Headdresses- And Why They Aren’t Offensive
I know I’m super late to the party on this (I only have Internet at work right now because there’s some bullshit with our service provider). I also know that the OP has declared that they have no fucks to give about the education that’s been laid down before them by the rest of the tumblr NDN community.
But I’m still going to go through this and point out why every single fucking words of this fucking post is fucking awful. For my followers. Because PSA’s are kind of what I do here in between pretty dresses and cute animals.
Wow, people on tumblr have really been annoying the fuck out of me lately, so I guess I’m going to have to use all my pent up anger to finally make a post about this
‘I’m angry at target X so I’m going to address target Y’ is never an encouraging start…
So basically some self-righeous assholes have made the claim and spread the belief that Native American headdresses/Native American inspired fashion is culturally insensitive or wrong.
That would be the entire NDN community on tumblr.
First, let me just say- if you personally believe this and for that reason you do not wear these things, that is totally cool and fine. Like really. If that’s your opinion, fine.
How magnanimous of you.
What is not okay, is making others feel bad for wearing Native American fashion when they don’t personally think it’s offensive.
But here’s where you fall down. Because if someone is hurting me, I am hurt regardless of their awareness or belief that they have done a hurtful thing. That’s not how hurt works.
I am one of those people who doesn’t find it offensive, and before you write me off as a “culturally insensitive asshole who doesn’t know what she’s talking about,” please hear me out-
You are wrong.
There is no argument about this.
Your opinion here is factually incorrect.
You don’t believe that cultural appropriation is offensive?
It is, indeed, offensive. It is hurtful. It is damaging to NDN people and NDN communities.
Your opinion that is is not is counter-factual.
holding an opinion does not make an opinion which is factually incorrect magically correct and/or valid somehow.
if I state that it is my opinion that the moon is entirely made from the compress bodies of g1 my little ponies, I am wrong because that is not true. it is counterfactual.
opinions can be wrong.
Here are some of the arguments people have made, and this is why they’re wrong:
Whenever you prepare arguments without actually quoting people, you’re necessarily building strawmen. Just so you know.
Note: I have cut some bullshit here because it’s not worth responding to in a point by point fashion; you can see it in the original post if you want.
- “Your ancestors killed them/were inhumane to them.”
- Yes, some people’s ancestors were. I don’t see how this is relevant? Some people’s ancestors were also very cruel to African Americans. Does that mean we can’t wear African tribal inspired fashion, as well?
Yes. Cultural appropriation is fuckery no matter who you’re appropriating. If specific cultural groups are telling you that it’s not ok to fashionably adopt a specific thing because it’s not just clothes, you are a fucking asshole for doing so.
Some things are just clothes and it’s ok to utilize them in fashion (though even this often comes with a heapin’ helpin’ of racist exoticism, so take it with a grain of salt) but SOME THINGS ARE NOT. For fuck’s sake why do privileged people seem incapable of understanding this very basic fact? That the entire world isn’t yours to have?
I could go on and on with almost every culture and the fashion that originated from it. The point is, is that almost everything in fashion (especially cultural) can be linked to something tragic. So if you’re not going to wear Native American inspired fashion, you also shouldn’t be wearing Asian/African/Scottish(that means plaid) inspired clothing.
I could tell you a funny story about Plaid, but I’ll save that for a later post.
But here’s the thing: I’m mostly on board with what you just said. SHOCKING I KNOW, but your attempt at wild hyperbole is actually correct.
YOU SHOULDN’T CULTURALLY APPROPRIATE.
In conclusion, the whole argument for why “Native American fashion is offensive” does not make any sense. Every point set forth, can be refuted with a basic knowledge of fashion, history, and understanding. If you want to actually do anything about things in fashion that are “tragic,” I suggest you stop looking to the past. Instead, start looking at what companies inhumanely treat animals for their fur/skin. In my opinion, that’s a little more important than whether I want to wear a fucking headdress or not. Thanks.
You’ve displayed a total lack of comprehension, and that your capacity to give a fuck about hurting others is broken, but I’m going to take a bash at education anyway, because it seems from your posts that you have no idea what the ramifications are or WHY it really is a big deal:
Dressing up in redface is hurtful. Wearing war bonnets is hurtful. Dressing up as another race by wearing terribly stereotypical caricatures of what you think that race looks like is not appropriate. When you dress up like this and take photos like this it adds one more images to the ponderous pile of this shit that creates the pervasive cultural notion that this is what people should think of when they hear ‘Native American’ , and IT HURTS REAL NATIVE AMERICAN PEOPLE. It creates, in the minds of the people that see you dressed like this, a stereotype - a caricature of what Native people do/should look like that erases us in reality and removes us from their perception of the modern world. It turns ‘Native American’ into someone wearing beads and headbands and feathers and face paint. It turns an ethnic, racial identity into a costume.
This is racism.
When you only speak about Native American people in the past tense, in certain contexts. When you only mention them as pertains to White history. When you depict them in stereotypical ways. This is how racist thought is cemented in your mind and the minds of others.
I am tired of cultural appropriation.
I am tired of having to constantly be an educator of people who largely don’t want to be educated. I am tired of being -hurt- by racism. I am tired of people who claim that they love and admire ‘Native American Culture’ but in fact know fuck all about Pan-Indian culture or the fact that ‘Native American’ is a blanket term for hundreds of hugely disparate indigenous nations across two continents and that we do NOT have just one culture.
And before you argue that you didn’t MEAN to be racist or that you were just having fun, before your many white allies rally around you to tell me how wrong I am and what a good person you are and how you are not a racist…know this:
Racism is not in your intent.
Your intent is immaterial in how racist your actions are.
This isn’t about you BEING a racist. It’s about you DOING A THING that is racist.
Your intent doesn’t change it. Your ignorance of its meaning doesn’t change it. It’s got nothing to do with you as a person and everything to do with the meaning of your action in the context of sociocultural history.
Please watch this video.
If you think that dressing up as a stereotype is somehow ‘celebrating’ anyone’s culture, that speaks to some really problematic shit in how you’ve been educated, what you’ve been exposed to, what you think you know about what Native Americans are and what we look like. And while it’s not your fault that the culture of your upbringing has handed you that shit on a silver platter and said ‘eat it’, and not your fault that you did eat it without knowing better, it’s still bullshit and it’s still hurtful. You have the Internet at your disposal. You can become educated as to what Native Americans really are like and what we really are about and why not only is that outfit that you put on not remotely like anything legitimately Native American - but that you CAN’T make a costume that’s legitimately Native American. Because we don’t all look alike. Because we’re people.
Here’s a quick checklist for whether it’s ok to wear a war bonnet:
Was it placed onto your head by an elder/legitimate authority figure from a select number of plains nations because you personally achieved something so great that it is worthy of that kind of honor? (corollary: If yes to the above, are you currently wearing it in an appropriate ceremonial fashion/setting? Like are you at a powwow or speaking with the president?)
If you answered ‘no’ then IT IS NOT OK.
Any more than it would be ok to buy a decorated veteran’s purple heart that he had to pawn and put -that- on for a sexy/edgy/hip photo shoot. It’s that kind of disrespect, on top of the slap in the face that is cultural appropriation in general.
Here’s a quick checklist of when it’s ok to wear a cheapass knockoff war bonnet made from the feathers of Weeping Rainbow Chicken: