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Offline Smurfette Principle

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Tumblr: Ask Me Anything
« on: November 15, 2012, 10:06:47 pm »
Because I don't feel like wading through literal craploads of obvious Poe posts that are being heralded as "SJWs are so stupid" posts and because I think people don't really understand what goes down on Tumblr.

I run two blogs there, a sex positivity blog and a personal one, the former having +2000 followers and the latter being a mix of intersectional feminism, fandom, and random shit. I can answer questions on pretty much anything Tumblr-community-related, or you can just post screenshots and be all like, "IS THIS A POE?" or whatever.
« Last Edit: November 15, 2012, 10:37:31 pm by Smurfette Principle »

Offline Osama bin Bambi

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Re: Tumblr: Ask Me Anything
« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2012, 10:09:05 pm »
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Offline Hades

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Re: Tumblr: Ask Me Anything
« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2012, 10:10:00 pm »
Dude.
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Offline Art Vandelay

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Re: Tumblr: Ask Me Anything
« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2012, 10:16:55 pm »
In all honesty, are ideas such as "it's impossible to be racist towards white people" and "doing anything any non-western culture does is bad because 'cultural appropriation'" the norm in social justice circles on Tumblr?

Also, how many of them use the phrase "check your privilege" unironically?
« Last Edit: November 15, 2012, 10:21:04 pm by Art Vandelay »

Offline Osama bin Bambi

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Re: Tumblr: Ask Me Anything
« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2012, 10:27:43 pm »
In all honesty, are ideas such as "it's impossible to be racist towards white people" and "doing anything any non-western culture does is bad because 'cultural appropriation'" the norm in social justice circles on Tumblr?

I know this is Smurfette's thread, but since I'm in what is considered tumblr's social justice circle, I think I can answer this.

The short answer is yes to the first one and no to the second one.

This is the long answer.

Social justice bloggers operate off of the definition that racism = power + prejudice. Racism is simply bigotry and prejudice with the overwhelming institutional power to back it up. This does mean that, in Western society,  only white people can be racist, but people of color can still be bigoted or prejudiced. In common usage, all these words mean the same thing, but in social justice circles, "racism" has different connotations.

There's a difference between simply one culture having something in common with another, and actively taking things important to one culture and devaluing them in another to enforce racist stereotypes. The problem with the vast majority of cultural appropriation is that it devalues a symbol important to a certain group (i.e., warbonnets for Native Americans) and turns it into a commodity. It also encourages stereotyping of that culture in the process and perpetuates racist stereotypes. For example, the warbonnets that hipsters wear encourage the stereotype that all Native American cultures are the same. Wearing "Chinese" or "Native American" Halloween costumes reinforces other people's stereotypes of what those groups are like. In the case of "Native American" Halloween costumes, they also (at least on women) have a strong tendency to sexualize, objectify, and exotify Native American women - a demographic group that is already especially prone to sexual violence.
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Offline RinellaWasHere

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Re: Tumblr: Ask Me Anything
« Reply #5 on: November 15, 2012, 10:33:17 pm »
In all honesty, are ideas such as "it's impossible to be racist towards white people" and "doing anything any non-western culture does is bad because 'cultural appropriation'" the norm in social justice circles on Tumblr?

I know this is Smurfette's thread, but since I'm in what is considered tumblr's social justice circle, I think I can answer this.

The short answer is yes to the first one and no to the second one.

This is the long answer.

Social justice bloggers operate off of the definition that racism = power + prejudice. Racism is simply bigotry and prejudice with the overwhelming institutional power to back it up. This does mean that, in Western society,  only white people can be racist, but people of color can still be bigoted or prejudiced. In common usage, all these words mean the same thing, but in social justice circles, "racism" has different connotations.

While I see the point, and that it's mostly semantics, that's still a bit of a shitty double-standard. Not intentionally, mind, but I see it used a lot as a way of saying that hating white people is totally acceptable.

The idea of social justice is sound, really. It's just the loud, insane, and often violently racist (non-SJ definition) and cis/heterophobic minority that give it a bad name.
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Offline Smurfette Principle

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Re: Tumblr: Ask Me Anything
« Reply #6 on: November 15, 2012, 10:35:31 pm »
In all honesty, are ideas such as "it's impossible to be racist towards white people" and "doing anything any non-western culture does is bad because 'cultural appropriation'" the norm in social justice circles on Tumblr?

The first one, yes. Most sources that I've seen define racism as being a societal structure rather than just bullying, and that it's firmly ingrained in things like media and stereotypes rather than simply acts of violence. The way I've seen it put is this: a black kid can beat up a white kid for being white. That's bullying. But there isn't a system telling him that it's OK to do that. A system where "flesh toned" means "white" and everyone on TV is white and people still think it's OK to wear blackface is skewed in favor of white people. It's very Western-world centered because almost everyone on Tumblr lives in the west, but hypothetically, if there were a place where the same sort of system applied to white people, then it would also be racism. It's not so much "you can't be racist against white people" as it is "you can't be racist against white people in America considering our current societal structure."

The second, no. Cultural appropriation is only used (outside of parody blogs) against people who take traditional clothing or customs from other cultures and "try them on" without understanding the gravity behind them. For example, a lot of people got upset at Lana del Ray for being in some sort of music video or whatever while wearing war paint and a headdress. She is using something that is very personal and spiritual to play dress up (which happens quite a lot). Same with white people who wear Muslim headscarves and talk about how difficult it was without realizing that actual Muslims can't take off their headscarves when they're done for the day and are always viewed with suspicion wherever they go. I've never seen things like "dressing as a cat is otherkin appropriation" or whatever.

Also, how many of them use the phrase "check your privilege" unironically?

The phrase was in vogue just before I joined Tumblr, and was well on the wane by the time I was more firmly entrenched in Tumblr politics. It's not really used so often because of fear of ridicule, but I have seen it. It's mostly a call to remind people that yes, they have some inherent benefits to being who they are. I "check my privilege" by snapping myself out of certain thought patterns, like (to use an example) being afraid of a group of black people who are not paying the slightest bit of attention to me. It's a reminder that you're exhibiting some form of bigotry.
« Last Edit: November 15, 2012, 10:38:22 pm by Smurfette Principle »

Offline Radiation

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Re: Tumblr: Ask Me Anything
« Reply #7 on: November 15, 2012, 10:40:07 pm »
I am moving this thread to Society as that forum was made to discuss things like social media and so forth. If it does get heated, it can be moved back to F&B.


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Offline Art Vandelay

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Re: Tumblr: Ask Me Anything
« Reply #8 on: November 15, 2012, 10:41:14 pm »
Social justice bloggers operate off of the definition that racism = power + prejudice. Racism is simply bigotry and prejudice with the overwhelming institutional power to back it up. This does mean that, in Western society,  only white people can be racist, but people of color can still be bigoted or prejudiced. In common usage, all these words mean the same thing, but in social justice circles, "racism" has different connotations.
Oh, I've heard that justification many-a time, and it never stops being a load of nonsense. Not to mention, even if that definition were accepted, it would not mean that racism is exclusive to white people, seeing as there are plenty of places in the world where some other, non-European ethnic group are the ones with the power.
There's a difference between simply one culture having something in common with another, and actively taking things important to one culture and devaluing them in another to enforce racist stereotypes. The problem with the vast majority of cultural appropriation is that it devalues a symbol important to a certain group (i.e., warbonnets for Native Americans) and turns it into a commodity. It also encourages stereotyping of that culture in the process and perpetuates racist stereotypes. For example, the warbonnets that hipsters wear encourage the stereotype that all Native American cultures are the same. Wearing "Chinese" or "Native American" Halloween costumes reinforces other people's stereotypes of what those groups are like. In the case of "Native American" Halloween costumes, they also (at least on women) have a strong tendency to sexualize, objectify, and exotify Native American women - a demographic group that is already especially prone to sexual violence.
I have to say, that argument seems to follow the same logic as "we need to ban violent movies/video games/TV shows because it encourages violence". Simply put, if someone's going to base their view of another culture around Halloween costumes and what hipsters wear, the fault does not lie with the Halloween costume and/or hipster (insufferable as these people may otherwise be).

Then of course there's the issue of whether or not culture itself is sacred. While there's certainly no objective answer to that particular question, it does follow that such subjective reasoning does not justify telling people what they can't wear.
The first one, yes. Most sources that I've seen define racism as being a societal structure rather than just bullying, and that it's firmly ingrained in things like media and stereotypes rather than simply acts of violence. The way I've seen it put is this: a black kid can beat up a white kid for being white. That's bullying. But there isn't a system telling him that it's OK to do that. A system where "flesh toned" means "white" and everyone on TV is white and people still think it's OK to wear blackface is skewed in favor of white people. It's very Western-world centered because almost everyone on Tumblr lives in the west, but hypothetically, if there were a place where the same sort of system applied to white people, then it would also be racism. It's not so much "you can't be racist against white people" as it is "you can't be racist against white people in America considering our current societal structure."
Yet you're pushing to re-define "racism" in such a way that heavily implies that minority-on-white violence is not as bad as white-on-minority.

Another thought; the stuff you describe as institutional "everyone on TV is white (obvious hyperbole aside for a moment)" is actually cultural, and not exclusively white either. By this logic, it would follow that any prevailing anti-white attitudes within black communities (and yes, they do very much exist) would qualify under your logic as "institutional" and as such any anti-white violence would indeed qualify as racism even by Tumblr definitions of the word.
« Last Edit: November 15, 2012, 10:55:22 pm by Art Vandelay »

Offline Smurfette Principle

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Re: Tumblr: Ask Me Anything
« Reply #9 on: November 15, 2012, 10:47:52 pm »
I have to say, that argument seems to follow the same logic as "we need to ban violent movies/video games/TV shows because it encourages violence". Simply put, if someone's going to base their view of another culture around Halloween costumes and what hipsters wear, the fault does not lie with the Halloween costume and/or hipster (insufferable as these people may otherwise be).

Growing up with my mother, who's really big into media criticism, no, really, the media makes things seem more acceptable to you.

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Then of course there's the issue of whether or not culture itself is sacred. While there's certainly no objective answer to that particular question, it does follow that such subjective reasoning does not justify telling people what they can't wear.

Nobody's banning it, and freedom of speech also doesn't mean freedom from criticism, and it's perfectly justified for Native American peoples to protest the use of their culture in this way.

Offline Witchyjoshy

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Re: Tumblr: Ask Me Anything
« Reply #10 on: November 15, 2012, 10:51:49 pm »
Social justice bloggers operate off of the definition that racism = power + prejudice. Racism is simply bigotry and prejudice with the overwhelming institutional power to back it up. This does mean that, in Western society,  only white people can be racist, but people of color can still be bigoted or prejudiced. In common usage, all these words mean the same thing, but in social justice circles, "racism" has different connotations.
Oh, I've heard that justification many-a time, and it never stops being a load of nonsense. Not to mention, even if that definition were accepted, it would not mean that racism is exclusive to white people, seeing as there are plenty of places in the world where some other, non-European ethnic group are the ones with the power.

Did you notice the qualifier "Western society"?

Because what you said is not in disagreement with what Wykked and Smurfette are saying (other than calling it nonsense).  You're right -- in another culture where another skin color is reigning high over another minority skin color, then it would be the minority skin color there that can't be racist.

It should be important to note that in these situations, they aren't necessarily using the same debate frame that we here use.  In the specific context of social movements and such, racism is systemic prejudice against skin color or origin.  Outside of this context, racism is simply prejudice for or against a group of people based on skin color.

It seems strange, but it's a phenomena that is hardly restricted to tumblr and other social justice movements.  It should not be used to say that it's okay to be prejudiced against a dominant skin color.  The fact that it is is a corruption and thus should only be laughed at and criticized.
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Offline Osama bin Bambi

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Re: Tumblr: Ask Me Anything
« Reply #11 on: November 15, 2012, 10:58:27 pm »
Think about it this way: If, in some alternate universe, the Aztec Empire has conquered most of the world's territory, causing the Aztecs become the dominant group in society and begin oppressing other races and creating a system of institutionalized racism that favored their own group, then in that society only Aztec people could be racist.

I totally acknowledge that, outside of Western society, there are places where it is a people of color who are racist. Japan, for instance, is very xenophobic. But that's because they hold the institutional power there.
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Offline Art Vandelay

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Re: Tumblr: Ask Me Anything
« Reply #12 on: November 15, 2012, 11:04:36 pm »
Growing up with my mother, who's really big into media criticism, no, really, the media makes things seem more acceptable to you.
Really, Cracked? Are you sure you want to go with that particular source?
Nobody's banning it, and freedom of speech also doesn't mean freedom from criticism, and it's perfectly justified for Native American peoples to protest the use of their culture in this way.
Of course it doesn't. However, correct me if I'm wrong, but the consensus is more "I disagree with this, therefore nobody should get to do it" rather than "I disagree with this, therefore I personally won't do it".
Because what you said is not in disagreement with what Wykked and Smurfette are saying (other than calling it nonsense).
That and it's also simply an arbitrary redefinition of a word. I thought that much was obvious, hence "nonsense".

Offline Osama bin Bambi

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Re: Tumblr: Ask Me Anything
« Reply #13 on: November 15, 2012, 11:08:43 pm »
If I disagree with it, there's nothing that I can do to force the other person to stop. Even if I could, I probably wouldn't. But I can inform them about why what they are doing is harmful, and hopefully they will be receptive and realize that it isn't a good thing to do.

There's nothing I can do to force people to stop wearing "Chinese" Halloween costumes, but if I see someone wearing one or contemplating wearing one, I can tell them why I think it's a wrong thing to do.

And the redefinition is not "arbitrary." It's an accepted definition in critical race theory.
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Offline Art Vandelay

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Re: Tumblr: Ask Me Anything
« Reply #14 on: November 15, 2012, 11:09:07 pm »
Think about it this way: If, in some alternate universe, the Aztec Empire has conquered most of the world's territory, causing the Aztecs become the dominant group in society and begin oppressing other races and creating a system of institutionalized racism that favored their own group, then in that society only Aztec people could be racist.
Except not. Racism is an ideal where your race is superior or more deserving of wealth and power than any others. That's what it actually means, no matter how hard Tumblr tries to redefine it. So yes, if in your scenario a non-Aztec decided that they hate all people of Aztec origin rather than the society they implemented, then yes, it's racism.