Cultural Appropriation Is Not Really About What You're Wearing

Cultural Appropriation Is Not Really About What You're Wearing

Maybe reconsider wearing that qipao to your prom.
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Cultural appropriation is one of the hottest new buzzwords. But, is it just that—a buzzword? It seems like celebrities and civilians alike get vilified if they so much as think about wearing a saree. I do not think it is fair to claim every single thing is a form of cultural appropriation. However, I also do not think it is fair to claim cultural appropriation does not exist or is not harmful.

Saying cultural appropriation does not exist reinforces the long-held practice of dismissing the voice of the minority in society. This is because cultural appropriation involves a distinct power dynamic. It is when the dominant group in a society takes symbols, such as hair, clothing, and accessories, from the minority, often historically oppressed groups. This is most harmful when the culturally dominant group does not acknowledge where these symbols originated from and capitalize on them.

One heavily referenced example is Kim Kardashian and her braids. It is not the fact that the Kardashians are wearing braids that makes people mad. It is the fact that it is acceptable on a white woman’s body and shamed on a woman of color’s body. It is the fact that they have been rebranded and called something they are not, denying its cultural origin.

See also: Let's Agree On One Thing: Cultural Appreciation Is Not Cultural Appropriation

Let’s say you wear a qipao to your prom or a Native American dress to a Halloween party. You just think they're pretty, but you have a vague idea of where these articles of clothing originated from. Is this not cultural appreciation? The context of the situation creates a fundamental problem. It appears as if you are reducing someone’s culture to a costume. This culture is exotic and other.

Another example of this power imbalance is when cultural symbols become fashionable for the dominant culture but are physically harmful to the minority culture from which they originated. For instance, as of late, bindis have become very trendy for girls to wear at Coachella or in music videos (where artists capitalize on the minority culture). However, some South Asian women were specifically targeted by a gang called dotbusters while donning bindis, specifically because of their culture.

It may just be a hairstyle, clothing, or accessory to you, but it may mean more than that to someone else.

Feel free to wear what you please because cultural appropriation is not really about what you are wearing. It is about the fact that people who actually wear their own cultural symbols are treated in dramatically different and negative ways than a cultural outsider. So maybe reconsider wearing that qipao to your prom.

Cover Image Credit: YouTube

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I'm The Girl Who'd Rather Raise A Family Than A Feminist Protest Sign

You raise your protest picket signs and I’ll raise my white picket fence.
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Social Media feeds are constantly filled with quotes on women's rights, protests with mobs of women, and an array of cleverly worded picket signs.

Good for them, standing up for their beliefs and opinions. Will I be joining my tight-knit family of the same gender?

Nope, no thank you.

Don't get me wrong, I am not going to be oblivious to my history and the advancements that women have fought to achieve. I am aware that the strides made by many women before me have provided us with voting rights, a voice, equality, and equal pay in the workforce.

SEE ALSO: To The Girl Who Would Rather Raise A Family Than A Feminist Protest Sign

For that, I am deeply thankful. But at this day in age, I know more female managers in the workforce than male. I know more women in business than men. I know more female students in STEM programs than male students. So what’s with all the hype? We are girl bosses, we can run the world, we don’t need to fight the system anymore.

Please stop.

Because it is insulting to the rest of us girls who are okay with being homemakers, wives, or stay-at-home moms. It's dividing our sisterhood, and it needs to stop.

All these protests and strong statements make us feel like now we HAVE to obtain a power position in our career. It's our rightful duty to our sisters. And if we do not, we are a disappointment to the gender and it makes us look weak.

Weak to the point where I feel ashamed to say to a friend “I want to be a stay at home mom someday.” Then have them look at me like I must have been brain-washed by a man because that can be the only explanation. I'm tired of feeling belittled for being a traditionalist.

Why?

Because why should I feel bad for wanting to create a comfortable home for my future family, cooking for my husband, being a soccer mom, keeping my house tidy? Because honestly, I cannot wait.

I will have no problem taking my future husband’s last name, and following his lead.

The Bible appoints men to be the head of a family, and for wives to submit to their husbands. (This can be interpreted in so many ways, so don't get your panties in a bunch at the word “submit”). God specifically made women to be gentle and caring, and we should not be afraid to embrace that. God created men to be leaders with the strength to carry the weight of a family.

However, in no way does this mean that the roles cannot be flipped. If you want to take on the responsibility, by all means, you go girl. But for me personally? I'm sensitive, I cry during horror movies, I'm afraid of basements and dark rooms. I, in no way, am strong enough to take on the tasks that men have been appointed to. And I'm okay with that.

So please, let me look forward to baking cookies for bake sales and driving a mom car.

And I'll support you in your endeavors and climb to the top of the corporate ladder. It doesn't matter what side you are on as long as we support each other, because we all need some girl power.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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How Theresa May’s Brexit Deal Impacts Northern Ireland’s Relations With The UK, EU, & Its Irish Neighbors

Northern Ireland's Isolation has added much trepidation to Brexit Negotiations

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This week, British Prime Minister Theresa May announced the Withdrawal Agreement, a plan outlining the United Kingdom's legal departure from the European Union (i.e. the process of Brexit). However, aside from extremely controversial provisions, such as the terms of post-Brexit transition period between the UK and the EU, which has led to multiple members of May's cabinet resigning in protest, there is specifically one point of contention which may threaten the very territorial harmony of the UK.

This concerns the relations that the UK's Northern Ireland has with its southwestern neighbor, the Republic of Ireland. Since Republic of Ireland is planning to remain in the EU, if Northern Ireland leaves the EU along with the rest of the UK, it may be forced to implement a "hard border" with its neighbor due to its now different, non-EU, commercial and customs policies.

In order to avoid a large division on the Irish island, which could impel Irish nationalists to resume attacks similar to those of The Troubles period (where hundreds were killed by terrorist attacks carried out by nationalists seeking to unite the whole of the island under Irish rule during much of the latter half of the 20th century), Prime Minister May has decreed that Northern Ireland "will continue to abide by all of the EU's trading rules." However, this will only lead to a new set of pressing concerns for the political parties of Northern Ireland, as they, especially the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), are now openly opposing May's Brexit agreement because they do not want abide by the "customs backstop" and be in "EU customs territory" since this would lead to the economic isolation of Northern Ireland from the rest of the post-Brexit UK. In order to win back the support of the DUP and, by extension, a vital parliamentary voting bloc needed to pass the Withdrawal Agreement, Theresa May must find a way to ensure the UK citizens of Northern of their long-term economic security.

In order to understand how the political actors of Northern Ireland can be convinced that the Withdrawal Agreement upholds their interests, the implications of the customs backstop must first be considered. If the UK leaves the EU, it could very well slap tariffs on commerce with polities still involved in the EU.

Since Northern Ireland would continue to have EU commerce policies, a "tariff and regulatory border" would severely harm many businesses in Northern Ireland that conduct commerce with other UK territories, since about Northern Ireland currently exports around £15 billion worth of goods to the rest of the UK, which amounts to nearly 20% of all Northern Irish exports. The economic risk is so great that some unionists (people in favor of Northern Ireland being as big a part of the UK as possible) believe that this customs problem could "jettison Northern Ireland as an equal partner for the sake of greater freedom for Great Britain." In other words, the economic well being of many in Northern Ireland could be sacrificed in order to create a satisfying Brexit deal for the rest of the UK, an agreement that Northern Ireland's politicians are naturally outraged about.

Despite such setbacks, May's government is making some strides towards securing the necessary support needed to pass the Withdrawal Agreement, customs backstop and all. After conducting Theresa May personally met with Northern Irish business organizations at Downing Street, some of them, such as the Confederacy of British Industry (CBI), have chosen to throw their support behind May's Brexit deal, largely in order to avoid the prospect of a Brexit without any concrete agreement, which could make it difficult for Northern Irish businesses to obtain substantive investment from both the EU and the UK.

While May's current attempts to "provide the reassurance that I know is so important to [businesses]" seems scant, it appears to be having an impact. The Ulster Farmers' Union, another prominent Northern Irish business group, directly urged the DUP to reverse its current sentiments and back May's deal. Protests from businesses and their organizations may put political pressure on the DUP in their own regional political stronghold and make them more likely to support the withdrawal agreement. However, the situation remains ugly, as the DUP is "critical of business organisations" that support May's Brexit Deal. There is currently no vote scheduled for the Withdrawal agreement, so much remains to be seen as to whether or not Northern Ireland will fare well in the ongoing Brexit international crisis.

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