Adonis Diaries

Archive for March 10th, 2014

Proud Arab/Moslem women atheists?

A number of Arab and Iranian women staged an unusual protest in the Louvre Art Museum’s Square to call for equality and secularism on the occasion of the International Women’s Day.

Arab, Iranian women protest naked in Paris

Waleed Al-Husseini posted this March 8, 2014
Maryam Namazie cut out Allah from the flag of Iran Islamic regime
Tunisian activist Amina sboui, Egyptian Alia al-Mahdi, Iranian Maryam Namazia and five other Arab and Iranian women demonstrated fully naked and called, in French, for freedom, equality and secularism.
End sex apartheid
Follow the arrow: Your Honor is there.
I am terrified at the Islamists’ behavior

First Palestinian flashmob- women’s international day
youtube.com

The Difference Between Cultural Exchange and Cultural Appropriation

Cultural appropriation is a term that isn’t often heard in daily conversation.

It’s inevitably misunderstood by those who feel attacked by feminists, sociologically-informed bloggers, and others who use the term.

Many a white person sporting dreadlocks or a bindi online has taken cultural appropriation to mean the policing of what white people can or can’t wear and enjoy.

Jarune Uwujaren posted on Sept. 30, 2013
The Difference Between Cultural Exchange and Cultural Appropriation
Source: Jen Mussari
Having considered their fashion choices a form of personal expression, some may feel unfairly targeted for simply dressing and acting in a way that feels comfortable for them.The same can be said for those who find criticisms of the Harlem Shake meme and whatever it is Miley Cyrus did last month to be an obnoxious form of hipsterdom – just because something has origins in black culture, they say, doesn’t mean white artists can’t emulate and enjoy it.And there are people who believe that everything is cultural appropriation – from the passing around of gun powder to the worldwide popularity of tea.

They’re tired of certain forms of cultural appropriation – like models in Native American headdresses – being labeled as problematic while many of us are gorging on Chipotle burritos, doing yoga, and popping sushi into our mouths with chopsticks.

They have a point.

Where do we draw the line between “appropriate” forms of cultural exchange and more damaging patterns of cultural appropriation?

To be honest, I don’t know that there is a thin, straight line between them.

But even if the line between exchange and appropriation bends, twists, and loop-de-loops in ways it would take decades of academic thought to unpack, it has a definite starting point: Respect.

What Cultural Exchange Is Not

One of the reasons that cultural appropriation is a hard concept to grasp for so many is that Westerners are used to pressing their own culture onto others and taking what they want in return.

We tend to think of this as cultural exchange when really, it’s no more an exchange than pressuring your neighbors to adopt your ideals while stealing their family heirlooms.

True cultural exchange is not the process of “Here’s my culture, I’ll have some of yours” that we sometimes think it is. It’s something that should be mutual.

Just because Indian Americans wear business suits doesn’t mean all Americans own bindis and saris.

Just because some black Americans straighten their hair doesn’t mean all Americans own dreadlocks.

The fact is, Western culture invites and, at times, demands assimilation.

Not every culture has chosen to open itself up to being adopted by outsiders in the same way.

And there’s good reason for that.

“Ethnic” clothes and hairstyles are still stigmatized as unprofessional, “cultural”foods are treated as exotic past times, and the vernacular of people of color is ridiculed and demeaned.

So there is an unequal exchange between Western culture – an all-consuming mishmash of over-simplified and sellable foreign influences with a dash each of Coke and Pepsi – and marginalized cultures.

People of all cultures wear business suits and collared shirts to survive. (In the business world?)

But when one is of the dominant culture, adopting the clothing, food, or slang of other cultures has nothing to do with survival.

So as free as people should be to wear whatever hair and clothing they enjoy, using someone else’s cultural symbols to satisfy a personal need for self-expression is an exercise in privilege.

Because for those of us who have felt forced and pressured to change the way we look, behave, and speak just to earn enough respect to stay employed and safe, our modes of self-expression are still limited.

African American Vernacular English (AAVE) is consistently treated as lesser than Standard English, but people whitewash black slang and use expressions they barely understand as punch lines, or to make themselves seem cool.

People shirk “ethnic” clothes in corporate culture, but wear bastardized versions of them on Halloween.

There is no exchange, understanding, or respect in such cases – only taking.

What Cultural Exchange Can Look Like

That doesn’t mean that cultural exchange never happens, or that we can never partake in one another’s cultures.

But there needs to be some element of mutual understanding, equality, and respect for it to be a true exchange.

I remember that at my sister’s wedding, the groom – who happened to be white – changed midway through the ceremony along with my sister into modern, but fairly traditional, Nigerian clothes.

Even though some family members found it amusing, there was never any undertone of the clothes being treated as a costume or “experience” for a white person to enjoy for a little bit and discard later. He was invited – both as a new family member and a guest – to engage our culture in this way.

If he had been obnoxious about it – treated it as exotic or weird or pretended he now understood what it means to be Nigerian and refused to wear Western clothes ever again – the experience would have been more appropriative.

But instead, he wore them from a place of respect.

That’s what cultural exchange can look like – engaging with a culture as a respectful and humble guest, invitation only.

Don’t overstay your welcome. Don’t pretend to be a part of the household. Don’t make yourself out to be an honored guest whom the householders should be grateful to entertain and educate for hours on end.

Don’t ask a bunch of personal questions or make light of something that’s clearly a sore spot. Just act like any polite house guest would by being attentive and knowing your boundaries.

If, instead, you try to approach another culture as a mooch, busybody, or interloper, you will be shown the door. It’s that simple.

Well, maybe not as simple when you move beyond the metaphor and into the real world. If you’re from a so-called melting pot nation, you know what’s it’s like to be a perpetual couch surfer moving through the domains of many cultures.

Where Defining Cultural Appropriation Gets Messy

Is the Asian fusion takeout I order every week culturally appropriate?

Even though I’m Black, is wearing dreadlocks appropriating forms of religious expression that really don’t belong to me?

Is meditating cultural appropriation? Is Western yoga appropriation? Is eating a burrito, cosplaying, being truly fascinated by another culture, decorating with Shoji screens, or wearing a headscarf cultural appropriation?

There are so many things that have been chopped up, recolored, and tossed together to make up Western culture that even when we know things are appropriative in some way, we find them hard to let go of.

And then there are the things that have been freely shared by other cultures –Buddhism for example – that have been both respected and bastardized at different turns in the process of exchange.

At times, well-meaning people who struggle with their own appropriative behavior turn to textbooks, online comment boards, Google, and Tumblr ask boxes in search of a clear cut answer to the question, “Is this [insert pop culture thing, hairstyle, tattoo, or personal behavior here] cultural appropriation?”

That’s a question we have to educate ourselves enough to, if not answer, think critically about.

We have a responsibility to listen to people of marginalized cultures, understand as much as possible the blatant and subtle ways in which their cultures have been appropriated and exploited, and educate ourselves enough to make informed choices when it comes to engaging with people of other cultures.

So if you’re reading this and you’re tired of people giving white women wearing bindis crap for appropriating because “freedom of speech,” recognize that pointing out cultural appropriation is not personal.

This isn’t a matter of telling people what to wear. It’s a matter of telling people that they don’t wear things in a vacuum and there are many social and historical implications to treating marginalized cultures like costumes.

It’s also not a matter of ignoring “real” issues in favor of criticizing the missteps of a few hipsters, fashion magazines, or baseball teams.

Cultural appropriation is itself a real issue because it demonstrates the imbalance of power that still remains between cultures that have been colonized and the ex-colonizers.

Regardless, this is not an article asking you to over-analyze everything you do and wrack yourself with guilt.

Because honestly, no one cares about your guilt, no one cares about your hurt feelings, and no one cares about your clothes or hair when they’re pointing out cultural appropriation.

When someone’s behavior is labeled culturally appropriative, it’s usually not about that specific person being horrible and evil.

It’s about a centuries’ old pattern of taking, stealing, exploiting, and misunderstanding the history and symbols that are meaningful to people of marginalized cultures.

The intentions of the inadvertent appropriator are irrelevant in this context.

Therefore, what this article is asking you to do is educate yourself, listen, and be open to reexamining the symbols you use without thinking, the cultures you engage with without understanding, and the historical and social climate we all need to be seeing.

Want to discuss this further? Login to our online forum and start a post! If you’re not already registered as a forum user, please register first here.

Jarune Uwujaren is a Contributing Writer for Everyday Feminism.

A Nigerian-American recent graduate who’s stumbling towards a career in writing, Jarune can currently be found drifting around the DC metro area with a phone or a laptop nearby.

When not writing for fun or profit, Jarune enjoys food, fresh air, good books, drawing, poetry, and sci-fi. Read her articles here.

Women marched against family violence: Lebanon, March 8, 2014. And shocking statistics

The earliest Women’s Days were held in the first decade of 20th century. This was before women had the vote, before women could legally terminate a pregnancy.

In the UK, it was only ten years since a married woman could legally own her own property, rather than be property herself. Marie Curie was yet to become the first woman to win the Nobel Prize.

More than a century later and it’s tempting to see International Women’s Day as redundant, a celebratory event at best.

Why do we need the event at all?

The causes that triggered those first campaigns have been fought and won.

Women in today’s society have all the equality they could ever need, right? Wrong.

Women own less than 2% of properties and less than 10% of total revenue for working 60% more than males.

Women in Lebanon marched against family violence and the urgency for laws that punish the perpetrators.

So moved seeing photos on my wall of all the wonderful people filling the streets today to demand equal rights for Lebanese women, and end this horrible state of patriarchy.
This was our rallying cry today! With no politician to support. People of Lebanon, you still give me hope
Leah Choueiry's photo.
Excellent turn out at the demonstration to have a law against violence against women ‪#‎womensrights‬ ‪#‎lebanon‬ ‪#‎kafa‬ ‪#‎whpwomenwhoinspire‬
Excellent turn out at the demonstration to have a law against violence against women #womensrights #lebanon #kafa #whpwomenwhoinspire
Reine Azzi added 9 new photos — with Rania Hammoud and 4 others.
Excellent demonstration today! Turn-out, messages, creativity…
This gives me hope! It’s a shame that we have to fight for a law that should be common sense! Against domestic abuse and violence!
A crime is a crime, regardless of whether it happens on the street or behind bedroom doors. ‪#‎Womensrights‬ ‪#‎kafa‬ ‪#‎Lebanon‬
Reine Azzi's photo.
Reine Azzi's photo.
Reine Azzi's photo.
Reine Azzi's photo.
Reine Azzi's photo.
Reine Azzi's photo.
Reine Azzi's photo.
Reine Azzi's photo.
Reine Azzi's photo.
Cynthia Choucair was tagged in Salam Hammoud‘s photo.
Salam Hammoud's photo.
March 7, 2014

International Women’s Day 2014: The shocking statistics that show why it is still so important

International Women’s Day is still needed to motivate change, at home and abroad. Some of these statistics put into sharp relief just how far we still have to go.

Violence

Globally, about one in three women will be beaten or raped during their lifetime. About 44% of all UK women have experienced either physical or sexual violence since they were 15-years-old.

Britain ranks among the worst countries in Europe when it comes to women being violently abused.

On average, 30% of women who have been in a relationship report that they have experienced some form of physical or sexual violence by their partner.

38% of all murders of women worldwide are committed by a woman’s intimate partner.

A UN report said 99.3% of women and girls in Egypt had been subjected to sexual harassment.

Female Genital Mutilation

This is where girls have either all or part of their clitoris and inner and outer labia sliced off without anaesthesia, and sometimes have part of their vaginas sewn up too.

Over 130 million women living in the world today have undergone Female Genital Mutilation.

There as as many as 24,000 girls are at risk of cutting in the UK.

In one Birmingham hospital as many as 40 to 50 women every month are treated after undergoing female genital mutilation.

Marriage

Around 14 million girls, some as young as eight years old, will be married in 2014.

An estimated 1.2m children are trafficked into slavery each year; 80 per cent are girls.

In 10 countries around the world women are legally bound to obey their husbands

Only 76 countries have legislation that specifically addresses domestic violence – and just 57 of them include sexual abuse.

Working rights

In the UK, the gender pay gap stands at 15%, with women on average earning £5,000 less a year than their male colleagues.

The disparity is even greater in part time jobs, going up to 35 per cent.

Globally only a 24 per cent of senior management roles are now filled by women.

The Equalities and Human Rights Commission estimates it will take 70 years at the current rate of progress to see an equal number of female and male directors of FTSE 100 companies.

This hurts everyone. The gender gap in certain industries is even more apparent and damaging.

Zemach Getahun estimates that closing the gender gap in agriculture could reduce the number of hungry people in the world by 12-17 per cent.

If the skills and qualifications of women who are currently out of work in the UK were fully utilised, the UK could deliver economic benefits of £15 to £21 billion pounds per year – more than double the value of all our annual exports to China.


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