wow. If that's the case then I have one messed up hobby, researching and mimicking historical cultures regardless of my own ancestral background. eesh...
I consider myself a fairly respectful person, so the idea that I am behaving in such a disrespectful manner worried me. I find myself practicing some shower philosophy... mulling this whole thing around in my head while I wash my hair.
I've run into it before, primarily in college during women's studies - the idea that some one who is from a historically priveledged background can not possibly engage with other cultures without being imperialistic and racist or sexist. I really have to take issue with this stance, it feels overly simple and just not right. I am a blonde haired blue eyed WASP, this is entirely undeniably true - I can not escape my white bread mayonaise background or the connotations that it brings with it. I get that. It doesn't change the fact that I have a terrible sense of curiosity when it comes to how people live, how they experience their lives and what gives them a sense of meaning. Sometimes in my explorations I find a tradition that really speaks to me, I enjoy it for whatever it is - a particular flavor of dance, mode of dress, hair treatment/covering, artistic practice etc - and I don't see a problem with that. I don't *think* many other people do either, but maybe I'm wrong, maybe they do.
I certainly agree that taking a holier than thou attitude in 'researching' various 'heathen rituals' is entirely awful - it's a horrible thing and it happens, a lot. It happens way more often than it should and it's a problem that desperately needs to be addressed more often than it is. But I don't believe reacting by keeping cultural practices insular and exclusive is the answer - what does it mean if we don't share it with others?
What are your thoughts? I'm curious to hear, it's something that I feel is important to think about, tell me... If you'd like to read the blog post that I found it is here.
Myself, displaying some fresh henna wearing a sari drapped in a traditional Bengali style