Sunday 19 May 2019

Please discuss....

I tried to post this message on Emi Itos blog this morning but my posts have been blocked as spam, so I post it here. Perhaps she read what I wrote....who knows?

Hi Emi
I sent a response to your blog "My Kimono is not your Couture" yesterday and you haven't acknowledged my communication. I feel disrespected by your refusal to acknowledge or engage. I interpret this either as a lack of respect for my point of view and a strategy to shut down unwanted discussion.

I am a 60 year old textile artist who was born in New Zealand and has been an Australian citizen for 35 years. At the outbreak of war in 1939, there were 12 Japanese people residing in New Zealand, in Australia there were approximately 1,250 interned, along with many more people from Germanic ancestry. My own 3rd generation NZ born family anglicised their name to a less German sounding one, though the single German ancestor had arrived in NZ 80 years previously. In 1939 my mother was one year old and my father 4 years old so they have few memories of WW2 and definitely no active involvement. No people in my family were soldiers fighting in WW2.

I hope you'll be able to acknowledge you may be operating from a very American-centric feminist point of view. It is pretty popular at present to point the finger at an amorphous group of "white" women who are supposed to make amends for "privilege" we supposedly inherited from European colonialism. I am saddened that you and your cohorts are pursuing and coercing "white" small business fashion designers and publicly shaming them over the use of the word kimono. I believe your argument is seriously misguided and doing a disservice to the cause of world wide feminism. You should be directing your energies at educating people about misogyny and the consequences of western colonisation of Asia throughout the 19thC. Do not ignore or make the pretence that somehow the "white" women partners/mothers/daughters of those oppressors were somehow more free and privileged.

This is an important principle to me. I am educated about the issues of art history, feminism, western imperialism and cultural appropriation. Though you and other supporters of "use of kimono is a cultural appropriation" refuse to engage and debate with me in public I am carrying a one sided discussion on my

Pearl Moon

I still welcome any engagement with the people who have been educating the white designers over the use of "kimono". Papercut Patterns say they cannot identify their educator because the person is being trolled.

I predict that if any of the shadows are brave enough to come out from where they're hiding (probably after I publish "Sencha Kimono") and engage with me over the issues one of the first things they will want to find out is how "white" I am. Identifying my degree of "whiteness" means they will be able to stereotype me and decide on certain strategies of attack. If I'm very, very, very "white" and I assume that means my ancestors were all British then I will be dismissed as woman inheriting white privilege with no understanding of BIPOC. I will be told to show my humility and shut up and listen. I'll be dismissed as the inheritor of white privilege with nothing worth listening to.

The situation will get a bit more murky and the strategies differ if I can present someone of coloured race in my about Maori, Indian (India), Malay, South African? Would they count as black, yellow or au lait enough? Perhaps they'll be calculating how many litres of coloured blood might still be in my body if the BIPOC ancestor was 1,2, or 3 generations ago. Will it matter where I've lived? Will it matter how long my ancestors were there? Does 20 years or a 100 years living in a country give me any right to identify as an indigenous person? Who decides what words I can legitimately borrow from the indigenous culture or what iconography...before it is condemned as cultural appropriation? If my ancestors came from Britain then is British culture the only one I can claim as my own? How do British feel about that if my ancestors left 150 years ago and I have never set foot in the country or have any relatives there that I know of...?

Actually my most recent ancestors were Scots and Welsh. These peoples have had their own historical problems protecting their cultures and borders from the British. Can American feminists rightfully claim that I am still the inheritor of privilege from my ancestral cultures though neither the Scots or Welsh people were the direct colonisers of any Asian countries? So if somebody in my ancestry had been a Highlander at the Battle of Culloden does that make me more or less an inheritor of white privilege than if I had a Welsh ancestor who was a soldier in the British army in 1880s India?

Has anything I've done in my life give me discounts from my "white" privilege? Like having married a BIPOC? Perhaps having a 3 year relationship with such a person could give me some brownie points off being privileged? (acknowledging the appalling pun) How about 50 points if I was married and 5 points for being in a sexual relationship?

I welcome anybody who wants to support the contention that "white" designers should not culturally appropriate the word kimono to talk here with me and discuss any of the points I've raised. There are enough of you out there to have coerced 3 pattern companies to change the name of their pattern but nobody will talk with me...?

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