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  1. #11
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    This article... Where to begin... I think the author could potentially raise some interesting and valid points if she were not so obviously blinded by her own prejudice and were not so misinformed. One it seems to reflect very little knowledge of the Raqs Sharqi/belly dance scene and what actually motivates dancers regardless of their ethnic/cultural origins. The history/cultural information she quoted had some misinformation in it as well Not to mention assuming culture just based on skin color and body shape (i.e. the comment about the "skinny dancer"). But most worrying. She seems to think people inherit an ancestral right to participate in certain art forms. And that if you don't look like you have that right you should stay away. How crazy is that? By that logic, people would only engage in family trades/professions handed down through generations. People would not be free to pursue their passions, talents and interests. I am sure she doesn't mean that, but it is kind of what she is saying (if you apply her logic to anything other than "belly dance"). It sounds like a very segregationist viewpoint. All over the world, people from all cultures enjoy or participate in art or activities that have origins in cultures other than their own. Are non-Indians who practice yoga racist? What about jazz lovers who are not African American? Etc. I do think if one participates in an art form from another culture, that person should pay some respect to the root culture and try to learn all he/she can about the cultural context. But to say anyone who practices a tradition with roots outside their culture is racist whether they know it or not... That sounds very prejudiced to me. And a little ridiculous. Sadly their is racism, ageism, classism and all sorts of other ugly isms all around us, but the author of that article seems to be engaging in a few herself.

  2. #12
    Moderator Farasha Hanem's Avatar
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    *applauds responses*

    When I first read this article, I was pretty ticked off. After a few days, some thinking it over, and reading your responses, I feel rather sorry for her now. Those here who said she has some sort of emotional problems are spot on. I never thought that she might be feeling disconnected from her own culture. On top of that, someone on Facebook looked up her page and mentioned (in unflattering terms) that she has a weight problem. No wonder why she's suffering emotionally. However, it's still no excuse for all the racial jabs she makes in her article. If she wanted to, she could change her circumstances, find a way to reconnect with her culture, and take the opportunity to also connect with non-Arab dancers, if she would only overcome her negative views. I'm not so sure she WANTS to, however.
    Last edited by Farasha Hanem; 03-08-2014 at 07:37 AM.

  3. #13
    Member Kartane's Avatar
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  4. #14
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    From the article, she came off as jealous to me. She seemed jealous that people outside of her culture had a better connection with it than she does. The skinny comment also helped me come to this conclusion. She's just jealous that women who are skinnier than she is, who are not of her culture, have a stronger connection with her culture than she does.

    Sure some of the costumes are pretty bad, but humans are not at a point where we can expect everyone to have the exact same standards in all things. And yeah...sometimes it's just fun to dress up like a harem girl, or gypsy.

  5. #15
    Premium Member Aniseteph's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DancingArabian View Post
    ...sometimes it's just fun to dress up like a harem girl, or gypsy.
    It's not fun when people feel their culture is being misrepresented or that they are being made into a stereotype.

    I think this was one of the points she had in there somewhere that was very valid. Belly dance communities could stand a little consciousness-raising on orientalism IMO. If you (generic) are out there presenting something as ME belly dance in your idea of a belly dance costume that is actually some kind of harem girl stereotype or Eastern pick 'n' mix or Esmeralda dress up, expect people to be annoyed that you are playing fast and loose with an aspect of their culture.

    If you (generic) continue to do it anyway, it comes across as rubbing their noses in your privilege. That's a valid complaint, not jealous hating.

  6. #16
    Member Afrit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DancingArabian View Post
    And yeah...sometimes it's just fun to dress up like a harem girl, or gypsy.
    Right - and sometimes you just want to dress up like a black mammy with a headscarf - or one of those cute, skinny kike girls. But, you know, you really have to pick your gig - or someone might go all funny on you.

  7. #17
    Moderator Shanazel's Avatar
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    There are privileges and there are privileges. A fair complexion may keep me from being stereotyped as a terrorist but it lets me in for automatic assumption of racism, cultural appropriation, and that my path through my culturally bereft and clueless life is strewn with flowers and my journey taken in a gilt-trimmed limousine with a convertible top and a rose-colored windshield.

    Some persons with minority status expect the privilege of calling "whites" every name in the book, ignoring cultural differences, aiming unfounded accusations at individuals based on skin color alone, and going on hate-fueled rampages against other cultures while also expecting to be excused, understood, justified, and even defended for expressing views that would be called racist if expressed by someone of fair complexion.

    There is not a culture in the world that is free of racism. A bit more attention to the log in the eye of one's own culture is not amiss before taking on the motes in the eyes of others. Since I can't quite lodge this particle out of my own so-called (and often wrongly called) white culture's eyelash, I will forbore expounding on the cultural genocides perpetuated by Arab and Moslem and other so-called (and often wrongly called) dark-sinned cultures over the centuries.

    Frankly, if the worst things someone can worry about are dance and Halloween costumes of poor taste, that person needs a few new hobbies. I suggest rocking AIDS babies in hospital wards, supporting medical teams who take care to those living in the back of beyond, or coming up to South Dakota to help bury thousands of cattle that died in an unexpectedly horrific storm. Working with a few badly beaten spouses or speechless abused children will put all that angst over a full skirt, some jewelry, and theatrical dance done to violin music in its place.
    "Well, now that we have seen each other," said the unicorn " if you'll believe in me, I'll believe in you."

  8. #18
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    I didn't mean dress up like a harem girl or gypsy and perform on stage. I meant in cosplay. The stereotype harem girls and gypsies are not exclusively Bellydance related though I probably should have said so in my post.

  9. #19
    Member Roshanna's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DancingArabian View Post
    I didn't mean dress up like a harem girl or gypsy and perform on stage. I meant in cosplay. The stereotype harem girls and gypsies are not exclusively Bellydance related though I probably should have said so in my post.
    I think you'll find it's the 'dressing up as a racial stereotype' part that most people have a problem with, period.

  10. #20
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    I think most of us agree that potentially offensive things happen sometimes in some "belly dance" performances. I've seen a few that concerned me, and can only imagine it is worse for people who identify with root cultures. However, she didn't really raise many of these issues in her article. I kind of get her reaction to stage names--it is kind of why I don't use one. To me, it feels false to adapt a name from another culture. However, I don't think those I know who use a stage name are trying to "pass" as another ethnicity. Usually they just pick a name they find beautiful and meaningful in some way. The other concern about the light skins dancer's weight seemed quite superficial. No mention was made of her behavior, costuming or dance. As to the "Arab-face" makeup. I am not even sure what that means. Most performers wear heavy makeup t make their facial expressions visible from a distance and to avoid looking "washed out" under bright lights. The only thing that has concerned me with makeup, well, sometimes ATS and tribal fusion dancers who draw on facial "Berber-inspired" tattoos and also wear bindis. Sometimes it looks cool, but I personally would not feel comfortable mixing and matching elements like this that are clearly from different cultures. I can see that may be confusing, but I would expect she would describe this kind of thing if it were what she was offended by. I actually kind of liked some of her comments on her background and dancing at her own wedding. I just don't think she really made a valid case in the post and am surprised it would be published on Salon given it reveals more about the writers personal prejudice than the subject she was commenting on.

    I think cultural appropriation and orientalism are very good topics of discussion and consideration among dancers. There are just musch better written articles on the subject. This one isn't really worthy of the discussion it has inspired.

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