Thursday, March 20, 2014

Appropriation and Breaking Stereotypes

This article from Autostraddle really hit on so many things that had always vaguely bothered me, but I had never taken the time to think about. It focuses on how white culture - hippie and wealthy alike - takes forms of money saving from immigrant and other communities and rebrands them as trendy eco-consciousness. As one of the commenters mentioned, this sort of tradition gentrification not only alienates members of those communities from their own histories, but also drives up the price on some products that makes it inaccessible to the people who needed it most. This article just perfectly exemplifies the weird little twinge I get when I hear someone talking about their ginseng pills or how they drink oolong because Chinese people are so thin.

The exotification and monetization of oppressed cultures seems to be something that America is particularly good at. Right now, the fact that my thesis is still swimming around in my head is definitely coloring my thoughts, but I see it with how lesbian and bisexual women have been sexualized in porn for heterosexual men, and even how gay men have been commodified as sassy arm candy for fashionable straight women. The backlash I run into frequently when talking about this issue is that these images promote LGB visibility, which in turn promotes acceptance. I am not so sure - I think these appropriations promote a story that may certainly be true in some contexts but ultimately creates expectations and a system, which tells LGB folk: you will only be loved, accepted, and welcomed here if you are like this story. It's very ironic what our appropriative culture does sometimes. Even if by coming out you've broken the assumption of heterosexuality, you still have to break assumptions of your homosexuality as well.

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