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Post Info TOPIC: How important is your culture to you?


Honoured Mook

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How important is your culture to you?


(Feel free to move this if it belongs in another section.) 

I never regarded myself as particularly attached to my heritage or even the culture I belong to, but this weekend that was taken away from me and I realised how much I actually identify myself by it. It has put some questions in my mind and I'd be curious to see how the same issues affect other people. 

Anyway, the boyfriend and I went to visit his parents for lunch so I could meet them. He decided to pre-warn me not to talk too much about my family's heritage. My mother's side of the family were gypsy/circus people; my grandmother was the last of our line to be born in a caravan before she settled. Both my parents grew up on the same, quite rough working-class estate. I was pre-warned against telling his parents this because apparently they don't approve of anything that isn't the embodiment of white, upper-class priviledge.

Continuing in the same vein, he told me not to wear my pentacle in front of them, the symbol of my pagan spirituality which has been around my neck everyday for the past 7 years, because his mother thinks paganism is "evil". Like a mug, I took off the pentacle without question because I wanted his parents to accept me, but now I'm utterly furious with myself for allowing him to walk all over me on his parents' behalf. He should be defending me, not ashamed of me. 

Essentially, his parents liked me but that's only because they don't know the truth about my culture or where I come from. On the one hand I can see that it doesn't even matter, his parents don't have to know about things that are my own business, but on the other hand it makes me so angry because it's not just my own business, it's part of who I am and I shouldn't be ashamed of that or have them look down on me for it. 

How important is your culture to you, mookies?



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Mookish Deity Most High

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That sounds really shit. I've never experienced anything like that culture wise, but I have to cover up my piercings and (to a lesser extent) my tattoos quite regularly. So while not anything to do with my heritage, I can see why you would be so angry.

My culture doesn't mean much to me, I have to say. You may know that I'm Irish, and you may know that our official language here is Irish, but very few people speak it on a day-to-day basis of their own free will. It's taught nationwide in schools, and I think because of how it's taught many people come to resent it so much. I know that's just language, but that's a part of my culture, and it's a dying part of my culture. All of our signs here are bilingual, and I think if they announced tomorrow they were taking the Irish part away I would feel a little bit sad. But honestly, I feel very little attachment to it. And I'm kind of ashamed of that in all honesty.

This is quite wrong of me, but I view Ireland as a very backwards kind of place. Personally I disagree with organized religion, because in my eyes it just breeds hatred, prejudice, war and victims of all of those things. The church and state here are still very much linked. The church is too important over here to a huge portion of the country. That makes me very uncomfortable.The government are a load of wankers who are driving the place into ruin. I know it's not really culture but it really has effected how I see my country, and by extension, Irish culture. (I even feel silly for saying "my country" because I barely feel linked to it. It's just the place I happened to be born in and the place I continue to live).

I don't really know where I'm going with this to be honest. I guess my feelings about all of this are really complex, but basically my cuture is not very important to me, and I don't engage with my cultural values or anything like that much.



-- Edited by Indigo Empress on Monday 25th of February 2013 02:00:24 PM

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Mookish Deity Most High

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I'm British, born in England, and I've spent most of my life saying that we don't have a culture. We nick the bits we like from everyone else's. So on a national front, I personally have nothing to be attatched to. These days, Thai Green Curry is as British as a full English breakfast, and I'm not especially keen on either. However, I'm currently living in Wales (if you missed me banging on about it) at a bi-lingual university. I've always found Wales a bit strange culture-wise. I mean, it's been 'owned' by the English for so much of its history that the culture itself is a bit... out of place. Lots of the schools teach Welsh, but lots of the Welsh speakers I know then never use the language. One of my Welsh flatmates passed her exams in high school and then promptly forgot most of her Welsh. I've lived here just short of half a year, and we speak about the same amount of Welsh. Only one of my flatmates knows and uses Welsh, but she lived on a farm in a tiny village before she moved here. She didn't speak English at home and rarely spoke it in the village because everyone knows Welsh. Lots of people are keen on preserving the Welsh language and culture: but the students consider it a bit annoying. I agree with what Indigo says though, if they took the Welsh off all the bi-lingual signs people would complain (the same way people complain about any changes...).

In respect to my personal background, I was raised on a large council estate (one of the biggest in Europe) and on one hand I hate it when people pull class issues on me. When I first met Tudor, he was attempting to demonstrate contempt for those on benefits from his lofty perch in the middle class (later, he admitted it was just because everyone else at uni had radical ideas that he couldn't agree with, and was just trying to fit in and be interesting). I never want anyone to think I'm ashamed of my background... yet I try extremely hard to avoid speaking like people from my estate (we've developed a fairly distinct accent that can be hard for people to understand). That's because I'd rather people could understand me, and didn't type cast me as the stereotypical thick estate princess, than try and protect that part of myself.

As for the parental issue you had... what happens if you stay with this guy? Eventually you're going to speak to his parents often enough that you're going to have to start talking about your background. Does he expect you to lie about it, or just omit it? And, personally, I'd have kept the pentacle on but slightly hidden it under a shirt or something. Not because I'd be ashamed of it, but to avoid immediate confrontation. That way, something that was important to me would still be close but it wouldn't be glaringly obvious. They'd see you were wearing a necklace, but not exactly what. After a few meetings, when they know your lovely self, you could stop actively hiding it. By that point, it'll just be a necklace you wear and won't mean anything to them because you're a darling.

I doubt that his parents would like you any less if you'd mentioned your background. Without actively preventing conversation going that way: sometimes things just don't come up. It's not like people go into conversations and demand a brief history of the family. I'd never spill everything to someone I just met: not because I don't want them to know or because I think it would colour their perception of me, just because I'd like to get to know them a bit better before I start explaining the religious conundrums and financial bungee jump lurking in the family history.

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Mookish Deity Most High

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Irish is a really beautiful language and I'm extremely sad to know that some day it's going to be just as "obscure" and "unimportant" as Latin. There are actually little parts of the country called Gaeltacht areas, where everyone speaks Irish flutently and on a daily basis - in theory. My mam used to live in one of the said, and when I went to visit I heard a grand total of ONE Irish word. Pathetic!

Anyway, yeah, culture. I have been in your position Meow, and I completely understand how hard it is to stand up for yourself, and how shocking it is to be asked to do so in the first place! I don't think I've ever hidden who I am or what I believe in, but I'm not particularly loud about it either. To be honest, nobody really asks anymore, which once sounded like heaven but now I just think it's kind of sad - nobody cares, nobody wants to understand! Choosing ignorance and casual amusement over outright rudeness... It seems mum isn't always the word.

The more ferocious part of me is half-Greek. If someone accusses me of being typically Irish, I immediately tell them I'm Greek, because I'm ridiculous and like, hello, rude! My Pagan beliefs center largely around the Hellinic Panthenon, as well as Celtic deities and Celebrations - it's a good mix, actually. Greek food is like going home for me, it tends to make me quite emotional, as well as certain smells like say, jasmine, which grows wild in the part of Greece I originate from. The only Greek part of me I'm not pleased with is my name - I want it shortened permanently to Chris... It just feels more like me!




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Mookish Deity Most High

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Whilst I don't think that what happened was right, coming from a background full of people like your boyfriend's parents, I can understand his desire to, what seems to me, protect you from their judgement. Some parents I know would genuinely dislike their children's partners if they found out something untoward about them, even if previously they had no quarrel with them, and even if the "untoward" information was simply that they grew up on a council estate.

One of my previous lovers' parents initially took a shine to me, and then found out some information about my heritage, and subsequently developed a disdain for me. I don't know whether that was owing to cultural differences or just general snobbishness on their part.

Of course, I let them walk all over me, but I am a push-over, and I'm not proud of it. But, then again, I am mostly white British, and I certainly don't think that's anything to be proud of.

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Mookish Deity Most High

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I have no attachment to the English half of my heritage, it's just the piece of land I happened to be born on, and the place my dad happened to be from, and in that respect I see no reason for patriotism or pride of where you're from.
However, some of my mother's proud Scottish tendencies have rubbed off on me ever so slightly and to a small extent that half of my nationality is relatively improtant to me, though I know it's illogical. (although I think since my grandparents on, I find that Scotland as a country means slightly more to me, as it's a place that reminds me of them, but that has nothing to do with heritage).

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Mookish Deity Most High

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As American Indian, I am very proud of my culture. It's a dying culture due to colonialism.

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Honoured Mook

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Angels+Eyeliner wrote:

As for the parental issue you had... what happens if you stay with this guy? Eventually you're going to speak to his parents often enough that you're going to have to start talking about your background. Does he expect you to lie about it, or just omit it? And, personally, I'd have kept the pentacle on but slightly hidden it under a shirt or something. 


 

This is exactly my point to him- we should be moving in together this summer, I'm not going to keep pagan stuff out of my own home when they visit just because they don't like it. I usually do keep the necklace under my shirt anyway, and the the top I was wearing meant they wouldn't have seen it. 

I don't know, I thought I was making a big deal out of it, but perhaps he just has good, if misplaced intentions to protect me from them, when I'd rather have it all out in the open from the start. I didn't realise until this weekend just how much that stuff means to me. 



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Mookish Deity Most High

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I think one's culture is one of those things that get more noticable in its absence. I am Swedish, and like most swedes, I'm quick to go like "Wha, do we have a culture? Where?". But when I moved to the UK, I started seeing all those things that I'd always valued, but which nobody cared about there. Because those were part of the Swedish culture all along! (for instance, December in London sucked. No julmust, no lussekatter, and people eat turkey and brussel sprouts and stuff like that for Christmas dinner. Then I realized how important "my" culture was to me, at times.) I started missing things like the kind of humor shows there are on TV. Intrinsically Swedish things. So yes, I'd say that my culture is fairly important to me, but it's only really noticable when it isn't all around me.



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Mookish Deity Most High

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Leikin wrote:

No julmust, no lussekatter, and people eat turkey and brussel sprouts and stuff like that for Christmas dinner. 


 I'd just like to say that I LOVE Swedish Christmas. It's the best.



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Mookish Deity Most High

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^I've always thought it sounded pretty amazing.

I miss South African culture a lot. I miss it every day. Like most of you have said though, you only really realise the importance of your culture when you're disconnected from it. I miss our food (I still buy some as a treat, but who can afford the prices these stores charge? They know you miss home, so they know you'll pay up) even the stuff I can't eat anymore as a vegetarian, which is a lot of it.
I miss our TV shows, sunny Christmases, and despite all the lovely people I've met in the UK, I really miss the people. I was discussing this with a woman from California who feels the same way - the English tend to be very polite regardless of what they think of you, whereas South Africans (and Americans, apparently) will tell you to your face what they think. English people are always telling me how rude/blunt they find South Africans, and I understand because I've adapted, but I secretly miss that a lot because there's no pretending, you know where you stand with people.

I would love to go back home, I miss sitting on the beach all day in the sunshine, I miss that there was a lot less emphasis in SA on clubbing and going to bars. I definitely do miss my culture, and I wish there was some way I could feel connected to it again.

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High Mookish Shaman

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Leikin wrote:

I think one's culture is one of those things that get more noticable in its absence. I am Swedish, and like most swedes, I'm quick to go like "Wha, do we have a culture? Where?". But when I moved to the UK, I started seeing all those things that I'd always valued, but which nobody cared about there. Because those were part of the Swedish culture all along! (for instance, December in London sucked. No julmust, no lussekatter, and people eat turkey and brussel sprouts and stuff like that for Christmas dinner. Then I realized how important "my" culture was to me, at times.) I started missing things like the kind of humor shows there are on TV. Intrinsically Swedish things. So yes, I'd say that my culture is fairly important to me, but it's only really noticable when it isn't all around me.


 Definitely. I never thought of myself as having a particularly deep Englishness (sure there's a better way to phrase it than that, heh) until I lived abroad for the first time. You'll never catch me waving little Union Jacks around or proclaiming my love for the queen but I couldn't imagine being happy anywhere else.



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Mookish Deity Most High

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I've never really considered myself to be attached to my culture. I'm Scottish but I don't speak Gaelic (despite the government spending tons of money to make signs bi-lingual) and don't know anyone who does. I like traditional Scottish folk tunes and I can do a fair few traditional Scottish Country dances. I don't celebrate Burn's night or St Andrews Day.

I think I would miss aspects of Scotland (Irn Bru, tablet, the accent) if I was to live elsewhere but, generally, so long as I was in a country that had women's rights and I could wear what I wanted etc I would probably be quite happy.

I've never hidden parts of myself, other than for "professional image" in work environments. I can't imagine being too happy if someone told me that their family would dislike me for where I grew up or what I believed. I also can't see myself being with them for very long because I expect a partner to be on my side and be proud to be with me.



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High Mookish Shaman

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most of you you will know that im very very attatched to my city of origin (liverpool) more so than my country as a whole there is a rich history here and im very proud of that, liverpool is a big part of who i am and has helped shape my personality

as for faith thats another part of who i am, i am a person of faith an i sometimes get persecuted for this

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High Mookish Shaman

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I never thought that I really had a culture until I actually started paying attention and noticing my traditions and customs. I fast for lent, because I come from a Christian family, and I am loath to do anything much on a Sunday as it is our special day for rest, family and prayer.

I guess once you are taken out of your cultural setting you start to notice just how important it is to you.

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Mookish Deity Most High

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I didn't think I was particularly attached to English/British culture until I tried living in a different country and was unable to adjust.

I missed pubs where you could have a quiet drink with a few friends or take part in a pub quiz and Sunday roasts, I missed a lot of different foods that I just couldn't get hold of, I even missed things that you never notice like hearing your own language every day in passing or the times of the day when you eat. I also disliked the general drinking culture in Spain, where everything was open till later but getting drunk was considered a bad thing to avoid, I mean, I know it's not healthy but if I intend on going out I like to get drunk. I even found myself missing the weather and just wanting it to rain.

I notice my local culture when I'm down south. I come from an ex mining town which I think has heavily influenced my political views because I consider myself a hardline labour voter and have nothing but disdain for the conservative party (afterall, they closed the mines), which is the norm here and I was actually offended when during a conversation I overheard a dreadful impersonation of the miners by a southern woman so I suppose my local culture must be important enough for me to be offended by people mocking it.

I'm from a working class/council estate background too, but never tried to hide it, I figure if people have a problem with it, it's not my problem, but just an indicator of their own problems, whether it's some sort of insecurity or just being shallow, and they will have to resolve that one on their own.

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Mookish Deity Most High

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I just watched a fantastic programme put together for the Gathering and my love of Irish creativity has been ferociously re-kindled. We've got some talented fuckers on this island!



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Runic Mook of the North (mod)

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I haven't answered this thread before, because it is hard for me to say something about it without it turning into an essay. I've cut it down considerably, omitted central pieces of my cultural identity like metal music and being a bookworm.

My cultural heritage is immensely important to me. By my cultural heritage I do not mean nationality (even though building national identity is very much part of your up-bringing in Norway) partly because the borders between the Nordic countries are so artificial anyway. It isn't until I go outside that area that I notice any real differences. For example, Leikin mentioned Christmas. That is something that is incredibly important in Nordic countries, and while I happily adapt to regional differences here, I'll only have to go to England before I start missing "proper" Christmas celebrations.

Still, I've spent some time as an ex-pat, hanging out with people who move around so much that their identity is global and that have rubbed off. Combined with a very physical heritage of the family farm (I'll spare you the lecture on the importance of odel) I've become quite the glocalist. I consider my ancestral soil to be a very real part of me, I'd rather loose a limb than the farm, but as long as it's been there waiting for me I've been happy all over the world. Sure, some places disagree with me but they make me want to go somewhere else rather than back to a more familiar cultural area.

What I've noticed to have been incredibly important for my identity though is socioeconomic class. My family are all working class, and I'm frankly a bit baffled to see that some of you say that that is something that one might want to hide. Because for me, it is something I'm intensely proud of. And not only the nice kind of pride either, it takes conscious effort on my part to beat down my ingrained gut belief that working class people are superior to people from other social classes. After all, one's honour and value as a human being can be measured in how good one is at working with one's hands. The workers who do physical labour are the ones that carry the society, everyone else is, if not necessarily leeches, not quite doing their part. The middle classes are mostly imposing bad morals on society, God is a nasty clever scheme to control people and "high culture" decadent faff -probably another scheme to keep the leeches on top -at least that was my immediate reaction to reading Bordieu.

I say all this a bit tongue in cheek though, I recognise that it is bigotry to feel contempt for other socioeconomic classes than my own and I do not really find it problematic to treat people as individuals. But I imagine it would be pure mayhem if I ever encountered a situation like described in the OP...

Happily, the first thing my father-in-law said to me after the introduction was "we are not posh people".

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Mookish Deity Most High

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I find cultural questions very difficult to answer- I don't like being asked where I'm from when the number of houses I've lived in goes well into the double figures, and I attended six different schools. I think my heritage is equally muddy, as whilst my grandparents are undoubtedly working class and my parents were born into and raised in working class houses on working class estates, I definitely am not working class- I am a privately educated university student who has middle class practically tattooed on my forehead. I think my parents are now also middle class, despite now having no money, driving crappy cars and living in a tiny house. Some sort of transformation has been made, it's just hard to tell where and when it happened. Similarly, I have Romany heritage, which fascinates me because I have a lot of Romany features, but I am not Romany myself because I have no touch of their culture, and my family don't talk about it. I think my lack of defining culture has led me to pursue it in other ways, seeking out online communities like this one, and I think my dabbling in Paganism has a young teen was similarly looking for a shared defining feature. I've often felt on the outside of my peer group, and having a small group of "people like me" was something I think I very much wanted.

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Mookish Deity Most High

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I'm Black (or African American) who has an Native American (Oji-Cree) grandparent and great -grand on my dad's side and an Irish American great-grandfather on my mom's side but I identify myself as part of the American culture.

My life revolves around food and tv, yes the violent kind. I have a very strong belief in the supernatural and paranormal. Ghosts, aliens, psychic abilities, and haunted places are not far fetched in my world. I practice hoodoo (african/native american roots) and I'm Christian. IMO Halloween deserves to be a national holiday and Thanksgiving is my other favorite holiday as it is the only true holiday I bond with my family. The only thing I look forward to in the summer time is BBQ  and festivals. As much as I love tea nothing tops coffee, delicious black coffee. I'm lazy, rude, and sometimes I crank my music up to annoying levels. Being an American is important to me. True it has it's faults but I still love it for the most part!

 



-- Edited by MarshmallowNoise on Monday 16th of September 2013 04:06:15 PM

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Regular Crew

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I'm a very ethnically mixed American from Chicago, and I currently live in the South (against my will; I'm too broke to leave my present town of residence), so I can probably be considered to have some kind of culture, but I deem all cultural benefits aesthetic, at best. Southern (and, by extension, American) culture may not be the most glamorous, anyway, but let's face it; no matter how beautiful the art, or how amazing the accomplishments, of any culture, it's NOT a good thing, nor is it necessary. It's why we can even have patriarchy, or any kind of societally permeating irrationality. The only alternatives of potentially comparable scope are based on fact, and while the objective reality of nature obviously doesn't necessarily constitute superiority to human interference, it almost always ends up being better than most of our beliefs, regardless. Our opinions won't give us the Singularity, but a more effective utilization of natural resources might.

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Annointed Queen of Mook - Founder and Editor

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Hi Lucas, you did mention to say if we need clarification, and I got lost with the second half there!

Culture definitely has disadvantages. The way I see it, in encouraging "us" it can also run the risk of perpetuating "them", but I'm intrigued as to whether it's necessary or not.

I guess I can't imagine culture not existing. When I think of culture I think of a linking thread between people, either in history or geographically or, nowadays especially with the internet, interests. From what I see, people tend to clump up and hang together based on shared commonalities. It might be just that they live in the same state/country, or it might be that shared interests have led them to find each other online.

I worked in the UK's first internet cafe so I've been online awhile, and even when it was a completely unexplored country and no-one knew what they were doing, people clumped up and created culture. So, if creating culture is something we do even when we're offered a blank slate to work on, maybe there's something about it that is genuinely unavoidable?

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Mookish Deity Most High

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Sorry, but how is culture as concept responsible for patriarchy? There are definitely cultures which do appear to promote a patriarchy, but I think it's unfair to assume that all cultures contribute to this. I'll admit that I don't know too much about other cultures, but I don't think that you can say that it's an inherently bad thing to have culture, unnecessary, perhaps, but not all cultures perpetuate societal injustice.

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Mookish Deity Most High

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Inky wrote:

Sorry, but how is culture as concept responsible for patriarchy? There are definitely cultures which do appear to promote a patriarchy, but I think it's unfair to assume that all cultures contribute to this. I'll admit that I don't know too much about other cultures, but I don't think that you can say that it's an inherently bad thing to have culture, unnecessary, perhaps, but not all cultures perpetuate societal injustice.


I think that in every culture certain societal injustices are present, and a lot of these injustices occur because of patriarchy. But I've no idea how culture as a concept is responsible for patriarchy... I think it would be fair to say that patriarchy is evident in many aspects of culture?



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Mookish Deity Most High

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I think it probably is fair to say that patriarchy is evident in many aspects of culture, but what that doesn't take into consideration is that culture is a constantly changing thing, and that there are many cultures working towards a more egalitarian society. Whether such a thing can truly exist remains to be seen, but I think that patriarchy is largely a social construct rather than a cultural one, especially in cultures which are quite separated from religion, and I do think that patriarchy I can be eradicated, whilst still leaving culture.

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Regular Crew

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Ughhh I love talking about culture. There's a theory that culture existed before humans did, and I believe that. I agree that patriarchy is a social construct to a degree alright.Culture is constantly changing, I'm Irish and Chinese food is totally part of my culture, the same way Italian food is part of German culture.

My nationality is very important to me, people died so that I could call myself an Irish citizen. I'm also a practicing Catholic, which is probly a cliche. However I'm also a feminist and an LGBTQ ally, so I'm not backward in any sence at all. I think normal people, who happen to be Catholic get a lot of stick because of the hateful Catholics who ruin it for everyone. If I were a Muslim girl wearing the headscarf, I think I'd get a lot more positive reactions ie. "You go girl, you practice your religion, fight the patriarchy!" than I do when I say I'm a Catholic to people. It's also part of Irish culture to only know a few words of Irish after being taught it in school for 6 years. I'm not fluent in Irish at all, but it's handy to have a few words of it when you want to say something privately when your abroad.

I love my country and my nationality, but the government here is awful.

So there's my two cents anyway, I study culture in Uni.

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Regular Crew

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i was referring to virtually all extant, traditionally defined culture, not hypothetical manifestations of ubiquitous socialization. i agree, it is a shame that some of the most of the creative elements of society are so inexorably intermingled with arbitrary barbarism, but that's how it is, IMO, even now.

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