Some People Are Just Looking To Be Oppressed

| Learning | May 26, 2017

(I’m waiting for my parents to pick me up and using a coloring app on my phone. I’m coloring a Japanese geisha, so I give her dark hair, white and red makeup, etc. While coloring, I can feel the eyes of the girl behind me, but I ignore her, as she’s not being particularly annoying — until I finish.)

Me: “Ooh! Pretty!”

Girl: “Why is she so pale?”

Me: “Well, she’s a geisha. Her face is white because geishas wore white face makeup, and her hands are pale because she’s Japanese.”

Girl: “Wow, so you’re racist AND you’re assuming THEIR gender?”

Me: “…what? I’m coloring HER skin based on her culture, not my preferences, and I’m calling HER a HER because geishas were female.”

Girl: “THEY could have dark skin!”

Me: “No, SHE, as they were SHEs, and no, drag queen geishas sound awesome but didn’t exist, would not have dark skin because geishas held pretty fancy positions in a society where noblewomen and men had pale skin. Geishas represented beauty, and pale skin was beautiful! I believe people of ALL skin colors can be beautiful, but I’m trying to be historically accurate in this drawing!”

Girl: “Oh, so now you’re even more racist because you accepted their oppression against dark-skinned people.”

Me: “What?! First of all, this is ANCIENT JAPAN! I wasn’t ALIVE to accept or revolt against any kind of ‘oppression.’ Second of all, again, it’s ANCIENT JAPAN and the only people with ‘dark skin’ were farmers who were tanned from working in fields. Darker skin was seen as undesirable because the profession of farming was seen as undesirable. And, by the way, don’t bother saying anything else, because I won’t listen. The only thing coming out of this conversation is a headache and lost faith in humanity, so blabber all you want. I’m not paying attention.”

(The girl ranted for about five minutes until she got the message and shut up. Honestly, though, don’t try to advocate for issues if you don’t know what it means. Giving a geisha pale skin isn’t being racist!)

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