Wednesday, May 23, 2007

My Latest Post on TTL/Why I Hate the Term Exotic

This one was about if Rosie O'Donnell is a role model to lesbians. Go here to read my post. Here are some of my past thoughts on her. Though I'm glad she apologized I still don't think much of her.

This weekend I had a customer at work come up to me and say "you're so exotic looking, what are you." Granted she was smiling & I suppose trying to compliment. But it got me thinking about what the term exotic to the mainstream American mind. I found this great post from the former Mixed Media Watch & thought I'd link it. In addition to that post I wish to mention just how feeking shitty it feels when someone calls me exotic. I'm a mid-western Catholic. I went to an inner city high school, had regular friends & did regular teenage stuff. I loved, hated, gossiped & made-out. My childhood though dramatic in many a moment was ordinary in it's dysfunction & my family members are all Minnesotans who still say "yah-you-betcha." Nothing about my life is exotic. Yet based solely upon my skin tone I'd perceived to be that way.

I'm reading the book New Moon by Stephanie Meyers and at one point in the book she refers to a female character who has brown skin as "pretty in an exotic kind of way." I nearly stopped reading the book. I'm only continuing the thing because it's about vampires & pretty good. But I think I need to write the author and ask her just what the hell she meant by that. Does it mean someone of color can't be a regular kind of pretty? How many classifications of pretty do we need? Must brown skin & beauty equal exotic? Exotic to me means "different" & "other."
And different & other are often really nice ways of saying less than. I'm no less a person because my parents fucked & made me.

So you may wonder just what did I say to this misguided young woman when she asked. I lied & said I was adopted & didn't know. Sometimes it's fun to do that & see all the things people try to project onto you. I just nodded at her guesses and said "I don't know...maybe." And if I had thought of it I would have asked her what it even mattered anyway. Why was it important to her. But my guess is she wouldn't have been able to examine her heart enough at that moment to answer & quite frankly I didn't care that much to have a discussion.

It's hard to know how to react when people say "you're so beautiful...exotic...what are you?" I know they're in part trying to compliment so I don't want to be all bitchy about it but on the other hand ignorance is not my shade of bliss & if I can prevent another person going though the silliness of such questions, I'd perhaps want to try. Well I'm off to have pizza with my beautiful & just plum pretty girlfriend. Thank goddess she she's my soul & not just my skin!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Rosie is not, and never will be, my role model. The comments she made about our troops and her "conspiracies" on 911 angered me. Where is her proof to back it up?

I know how you feel.
Because of my ethnic background (my father is 100% Puerto Rican, and my mother is Philippine/Italian/Irish), people ask me all the time, "what are you". I usually respond by saying human, lol. And to make matters worse, I'm not fluent in Spanish. People look at me like I've lost my mind because I don't speak Spanish.
I respond to that by asking them if they speak (insert any ethnicity besides Spanish). And of course, they don't.