying that I'm lazy again? And privileged? Even after I said I DO change my language accordingly, once I KNOW something's offensive? How many more ways can I say that?

My niece and nephews, on one side are Eurasian. On the other side, they're African American. And yes, I am privileged to be able to say that they are in MY family. Jeesh!
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#62 of 99 Old 02-16-2010, 07:15 PM
 
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Not my words at all. Please quote correctly next time.

I actually said, "I personally get tired of 'PC'." No 'being' in there anywhere.
How are the two different, really? What is it about 'PC' that 'tires' you?
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#63 of 99 Old 02-16-2010, 07:18 PM
 
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Sharon, I can see that you're understanding of a woman who clearly doesn't know better. If I were in your shoes, what would most unravel me is just the realization that this kind of ignorance *is* still out there, and my kids will have to grow up and experience it. So maybe it's not this lady's behavior that's eating away at you so much as what her behavior represents. I dunno, just pondering...

What a strange thing you experienced! It reminds me of Senator Reed recently calling President Obama a "light-skinned Negro."

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#64 of 99 Old 02-16-2010, 07:18 PM
 
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How are the two different, really? What is it about 'PC' that 'tires' you?
I explained it above. And yes, the "being" in there does change the meaning.
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#65 of 99 Old 02-16-2010, 07:22 PM
 
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If I were in your shoes, what would most unravel me is just the realization that this kind of ignorance *is* still out there, and my kids will have to grow up and experience it. So maybe it's not this lady's behavior that's eating away at you so much as what her behavior represents.
I think that this is what's unravelling me, actually. Nicely put.
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#66 of 99 Old 02-16-2010, 07:39 PM
 
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I really don't think that this is a positive attitude, IMO. It's just...lazy.

Yeah, language changes because language is political and reflects evolution of society.

Example, you wouldn't want to still call a DVD a 'video' or a CD a 'tape'...the inherent set of ideas that define what the thing is has changed and evolved. Not only is it incorrect terminology, it's outdated, seemingly ignorant and again, lazy.

I hate the word Oriental. It smacks of the word 'colored'. You wouldn't go around calling your AA friends 'colored'...think about it.

People who are Asian KNOW the difference between Asian and Eurasian. (Please educate yourself - they aren't the same thing, not even close).
Yes, but my niece and nephew are Japanese and White. They, my brother, nor I have heard that term use to describe them. By the earlier definition they fit but -- it isn't how they would describe themselves. My brother didn't like the term because it erases their ethnicity.

Again, manners take place. If a person wants to be called Eurasian, Japanese-American, African-American, et then it should be respected. At the same time many people of these groups don't like or know these terms. Sometimes using these terms shows ignorance and disrespect to a broader group. All sides need to be mindful. Your self-determination might not be the group's.
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#67 of 99 Old 02-16-2010, 07:44 PM
 
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Yes, but my niece and nephew are Japanese and White. They, my brother, nor I have heard that term use to describe them. By the earlier definition they fit but -- it isn't how they would describe themselves. My brother didn't like the term because it erases their ethnicity.

Again, manners take place. If a person wants to be called Eurasian, Japanese-American, African-American, et then it should be respected. At the same time many people of these groups don't like or know these terms. All sides need to be mindful. Your self-determination might not be the group's.
So true. I've been told many times by my black friends to just call them "Black". They hate the term African American because they aren't African American. One is only African and takes offense at the tacked on "American". One is Nigerian. One is Jamaican. And one isn't even from Africa, but Ireland. So technically he's an African-Irish-American. So complicated.
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#68 of 99 Old 02-16-2010, 08:41 PM
 
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So true. I've been told many times by my black friends to just call them "Black". They hate the term African American because they aren't African American. One is only African and takes offense at the tacked on "American". One is Nigerian. One is Jamaican. And one isn't even from Africa, but Ireland. So technically he's an African-Irish-American. So complicated.
I agree, it is complicated. I have few buttons that can be pushed, and unfortunately this was one of them Where there is dialogue, there is hope
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#69 of 99 Old 02-16-2010, 09:27 PM
 
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I think one issue is people sometime think they don't have to "listen" (any ethnic/racial group). I'm not racist. I can't because I'm ---list a reason.

I do wonder if OP was more shocked because it was from a minority verses a white person. Sometimes in the US I think sometimes people think only white people say ignorant things.

I have been in situations were black people were making jokes on Asian. Not getting how racially and ethnically offensive it is. It is was asked since I am "white" why should I care - there was no Asian's in the room.

My dh hates the Hispanic/Mexican/Black racial ethnic wars he gets in his kitchen's at times. He is thankful that the rules are so clearly written and in his current kitchen the people before him applied them equally.
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#70 of 99 Old 02-17-2010, 05:41 AM
 
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Some people just haven't gotten the message yet. Oriental means "from the east", and was used to describe people as well as food, rugs etc. It was acceptable for so long, and probably still is in many places, she probably didn't even realize what you were offended by.
It can be difficult to know what folks will be offended by. The term "Native American" is PC, but most Indians find it silly, or at least superfluous. I personally find it annoying that all the tribes are constantly lumped together under one term. Words like "black" and "white" are offensive to some, but are used freely by others in the same ethnic group. "Negro", despite it's connection to a painful part of history, simply means "black", and many people were taught to use it as opposed to other more hurtful terms. My black friends, call themselves black. Am I unPC because I don't refer to them as AA? It's sometimes hard to keep up with the fact that terms for some groups seem to be are constantly changing. I would be upset by someone continuing to use a word they KNEW was offensive, but try to give strangers the benefit of the doubt.
I usually try to chalk these comments up to ignorance, rather than genuine racist sentiment. But I also try to inform people too.
He IS awfully cute.

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#71 of 99 Old 02-17-2010, 11:47 AM
 
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Yea, it is hard to keep up with it all, Mntnmom.

Now that I look at the situation in retrospect, I like to think that this is how I would have responded light-heartedly: "You know, I'm not personally offended by that by that word. But I should probably warn you that some people might be. It may be good to use the term 'Asian' just to stay on the safe side. We wouldn't want any customers biting your head off!"

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#72 of 99 Old 02-17-2010, 12:58 PM
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Wow, really?

My above sentence was merely an example of how silly the use of anachronistic language can sound.

FWIW, one can argue that black was never colored and oriental was never asian.
Um, no, you can't. Because black/AA people used to be called colored and Asians used to be (and still are, apparently) called Oriental. A DVD was never called a tape.

Yes, the example was silly.
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#73 of 99 Old 02-18-2010, 07:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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OP here!

Thanks for making this such an interesting thread!

I had made another post somewhere in here, but I think it's lost... but, yes, I think it was shocking because I understood "oriental" to be derogatory, and then someone used it to describe my son. And it hurt. I guess I'm just not prepared for what he will be facing as he gets older.

I also know that the cashier obviously was not being hurtful on purpose, and I will make a plan to gently educate the next person who uses "oriental" in that sense.

Which brings me to my update:

I was JUST on the phone with DS#1 grandmother (my ex-MIL). My ex-husband's gf had a baby last month, and he was a preemie, so I was asking about how he was doing. He's gaining well, doing good, etc.

She was telling me his height and weight, and he sounded like a tall, skinny baby. Then I said something about DS#2, who's a chunky baby, and she says... wait for it....

"You know, all the little Oriental babies I've seen lately are chubby, and all the American babies are skinny minnys."

I said, "What? What did you say?" I wanted to make sure I heard her right. And she repeated herself, and that's def what she said.

So, not only is DS#2 "Oriental", now he's not American? Huh, that's funny, because I was born in Delaware and his father was born in South Carolina, and he was born in North Carolina... huh...

sigh. She hung up right after that, but I'll be seeing her this weekend to drop off DS#1 where I'll be sure to (gently) educate her that Oriental is offensive and "American" doesn't mean "White."

Wow. He's only 5 months old, it's already starting.

Mom, wife, full-time student.  And tired.  DH, DS#1 (9/99) and DS#2 (9/09), and 2 dogs.

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#74 of 99 Old 02-19-2010, 05:46 AM
 
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My DH is almost all Chinese, he has just on great-grandmother or great-great-grandmother (the translation got a bit muddled) from the Philippines. So what do you think DH looks like? A younger Junichiro Koizumi former prime minister of Japan. My mostly Chinese husband (and his dad who he takes after) looks much more like various Japanese people I've known than the various Chinese people I've known. He has even been mistaken for Hispanic.
My DH is Japanese-American (4th generation), a "pureblood". He frequently gets mistaken for being Filipino because he's so dark, and occasionally gets mistaken for a Hispanic.

I'm half Japanese, half "assorted Northern European". I don't look convincingly Asian.

BTW OP... your little guy is absolutely adorable! Super cuteness, as we'd say in our house. Reminds me very much of my dd at the same age.
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#75 of 99 Old 02-19-2010, 03:50 PM
 
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My father still uses the term "oriental" it was common in his generation and isn't usually meant to be derogatory (a very common use: "oriental rug") but I would gently correct anyone. My son is half Korean (mom), but he's also got Dutch, Spanish and Welsh blood from my side. We haven't had the opportunity yet to get a lot of commentary on our son from strangers like the WalMart clerk (he's a newbie on the planet still) but just with my own family and friends I sometimes have to *cough* gently club them aside the head to point out that South Korea and Japan are not the same.

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#76 of 99 Old 02-19-2010, 10:48 PM
 
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I'm half Japanese, half "assorted Northern European". I don't look convincingly Asian.
People rarely get that DS is Asian and European either.

http://i125.photobucket.com/albums/p...r/DSC_0279.jpg

When I say DS very obviously Asian last name to people when we arrive for appointments or classes they often get a slightly confused look on their faces. Just a couple of weeks ago, we were checking in at the occupational therapist where they have this computer kiosk you use. Since it was our first time the lady from the office was standing there helping me. She asked me to look the information over and click next if it was Ok. On one page they had DH listed as having my last name, which she said she could fix in the office. Then when we came to the page that listed race they had DS down as white (I think someone must have put that in when we had the evaluation with the Dr, b/c I never filled in anything with race.) I paused for a moment wondering if I should go to the trouble of having it changed, but decided that they probably weren't going to have a mixed option anyway so white was good enough since we were a bit late already. When I came to this conclusion I said (mostly to myself but out loud) "well I guess that's OK," the woman made a slightly perplexed look and bent over to look at DS.

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#77 of 99 Old 02-19-2010, 11:00 PM
 
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not really got anything to say other than, your ds is beautiful
i'm sooooo broody lol.

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#78 of 99 Old 02-19-2010, 11:12 PM
 
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I'm half Japanese, half "assorted Northern European". I don't look convincingly Asian.
Ditto for me.

What I love is when people argue that my (blue eyed) dc "can't be Asian." Well, they're not, technically. They're Americans, partly of Japanese descent!

Dang cute baby, OP!
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#79 of 99 Old 02-20-2010, 03:52 AM
 
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I don't think it's necessarily fair to just say, "educate yourself" if the person in question doesn't realize there is anything to educate themselves about! When I was growing up, oriental was the word used to describe Asian people, by my parents and teachers and tv and the Asian's themselves. So I would not have known, prior to hearing or reading or seeing something to the contrary, that this had become offensive. I was flabbergasted when a friend corrected me and told me it was offensive. I asked why and he didn't seem to know, just knew that it was. He told me furniture is oriental and people are Asian. The moment I knew that, I switched the word I was using. Of course it's not like I addressed people that way, "Hey Oriental Person" which would be offensive no matter what word you used.

That said, I just find it odd that the cashier had to comment on race at all. Does she routinely do that to ALL babies? "Cute and Black", "cute and white", "cute and polish"? I mean, huh?

On the PC issue, sometimes it DOES change quickly or before you aware of it. Consequently, I am terrified to call ANYBODY, ANYTHING for fear I will offend. Now, it's not a big issue because I don't refer to people by their race anyway. My best friend in the whole world, the woman who is closer to me than my own sisters, happens to be black, and I know she prefers black and thinks the term african american is stupid. But still, I'm not calling anyone black OR african american for fear they will get pissed at me, because at this point I have no idea which is the more acceptable term. What I'm told by the media is that it's African American, but the friends that I have all call themselves Black. My nephews, who are mixed, call themselves Black. So I normally just say Black, but if I'm dealing with someone I don't know, I worry that black might offend them.

To the OP: It is always hurtful to feel your child has just been reduced to a label or judged for some superficial characteristic. I feel the same way you do, I have experienced sexism and classism but not racism in a real way until I had children. I get more upset than my best friend when it happens to her. She says she's use to it and it's not her job to educate the world. But I always want to make an issue out of it or sue somebody or something, people can't just be mean on purpose!!

Right after DD was born, everyone who saw her commented on two things: how beautiful she was and the fact that her native american heritage was very obvious. I am one eighth native american (two different tribes mixed to get that one eighth and other than high cheeckbones, it doesn't show, you wouldn't look at me and think "native american" although I have been asked frequently WHAT I am) but dh seems to have more. He doesn't actually know his heritage, but he and his dad and uncles are have strong native american features and so does dd. (All pc aside, we called her our indian princess) I mailed pictures to everyone right after she was born and was talking to a friend on the phone who had just received them and her husband who has a history of being insensitively stupid said (and he really thought he was joking, that this was his way of teasing and was funny) and I quote, "At least my kids are pure Aryan". What??? I didn't even know how to respond to that. It made me furious and sad and confused all at the same time. She was all pure innocence and joy and how could anyone be derogatory or insulting to her or find something in her that they considered "less than"? It made me cry and it made me want to hurt him. So I understand how it made you feel.

Whoever said, this has opened a dialog and that's good, I whole heartedly agree!!

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#80 of 99 Old 02-20-2010, 01:28 PM
 
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Cute cute little guy, and I am sorry you had to deal with this...

My three bio kids are half-Chinese and half-Bulgarian, and all American. Just last week they had an interesting discussion about who looked the most Asian... I tried to convince them it did not really matter.
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#81 of 99 Old 02-20-2010, 01:45 PM
 
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...someone asked a Chinese-American friend of mine something about being "oriental." She said, "Rugs are oriental. People are not."
A Vietnamese friend of mine growing up would say, "Do I look like a rug to you?"

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#82 of 99 Old 02-24-2010, 12:34 PM
 
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Okay, well years ago I also thought people were "oriental." I was raised in a family that was not PC and had a lot of out of date, offensive names for groups of people. So I went to college, married a man from India, and somehow the Oriental thing still stuck in my head and I was corrected by a co-worker. It was very embarassing but usage of the word was totally innocent and I didn't mean anything by it. My grandparents still use outdated words and they don't mean anything by it either. So maybe this cashier didn't mean anything and could have been gently educated about it. If she was otherwise friendly she probably just didn't know better.

BTW my Indian in-laws still use the term "Red Indians" to refer to Native Americans, to differentiate them from India-origin Indians. I had to correct them quickly on that one since we live in AZ and have a large NA population and I didn't want them to be embarrassed or accidentally offend someone.

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#83 of 99 Old 03-08-2010, 04:42 PM
 
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I too am surprised by how many times I have heard people referring to someone as "Oriental"!
However I believe most of the time they do no mean any harm, it is just ignorance, nevertheless I am surprised that the still persists in 2010!
I was told by a good friend from Singapore back in the early 80s that the PC term was Asian and not oriental.
I think all you can do is politely educate people. That is what my friend did. She just said in a nice way " it is not very polite to refer to someone from the Far East as "oriental" we prefer the term Asian" I never used the term Oriental again after that.

Interesting enough, People from the Middle East sometimes refer to themselves as Oriental. I do what is commonly known in the West as "Belly Dance". Belly Dance is also not a very PC term. The term people in the Middle East use for "Belly dance" translates into "Oriental dance". But the problem trying to use the term in North America is people think you are talking about dancing form Japan but not from the Middle East!
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#84 of 99 Old 03-08-2010, 06:37 PM
 
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WOW it's amazing how language and words are perceived so differently in different parts of this country. I'm from the south, and oriental is acceptable and POLITE to use in this area. If someone called a person from Japan a "Chinese person" THAT would be ignorant and rude. It IS hard to keep up with the current "pc" terms because EVERYONE has their own opinions on what THEY want to be called. As long as someone said it with no ill intent I don't see an issue.
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#85 of 99 Old 03-08-2010, 07:03 PM
 
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It IS hard to keep up with the current "pc" terms because EVERYONE has their own opinions on what THEY want to be called. As long as someone said it with no ill intent I don't see an issue.
I concur here. "Hapa" wasn't even in my lexicon until a bunch of people started using the term in reference to my son, and thus had me running to wikipedia to see exactly what this was supposed to be referring to/where this term came from. (shrug) ... so now I know. But it's still not in my lexicon :-)

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#86 of 99 Old 03-08-2010, 08:22 PM
 
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Interesting enough, People from the Middle East sometimes refer to themselves as Oriental. I do what is commonly known in the West as "Belly Dance". Belly Dance is also not a very PC term. The term people in the Middle East use for "Belly dance" translates into "Oriental dance". But the problem trying to use the term in North America is people think you are talking about dancing form Japan but not from the Middle East!
Interesting! I had no idea - my (Middle Eastern) DH and my MIL always call it belly dancing. When you say it isn't very PC, do you mean that it is offensive or do you just mean that it is inaccurate?
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#87 of 99 Old 03-08-2010, 08:53 PM
 
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Haven't read all the replies.

Growing up in the Midwest in the 70's Oriental was the term that was used. It was not meant to be offensive. But just saying the person was of Chinese, Thai, Vietmanese, Korean etc descent. Rather than say, "hey you are Chinese!" When in fact the person was Korean. So the person was covering the basis for their lack of knowledge.

You gotta remember we didn't have the internet back then. Sure TV, Newspapers, books. But we weren't such a global society. So we just didn't know any better.

Sure now Asian is acceptable, but not so long ago Oriental was the PC term to use.

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#88 of 99 Old 03-08-2010, 08:57 PM
 
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Originally Posted by bebebradford View Post
WOW it's amazing how language and words are perceived so differently in different parts of this country. I'm from the south, and oriental is acceptable and POLITE to use in this area. If someone called a person from Japan a "Chinese person" THAT would be ignorant and rude. It IS hard to keep up with the current "pc" terms because EVERYONE has their own opinions on what THEY want to be called. As long as someone said it with no ill intent I don't see an issue.
This is basically what I was saying in my post.

It was not meant to be demeaning or rude.

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#89 of 99 Old 03-09-2010, 09:10 AM
 
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"Danse orientale" is PC in France right now.
"Belly dancing" was used in the past I think, before it became more widely known BUT I would say that it is technically inacurate since the beauty of it is to move parts of the body in isolation and in succession, it's not only the belly that's moving ==> for exemple you might be totally still with just arms held in front of/hiding your mouth and just the wrists moving up and down + the head going 1 inch to the right then 1 inch to the left
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#90 of 99 Old 03-09-2010, 11:33 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Owen'nZoe View Post
Interesting! I had no idea - my (Middle Eastern) DH and my MIL always call it belly dancing. When you say it isn't very PC, do you mean that it is offensive or do you just mean that it is inaccurate?

Well, belly dance is not the term that people from the countries where it comes from call it. It is usually called Raqs Sharqi in Arabic, which translates as "dance of the Orient or the East". "Raqs" means dance and the "Sharqi" which means "Orient" came about when the Middle East was occupied by colonial powers to differentiate it from western dance. So Oriental rather than Occident. The term "danse du ventre" was used by the French when they occupied North Africa because at that time Europeans were unaccustomed to dances with movement of the torso. In other ethnic dances for example Flamenco, people use the word that the Spanish themselves use and do not for example call it "foot stomping dance". The nearest equivalent would be the term "Indian" used for the first Nations people of America. In both cases a different word is used by one culture to describe and other culture.
Most Arabs just use the word belly dance because they assume it is what the English word for it is and don't really give it a second thought. Many have told me they find the term demeaning however but most Arabs are more concerned that they won't be considered terrorists, so they are not going to debate about a dance term!
Sorry! I don't mean to highjack the OP! Back to that, I think it is always best to educate,to explain to people about the term oriental. I am glad it was explained to me other wise I would not have ever known!
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