“Cultural appropriation” of a Chinese dress causes big kerfuffle

Some people are permanently poised to be offended; in fact, you’d think they get pleasure out of being offended.

One of the topics that often triggers unwarranted offense is cultural appropriation—the adoption by one culture or ethnicity of food, clothing, music, or other aspects of a different culture.  In principle this could be offensive, as in the use of blackface, but more often than not it’s simply the appreciation by one culture of another. BuzzFeed (click on screenshot below) and other sites like the Washington Post and the BBC describe a particularly ridiculous example:

What happened is that 18 year old Keziah Daum, a high school student from Utah, decided to wear to her senior prom a quipao, or traditional Chinese dress with a high neckline and slit skirt. While this was worn in China (and still is by societies that try to preserve the dress style), it was really a form of women’s clothing invented in Shanghai in the 1920s and limited to wealthy socialites. Here, for example, is a quipao society I photographed in a mall in Macao on my last visit to Hong Kong:

Well, Ms. Daum made the deadly mistake of liking a quipao she saw in a Salt Lake City vintage clothing store, saying that she was “immediately drawn to the beautiful red grown and was thrilled to find a dress with a modest neckline.” She wore it to the prom and posted the following pictures on Twitter.

You can see the four sub-pictures by clicking on her tweet, but here are three of them. Daum looks lovely, though of course the last picture might be considered offensive by some. I don’t, as it’s not making fun of a culture but imitating (I think) a gesture thought to be Chinese (it’s also Indian, Nepalese, and used in many other countries):

 

Well, you can question the wisdom of the last photo, but believe me, this fracas would have happened had just the other pictures been posted. Sure enough, Jeremy Lam, a student at the University of Utah, took great offense and posted this tweet:

As you see, it got 17,000 comments and was retweeted 42,000 times. As you might expect, though Daum had her defenders, she only got those defenders because of the spate of people who called her out for “appropriating” a “traditional dress with a long history and making it into a fashion statement.” Well, the dress doesn’t have a long history, was limited to the upper classes, and is supposed to be a fashion statement. If the dress represents “Chinese culture”, it is only a very narrow segment of Chinese culture. (If a lower-class Chinese woman wore it, would that be considered “class appropriation”?).

Daum, as might be expected, was sandbagged, not expecting this at all, and was hurt. You can see all the negative and supportive comments at BuzzFeed (it turns out Jeremy Lam had engaged in even more impure forms of cultural appropriation in previous tweets.) But she even tried to be nice about it:

“I never imagined a simple rite of passage such as a prom would cause a discussion reaching many parts of the world,” Daum said. “Perhaps it is an important discussion we need to have.”

She said that she was sorry if she had caused any offense, and that her intent was never to anger anyone.

“I simply found a beautiful, modest gown and chose to wear it,” she said.

No, we don’t need to have a conversation about her wearing a quipao as a prom dress. It’s not insulting and wasn’t intended to be. It was the best kind of cultural appropriation: the adoption of some aspect of culture that you admire. Yes, we can and should talk about blackface, Mexican sombreros, and the like, but if we’re going to talk about cultural appropriation, how about this site, showing Asian workers adopting “dress-for-success” fashion, which happens to be Western? How about if we talk about the limits of “offensive” cultural appropriation?

Isn’t the picture above an example of cultural appropriation? If not, why not? After all, at least in the U.S. Asians enjoy a social and academic advantage over Caucasians; so if “punching down” is worse than “punching up”, Asians wearing Western suits would be the graver sin.

But this is all nonsense. Cultures intertwine and enrich each other; I can’t imagine the U.S. without the musical, culinary, linguistic, and artistic contributions of non-Caucasians (I won’t say “other cultures” because all of us descend from immigrants). We wouldn’t have the great musical form of jazz without the African-Americans who invented it, and yet its adoption by cultures worldwide occurred without the supposedly negative aspects of “cultural appropriation.” That’s another example of cross-fertilization of cultures.

Making a poor high school woman feel awful about her choice of dress is something that these misguided Social Justice Warriors like to do. It accomplishes nothing positive; all it does is make the “appropriators” feel bad and the puritans feel good about themselves. Can you tell me if anything positive came out of this?

 

h/t: Seth Andews

97 Comments

  1. Ann German
    Posted May 1, 2018 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    Everyone should be issued a maximum snarky comment allotment and when it’s met, it’s done.

    • GBJames
      Posted May 1, 2018 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

      I’m overdrawn on my account.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted May 2, 2018 at 3:56 am | Permalink

        My account is so far into the red I’ll never get it back.

        At least, I hope so.

        😉

        cr

  2. Harrison
    Posted May 1, 2018 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    Society has cracked down on traditional, physical bullying, but it’s way behind the curve when it comes to emotional bullying which in these instances are not only socially acceptable but socially encouraged.

    • Craw
      Posted May 1, 2018 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

      Yep. Jordan Petersen tweeted a succinct summary: all identity politics is a pretext for bullying with the added twist of claiming the moral high ground.

    • eric
      Posted May 1, 2018 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

      In person, yes. But as an old fogie I have a somewhat hard time thinking her internet detractors have the same power when she can simply screen them out. Not check her phone. Not read the message. Put a filter on her account.

      IIRC, before the internet TV stations used to weight every angry letter as worth 15,000 angry phone calls. Why? Because phone calls were easy, letters took effort which most people didn’t bother to do. I’d say a similar calculus may be worth considering here. Angry anonymous internet posts are easy and take no effort; bullying in person is harder. Put a filter on your account and only bother to think about whether your choice was a good one or not when the negative comments tick over 50,000.

  3. Randall Schenck
    Posted May 1, 2018 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    Do not understand it and do not want to. There are real things out in the world to worry about but this is not one of them. These children should go look for some individually, not as a herd.

  4. BobTerrace
    Posted May 1, 2018 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    When I see a tempest in a teapot like this, I just chuckle and move on.

    • Doug
      Posted May 1, 2018 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

      Is drinking tea cultural appropriation?

      • Posted May 2, 2018 at 11:29 am | Permalink

        Yes, but we don’t know from whom. As far as I can tell it is Chinese, but *only* in the “Chinese Empire” sense – so it is likely due to some minority at the edge of the empire. Might even be Korean or Vietnamese, but likely some group whose name is almost lost to history.

    • Harrison
      Posted May 1, 2018 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

      I want to be able to just laugh it off but for the victims caught in the crosshairs it’s not funny.

  5. Posted May 1, 2018 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    I’m disturbed at the number of people using my culture (I’m a direct descedant of the Phonecians, and we invented the alphabet) to “discuss” these issues. Kindly stop appropriating MY culture in future.
    Future discussion can be by sempahore, face-to-face or by bashing each other over the heads with rocks–but no more alphabets please. I’m offended.
    (In fact–stop even reading this–you are stealing my Phonecian letters with your imperialist eyeballs)

    • Morey Berman
      Posted May 1, 2018 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

      thumbs up! (sorry, there is no emoji available)

    • Diane Garlick
      Posted May 1, 2018 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

      Ha ha!

    • RPGNo1
      Posted May 2, 2018 at 6:35 am | Permalink

      Fantastic! 😀

    • Mike
      Posted May 2, 2018 at 7:39 am | Permalink

      lol

  6. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted May 1, 2018 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    I think I solved it:

    It’s not about the dress.

    “Daum looks lovely”

    ^^^^^its all about that. Full stop.

    Consider the outcome had she been:

    -way overweight
    -wearing a hijab (if that’s even possible)
    -lesbian
    -a survivor of one of the school shootings

    etc.

    • Davide Spinello
      Posted May 1, 2018 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

      +1

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted May 1, 2018 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

      Apologies for school shooting one – went way too far.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted May 2, 2018 at 4:02 am | Permalink

        I don’t think you went too far, but I’m not sure if it’s accurate.

        Fat hijab-wearing lesbians – yeah, they get a free pass. But merely surviving a school shooting – do you realise how *privileged* that is compared with the ones who didn’t?

        I quite agree with your point, and yes, she does look lovely. You need good legs to carry off that style, btw, and she has.

        cr

  7. ladyatheist
    Posted May 1, 2018 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Technically, “cultural appropriation” is supposed to be used for people of privilege making money from culture accoutrements of people who are not privileged, such as Paul Simon’s Graceland album, which is the first famous one.

    I don’t agree with this, but trying to say that any cultural borrowing would qualify isn’t quite right.

    You-too-ism is the wrong argument. The right argument is that in the 21st century, people should have the freedom to do as they please and that includes wearing clothes inspired by other cultures & other classes.

    • JonLynnHarvey
      Posted May 1, 2018 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

      No, no, no! The first example was the all white jazz bands of the 1930s and 40s who got all kinds of performance venues including radio time inaccessible to African musicians.

      By contrast, Paul Simon’s Graceland is the album that quite unjustly got scapegoated for all this. Simon massively boosted the career of his backup band, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, an all black band from South Africa, who gained international prominence as a consequence of the Graceland album.

      By and large only American Africans were upset by Graceland. Euro-Africans didn’t have a problem with it at all.

      • GBJames
        Posted May 1, 2018 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

        Even the “all white jazz bands” (or early rock and roll) criticism is misplaced. The endemic racism that prevented black musicians from being heard was not caused particularly by musicians. Criticizing white musicians for playing jazz is as stupid as blaming Jessye Norman for performing in operas.

        • JonLynnHarvey
          Posted May 1, 2018 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

          Entirely agreed!

        • stuartcoyle
          Posted May 1, 2018 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

          Agreed, Jazz music was one of the cultural factors that helped break down the racism and barriers.

      • nicky
        Posted May 1, 2018 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

        Nor African-Africans for that matter, no problem either.

      • ladyatheist
        Posted May 1, 2018 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

        What I meant to say …. Simon was the first to be accused of this. The white jazz bands of the 30s and 40s (and 10s and 20s and 50s and 60s and 70s) didn’t get the same kind of heat. I don’t think the concept even existed then.

        I didn’t mean to say that I *agree* with the notion of cultural appropriation at all, but Simon did make money from the album and took heat for “using” another culture’s cultural product for his own gain.

    • Posted May 1, 2018 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

      The problem with your argument is that Simon gave the musicians on Graceland plenty of credit and money; it is an example of cultural appropriation done with the proper respect. What is your issue with what Simon did?

      Read this bit about the album; the loudest criticism was that Simon broke the boycott against apartheid, not that he appropriated South African music. And he sure popularized South African music in other places. Granted, it’s because he himself was famous, but where is the odious “cultural appropriation” of the album?

      • BJ
        Posted May 1, 2018 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

        Seriously, several artists almost completely unknown in the US and other Western nations got an enormous boost in recognition, popularity, and revenue from that album.

        And when it comes to those white jazz players and blues, note that, once they got past that time of the 40s and early 50s, white and black musicians were constantly collaborating and had enormous respect for each other. They never saw one another as appropriators, but as building on types of music and making new, beautiful pieces of art together, across racial lines. All that mattered was the music, man.

        • Posted May 1, 2018 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

          One way to make the some in the regressive left heads explode is to point out that some of the most popular MoTown songs were written by white jewish men.

          • BJ
            Posted May 1, 2018 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

            It was just a Zionist conspiracy to get royalties from black musicians!

      • nicky
        Posted May 1, 2018 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

        Yes, Mr Simon broke the boycott, but he did it the ‘right way’, by empowering those disempowered by Apartheid, in fact it was considered here as an anti-Apartheid action (and in that sense in complete accordance with the aims of the boycott).
        I can’t think of a single black South African (and I know quite a few) who holds it against him, on the contrary, his collaboration with Ladysmith Black Mambazo is still seen in an overwhelmingly positive light.

      • Jonathan Wallace
        Posted May 2, 2018 at 8:13 am | Permalink

        To be fair to LadyAtheist she said she did not agree with Simon taking heat for cultural appropriation – she just identified him as being the first person to be prominently accused of it.

    • Posted May 1, 2018 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

      The ‘privilege’ argument doesn’t hold water eithet. Japan is a bigger economy than the UK so do I get to dress up?

      Do the actual Japanese give a toss about this stuff? It always seems to be Japanese Americans or various other Something Americans. The actual Japanese just seen to get on with their lives, remaking Westerns (very well, in fact) like Unforgiven, without a thought for cultural appropriation.

      • AC Harper
        Posted May 1, 2018 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

        Magnificent Seven (1960) vs The Seven Samurai (1954). How time flies.

        • Posted May 1, 2018 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

          “Throne of Blood” is Kurosawa’s masterful remake of MacBeth. Just so, Yimou Zhang’s “A Woman, a Gun and Noodle Shop” is an homage to the Coen Brother’s “Blood Simple”, with some scenes re-done shot by shot. Also, Korean filmmaker Kim Jee-woon made “The Good, The Bad and the Weird”, paying tribute to Sergio Leone’s masterpiece.

          • Posted May 1, 2018 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

            Of course, the Coen brothers are the Lords of Cultural Appropriation; “O Brother Where art Thou?” is unabashedly The Odyssey re-told in a deeply weird way.

          • BJ
            Posted May 1, 2018 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

            I know Zhang very well, but I had no idea about A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop! I have to get my hands on that.

            By the way, that appears to be the official grammar of the title’s English translation and is a perfect demonstration of the need for Oxford commas. The way the title is written, it suggests the film is about a woman and a shop that sells guns and a single noodle.

            • Posted May 2, 2018 at 11:32 am | Permalink

              As one of my (Chinese-background) physics instructors put it wrt menus: “Of course there’s more than one noodle!” (The problem lies with ordering dumplings and such.)

  8. darrelle
    Posted May 1, 2018 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    It is a nice dress.

    ; in fact, you’d think they get pleasure out of being offended.

    I don’t know if there are any serious studies to support it but I’ve heard of something called “indignation addiction.” It seems plausible to me and it sure seems as if some people do suffer from something like an addiction to indignation.

    Okay, a quick search yields lots of hits, most of the first few pages of which lead directly, or in one or two steps, to scientist, science fiction writer and more, David Brin. He appears to have originated, or at least written quite a bit about “indignation addiction.” I’m pretty sure that must be who I picked it up from years ago.

    • BJ
      Posted May 1, 2018 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

      Normally, I’d require studies for phenomena like what’s suggested here, but, considering we see this literally every day at every college, on every social media site, and on every forum, I think it’s pretty obvious that it’s both a thing and enormously widespread, especially among certain types of people.

      • AC Harper
        Posted May 1, 2018 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

        Some people are addicted to roller coaster rides for the adrenaline rush. Perhaps others like the catharsis of being ‘triggered’?

        Plus, thanks to social media, you can enjoy your feelings of outrage with far more people than can ride a roller coaster with you. Being part of a larger crowd of like minded people also amplifies the feelings.

        • ladyatheist
          Posted May 1, 2018 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

          The Outrage Machine makes my dopamine receptors get all gooey ooey!

          • BJ
            Posted May 2, 2018 at 8:39 am | Permalink

            Cocaine is a hell of a drug…

            Wait! I meant outrage. I wouldn’t know anything about cocaine!

      • darrelle
        Posted May 2, 2018 at 7:42 am | Permalink

        Agreed! I’ve got less confidence in any explanation of the mechanisms involved but there does seem to be plenty of evidence that the behavior is real.

    • nicky
      Posted May 1, 2018 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

      You beat me to it, Jerry was right there. There is no doubt they get pleasure from it. Is there much that can beat the exhilaration of rightful indignancy? Really a kind of “Gerin oil”.

      • darrelle
        Posted May 2, 2018 at 7:48 am | Permalink

        Yeah. I’ve got to admit that a moment of righteous indignation can feel good. But usually within a few moments I don’t feel so good about it. Depending on circumstances my feelings about it range from mild embarrassment to shame. But based on my own experience it does seem very plausible to me that it could become addictive or habitual in some people.

  9. Posted May 1, 2018 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    Isn’t the picture above an example of cultural appropriation? If not, why not?

    Because it’s cultural imperialism (and thus if Asians wish to copy Western dress then the West is at fault) rather than cultural appropriation.

    Because the West (especially whites, especially males) are always the ones at fault.

  10. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted May 1, 2018 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    It’s indirectly a kind of guilt by association (I use the term loosely.)

    Because there has been some forms of toxic cultural appropriation, now ALL cultural appropriation is deemed off limits, presumably because it enables and facilitates the bad forms (or just because it triggers memories of the bad ones.)

    But in the extremes, this is no different from accusing great art with nudity of being pornographic. Yes, there are people who think Titian’s “Venus of Urbino” is pornographic, but the erotic elements are arranged and filtered in a way that most would say it is not.
    (Painting here: i.huffpost.com/gen/1565017/thumbs/o-URBINO-900.jpg)
    Accusing this woman of cultural appropriation uses a comparably flawed logic.

  11. Posted May 1, 2018 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    What’s more touching here is the overwhelming support from Asian Americans against this leftist nonsense. Jeremy Lee was just a bully picking on a young girl and he should be ashamed of himself.

    Cultural Diversity: As American as General Tso’s Chicken.

  12. BJ
    Posted May 1, 2018 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    “Well, the dress doesn’t have a long history, was limited to the upper classes, and is supposed to be a fashion statement. If the dress represents ‘Chinese culture’, it is only a very narrow segment of Chinese culture.”

    As if any of them knew that!

    I’m so sick of this shit. I feel so sorry for this poor girl, and I just wish to hell that she stood up for herself instead of apologizing. Of course, I don’t expect her to try and do such a thing, as she’s going through hell right now and is just trying to mitigate the hurt against her. She doesn’t realize that apologizing won’t make it any better, and will almost certainly make it worse.

    • nicky
      Posted May 1, 2018 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

      And even if it were not a recent fashion, and not an upper class dress, it still would not be that ‘toxic cultural appropriation’ we despise, but amore of a compliment, a celebration.
      She did not make a financial profit, she did not harm or impoverish anybody. Mr Lam (an American, I presume?) appears an addict of that ‘gerin oil’ of exhilarating indignation.

  13. Posted May 1, 2018 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    I think that the victim should counter-attack. Though light-skinned, she seems to be of color, or at least can pass as such. So she can accuse her opponents of racism and punching down, and point out that she is coming from countless generations of oppressed people.

    • BJ
      Posted May 1, 2018 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

      Nah, she has thing privilege, “passing” privilege (her skin is too light), beauty privilege, etc. etc. There’s no way out. As another commenter noted, the only way she might have had a chance is if she was black, trans, and disabled.

    • nicky
      Posted May 1, 2018 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

      I agree: Nah, here she would not be considered ‘coloured’, but as lily white as, say, Ms Sarsour (You see! I could write Ms Sarsour without the ‘despicable’ epithet, I’m getting really good!).
      Maya, I’m sorry to disagree with you, I rarely do, but here I do. The race card is never a good one to play, but here it would be slightly ridiculous too.

  14. improbable
    Posted May 1, 2018 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    To her credit, she hasn’t given them an inch. May many follow that example!

  15. Posted May 1, 2018 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    Oh where to draw the line? I went to my own Prom or as they call it where I live, a formal, in a similar Chinese dress even though I am not Chinese and that’s because in the 90’s this Oriental style of clothing was all the rage after one of the Spice Girls wore it in a video clip. People need to get a bloody life and stop being miserable assholes basically.

  16. Posted May 1, 2018 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    Lucky Jeremy’s parents were dead set against cultural appropriation or they might have given him a Western surname associated with upper class prats.

    • Diane Garlick
      Posted May 1, 2018 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

      Perhaps you should have stopped after “surname.”

  17. Posted May 1, 2018 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    What is Jeremy doing with a Western name? I am offended.

    • Posted May 1, 2018 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

      It’s a Westernisation of Jeremiah so it is, in effect, a cultural appropriation from Judaism.

  18. Posted May 1, 2018 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    I ran across this on Twitter yesterday and, I’m proud to say, instantly joined the ranks of Ms. Daum’s defenders. It seemed to me the defense was pretty strong, though it was possible that I was entering the thread after most of the offense had finished. My general feeling is that people are now coming out strongly against this “cultural appropriation” meme. I don’t know how long the SJWs will keep it up but perhaps they are starting to hear it from the rest of us.

  19. Vaal
    Posted May 1, 2018 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    And if you enjoy banging your head some more on a wall…

    “There is no such thing as ‘harmless’ cultural appropriation….”

    https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/cultural-appropriation-prom-dress-chinese-keziah-daum-a8331326.html

    The only heartening thing to me whenever any new cultural appropriation brouhaha arises is that, while we inevitably get clueless articles like the above, the comment sections tend to show most people aren’t buying it. Almost every time the commentators call out the absurdity of these articles.

    • BJ
      Posted May 1, 2018 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

      Holy shit, the author in that article basically compared Daum’s dress to wearing an SS uniform.

      And how about this lovely quote: “Daum does not deserve online abuse, no one does, but the debate her prom pictures have prompted is justified. Cultural appropriation is about power, and to many she’s the embodiment of a system that empowers white people to take whatever they want, go wherever they want and be able to fall back on: ‘Well, I didn’t mean any harm.'”

      In just two sentences, she says that “no one” deserves to be bullied online, but then immediately says that everyone should be talking about what she did (and she wrote an article about it, knowing it would bring even more attention to her). Then she says wearing this dress is the embodiment of white supremacy. What a fucking loon, and a dangerously nasty one at that.

  20. Brujo Feo
    Posted May 1, 2018 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    My sister posted on FB about this; a correspondent commented, lamenting microagressions and cultural appropriation. I responded:

    I’m sorry, Ms. _____, but I, for one, am going to be dead of old age LONG before I will have time to build useful coalitions with folks who think that a “microaggression” is actually a thing.

    This is the Regressive Left at its worst, and most snowflake useless. There is real racism out there, there ain’t nothing “micro” about it, and it doesn’t have a damned thing to do with some dress that some young girl wore to her prom.

    “[N]o ties to that culture”? What does that even MEAN? Does that mean that I’m committing a microaggression every time that I play a Delta blues tune? Or does it just mean that black people shouldn’t be allowed to play in the symphony?

    Oh, I forgot…”cultural appropriation.” That’s not a thing, either.

  21. Posted May 1, 2018 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    I hope Jeremy Lam doesn’t wear denim jeans, a Marlboro Man might not take a liking to that. Jeremy, find a nice, quiet corner and slowly punch yourself into unconsciousness.

  22. Ken Kukec
    Posted May 1, 2018 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    Vive la assimilation — in all directions!

  23. Posted May 1, 2018 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    History is replete with so-called “cultural appropriation”, usually to the benefit of the culture doing the appropriation. Even Genghis Khan was noted for “cultural appropriation”.
    And the Khazars. And the Italians. And the Jews. And the Mexicans. All over the Mediterranean and Middle East. And all the Europeans. The U.S.: “cultural appropriations central”. I view “cultural appropriation” as primarily a good way of spreading and improving cultures. Yes. It is very sad that some cultural attributes are lost in the process, but that’s similar to evolution, isn’t it?

    I find it disturbing when individuals from any culture tend to focus only on discrete elements without awareness/knowledge of their
    longer history and the many changes within it from “cultural appropriations”.

    I grew up in a religion that didn’t permit women to wear trousers, even when doing work where dresses could be immodest. I mostly wear trousers. In my own home, it may be kimonos or dashikis or some of the beautiful clothing from Mexico I’ve collected for my own personal pleasure. And, I enjoy the pottery, rugs and other artwork from wherever I’ve traveled. And, I’ve collected recipes from all over the world (I have a fantastic Armenian Stuffed Grape Leaves recipe, and a world class Greek Baklava, not to mention innumerable Mexican foods.) My family has benefited from my food “cultural appropriations”. And, literature. Thank you world for sharing with me.

    • Diane Garlick
      Posted May 1, 2018 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

      + 1

  24. Posted May 1, 2018 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Logical Place.

  25. BJ
    Posted May 1, 2018 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    As it always does, it turns out that the only people angry at Daum for wearing this dress are stupid US SJWs who think they’re righteously fighting on behalf of people who never asked. Here’s and article from the China Morning Post, which talks about the support Daum has received on Chinese social media: http://www.scmp.com/news/china/society/article/2144207/qipao-us-prom-wins-support-china-after-internet-backlash

    • Posted May 1, 2018 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

      That should settle it for the SJWs! Straight from the horse’s mouth.

      • BJ
        Posted May 1, 2018 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

        Surely you jest! These people just have “internalized oppression.”

        • Posted May 1, 2018 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

          So are you saying that it’s ok for us to judge that there’s no cultural appropriation here, but not OK for the Chinese to likewise judge it?

          • Posted May 1, 2018 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

            Oh, never mind, BJ. I now see what you’re getting at. We’re on the same side and needn’t cross swords. 🙂

    • Posted May 1, 2018 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

      South China Morning Post*
      It’s a Hong Kong newspaper.

    • Bruce Gorton
      Posted May 2, 2018 at 2:54 am | Permalink

      And you look at the poll on it – 96% favour westerners being allowed to wear Chinese styles.

      It kind of reminds me of when the apartheid left where throwing a thrombie over someone wearing a kimino.

      The Japanese consulate at the time said they were pretty in favour of it, because Japan sells kiminos.

    • Gareth
      Posted May 2, 2018 at 11:29 am | Permalink

      I’m not surprised. I used to work in a boarding school with a sizeable body of students from China. Gifts in the form of Chinese clothing/crockery/tea/foodstuffs, even electrical devices for the boarding houses was common. Met some very generous people there. I guess from their perspective its a form of soft power, and ultimately Chinese soft power > angry American kids on the internet.

      Its my understanding that the cheongsam was originally Manchurian.

  26. Max Blancke
    Posted May 1, 2018 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    I can’t figure out which of the many Jeremy Lams it is who posted the screed.
    However, most such people, in my experience, tend to be American born people of Chinese or Philippine descent. That is also true of those who protest appropriation of kimonos.
    I think one of the reasons for this is their own personal feelings of estrangement from the culture of their immigrant ancestors. They are perhaps trying to make up for their own sense of inadequacy.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted May 2, 2018 at 4:37 am | Permalink

      I think you may have nailed it. I’m reminded of the reputation of English colonists in New Zealand (and probably many other Commonwealth countries), who were always, notoriously, “more English than the English”.

      cr

  27. Posted May 1, 2018 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    Well, one good thing about all this brouhaha and tut-tutting is that the teenager Keziah upstaged the haters with her intelligent and mature response. In addition, she filled out the dress nicely. Wish they’d leave the young woman alone.. In scenarios such as this one, people should give other people the benefit of the doubt and not assume they have ill intentions! I eat other cuisines because they taste good to me, and similarly I admire the fashion of other peoples and want to try it out. There is no ill intent, just humanness and curiosity.

  28. Posted May 1, 2018 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

    I read some of the comments on her Twitter feed. This is my favourite.

    I think it’s extremely poor etiquette to treat minority cultures as buffet lunches one can just pick and choose from. Just shows thoughtlessness about what minorities have to put up with in the west about culture

    The minority culture referred to is that of China (pop. 1.379 billion).

    • rickflick
      Posted May 1, 2018 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

      I’ll admit that I’ve attended Chinese buffets on several occasions. Was I wrnog?

    • Vaal
      Posted May 2, 2018 at 9:50 am | Permalink

      These people are so clueless. Have they looked in their own backyard? For instance, young people around the world, certainly including China, have been influenced by the music of the USA, especially “black” music, hip hop, etc. You’ll see them rapping, dressing in clothes mimicking USA hip hop, R&B and Pop artists, etc.

      And no one is complaining. Some great music is coming out of that fusion.

      Cripes almighty.

  29. Cecilia
    Posted May 1, 2018 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

    so it’s ok for people to appropriate Asian culture but it’s not ok for people to appropriate African and Lantinx culture? ok cool.
    white people can tell Asians and people of colour what’s offensive now and what isn’t? ok cool.
    so amazing how structured and evolved our society is nowadays!!!
    *please note the sarcasm

  30. rickflick
    Posted May 1, 2018 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

    When I moved from Michigan to a well known coastal city, I continued to wear plaid flannel shirts. Was I wrnog?

    • Kyrk John
      Posted May 2, 2018 at 12:24 am | Permalink

      if it’s micro-agression you’re probably OK. Just take off the shirt.

  31. Pw
    Posted May 1, 2018 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

    Jeremy Lam must have no idea how extensive Chinese cultural appropriation is with regards to American food. They have “western restaurants” in the same way as there are “Chinese restaurants” in the U.S. He should probably be excoriating all those racist Chinese nationals making a living from selling my culture to each other…. sigh..On the other hand, since I am not a lunatic I have no problem with it, perhaps with the exception of a ribeye steak and spaghetti paired together on a cast iron skillet. That’s just wrong.😂

    • Posted May 2, 2018 at 11:37 am | Permalink

      For a long time, Montreal had an “American restaurant” – that’s actually how it was marketed. Mind you, Montreal also has a street named for an US president (Kennedy), so …

      I would not be surprised if in some contexts large American chains (McDonald’s, KFC, etc.) advertise that way too.

  32. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted May 2, 2018 at 4:21 am | Permalink

    “My culture is NOT your prom dress!”

    That prom dress is NOT your culture, you pretentious offence merchant. You’re a student at an American university. You’re absorbing American culture, like it or not. You’re tweeting incessantly. If you were from that culture you would never, ever have said ‘goddamn’.

    If you were returned to the society where that dress was current you’d be in a state of culture shock. Whatever ‘your’ culture is, it isn’t that.

    cr

    • Dave
      Posted May 2, 2018 at 6:05 am | Permalink

      I saw a Twitter reply to this guy that said:

      “Whining about cultural appropriation is the most American thing imaginable. If you were culturally Chinese, you wouldn’t be doing it”.

  33. Jonathan Wallace
    Posted May 2, 2018 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    It seems to me that the attitude of people such as Lam is actually counter-productive to their presumed aims. There are undoubtedly ways in which people from certain ethnic backgrounds end up being disadvantaged in western societies (I hasten to add that I am not suggesting that discrimination and unfairness are in any way exclusively problems in the west, however). It is perfectly right to seek to overcome these inequalities and there is an honourable history of people such as Martin Luther King fighting to do that. But when Lam and his ilk complain about the dress worn by a high school student at her prom and similar inoffensive things they risk undermining that fight by trivialising it.

  34. Posted May 2, 2018 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    The point about all of these sorts of virtue signals is not to stop any sort of oppression–it’s to signal your awareness of the ways to climb the virtue ladder in your own tribe. Thus, the calling out of traitors (Stalin-style) is far more important than (say) stopping actual abuses of anything (which is hard work–actual abusers will just laugh in/punch your face–much better to pick on the terminally guilty-feeling).
    The audience for this sort of thing is one’s own team, and success comes at the expense of rivals on ones own team who have used the words deemed wrong by the equivalent of the Committee of General Security this week.
    We (on this blog) arent on that team (because we think they are insincere, which is true, illogical, which is also true, and idiots–which is probably not strictly true).
    We have other ways to signal our sterling qualities (such as logical argument, wide reading, respectful debate etc). And yes–our team’s signals are objectively better…
    That last remark isn’t snark by the way. It’s part of the job of a healthy society to channel human tribal instincts (and other less worthy things) into things of objective value. Its our failure to achieve this fully that results in the sort of garbage we see above about dresses.

  35. Posted May 2, 2018 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    [sigh]

    My biggest problem with my high school “grad dinner dance” (sort of prom-ish) was the ridiculous expectations of conformity. I tried to tell everyone that they had a choice: if they want me to be comfortable, stop telling me what to wear. If it is really supposed to be a fun time, why can’t I be comfortable? Unfortunately, even my parents and teachers (!) got involved and I was overridden. Still no tie, thankfully.

    (I have never worn a tie, and intend never to do so.)

    So someone doing their own thing!? Wonderful.

    • Diane Garlick
      Posted May 2, 2018 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

      Good for you!

  36. carpevita
    Posted May 3, 2018 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    From https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/02/world/asia/chinese-prom-dress.html :

    “It’s ridiculous to criticize this as cultural appropriation,” Zhou Yijun, a Hong Kong-based cultural commentator, said in a telephone interview. “From the perspective of a Chinese person, if a foreign woman wears a qipao and thinks she looks pretty, then why shouldn’t she wear it?”


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