Sunday, 16 June 2019

Newspeak: the new inclusiveness means you're out


The Appendix of 1984 stands as Orwell's explanation of New-speak, the official language of Oceania. ...Newspeak contains no negative terms. For example, the only way to express the meaning of “bad” is through the word “ungood.” Something extremely bad is called “doubleplus ungood.”

I have heard back from the moderators of the Curvy Sewing Collective.

Hi Pearl, 

Once again, I'm sorry for the delay in addressing your email. As you said, we're all quite busy and the CSC remains an entirely volunteer not-for-profit organization. I shared your email with the rest of our editorial team and we've discussed the issue. As of today, we will no longer be accepting "kimono" named patterns for review, inclusion in our round-ups, or in any other formal way on the CSC's main site. We are not trying to police how you, or any other designers, name patterns, but as we're not part of the culture those terms are borrowing from, we happily bow to the expertise of people from those cultures, when they express concern over the use of those terms. This new policy (which includes "kimono," among other words) will also be added to our review guidelines and we will be re-visiting old posts with an addendum about this change. 

We fully believe that people, and therefore organizations, deserve to grow and change how they consider various issues. We therefore reserve the right to correct our own views on cultural appropriation and change the way the CSC deals with such things. Our goal, as always, is inclusion not exclusion. We are a safe virtual place for body positivity, thoughtful discussion, and community building. Any rhetoric that actively hurts people in our community goes against that mission. 

Thank you for understanding our position. 


Mary Danielson-Perry

My response:

Hi Mary, thanks to you and the CSC editors for taking the time to answer my query by outlining your thoughts and position on using the description kimono. When I publish the Sencha Kimono next week I understand that you won’t promote it or the makes of any sewists who make it and send you pictures.
I have no idea if you’ve been aware of my one woman campaign of resistance I’ve been running on my blog for the last 3 weeks where I’ve been arguing against the contention that using kimono in a pattern name is a disrespectful appropriation. In case you didn’t know and to save the many hours it would take to read all I’ve written I’ll sum up the main points here…
1)    The issue has been advocated by essentially one woman of Japanese-American heritage, Emily Ito. In Japan, where I have contacts with expatriots and Japanese textile artists going back decades it has no traction as a serious issue at all. In fact Japanese citizens are completely baffled why Americans would take this point of view. The kimono is not a sacred or special garment, in their culture kimono is an ordinary, everyday word used to describe a coat like garment.
2)    Throughout Japan in their fast fashion outlets coats and robes that have only the slightest resemblance to the traditional style kimono are advertised and sold as “kimonos”. These garments are mass manufactured in Thailand, Vietnam, Bangladesh and other third world countries. Japanese citizens have no concern about this and there is no confusion what is the traditional garment and what is a generic modern robe similar to a kimono.
3)    If you are arguing from the position of “cultural appropriation” then it would be equally relevant to point out the kimono was a style of robe adopted from China by Japan in the 18th C.
4)    My most significant problem with this contention about kimono is that the term “cultural appropriation” has been wrongfully applied in this case. As a 60 year old professional artist I am aware it has been borrowed from the field of Fine Art where this is an issue seriously discussed for at least 4 decades so there is a great body of understanding exactly what it means and where it applies. “Cultural appropriation” is a thing that does happen and should be called out and condemned when it happens. Mostly this applies to the hijacking of imagery and icons from tribal and indigenous groups. It hardly ever applies to the use of a wordespecially when that word has been used internationally for probably 200 years.
I have been troubled that Emily Ito has embarked on this campaign and that a number of small independent designers have been caught up in it and wrongfully criticised. Mrs Itos idea is specious, when she says giving a sewing pattern the name kimono is wrong and hurtful that is her personal opinion describing her emotional response, but simply stating her opinion and feelings does not make it a fact.
I have worked in the areas of fashion, textile art and as a patternmaker since I was trained in 1984. My open admiration and acknowledgement of Japanese design goes right back to the 80s. Today I was teaching a class at a local gallery in sashiko stitching and stenciling, the combination of which is known in the Japanese tradition as Katazome. I know a lot about art, fashion and the sociology of art. I know Emily Ito probably doesn’t or she would never have started this kimono campaign because it simply doesn’t stack up and ultimately her campaign will fail because 90% of the rest of the world will completely ignore her. But my concern is that in the meantime she is causing a great deal of unnecessary angst and strife in the sewist community.
I understand that the CSC moderators would rather stay out of any awkward debates and be friends with everybody and that you will very likely prefer to side with Emily Ito, especially as she is an acknowledged influencer with a big following, rather than my insignificant self who comes from an academic understanding.
Lastly (because I’m a pedantic pain in the arse who just can’t help herself) I want to point out contradictions in the last three sentences of your email to me:
Our goal, as always, is inclusion not exclusion. The CSC is in fact excluding me and the many people who agree with my point of view…so who in fact are you “including”?

We are a safe virtual place for body positivity, thoughtful discussion, and community building. Do you propose having a “thoughtful” discussion on CSC about the use of kimono? My own experience in the last month of trying to have just such a discussion is being deleted and blocked from following Instagram individuals and groups and FB groups. My submissions to blogs discussing this issue don’t get published, the censoring is so ridiculous they publish only comments which are flattering and in agreement. My public calls for the advocates on the kimono issue to discuss with me have been totally ignored. How can the advocates claim they have a good argument for their position when they refuse to discuss publicly, with transparency and actively shut down any of my contributions to supposedly public platforms?  Do you demand I respect the opinions of people who behave in that way?

Any rhetoric that actively hurts people in our community goes against that mission. Implicit in this statement is that calling a sewing pattern a kimono causes “hurt”. Until just a week or 2 ago CSC was apparently oblivious to this. It was only in February this year that one woman said she was hurt. I think if you take the position that you must stop using any word that “hurts” even one person you will soon find yourself severely restricting your vocabulary.

Obviously, I disagree with the position CSC will be taking in regard to using kimono. However, I do respect that that is your prerogative and I’ll continue to enjoy being a part of the CSC community (though I am effectively being condoned and silenced for the principles I’m sticking up for) I want to assure you that I won’t try to instigate any discussion on CSC forums, but if it does arise from other sources I hope I’ll be allowed to contribute.

In August I’ll be publishing another PDF pattern - that won’t be called a kimono! – so I hope you won’t bear me any ill will for my position and will allow the design to be featured in your monthly round-up.

Sincerely and all the best
Pearl Moon

 Be warned - "kimono" has been subtracted from usage by nice caring people...

Friday, 14 June 2019

Ugg, its all so unfair!

Today in the New York Times

Homage or Theft? Carolina Herrera called out by Mexican Minister

Most people are ignorant of how the fashion industry works. There are exceedingly few designs in the industry that qualify for copyright protection. Copyright also has a limited time scale of protection, usually about 70-90 years. Outside of that designs and pictures become public domain. Copyright can only be registered to companies or individuals not cultures. The Mexican embroidery designs referenced by Herrera in her 2020 collection are likely 100s of years old, therefore not creditable to any individual and as such don't qualify for any legal protections. While the Herrera companys collection may have derived from murky ethics it doesn't infringe any legal issues of copyright. 

"Cultural appropriation" has become a buzzword construct for BIPOC communities to express their grievance over feelings of powerlessness.

Heres a great example that happened in Australia a month ago.

Heres a picture of my Ugg boots. That trade name on the back of my boots become illegal about a month ago.

Add caption

That Australian Ugg boot manufacturing company has gone bankrupt and it is out of business even though they’ve been making Ugg boots for 50 years. I clearly remember buying my first pair in 1978 at Greymouth on the South Island of New Zealand.

This is the story of how the entire Australian Ugg boot manufacturing industry has been ruined. 

In the 1970s an Australian man living in the US copyrighted the name and general design features of an Ugg boot. He had a business making and selling them in the USA at the time and the particular footwear was unlike anything there so he wanted to protect himself from being copied. After moving on from that business an American business bought the copyright and manufactured the footwear at scale. They aggressively pursued enforcing the copyright despite the fact this footwear had been made in Australia and New Zealand for long before the US copyright was created. In 2018 they took the Australian manufacturer to court and won the case that their copyright was infringed by the Australian business. 

That company is finished along with every other maker of Ugg boots here.

Thursday, 13 June 2019

free kimonos are coming

Next Tuesday June 18th I’ll be publishing the Sencha Kimono PDF pattern. It will be a free giveaway for the first 10 days then revert to being Aus$12. The first page of the pattern instructions outlines why I decided to change the name from Jorja Jacket to Sencha Kimono and gives links to the discussion I’ve had on this blog.

technical drawings for Sencha Kimono

It’s hard to know how much flak I’ll get, if any. Emily Ito, as the foremost advocate to propagate the issue that using the word kimono in a pattern name is an unacceptable cultural appropriation has blocked any way I can communicate with her and refused all invitations I’ve made for her to respond publicly to me on this blog or elsewhere of her choosing. In this feedback vacuum its impossible to know what might happen to me. I refer back to Aja Barbers comment “no one is listening to you” so hopefully my insignificant profile will mean no one notices or cares. Perhaps if everybody rejects my offer of the free pattern I can interpret that to be how strongly everybody agrees it is a bad thing to call it a kimono.

This week I’ve tried to contact the moderators and editors of the Curvy Sewing Collective, a group I’ve belonged to since it’s beginning over 5 years ago. They have promoted many of the patterns I’ve published. This is what I asked them

Hi, not sure if your mail is working for mail@curvysewingcollective as I've tried to contact you twice over 5 days. Hoping you'll answer my query....
Hi editors
I'm sure you've noticed the controversy in the making community these last few months in regard to some designers using the word kimono in the name of their pattern. As recently as November last year this was a non issue for CSC at the time you published the Kimono Edition of the pattern throw-down. Currently people are being polarised by having to adopt positions and take sides. So I'm writing to find out where the CSC will land on this.
By the end of this month I'll be publishing a new pattern to be called the Sencha Kimono, attached is a technical picture of the garment. For the first 10 days after publication I'll be giving away the PDF pattern for free. After that it will be Aus$12. So I'm wondering whether you'd reject it from being included in your next pattern round up issue, due to the name?

To date, the Curvy Sewing Collective has published numerous posts expressing their enthusiasm for kimono designs. This is some of the most recent

November 5, 2018, Pattern throwdown, kimono edition

November 19, 2018, Pattern Review: Designer Stitch Willow Kimono

December 24, 2018, Pattern Review: Helens Closet Suki Kimono.The Suki Kimono reviewed here has now become the Suki Robe

January 1 2019,  Curvy year of Sewing kimono and cardigans

Will the CSC feel it necessary to expunge these posts? I don’t know what their current position is on the ethics of using the word. So far they haven't replied to my 3 private messages seeking to find out what they think.

I have learned this about most women – Ladies! - it’s nice to be nice to the nice and don’t set my pink boa on fire or diss my tiara for being plastic (the dog is wearing the tiara).Translation – your personal is not my political so don’t mess with my beehive. 

No wonder patriarchy was able to colonise us for millennia, women have just been too polite to object.

I’m confused to be in this world where somebody comes out powerfully advocating a position and gets 4 designers to change their pattern names but totally refuses to acknowledge my existence. I have challenged her position repeatedly in the last few weeks. What kind of an advocate is that?

The activists clamouring to ring fence kimono aren’t even part of the sewist community. Unlike them I have skin in this game because I’m a clothing designer and pattern publisher. Ms Ito works in American schools as an educator. In her PomPom interview she says one of her proud achievements was consciousness raising 8-9 year kids about the wrongness of some kinds of Halloween costumes. It has raised my consciousness too - when the kids come around next Halloween I’ll lock the gate and leave a notice on it saying “Go away, Halloween cancelled. Please contact Emily Ito to be educated”.

Actually I thought Halloween came from the old English tradition of All Hallows Eve or Samhain? But I suppose to acknowledge that would be going into that tricky area of cultural appropriation?

I have this McCalls sewing pattern published in 2005 so perhaps it will have to be despatched to the shame file along with golliwogs and Famous Five books. Perhaps traded in a secret underground market of politically incorrect materials, like a piece of Nazi memorabilia?

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

upcoming workshops

This Saturday 15th June I'll be teaching a workshop on textile surface embellishment at the Muswellbrook Regional Arts Centre. The link here is the information on the Gallery's website, please note you have book in as there is a small requirements list. The workshop starts at 10.30am and is 3 hours. It is FREE.

Pearl Moon workshop

I'll be demonstrating some of my techniques and there will be hands on stuff for the students to do with stenciling and stitching. It's only a brief time but each participant should have a pile of sample swatches by the end of the session and enough introductory skills to be able to alter a garment with some very artful technique.

Later in the year I'll be teaching a 2 day class on the Central Coast.

If you're interested in the Central Coast workshop at the Makers Studio, Gosford contact Carol Vesper at, ph 0414220855. Or see their website at

Sunday, 9 June 2019

live and learn

I’m concerned that some people have misinterpreted recent blog posts in a light I find concerning. I want to clarify that I had only the briefest interaction with Aja Barber, probably about 2 minutes of text exchanges. I only followed her Instagram due to Emi Ito crediting her as an influence. I was curious and wanted to find out why Ms Barber is so inspirational. She has a huge following on Instagram so it’s obvious she is a significant influencer.

I only started on Instagram about 6 weeks ago and are still learning the ropes. From what I’ve learned so far I’m a bit ambivalent whether I want to stay in it! Being Aspergers I have developed a set of strategies for how to behave as expected in public places which usually keeps me out of trouble. Instagram is a new thing I’m feeling my way into and my approach to Ms Barber was a blunder.

Ms Barber took offence at the way I asked how I could get an understanding of what she stood for. Now that I’ve done my research I can understand why she reacted with such outrage. She is an advocate for BIPOC peeps and it’s an almost a daily experience for her to have white people challenge her. Understandably she’s found the best strategy is to give them short shrift and not bother wasting the breath. Delete, block.

So I take this as a lesson in learning how to finesse my approach to interacting with people in this new medium. Ms Barber didn’t know I’m Aspergers and that is the way I talk to people in real life. I’m interested in what people think and how they came to think that rather than their subjectivities. I am hopeless at inane chatter. Generally I try to avoid contact with NTs because my lack of tact and ability to read body language usually ends in some embarrassing disaster where I’ll be abruptly escorted out of the room. (otherwise known as “given the bums rush”)

I found a good body of writing by Ms Barber on Medium and read all of it.

There are also essays there by another person recommended by Emi Ito, Ijeoma Oluo. 

They are both motivational writers and powerful advocates for their communities. I’m in complete agreement with Ms Barbers political views so it’s a shame what a stuff up our first communications were. Meeting in a different scenario I think we would have felt simpatico to each other. I like her, anyway.

I will endeavour to do better. Develop more sensitive scripts. I’ve quickly come to understand that Instagram isn’t a context where people discuss serious stuff. It is full of moral panic and peeps who think that whoever screeches loudest is the rightest.

Friday, 7 June 2019

Bees and bombs

Todays soundtrack, the awesome Sade

Some peeps have been relaying to me that they wish I’d shake this bee out of my bonnet.

While were are wearing bonnets…who saw the beginning of the 3rd series of the The Handmaids Tale last night? Great stuff! I love it when the revolution gets into the bomb throwing phase.

I suspect these screens crowded with so many words are just not what some people signed up for. I can understand why there are some women who find so much assertiveness quite disturbing. Nice to be nice to the nice…a maxim for well behaved dignified women who just make their point and leave the room clutching their handbag. And everything stays the same, no applecarts are upturned, no faces get bee-stung. Peace reigns in the valley. Except for those disgruntled feminists in cellars chanting “hubble, bubble toil and trouble”, cackling evilly over cauldrons as they concoct their next bomb.

My tirades of the last 10 days aren’t just about kimono. That was the tip of the iceberg moment that blew the lid off the pressure cooker. This so called kimono campaign has all the gravitas of a high school TV drama. The one that comes from the script when the mean girls gang up on the ugly girls and don’t get it when the fuglies resist. Much confected outrage ensues.

This is a round up of my fugly rebellion:

·         *   I’m resisting being bullied. I do have a choice to say “No I don’t agree with your contention about kimono and will go on using the word” and the consequences will be getting slammed on social media, platforms on FB other bloggers and sewists will have to disassociate themselves from me least they become tainted with my status as persona non grata - aka racist white supremiscist imperialist bitch Trump supporter

·        *    I’m angry about people who take political stances that effect the reputation and livelihood of small businesswomen but they will only interact with their “side” and actively strive to shut down any divergent opinion. Then they virtue signal about their own openness, inclusiveness, diversity and having the courage to stand up for what they believe in….absolute tosh, woe betide you fart on their parade.

·       *     Apart from the virtue signalling flapping of angel wings there is also the tiara to be won for displaying the most valour in the face of oppression.

That last point is the holy cow I’ll be milking today:

 Phrases and sentences taken from Emily Itos PomPom interview

·         trauma and harm we have faced as Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC) in a white supremacist society gets ignored and then compounded by the theft of appropriation.
·         the violence of assimilation
·          a more dominant culture taking from another less dominant culture
·          taking from the origin culture…therefore perpetuating a colonial power dynamic?
·         peoples of the origin cultures almost always get erased
·         If you are a white maker who is inspired by BIPOC cultures, what work are you doing to unlearn the racism that is embedded in our society and within you?

I’ve just turned 60 years old, Ms Ito looks perhaps half my age. There is no doubt at all that she is a proud campaigner for BIPOC rights, she flashes that around with great pride, keeps a detailed tally of all the micro aggressions and macro accomplishments at pushing back white supremacy. After all being Japanese-American gets her a free pass and automatic membership as BIPOC, she doesn’t have to win or buy her way in by conspicuous acts of advocacy and vociferous rejection of white imperialist privilege.

I was born in 1959 in a community of people coming from many nationalities and ethnic backgrounds. I went to school with a whole lot of kids I didn’t even realise whose parents had been European migrants after WW2. In my 30s I connected the dots to understand why the parents of the kids with last names like Vercoe, Mrsich, Govorko, Mueller, Fooy, Urlich, Leeuwenberg, Kerkoff, Brych and lots more, spoke with accents. In my school were also kids with the last names of Paki, Kururangi, Tepapa, Pene, Kauwhata, Kahu, Pomare, Rangitahi and Waipapa. Another mob were McGregors, Stuarts, Baxters, Smiths, Hughes, McClean, Goldsmith, Derbyshire, Bergquist, Brown, Davies, Hill and a ton more.

We were kids coming together from many nationalities, cultures and backgrounds. Mostly I remember we all got on pretty well. Our teachers also come from similarly diverse and mixed backgrounds. None of us were born racists, it was a construct we learned either from our parents or took on from the outside world. Many of us grew into adulthood without adopting that ideology; just because some of us were born “white” didn’t mean racism was coded into our DNA and had to be consciously rejected - we just never took up with it in the first place.

The 1970s onward was time of rapidly growing awareness about racism. In society and academia a powerful critique was demolishing the ugly pillars of how it was perpetuated. I wasn’t in a coma walled into a cave at that time (actually I lived on an island….nother story). I bet Emily Ito and Aja Barber weren’t even born in 1985 when I was at the anti apartheid protest in Auckland. Some of my flatmates were the notorious “clowns” who were beaten up by the Police, gaoled and fined. Google it if you can be bothered.

However, far from celebrating the challenges and benefits of growing up in a multicultural society Mrs Ito only bewails the tough bits…. “the violence of assimilation” “dominant culture takes from less dominant culture” “origin culture almost always gets erased”…refer to above for a fuller catalogue of the oppressions shes had to battle.

Perhaps Ms Ito would have had a happier and less oppressed childhood if her mother had stayed in Japan and she’d gone to school there? In a previous blog I pointed out that Japan is not a multicultural society, the govt works hard to keep out other nationalities by denying citizenship and stopping long term residency. Does that make Japan a racist country? Perhaps individual Japanese people welcome people of other nationalities and cultures and don’t feel threatened by others wanting to assimilate into their culture so I’m not suggesting that the Japanese people per se are racist. It just looks like it from the outside.

Emily Ito and Aja Barber have visited their own version of racism and imperialism on me by dismissing me as a stereotype white supremacist woman who is either consciously boasting my privilege or so haplessly ignorant I’m not smart enough to understand how individual and institutionalised racism works. I was getting it before you two were even born and I abhor how it works.

I may look all white on the outside but I’ve had my own cross to drag up Calvary too. And we’ll talk about being martyred on crosses tomorrow.

I have some work to do on that Sencha Kimono (do you like the onomatopoeia of Sencha sounding like censor...!)

first long version sample of the Sencha Kimono

Thursday, 6 June 2019

what if Godot comes wearing a kimono?

I should have mentioned yesterday that if anyone listened to the Yann Tierson music I gave a youtube link to, please watch the video, it is absolutely beautiful.

This is my soundtrack for today, which is quite similar the Yann Tierson, quite somber.

A quote from my favorite play

But that is not the question. What are we doing here, that is the question. And we are blessed in this, that we happen to know the answer. Yes, in the immense confusion one thing alone is clear. We are waiting for Godot to come

Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot


A reader posted this comment on my FB page today and it’s a great comment, thankyou.

Perhaps small pattern makers are considered friendlier and actually committed to ethics? Thus calling out is a compliment. In re: sexism, I don’t confront men I consider dangerous, but I do call out men who say they want to be allies or seem concerned with ethical behavior.

In response to that – as a small pattern maker I do consider myself friendly and committed to ethical living in both my business and life. In the 8 years I’ve written a blog I’ve often discussed my commitment to feminism, anti-war stance, my support for refugees (aka “boat people”) I have criticised of the exploitation of clothing industry workers, I try to educate people about the wastefulness, damage to the environment and unsustainability of the fast fashion business model. I share pictures of the garments I make to inspire people with what they can make for themselves. I encourage people to buy second hand clothing and textiles by showing how they can be remade into wearable garments. I talk about how I live my own life modestly, in an old and cheap house with all second hand furniture, in the rural countryside with my chooks, 2 rescue dogs and garden, surviving on a very small income.

I don’t know if there are any small businesses who were asked to not use kimono who were allowed to say they didn’t agree with that view and that they would continue to use it. Its hard for me to get information about how “they” have gone about their campaign because the activists refuse to engage with me and actively block me from any forum where the issue is being discussed. Designers who made a name change only publish messages from people who agree with them and compliment their choice. They censor any contributions that express a different point of view by not publishing them. As Aja Barber spitefully hissed “no one is listening to you”.

Do the activists respect people who might have a different view?

If there was or has been a business that continued to use kimono would they allow its OK to have a divergent point of view? On Instagram, where I only started an account 2 months ago, I have few followers and now find myself blacklisted and blocked from joining some groups. Many of the activists have tens of thousands of followers and a high profile as influencers on social media platforms. I am insignificant to the point of being the perfect illustration of a molehill trying to address the mountain. Yet these women have felt its perfectly OK to do everything they can to repress my voice on platforms where they are powerful. Block, delete, write stuff disparaging my point of view from afar. I have had it relayed to me that they are urging people in the sewing community to express their distaste for my point of view by not buying my patterns.

They don’t respect me sufficiently to discuss publicly either on my blog, their blog or other places on Instagram. They had nothing to say when their followers filled the comments sections of Instagram with highly critical and abusive commentary towards small business women using the word kimono.  

Not a one of them has sought to re educate me either publicly or privately. In my opinion its not a very ethical approach to shutting me up that they use their Instagram muscle to sideline me.

This is a coat I made last year which I called a kimono. At the time I was unaware it was a hot potato issue, Even though some Japanese American ladies tell me this is offensive, hurts their feelings and they want me to call it something else I still feel comfortable calling this a kimono.

Some of the comments I’ve had are hilarious, apart from being a troll, white supremacist, imperialist bitch - I was called a Trump supporter, and that is really a fearsome insult these days! It just goes to show how some people will believe that only 2 things about me are important "white, educated" or that anything disparaging said by somebody who disagrees with my view must be true. I'm a demon. 

These people feel they only need to know 2 things about me – white, educated – and you can almost literally hear the clang of the vault door as their minds shut. While that’s happening inside their heads, on the outside the face is doing this....the mouth puckers into a little pussy bum moue and pouts outward, the cheeks suck in, the eyeballs roll back and there is a deep inwards inhalation of breath, which is held tightly until the face reddens, the eyeballs pop and the breath can explode with a great spray of spittle from between the bared teeth. The balled fists are either hitting themselves on the head, making a hole in the nearest wall or if my person is within close enough range they are blackening my eyes.

In an attempt to humanise myself here is a link to short film made about me by Nicky Elliot in 2016.

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

How many kimonos do I have in the closet?!

One of the people who contacted me recently was an American woman resident in Japan for 21 years. She wanted to let me know she had done a straw poll of her Japanese friends and they were astounded to find out anyone was saying using kimono as part of a pattern description is any sort of a problem. This lady also told me, along with sending a picture, that the fast fashion outlets in Tokyo are full of cheaply made garments mass produced in Korea, Thailand, Indonesia, Bangladesh et al that are described as kimonos but have no relationship to the traditional costume.

Nobody, whether Japanese or not is confused by the appropriation. No indigenous Japanese are up in arms about this or consider it an offence….except perhaps people of Japanese heritage living in the diaspora…

So maybe some of these people need to be heading back to Japan to educate the natives that they are being oppressed and need to rise up and reject the cultural appropriation of westerners. Quite honestly I don’t see any evidence that Japanese culture is under threat or faltering in any way, unless you want to sign up with Makiko Hastings despair that the younger generation have adopted western clothes and music way too enthusiastically. Perhaps we need to rethink apartheid and keep all the cultures and colours strictly segregated least there be any unseemly fraternising.

The best success of the activists has been in polarising the sewist community by setting up this specious proposition. Because of my choice to use the word for a pattern I'll be publishing there will be consequences. I’ll lose sales. Internet FB pages and groups that would have previously promoted my design will declare their disagreement with my view and refuse to let me or any other business using kimono in their pattern name to be advertised. My reputation will be lowered as peeps mutter about my white supremacist, imperialist racism and violence towards the BIPOC community.

I care about the BIPOC community. I want them to flourish in every way. 

About 6 years ago when I worked in aged care I was servicing a client when she complained that the little town we live in was being wrecked by an influx of people from non white nationalities buying and running the local businesses. ….actually to be precise she termed it more like “the whole town is going to the pack when the only people attracted to live here are darkies”. She didn’t want to buy her medications from the one local pharmacy because it would give support the Indian couple who were the new business owners. 

I did a calculation with what I said next, deciding it would be worth it, because I knew if she complained I would lose my job. I said to her “Do you feel grateful that the Indian lady who owns the pharmacy has joined our local fire brigade? How would you feel about her skin colour if she arrived to save you or your house from burning down? I find your racist opinions really shameful and you should keep them to yourself because it offends me when you say stuff like that” She did accuse me of being “one of those lefties” but didn’t complain about me to my employers so I was in the job for a bit longer. 

On another occasion she said lesbians were disgusting but not nearly as evil as what those men did to each other (duhhh, would that be love, hug, kiss?). This comment was made when I was helping her make a phone vote in the Federal election of 2013 and this was her justification for voting for a far right gay hating political party. She was horrified that gay marriage might become a reality. My integrity drew the line at giving her the wrong information to vote for a different political party but the thought did cross my mind though!

I care about the BIPOC community and want them to flourish in every way. I admire them for their strength, resilience, courage and tenacity. Their cultures, languages, art and traditions are every bit as relevant and worthy to be celebrated as anything coming from “white” people. 

My own art has always had more alignment with ethnic and tribal iconography traditions than anything English. Here are 2 of my works from 2011. The top one is "Aussie Icon" and the lower one is "Aussie Infanta" These are ironical takes on me blending the bright rusty sand colour of Australia with images from European art.   

Aussie Icon, Pearl Red Moon, mixed media canvas, 2011

Aussie Infanta, Pearl Red Moon, mixed media canvas, 2011

I’m not inclined to do an act of performative ally-ship by publicly hopping on a BIPOC bandwagon as a virtue signalling neon flashing way of publicising my personal acts of support and advocacy. Some white women feel this is their significant act of atonement, to publicly align themselves with BIPOC and make it their mission to go about educating wayward white women still languishing in or ignorant of their privilege. They are like Dalek robots, swinging about clumsily, metallicly enunciating their guttural battle cry “exterminate, exterminate”, programmed to flush out enclaves of blonde, blue eyed Aryans and blow them up. This alignment is the equivalent of the Catholic confessional ritual -  washing away all their sins of racism and inherited white privilege to anoint them the purified saintly ones who must round up the Celtic witches. There seems to be some sort of weird transference of victimhood, a fetishisation of the oppression of BIPOC that is the faddish scourge to be displayed when you publicly promote yourself as a white martyr for the cause.

BIPOC people are strong, and don’t always speak with one message and with one voice. They have learned the ropes to deal with the systemic institutions of racism and are working successfully to make change. They’re not asking me and they don’t need my help. If they did I wouldn’t hesitate. 

But asking me not to use the word kimono in a pattern name is a ludicrous requirement signifying nothing but meaningless tokenism.

The BIPOC slide rule

A lot of the feedback sent to me today by Aja Barbers supporters after my 3 minutes of havoc being on her Instagram expressed their concern that I was being “violent” towards BIPOC persons. (It was only last week I encountered this acronym; it stands for Black, Indigenous and People of Colour for those that haven’t heard it before). Apparently Aja is in one of those categories and was ferociously defended by her many supporters, though from my brief encounter with her she seemed more than capable of putting me in my place. 

Inevitably this gave rise to me being required to flash my BIPOC credentials, if any. As I pointed out in a blog a few days ago its necessary to identify every ancestor back at least 6 generations on every branch of the family. Then they do the calculations to work out how many litres of coloured blood you have versus the white blood and accordingly you get allocated a position in the pecking order.

I presume this works using some sort of a polarised scale with the 2% of totally white people at one end and the 2% of totally black people at the other. In the middle is us 96% of mixed blood mongreloids.

The tendency of male Homo Sapiens to want to mate with every and any woman they encounter, regardless of race, ethnicity, colour or ability, going right back to the Neanderthals (still got 3% Neanderthal DNA in Homo Sapiens! Though my husband is a teacher and claims there is tribe of pure bloods who attend his school) makes this sorting of the degrees of colouration in each individual as frustrating as what they faced in Apartheid South Africa. And the results are just as farcical.

I am astounded at the irony of these people who claim they are standing up for the rights of BIPOC people when they are the ones running around obsessing about skin colour and racial identity. It is everything to them. They have no script for dealing with anyone who is a blank slate. 

But surely there wouldn’t be any need to fight for BIPOC rights when we are all colour blind? Are BIPOC rights the same as human rights? Why not be fighting for that? The most vile thing of all is to be “white”. White people are racists, oppressors and imperialists. So my ancestors who were Welsh, German and Scots are to be reviled? Along with Italians, Russians and Monrovians, et al? 

So I’m thinking Japanese people qualify as “people of colour”. Why? This is truly not trying to be facetious….why are Japanese “people of colour”? Does this mean they are a separate race and different from me?

Asian people, along with Africans, Inuit and English, developed their characteristic race features because for long millennia most human populations didn’t move around a lot. Interbreeding within small populations in regional areas meant particular DNA traits became dominant, some recessive. Over tens of thousands of years these populations became differentiated by characteristics such as melanin pigment in the skin, hair colour, eye colour, on and on. 

To explain this modern day people fabricated a story about “races” that has no underpinning in science. We are all Homo Sapiens, all Earthlings. My personal belief is that the colour of a persons skin and whatever my guess is at their race is just about the most irrelevant thing I need to know about a person. I’m far more interested in what they are like, what is their story, what are their interests, do they have a sense of humour, what are their favourite shows on Netflix.