Interesting Blog

Mosaic

Super Moderator
That is rather confusing, in one breathe they seem to be knocking the people of the ME then the next breathe appear to be trying to set the record straight. I've come away a little bewildered:lol:
~Mosaic
 

Jane

New member
I was wondering if it was because they have different moderators and take comments from posters. Contradictory statements and some downright, well, not very nice comments. They all seem really against American Tribal and modern belly-fusion dance.
 

gisela

Super Moderator
I thought it very interesting and read a lot of it, but I found this blog format a bit confusing. Also, since they want to be educational, I would appreciate some comments following the images they post. Just posting a pic of something and saying "OMG, this is so racist" isn't very educational.
 

Jane

New member
I wouldn't say it was educational or helpful to someone looking to avoid stereotypes of Arab people and learn about the culture. Maybe it started out that way, but it ended up seeming more like a place to vent. What I did think was interesting were the things that seemed to set people off and how, some but not all, of them choose to say it. "Fat stupid white women" and variations there of were aimed at non-ethnic Middle Eastern belly dancers. All tarred with the same brush. That stuff isn't going to solve the issues or open minds to learning about the bad connotations of Orientalism. One of Pepper Alexandria's belly dance event posters got reamed by people who are likely unaware of her valuable academic research in Egypt. This site had potential to help people come together :(
 

gisela

Super Moderator
Yes, I agree.
The blog description says "A blog to teach people about Arab stereotypes and cultural appropriation of Arab culture" which is a great sentiment, but just being snappy, rolling eyes and posting random unresearched images isn't a very good method.
 

Duvet

Member
I've got mixed feelings about the blog. It has made me reflect heavily on what I do, wear, own and think. But the overwhelming message I got was that if I or my ancestors are not from a Middle Eastern/North African country, then I have no business using, wearing or doing anything that is part of those areas' cultures. That's an interesting viewpoint, with lots of issues about cultural appropriation, globalization, historical cross cultural contacts, etc. The focus is on the present social trends of using Arabic culture as a fashion statement or a fantasy theme, but some of the posts do involve images from 40+ years ago, so what is the actual time frame here? There are also posts about food and incense - I'm unsure whether, as a non-Arab, I'm meant to feel interested, or being warned not to approach.

Most of the comments on the blog however seem to be directed against ignorance, assumptions and stereotypes, to which the label 'racist' is (IMO) over hastily attached. It presents America/Europe as being inherently ignorant about the diversity and appropriate use of Arabic physical looks and costume (which I'd agree with, although ignorance about other cultures is unfortunately [though not excusably] not new, nor a Western preserve), but I'm confused as to whether the blog thinks this is an intentional ignorance, how it relates to prejudgments on character and social habits, and it hasn't educated me in why that should be and how it can be altered. I don't think labeling a teenager as racist because she tweeted about a friend's 'Arab costume', or posted a photo of herself dressed as an 'Arab', is going to educate anyone, unless it explores what the original poster meant, and what the responder was objecting to. Making assumptions about and labeling your opponent can come across as just as 'racist' as the person you're opposing.
 

Duvet

Member
This from their archives: This is not arab, Top 10 Reasons to NOT Bellydance: A Guide for non-Middle Eastern and North African People

Some of this I agree with and some of it is debatable.
This isn't logical-
If I bellydance and know nothing about the culture, then I'm being insensitive and shouldn't bellydance.
But if I do find out about the culture, then I'm being orientalist and imperialistic, and should equally give up.
However, that only applies if I am not of Middle Eastern/North African descent. If I am, then I'm free to be ignorant about my own cultural heritage and still bellydance.

Is there some genetic/spiritual idea going on here - the culture's in your blood?

I wonder why the blogger wouldn't think most of these points apply to everyone, regardless of their cultural background. Presumably a person of Middle Eastern/North African descent can happily learn to bellydance for the sole reason of looking exotic, cute, and sexy. But isn't that just reinforcing a stereotype - that its somehow natural for them to bellydance (there is no indication of the social context in this list)? And under what scenarios would it be okay for a non North African/Middle Easterner to bellydance?
 

Zumarrad

Member
Nah. You have to look at the rest of the statement.
"if you are not of Middle Eastern/North African culture, but have immersed yourself in it and thus feel superior or more knowledgeable than people from said culture, and you act as though you are now an authority"

That is correctly identified as an orientalist stance. It doesn't say don't learn. It says don't learn with the express purpose of positioning yourself as a greater authority than the people for whom it and the music it comes from is normal practice. Or, for that matter, decide after learning that you know more than they do about the dance's uses, origins, meanings etc, about how people from Culture X think of it versus people from Culture Y and so on and so forth. Because "Arab" is not homogenous, as the bloggers remark elsewhere, and what is normal in Egypt is not necessarily the same in Algeria, or wherever. Not every "Arab" is an authority on bellydance but they come from a very different position than you do on it; it is culturally normative practice and they know more about THAT than you do because it is not culturally normative practice for you.

Presumably a person of Middle Eastern/North African descent can happily learn to bellydance for the sole reason of looking exotic, cute, and sexy.
"Exotic" means foreign. Why would a person copy the way their mother and aunties dance around the kitchen if they wanted to look foreign, ie different to what is the "norm" where they live? If I'm in, say, Egypt, and I want to look exotic, I might bleach my hair and try to look like a California girl, and NEVER bellydance because ew, so beledi.

"Cute and sexy" yes, sure, but the contexts are radically different. *Giant generalisation alert*: People in the ME do not generally go to learn how to dance in order to seduce their husbands. They know how to dance. They've been dancing that way since they were tiny children. They copied dancers in movies on TV and the adults around them at domestic social gatherings. If they want to seduce their husband by dancing, they do it as themselves; they are not dressed up as a fantasy of "exoticness" from some foreign sexy land, and if they DO want to dress up and play harem favourite, they are coming from a very different position than we are because it's self-exoticisation, not appropriation.

Contexts are everything.

Contexts that problematise: being raised in a world of professional Western bellydance and it and its traditions therefore being genuinely, truly your "home" dance from infancy, ie being Suhaila Salimpour or Ansuya.
 

Ariadne

Well-known member
Ok I have to ask. Am I the only one who saw "This is not Arab"
above this: not_arab.jpg
...and thought "No sh*t"? (pardon my language)

Is there anyone who actually thinks Tribal Fusion IS Arab? Seriously?
 
Last edited:

Jane

New member
Ok I have to ask. Am I the only one who saw "This is not Arab"
above this: View attachment 9570
...and thought "No sh*t"? (pardon my language)

Is there anyone who actually thinks Tribal Fusion IS Arab? Seriously?
Yes. Most of the general public in my state. GP automatically equates the exotic costuming of American/Fusion Tribal with the modern fantasy "harem girls" they have in their heads from video games and other pop culture stuff. Some of the GP can't relate the sophisticated sequined gown type costumes with their "living in tents and riding camels in the desert" notions. Quite a few of the newer dancers don't know where the fantasy/reality lines are. Some don't care to learn either. Flaming Thai finger air ship pirates on stilts while popping and locking to industrial music remains the rage for a reason.
 

Munniko

New member
I gotta say this....I hate the term exotic when referring to people. Every time I someone says that to me I reply "Yes, much like a pineapple..." I also find their blanketing of "you aren't of this race so don't do it" rather isolating. I mean does that mean I can declare all non-Okinawan people can no longer practice Karate because we invented it?

At the same time I kind of understand the blogs point because I am getting tired of the racist things people say. That though includes my brothers when they get on the xbox and yell at people around the world inappropriate things. Just because we are Asian doesn't mean we can or should be using those words.
 

Jane

New member
It is hard to be a belly dancer. When you start, for whatever reason, you might not know much about the cultures of the Near and Middle East. Some of us are willing to learn as we go and others aren't interested at all. I don't think it's fair to judge all "white women" as ignorant jerks just out to make a sexy spectacle of ourselves. It's just not that simple and everyone is an individual. Sure there are people everywhere who remain willfully ignorant, that's just people.

Isolating and not sharing your culture isn't helpful for people who *want* to learn. Everyone needs a jumping off point and finding common ground with basic humanities is a good place to begin. Food, music, dance, stories, art, we all share these things and can find things to love about our similarities and differences. We can acknowledge that some things are Arab and some things are not and that both are good and unique. I think misrepresenting things as Arab when they are in reality European/Western constructs is the problem, but the main message of the blog is unclear to me. I don't pretend to be Near/Middle Eastern. I am an American who is trying to learn a dance from another culture and do it to the best of my ability. Is that bad too according to the blog? I'm unsure.
 

Munniko

New member
Well I personally found it offensive that they are assuming that only white women are doing this even in one of the two pictures of tribal groups there was clearly an Asian member. I think everyone should be given the opportunity to learn about other cultures and be given the ability to make mistakes while learning. When people are making mistakes or wrongful assumptions and they are politely reminded about it and they deny you are right even when they are referring to your culture then get on your high horse.

I read a huge portion of their blog and their stance on who can belly dance is still very unclear to me, but it seems that a lot of posts are made from the pedestal of judgement (this is just my opinion and I cannot actually prove it)
 

seona

New member
Is there anyone who actually thinks Tribal Fusion IS Arab? Seriously?[/QUOTE]


I must admit it confused me when I first saw it, that was prior to me having the internet and I had no clue of belly dance styles. I saw Rachel Brice in the bdss show and a lady told me that this was her favourite style and it's called 'tribal'. The title confused me and I thought I can't imagine tribal women doing those crazy back bends to Arabic electro fusion :lol: I didn't think it was an Arab dance but I can see why people may get confused! :D


to add - A friend (non belly dance) once organised a festival and a tribal group had got in touch and offered to do workshops and a performance. He told me we have some American tribal dancers coming, and he initially,honestly thought they were native Americans!
 
Last edited:

Roshanna

New member
to add - A friend (non belly dance) once organised a festival and a tribal group had got in touch and offered to do workshops and a performance. He told me we have some American tribal dancers coming, and he initially,honestly thought they were native Americans!
One of my dance friends brought a non-dance friend to a hafla recently where he announced at the end that he'd really enjoyed the native American dancing! I didn't see that one coming, but I can totally see why a newcomer could make that mistake. Most of our local tribal groups perform Fat Chance ATS, so it's always billed as such, and I also like to emphasise that it's American rather than traditional Arabic dance, but sometimes that can spectacularly backfire if our MC doesn't give a whole little history lesson before the first Tribal act :shok:
 

Ariadne

Well-known member
I must admit it confused me when I first saw it, that was prior to me having the internet and I had no clue of belly dance styles. I saw Rachel Brice in the bdss show and a lady told me that this was her favourite style and it's called 'tribal'. The title confused me and I thought I can't imagine tribal women doing those crazy back bends to Arabic electro fusion :lol: I didn't think it was an Arab dance but I can see why people may get confused! :D
My first thought was that it was associated with Techno/Unrban music (my second was that I loved their attitude) and so Arab never entered my mind and I had no idea there was even different styles when I started taking classes! It was just so very different from what I thought of as bellydance (again not knowing about different styles) that the connection was never made. Ok, I can see why people would be confused but to be honest I'm not sure how many people (general public) see Bellydance and think "Arab" either. Not that the connection isn't there but that I doubt people really stop to think about it. Honestly unless you dance why would most people?

The Native American dance confusion is funny. I've caught myself having to clarify "not Native Indian" when talking to others so I can totally believe it!
 

Marissa-Julia

New member
It is hard to be a belly dancer. When you start, for whatever reason, you might not know much about the cultures of the Near and Middle East. Some of us are willing to learn as we go and others aren't interested at all. I don't think it's fair to judge all "white women" as ignorant jerks just out to make a sexy spectacle of ourselves. It's just not that simple and everyone is an individual. Sure there are people everywhere who remain willfully ignorant, that's just people.

Isolating and not sharing your culture isn't helpful for people who *want* to learn. Everyone needs a jumping off point and finding common ground with basic humanities is a good place to begin. Food, music, dance, stories, art, we all share these things and can find things to love about our similarities and differences. We can acknowledge that some things are Arab and some things are not and that both are good and unique. I think misrepresenting things as Arab when they are in reality European/Western constructs is the problem, but the main message of the blog is unclear to me. I don't pretend to be Near/Middle Eastern. I am an American who is trying to learn a dance from another culture and do it to the best of my ability. Is that bad too according to the blog? I'm unsure.
Jane, I couldn't agree more with you! I am a beginner dancer...and pale white with blue eyes lol. I don't pretend to be something I'm not. But that doesn't make me any less interested in learning about this dance form, as well as about the cultures it originated from :)
 
Top