I haven’t had one of my Official Controversial Opinion pieces for a long time, and this rainy/sunny/sleety/windy/snowy/cloudy Wednesday seems like the perfect time to come up with something for the rest of the world to deal with. I have been really, really ill for two or three days now and I may or may not be slightly feverish while writing this. I hope I can look at this post in a couple of days and still agree with my distorted views at least to some extent.
A concept that has finally found itself on my radar recently is cultural appropriation. Seems like everybody’s talking about it these days and there’s always some celebrity doing something culturally insensitive for hoi polloi to criticise. Now, my main man Wikipedia is telling me that cultural appropriation is the adoption or use of elements of one culture by members of another, different culture. My gut reaction was to dismiss this issue as yet another example of people inventing things to whine about, but on second though, I see the point. I understand. I don’t belong to any minority group so I don’t have first-hand experience of what it’s like to be culturally appropriated, apart from the (often quite mean) stereotyping of Italians. So I suppose I speak from what these people nowadays would call a “privileged” position.
That’s to say, I don’t know. Maybe cultural appropriation really hurts. I can see it as being a form of ridicule at worst, and that’s never ok. If this is the experience of people who consider themselves culturally appropriated, I understand and respect that and would not want to treat anyone in such a way or endorse that kind of treatment. Different cultures are valuable and beautiful, and if anyone is made to feel subhuman or undignified because they belong to a particular culture, that is completely unacceptable.
So this is not a piece in favour of cultural appropriation. Instead, it’s one of those petty “I just think it’s funny how…” pieces that I seem to be so fond of.
With all its obsession and hysteria on political correctness, and a phobia of intolerance, modern society has inadvertently made it ridiculously easy to get away with anything. It just hasn’t caught up with it, and it never will, because the implications of its own system would be disastrous. This insanity that is self-identification has made it possible to excuse (almost) any sort of behaviour and lifestyle. It started with gender and transsexualism (which, by the way, I would be interested to know why you never hear being termed gender appropriation). Biology doesn’t matter: whatever you subjectively consider yourself to be, that is what you are, and the best part is that because this only works subjectively, ain’t nobody got the authority to tell you otherwise. And now we have grown men leading the lives of seven-year-old girls, grown women channeling their inner cats, white people pretending to be black (looking at Rachel Dolezal here in particular)… In effect, people being who and what they, objectively speaking, are not. Heck, I don’t know how identity theft can still consistently be considered illegal.
Think that sounds insensitive? I haven’t finished yet. The outrage at cultural appropriation makes absolutely zero sense in this context. Not only because I am apparently free to self-identify as a Japanese man or a Zambian dog should I so wish. It’s much worse than that. What on earth is stopping me from self-identifying as a bigot? And more importantly, what are you gonna do about it? You might pull one of those “it’s wrong if it hurts other people” cards. I’ll pull it right back at you, because your comment is hurtful and insensitive. If I was feeling more helpful (or less helpful, you tell me), I might point out that that is a completely arbitrary line to draw. My actions shouldn’t be hurting other people? Sez who? Because the chemical activity going on in my brain sure as anything isn’t telling me that. I’m trying out this new thing where I listen to myself and identify accordingly.
A disclaimer which I unfortunately deem necessary: I do not self-identify as a bigot. I’m #JustSaying