Offensive Ask-Me April 11, 2006 6:39 PM   Subscribe

Maybe it's just my ameri-centric liberal oversensitivity and 'wheatish' skin-tone, but somehow I find this thread to be highly offensive.
posted by matkline to Etiquette/Policy at 6:39 PM (110 comments total)

This was much worse than the thread, frankly.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 6:44 PM on April 11, 2006


wow, this callout is actually bothering me in more than a "this is a waste of metatalk" way. you, sir, need to chill out.
posted by shmegegge at 6:48 PM on April 11, 2006


Too bad.
posted by 517 at 6:48 PM on April 11, 2006


You're fucking kidding us, right?
posted by IshmaelGraves at 6:51 PM on April 11, 2006


I'm not sure I see how the question is any different from someone saying, "My skin is very pale, I'd like to be bronzed and tan, how can I go about this?"
posted by Rubber Soul at 6:52 PM on April 11, 2006


I think it's just your ameri-centric liberal oversensitivity. I'm not sure what 'wheatish' means, but it might be that, too.
posted by brundlefly at 6:53 PM on April 11, 2006


When you say "highly offensive," what you mean is "intensely benign." I think.
posted by odinsdream at 6:56 PM on April 11, 2006


I think the underlying social forces are pretty cringeworthy, but if someone can ask about how to lose weight/get rid of pimples/learn to dress for success, I don't see much difference.
posted by arcticwoman at 6:59 PM on April 11, 2006


Metafilter: Separating the wheatish skin-tones from the chaff.
posted by furtive at 7:01 PM on April 11, 2006


"underlying social forces"

That's a pretty big assumption on your part.
posted by 517 at 7:04 PM on April 11, 2006


No, I cannot support your position for I support people going against the grain.
posted by boo_radley at 7:09 PM on April 11, 2006


This person likes their OWN skin when it looks lighter. So what! Lighten up, stop judging and reading in some kind of racism when you don't know jack shit about this person.

One person suggests sunblock, then goes on to say:

But usually your natural coloring is the one that looks best on you.

How does avoiding a tan NOT result in your "natural coloring?"

Get over it, folks.
posted by scarabic at 7:13 PM on April 11, 2006


Korea media is thick with advertisements for products aimed at women who wish to lighten their skin colour. (The situation is the same in China and other places.)

Historically, this is mostly a product of the recent climb out of widespread poverty. The clear mark of a poor person -- a peasant -- was a good healthy tan in times past (and usually is today), because a poor person was most likely a farmer, and a farmer spends most of their day out in the sun. So, even if they're not wealthy and uppercrust, or even middle class in Korea, people often want to look like you are. And marketers feed that idea like the opportunist scumfucks they are, of course, to sell more of their lotions and creams.

The amusing thing is that the reverse is often true in Canada or America or Europe, where a tan can indicate that you have leisure time to spend lying on the beach. We've had more time with middle classes in existence, and farming does not immediately imply poverty, nor does being poor necessarily invite disdain.

The desire for lighter skin, and the idea that it is desirable, attractive and indicative of higher socioeconomic status in Korea is not entirely benign, of course. Darker-skinned Koreans are discriminated against with varying degrees of overtness, and non-caucasian foreigners are also, to a much greater and unapologetic extent.

I explain this not to excuse it, but to clarify what it's about, or at least my take on it.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:26 PM on April 11, 2006


read gyan's comment - the poster is apparently from india...

...and the idea that another culture is being called out because it doesn't meet american standards of cultural diversity just made baby jesus cry (and fyi baby jesus here in chile is white as the driven snow).

on preview - that is also very true of s america. i am "cuico" (posh) here because i'm white.
posted by andrew cooke at 7:28 PM on April 11, 2006


There's more to the picture, of course, by the way. That was just a very quick rundown. But being offended by the question is an inappropriate response, I'd say.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:28 PM on April 11, 2006


People are entitled to whatever skin tone they prefer. God damn, people -- you get offended by people's preferences when it comes to their own skin?

What do you think about colored contacts?
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:37 PM on April 11, 2006


Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 7:38 PM on April 11, 2006


What do you think about colored contacts?

Whoa there, General Forrest: we call them African American contacts in the 21st century.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 7:48 PM on April 11, 2006


monju_bosatsu wrote...
[broken link] was much worse than the thread, frankly.

Dang it, another comment deleted before I had a chance to get properly offended by it.

As far as this callout is concerned -- what other folks said, this is exactly the same thing as asking for help on your tan in the U.S.
posted by tkolar at 7:48 PM on April 11, 2006


This callout is RETARDED developmentally disabled. How's that for highly offensive?

I have now seen everything. The internets are complete, and the End is nigh.
posted by exlotuseater at 8:11 PM on April 11, 2006


I find this thread to be highly offensive.

Gee whilikers, then don't read it.
posted by marxchivist at 8:12 PM on April 11, 2006


As a pasty-pale white nerdboy who just happens to fry like bacon in even the most diffuse, reflected winter sunlight, I find it offensive that those with higher concentrations of beneficial and protective melanin would even remotely care to emulate my weak, nerdy ass.
posted by loquacious at 8:20 PM on April 11, 2006


Lighten up -- scarabic

Best comment so far.
posted by knave at 8:25 PM on April 11, 2006


personal pet peeve: Americans calling darker skinned people that aren't american "African Americans", especially if they don't even have african ancestry. Oh, and are white people from South Africa that become americans also African Americans? Stupid labels.
posted by blue_beetle at 8:38 PM on April 11, 2006


and what about us blue people?
posted by blue_beetle at 8:38 PM on April 11, 2006


Please don't blame your oversensitiveness on your ameri-centric liberalism because that implies an ameri-centric liberal like myself would be worthy of the condemnation you are.
posted by Falconetti at 8:42 PM on April 11, 2006


I explain this not to excuse it, but to clarify what it's about, or at least my take on it.

I know just what you mean. A professor of mine called this "describing something, not explaining it."

'Explaining' implies that you're showing how it makes sense, and if you're not signing up for that, then 'describing' is a little more distanced, safer.

Anyway, I get your point. Just sharing that bit of vocabulary logic.
posted by scarabic at 8:48 PM on April 11, 2006


People are entitled to whatever skin tone they prefer. God damn, people -- you get offended by people's preferences when it comes to their own skin?

While it may not be any of [collective] our businesses to comment upon a certain poster's need to lighten their skin, when I first saw the Indian products advertised (a friend of ours gets Indian television through satellite), I was shocked, disgusted, and amused all at once.

There is a worldwide taint upon darker skinned individuals (myself included) and if someone in my presence asked how to become lighter, I'd be mighty pissed. But, seeing as how it's none of my business, I'd also keep my mouth shut.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 8:53 PM on April 11, 2006


SeizeTheDay wrote
There is a worldwide taint upon darker skinned individuals

Definitely. In Europe and the U.S. there is a lesser taint upon the pale and pasty, with a good tan being highly prized.

I was shocked, disgusted, and puzzled the first time I had an Indian acquaintance complain that she wished her skin was paler, when her natural tone would be the envy of every beach bunny in L.A. I was frankly incredulous when she explained that there was a huge array of cosmetic products that proported to be of help.

The human pursuit of beauty is truly a bizarre spectacle.
posted by tkolar at 9:02 PM on April 11, 2006


In Europe and the U.S. there is a lesser taint upon the pale and pasty

Hey, pal, I am pasty and pale. Not only is my taint is no lesser or greater for it, it is perhaps just as dark as anyone's.
posted by scarabic at 9:08 PM on April 11, 2006


people, you've missed an incredible pun.
posted by boo_radley at 9:26 PM on April 11, 2006


Please, en-lighten us.
posted by vacapinta at 10:19 PM on April 11, 2006


Bringing this to the Grey in the first place was pretty ironic.
posted by scarabic at 10:38 PM on April 11, 2006


tee hee
posted by tellurian at 11:27 PM on April 11, 2006


Now that deserves a flag and a call-out.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:30 PM on April 11, 2006


What do you think about colored contacts?

If you've ever dated someone who wears them, you'll know they suck. Try to look in their eyes at close range and you'll see an artificial, pixellated film.
posted by Tlogmer at 11:48 PM on April 11, 2006


Oh, and are white people from South Africa that become americans also African Americans? Stupid labels.

Yeah, um, regarding that... there was recently (on mefi I think) a post or a comment that referenced some silly high school kids who nominated their (white) South African classmate as "African American Student of the Semester (or whatever)" and much um... tsk-tsking, etc, of The Powers That Be ensued, since although she was born in Africa of course, she wasn't quite what they had in mind when setting up the award program. Or something.

I'm sorry, it's too late for my Google-fu to be operable, but I'm sure someone will see this and find their life's purpose is newly refreshed with the mission to help you find the link.
posted by beth at 12:54 AM on April 12, 2006


Ici.
posted by Gator at 3:29 AM on April 12, 2006


This is the most ridiculous callout I've seen in ages, and matkline, if you have any class/guts you'll drop by to apologize/defend yourself.
posted by languagehat at 5:29 AM on April 12, 2006


I may regret the colourism that led this person to want to lighten his skin, but it is his skin and he can tan, powder, or paint it purple as he pleases.
posted by orange swan at 6:23 AM on April 12, 2006


What orange swan said. Only without the extra "u."

In Europe and the U.S. there is a lesser taint upon the pale and pasty, with a good tan being highly prized.

Not exactly. In the Europe and the U.S. looking like a white person with a tan is highly prized. But most people would still take pale over, say, even my cinnamony skin color (which I like very much).
posted by dame at 7:05 AM on April 12, 2006


Colourism is truly everywhere. Perhaps often it's largely just human dissatisfaction with one's lot?

It amazes me how often people take the liberty of commenting on my skin colour. I'm a blue-eyed red-head with the glow-in-the-dark white skin that inevitably accompanies that colouring, and everyone (white, black, and everything in between) seems to feel free to tell me to get a little more sun. Imagine the reaction if I were to tell a black person to get a little less sun.
posted by orange swan at 7:40 AM on April 12, 2006


C'mon, guys, what if he needs to pass for white?
posted by klangklangston at 7:41 AM on April 12, 2006


Orange swan, I'm pretty sure you still don't get the harassment a black person gets. So it isn't the same, however annoying people's comments may be.
posted by dame at 7:46 AM on April 12, 2006


There is a nuance that most of the comments in this thread are missing - which is that those who belong to cultures where there is a proportion of people who wish to lighten their skin - Asians, Africans, African-Americans or South Americans - see that as a symptom of a chronic and persistent inferiority complex within those cultures - caused, at least partially, by years of oppression and colonialism by white-skinned people (not criticisin', jus' sayin'). The difference between this person wanting to lighten his skin, and a fair Anglo-Saxon wanting a tan, is that NOT having a tan never caused YOU to not get a job, or to get worse service in a restaurant, or experience any of the other myriad ways in which the individuals in a culture can and do discriminate against those who are darker-skinned, and give preferential treatment towards people with lighter skins.

So, for those of us who belong to these cultures and wish them to do well on their own terms, this sort of post can be - not necessarily offensive, but certainly of concern. How will we create cultures and countries built on equality and meritocracy when the tendency is to defer to people because they happen to have a lighter skin? See the links in this post for a bit more context.
posted by rootz at 7:50 AM on April 12, 2006


Rootz, I think you're underestimating us if you think that nuance was missed.
posted by cortex at 7:57 AM on April 12, 2006


Certainly it doesn't apply to everyone - a few individuals, such as stavros, have pointed out the underlying tensions that makes a response like "it's their skin, deal" inappropriate. Others, however...
posted by rootz at 8:18 AM on April 12, 2006


How will we create cultures and countries built on equality and meritocracy

Here's a hint: do it in your own country, the world doesn't need to tow your line, however glorious and liberating that line may be.
posted by Meatbomb at 8:26 AM on April 12, 2006


That's the thing: "it's their skin, deal" is not rendered inappropriate merely because there are underlying tensions. To suggest that the bulk of folks who have not made those tensions the thesis of their comments simply don't grasp that such tensions exist is insulting.
posted by cortex at 8:26 AM on April 12, 2006


toe your line, Meatbomb.
posted by cortex at 8:26 AM on April 12, 2006


Tow the line:


posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:29 AM on April 12, 2006


I get it the underlying tension. Is till don't think it is apporpriate to tell people that you are offended by their wishes for their own skin. If they have schemes for your skin, go ahead and complain.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:30 AM on April 12, 2006


Sorry, that made me sound like a prick, let me rephrase:

"How will we create cultures and countries built on the love of Allah and submission to his divine will?"

I say "fuck off" to those people, too.
posted by Meatbomb at 8:30 AM on April 12, 2006


Maybe it's just my ameri-centric liberal oversensitivity and 'wheatish' skin-tone disrespect for self-appointed nannies, but somehow I find this thread callout to be highly offensive retarded.
posted by Gamblor at 9:00 AM on April 12, 2006


Take a deep breath, and I'll tell you something that will change your life.

EVERYTHING IS NOT ABOUT YOU.

You have issues about skin color. Well that's dandy. But this person is not asking how to lighten their skin to specifically make you uncomfortable. They're asking for reasons of their own.

Now apply this magic advice to whenever you feel the need to go, "I am outraged, yes outraged, that someone dare ask about ..." Because they won't be asking about your poodle or your apartment. Or your in-laws, or your sex-life, or whatever it is that someone is looking for help on.

It's just not about you.
posted by FunkyHelix at 9:02 AM on April 12, 2006


FunkyHelix, you've just boiled down the cause of most every problem in the world into one sentence.
posted by Gamblor at 9:06 AM on April 12, 2006


Well.

It's ok to be disturbed, concerned, etc. about this. In an abstract sense.

It's not ok to be personally outraged because someone is doing something to further their self-esteem that you wouldn't because you find the forces underlying that self-esteem-furtherance to be disgusting.

Eg. it's not ok to be personally outraged about people getting breast implants, even if you think that the Barbiezation of a person is caused by sickening social forces. It *is* ok to be outraged if someone else told you to get Barbieized.

We can all agree about this, yeah? What are we arguing about?
posted by Firas at 9:07 AM on April 12, 2006


FunkyHelix shouted...
EVERYTHING IS NOT ABOUT YOU.


"If there's anything more important than my ego around, I want it caught and shot now."
posted by tkolar at 9:08 AM on April 12, 2006


I have moments of coffee-fueled brilliance every once in a while.
posted by FunkyHelix at 9:08 AM on April 12, 2006


It's not all about you, dude.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:12 AM on April 12, 2006


Princeton:
Oh, Christ do I feel good.

Gary Coleman:
Now there was a fine upstanding black man!

Princeton:
Who?

Gary Coleman:
Jesus Christ.

Kate Monster:
But, Gary, Jesus was white.

Gary Coleman:
No, Jesus was black.

Kate Monster:
No, Jesus was white.

Gary Coleman:
No, I'm pretty sure that Jesus was black-

Princeton:
Guys, guys...Jesus was Jewish!

Brian:
Hey guys, what are you laughing about?

Gary Coleman:
Racism!

Brian:
Cool.

posted by darukaru at 9:12 AM on April 12, 2006


I guess the main problem with my criticism of this post was that I identify as African-American and black. So the real problem to me, to re-examine my question, is that while this question could be asked to the general 'wheatish' Indian population - asking it to a racially mixed population is different.
I think the main difference between tanning and bleaching is; white people who tan don't want to be black, darker people who bleach often want to be white (sometimes with tragic results ).
I don't want to turn this into a "you're don't have my experiences, so you'll never understand" kind of thing, but rootz was correct in that this is still an area of concern for many people. As an aside, I do think it's funny that had my username been jamalbrown I might have got away with my blackface picture post.
posted by matkline at 9:43 AM on April 12, 2006


It'd good to have context, matkline. Thanks for providing some background.

I still disagree with your callout. My objection is not that you are bothered by the question—you've made your reasoning plain—but that you elected to make your discomfort into a public condemnation of the question. You injected a strong personal position into a question that was, so far as I can tell, pretty neutral and innocent in its presentation.
posted by cortex at 10:06 AM on April 12, 2006


I wouldn't argue with you about race, I just thought the thread was more about skincare.

Similarly, if someone had a question about a weight-loss strategy, would you assume they were bowing to the patriarchal edict that all women must be big-titted twiggy-girlies? There are many reasons why someone might want to lose some weight - you don't want to assume their reason is so that they can cave to societal pressure and better toss The Man's salad just the way he likes.

Just to point it out, I see no indication that you recognize any possibility that your callout, itself, was judgmental and offensive.
posted by scarabic at 10:16 AM on April 12, 2006


It's no diffrent then wanting to change hair color.
posted by delmoi at 10:17 AM on April 12, 2006


I guess the main problem with my criticism of this post was that I identify as African-American and black. So the real problem to me, to re-examine my question, is that while this question could be asked to the general 'wheatish' Indian population - asking it to a racially mixed population is different.

I don't identify as anything in particular but I have darker skin. Either way, I still don't see the problem.
posted by delmoi at 10:20 AM on April 12, 2006


I guess the main problem with my criticism of this post was that I identify as African-American and black.

No, the real problem is that you projected your own feelings about race and color onto someone else's unrelated question, and then posted this ridiculous callout to draw attention to it.
posted by Gamblor at 10:23 AM on April 12, 2006


cortex - I didn't suggest that the commenters didn't grasp the nuance - only that the comments being made lack some context that I believe is important. If we understand that there is some background to this question, yet still disagree with matkline's callout, then surely we should mention the former as well as the latter? As you have done?
posted by rootz at 10:34 AM on April 12, 2006


What's crackin', crackers?
posted by Divine_Wino at 10:41 AM on April 12, 2006




Lookin' kinda wheaty...
posted by klangklangston at 10:44 AM on April 12, 2006


rootz: I wouldn't say that we surely should. We might, as individuals, and as a gestalt we probably will, but I don't think each commentor needs to be explicit about it, and that is because I presume implicitly that most folks here will have that sensibility.

If every comment in a metatalk thread addressed explicitly those possible nuances of bias and history and sociology that reflect upon the topic, I would just stop reading the grey altogether.
posted by cortex at 10:45 AM on April 12, 2006


i think the problem one could have with the thread is there was a general kind of "OH THEY'VE GOT A HANG UP OVER SKIN COLOR, THAT'S WHY HE'S ASKING" -- like, the question wasn't "explain to me why I want my skin to be lighter", it was "How can I make my skin color fairer", but several posters could not resist tackling the former.

This happens in *every* askme thread, because folks like to fancy themselves detectives. My guess is everyone's television is tuned to the endless parade of Law & Order reruns -- just like mind. Of course, in this case, it is kinda a weird question, to our american sensibilities. "how do I get a great tan" wouldn't have generated a similar response here; but maybe we can imagine the response on some asiatic mefi where a bunch of users would be all "HEY WHY DOES HE WANT TO DO THAT? OH I LOOKED IN HIS PROFILE AND I THINK HE'S FROM KANSAS. THEY HAVE A HANG UP ABOUT BEING PALE".*

anyways, I think we can just happily write this one up to mild internet culture shock and go party.



seriously, case closed. what are you still doing here?



* sorry to whoever actually used the words "hang up" -- i don't mean to single you out, but. uh, yeah.
posted by fishfucker at 11:00 AM on April 12, 2006


But most people would still take pale over, say, even my cinnamony skin color (which I like very much).

Frankly, I think cinnamony is just swell. Some of the most beautiful people I've ever seen have medium-brown or even darker skin. Melanin, the sexy polymer of indolequinone and dihydroxyindole carboxylic acid!

(Some of the other most beautiful people I've ever seen are pretty melanin-deprived, so don't get cocky.)
posted by kindall at 11:08 AM on April 12, 2006


Yeeeeaaah, OK. I still don't see it. The nuance, I mean, not your point, which I grasp, fully. Or sort of. Anyway. If the gestalt understands the nuance, but has decided that answering the question comes before raising concerns about the intent behind the question, then that's fine by me - the gestalt and I can shake hands.
posted by rootz at 11:13 AM on April 12, 2006


(Does it look to anyone else like Michael glued his fake nose on crooked?)
posted by ereshkigal45 at 11:15 AM on April 12, 2006


*sigh*

I didn't want to get into MeTa, but since fishfucker is dissecting my comment in that thread..

fishfucker : "i think the problem one could have with the thread is there was a general kind of 'OH THEY'VE GOT A HANG UP OVER SKIN COLOR, THAT'S WHY HE'S ASKING' "

If you read the first comment in that thread: "Complexion as far as color, or another aspect?" and then the OP's reply: "Complexion means color only, what else .. ?", then you'll realize what prompted my comment: "I see from his profile that inquisitive is Indian. In India, there's a hangup over skin color, with explicit advertising of cosmetic solutions to 'lighten up'. Seems to me to be a colonial hangover. So when an Indian uses 'complexion', they (almost always) mean skin tone.". The hangup part is commentary from personal experience (note: I am Indian and was born/brought up there) and not outsider "culture-shock" commentary. My comment was unhelpful to the OP himself, and should haven't been posted.
posted by Gyan at 11:46 AM on April 12, 2006


...answering the question comes before raising concerns about the intent behind the question...

That is, in fact, one of the fundamental guiding principles of AskMe, by my reckoning.
posted by cortex at 11:52 AM on April 12, 2006


damn it, gyan, i was just about to post something to the effect of saying "oh, i just noticed that post was by gyan, who probably didn't mean any offense by it". too late, i guess.

sorry.
posted by fishfucker at 11:55 AM on April 12, 2006


I am Indian and was born/brought up there

His profile just says his name is Rajesh. It doesn't say he's in India. He could be from Trinidad or Kenya or he could be a fourth generation American living in Milwaukee. Who knows?

I realize that you were probably just trying to clarify why inquisitive might be asking that question, but making a bunch of assumptions about his hangups and his purposes based on your own preconceptions is the same thing matkline did (although, in your defense, you didn't feel the need to post a callout about it).
posted by Gamblor at 12:10 PM on April 12, 2006


Crackers are made of wheat.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:13 PM on April 12, 2006 [1 favorite]


Yes, I know. I was trying to have the last word in an inclusive sort of way. Never mind - the point that there's something else behind this objection has been made, even if the community decides not to discuss or accept it in these particular circumstance. Which, I hasten to add, in this particular circumstance, is just fine.
posted by rootz at 1:09 PM on April 12, 2006


Indeed. Let's go over to rollbiz's house and have a beer.
posted by cortex at 1:12 PM on April 12, 2006


Beer is made of wheat. Well, wheat beer is made of wheat.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:22 PM on April 12, 2006


tow the lion, mortar forkers.
posted by quonsar at 1:23 PM on April 12, 2006


I guess the main problem with my criticism of this post was that I identify as African-American and black.

Fair enough, but as others have said, I think one of the real problems is that you're misplacing your outrage. It's one thing to believe that the person's feelings stem from a racist indoctrination in her culture, but not to claim wrongdoing on her part for having asked the question in the first place.

I do think it's funny that had my username been jamalbrown I might have got away with my blackface picture post.

I highly doubt that.
posted by shmegegge at 1:46 PM on April 12, 2006


Did somebody say Wheaty complexion? (see also)
posted by Pollomacho at 1:51 PM on April 12, 2006


I don't think many of the people commenting here took the time to follow the links provided in the thread.
posted by matkline at 2:21 PM on April 12, 2006


if you're referring to me, then I did take the time. if you're not referring to me... never mind.
posted by shmegegge at 2:34 PM on April 12, 2006


I read them, thanks.
posted by Pollomacho at 2:50 PM on April 12, 2006


Gamblor : "His profile just says his name is Rajesh."

Which is an Indian name, and his first AskMe (in which I participated) was about an Indian cricket game.

"but making a bunch of assumptions about his hangups and his purposes based on your own preconceptions"

I never did that. Read my comment again.
posted by Gyan at 2:54 PM on April 12, 2006


+ very few people elsewhere use the word "wheatish"
posted by matkline at 2:58 PM on April 12, 2006


Some here are ignoring or forgetting the fact that inquisitive did more than simply ask how to change his skin color. He flat-out equated "lighten" with "improve"; no assumption is required on the reader's part, it's right there in the post. Now I don't believe the question shouldn't have been asked, nor do I feel a callout was necessary. Obviously, inquisitive can do whatever he wishes with his own skin. But as a wheatish person, I had a negative emotional response to his assertion that Whiter = Better, and I don't see why that's so crazy, offensive, or hard to understand. In my eyes, inquisitive's question was less like "How can I get a great tan?" and more like "I want to improve my hair. How can I make it less kinky?" or "I want to improve my figure. How can I make my breasts bigger?" -- acceptable questions with possibly uncomfortable undertones.

But with that said, I agree with shmegegge: "It's one thing to believe that the person's feelings stem from a racist indoctrination in her culture, but not to claim wrongdoing on her part for having asked the question in the first place."
posted by purplemonkie at 3:56 PM on April 12, 2006 [1 favorite]


Some here are ignoring or forgetting the fact that inquisitive did more than simply ask how to change his skin color. He flat-out equated "lighten" with "improve"; no assumption is required on the reader's part, it's right there in the post.

Or, possibly, some here are, while neither ignoring nor forgetting it, merely not crediting that observation about inquisitive's personal values as meriting a public complaint about the question.
posted by cortex at 4:01 PM on April 12, 2006


Or, possibly, some here are, while neither ignoring nor forgetting it, merely not crediting that observation about inquisitive's personal values as meriting a public complaint about the question.

How does my statement contradict this? If you'll notice, I said the callout was unnecessary. I'm referring to comments implying matkline is offensive, out of his mind, making assumptions, etc., as well as ones along the lines of "How is this any different from asking how to get a tan?", not those merely pointing out that the AskMe question didn't warrant a MeTa post.
posted by purplemonkie at 4:29 PM on April 12, 2006


That's the essential problem with unreferenced "some here" statements, wot? It puts the reader in the position of assuming which comments you do and don't have under your umbrella of disapproval. I think it's much clearer, and hence both more effective and more fair to the commentors present, to respond to actual qoutes.

I didn't mean to be as snarky as I seem to have been, so I apologize if my previous comment came off as a rebuke. I don't much like "some [explicitly un-named and un-numbered] people here [disparaging characterization]" statements, and I reacted to that.
posted by cortex at 4:41 PM on April 12, 2006


(And to be clear, your statement contradicts my opposing statement anywhere that our two unspecific groupings of people overlap.)
posted by cortex at 4:43 PM on April 12, 2006


SOME cortexes are making a lot of sense.
posted by shmegegge at 5:22 PM on April 12, 2006


Aw, quit yer fuckin' whining, you wheat-faced bastards.
posted by graventy at 8:41 PM on April 12, 2006


"this sort of post can be - not necessarily offensive, but certainly of concern."

The phrase you're looking for is "an opportunity to patronize".
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:21 PM on April 12, 2006


cortex, I understand what you're saying, but I really don't think my post was all that incomprehensible.

Wheat-faced bastard, signing out.
posted by purplemonkie at 10:09 PM on April 12, 2006


It wasn't incomprehensible. Your assertion was plain; it was your target that was unclear. A gross analogy: pointing into a crowd and shouting "you fuckers!" The crowd is left wondering just who you meant, exactly, and folks you didn't even have in mind my be a bit put out regardless.
posted by cortex at 6:30 AM on April 13, 2006


Oh, cut a sister some slack. I was not, perhaps, as specific as I should have been, but neither was I (analagously or otherwise) yelling random epithets into a crowd. My statement was directed toward posters who were "forgetting or ignoring the fact that inquisitive ... flat-out equated 'lighten' with 'improve'" -- in other words, those accusing matkline of merely assuming the question to be based in colorism due to his own hangups. If you weren't doing that, I wasn't talking about you. Jeez.

(And anyway, you all are fuckers. So there!)
posted by purplemonkie at 6:59 AM on April 13, 2006


My statement was directed toward posters who were "forgetting or ignoring the fact that inquisitive ... flat-out equated 'lighten' with 'improve'"

oh, they didn't forget or ignore this -- they just challenged SOME people's moral authority to pass judgement on whether this was a good or bad thing. IE, whether someone is justified in deciding that this is a defect -- a hang-up, if you will.

especially when we start qualifying some things as "hang-ups" ("my boobs are too small", "my hair is too kinky"), and others as "normal concerns" ("i'm too pale") based on, well, I don't know what, exactly -- but I'm picturing some sort of massive monolith sitting out in space handing down edicts.

either that or like, mayor mccheese.
posted by fishfucker at 10:32 AM on April 13, 2006


oh, they didn't forget or ignore this -- they just challenged SOME people's moral authority to pass judgement on whether this was a good or bad thing.

OK, fair enough. I personally do think the inherent valuation of light over dark skin is a "bad thing," and if anyone feels differently or thinks that makes me judgmental or whatever, I'm fine with that. Perhaps I am simply too wheaty to be impartial here.

especially when we start qualifying some things as "hang-ups" ("my boobs are too small", "my hair is too kinky"), and others as "normal concerns" ("i'm too pale")

I never did this, if that's what you're implying. Please reread my comment. I was attempting to make a distinction between questions which explicitly state a value judgment (e.g. "I want to improve my complexion. How can I make my skin less pale?" and those which do not (e.g. "How can I get a tan?"). Nowhere did I say it's normal to think oneself too pale but abnormal to think oneself too small-breasted. Apparently I'm having a difficult time expressing myself today, but I have faith that someone, somewhere, understands what I'm talking about. And Mayor McCheese? Speak no more of that bun-headed monstrosity.
posted by purplemonkie at 12:15 PM on April 13, 2006


I guess I see no practical distinction between these two cosmetic questions:

(1) "I want to improve my complexion. How can I change my skin tone?"

(2) "How can I change my skin tone?"

I think I understand your point—that the valuation of light-over-dark skin tone made explicit in (1) can be related to some ugly/weird/discomforting socio-historical context, and so asking how to accomplish the change raises the spectre of said context—but it's a bit of a stretch to suggest that the very same spectre isn't raised in (2): by implication, the person asking finds the change a desirable thing to achieve.

And so if it's a problem when folks ask things like (1), it should be just as much a problem when folks ask things like (2)—and things would go right to hell if we went there.

The fact is, people as individuals have a set of aesthetic values (which no doubt change considerably over time for even the individual), and where those preferences and dislikes &c lead them to want to change their own appearance without harming those around them, it's not really our business as third-party observers to start announcing how squicked out we are.

And I'm sitting here arguing this particular question as a pasty white guy who doesn't really get out of the US much, so I understand that I have very little first-person investment in the argument; I couldn't get much paler, I don't much like tanning, I don't have any friends white or otherwise who seem concerned about their skin color, and so in general it never comes up. So I can understand that I'm arguing the specific complexion issue from a more academic and less emotional perspective.

And that bun-headed monstrosity is my father!

*stomps out*

posted by cortex at 12:48 PM on April 13, 2006


cortex, it sounds like you do get the gist of what I'm saying and I'm grateful for that, because I was starting to feel like I'm speaking Martian here. Not that I'm making a value judgment about Mars or anything. It's a fine planet.

...it's a bit of a stretch to suggest that the very same spectre isn't raised in (2): by implication, the person asking finds the change a desirable thing to achieve.

I hear you, but I don't think it's that much of a stretch. I have curly hair -- some might say "kinky" -- which I wear straight on occasion. When I do so, it's not because I think straight is inherently better or more desirable than curly; I like different things about both textures, and sometimes I'm just in the mood for one over the other. When someone comes up to me and says, "Wow, your hair looks so much better straight... how did you do it?", I'm a little put out, what with all the historical baggage regarding black women's hair in the US and all that. But without the value judgment, it feels completely different and I'll happily supply a ten-minute tirade on balms and flatirons. I do acknowledge that this is an emotional response on my part, since the questions are indeed empirically similar.

The fact is, people as individuals have a set of aesthetic values (which no doubt change considerably over time for even the individual), and where those preferences and dislikes &c lead them to want to change their own appearance without harming those around them, it's not really our business as third-party observers to start announcing how squicked out we are.

I agree wholeheartedly, which is why my initial reaction to the AskMe thread was to roll my eyes a little and move on. I only piped up in here because I thought matkline, ill-advised though his callout may have been, was getting a bit of a raw deal with the "how dare you assume blah blah blah"-type stuff SOME people were posting, and they KNOW who they ARE!!!1!!1! (that was a joke)

Oh, and no offense meant toward your pops, man.

posted by purplemonkie at 2:26 PM on April 13, 2006


I believe we are officially in high-five territory, purplemonkie. Thanks for the quality back-and-forth.

And don't worry about it. He's been a complete prick ever since he got the Mayorship, anyway.
posted by cortex at 3:22 PM on April 13, 2006


highfive!
posted by purplemonkie at 5:28 PM on April 13, 2006


Orange swan, I'm pretty sure you still don't get the harassment a black person gets. So it isn't the same, however annoying people's comments may be.

Please note that I used the word "colourism", not the word "rascism".
posted by orange swan at 7:32 AM on May 1, 2006


I didn't use the word "racism", either.
posted by orange swan at 7:33 AM on May 1, 2006


« Older Las Vegas Meetup   |   Dear mathowie, your plans? Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments