Dear 100 Hour Board,
In response to Question #91268, can any of you explain to me why it's wrong to wear the clothing of another society? Of course, wearing clothing with religious significance (e.g. ceremonial Native American clothing, phylacteries, temple clothing, etc.) is inappropriate, but wearing the traditional clothing of another culture is at worst innocuous and at best flattering.
Should my Filipina girlfriend apologize for wearing a dirndl for a musical she performed in? Should Katy Perry apologize for performing in Kimono (which, by the way, Japanese people liked)?
You've indicated to this Utah high school student should apologize for wearing a Chinese dress to prom. Who should she apologize to? Apparently Chinese people like it.
I'm interested to hear your explanations.
- Disappointed by rampant political correctness
From what I understand, there's actually an interesting divide between Asians and first-generation Asian-Americans on the one hand, and later generations of Asian-Americans on the other. The first group tends to view these sorts of incidents as "yay, look, they like us!" The second group sees it as cultural appropriation.*
I have a lot of disorganized thoughts about why this difference may or may not exist, but it's the end of alumni week and I don't have time, so here's the cliff notes version:
Based on what I've heard from members of the second group, it's galling to grow up going to school and having people say your lunch smells weird, or compare you to Mulan or Jackie Chan in mocking ways, or joke about how you must be a bad driver or (if you're a man) not well-endowed, etc. Asian-Americans still experience racism today. So you'v grown up your whole life unable to escape periodically getting made fun of for visibly being your ethnicity and partaking of your culture. And then, the night of prom, a white girl wears something from the culture you got made fun of for and gets told how pretty she is and how "cool" her dress is. That would be really annoying.
There are absolutely questions that remain to be answered about what constitutes cultural appropriation. Those debates are occurring within and between cultural groups. Different cultural groups may have different opinions about what's appropriate. This makes the question complicated to engage in. I don't always get it right. But in my opinion, the answer is not to simply dismiss it or complain about political correctness. In this situation, political correctness is simply putting in effort to be respectful of other people. Of course that's more difficult than just saying, wearing, and doing whatever I want. That doesn't mean it's not worth it.
*This is a very, very, VERY broad generalization.
"DiSaPpOiNtEd bY rAmPaNt PoLiTiCaL cOrReCtNeSs"
That's you. That's what you sound like.