Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Would YOU describe yourself as politically correct??

I wouldn't.. it sounds too much like McCarthy mixed with a social worker from Haringay telling one you just committed a hate crime because you didn't eat up your Aloo Ghobi.

And yet, and yet... I have never laughed about a joke involving black people, women, or any form of disability. I couldn't possibly have sat through that Borat film...

I get quite irate when people make dismissive comments about other nations - in fact I am absolutely allergic to any type of nationalism. "Proud to be so and so"? Why? It is accidental.
Your country may not even care about you very much ( Gary McKinnon!) whilst you're being proud....

So I'd better face up to it :

I hate stereotyping, prejudice and judgmental attitudes.. I am therefore officially PC!

But hang on... do I have no prejudices then?

Do I not get a bit shifty when a group of young black men is walking towards me in town?

Do I not laugh hysterically when a gay friend does a malicious impression of a camp hairdresser?

What exactly is my attitude towards, say, a British hen party?

Oh dear oh dear .. all getting a bit murky here!

What's your take on Prejudice- Stereotype- Political Correctness?

Friday, 6 November 2009

Britain - All the Rage

I'm slightly apprehensive about this blog post. Will it result in hate mail? Furious comments? Total silence? We will see.
When I last lived in Britain, it seemed a gentle and tolerant country. People were textbook-polite, often friendly and helpful.

This is my second sojourn, and I have only been here 4 months. So maybe my impressions are wrong, or one-sided.

I would like to emphasize that in none of my examples have I been directly involved. I have no axe to grind. I see myself as a bystander in this country, not a particpant.

Almost every day, I see the most rage-filled exchanges between drivers who feel cut-up, slighted, or are simply furious about other cars. They hoot their horns, shake their fists, shout abuse out of the window.

I hear busdrivers getting angry with passengers for the smallest offense (like presenting their ticket upside-down.)

I observe people in supermarkets deliberately blocking other shoppers' access to the shelf and then furiously hissing at them when they complain.

People are losing their rags. Violence seems contantly under the surface.

I hear about people being deliberately humiliated by their bosses at work, building up hate fantasies.

I read about gay people getting beaten up in town centres.

"You'd find that everywhere", I hear you say. Maybe. But Britain used to be different. Politer. Nicer. Gentler.

Some years ago, the then Prime Minister, John Major propagated "A nation at ease with itself". Is this still true?

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Frogs - and Other Food Related Stereotypes

Food plays a decisive role when you first visit a country.

I remember when we moved to Holland, my parents were utterly bafflled when they were taken to an Indonesian restaurant there. Rijsttafel- one of the most delicious things ever to cross a border, freaked them. "How can they eat that?" my mother said. I don't think we ever went out a restaurant in Holland after that...

Ethnic sterotypes and prejudices are based on what a nation (conceivably) eats:

- France: Garlic and froglegs ("Frogs")
- Germany : Sausage and sauerkraut ("Krauts")
- Germans call Italians "Spaghetti Gobblers", and the French call the English"Les Rosbif"

Local food makes you query your relationship to the other country: "How can they eat THAT? There must be something wrong with them..."

So food defines nations – at least in the eye of the beholder. And it isn't neutral, there's always an element of "Says it all really" in the observation.

Have you had food experiences that made you re-define your attitude to a new country? That shocked or delighted you? - I'd love to hear them!