Tuesday, 19 August 2008

What Exactly Offends You?

Someone has pulled the carpet under my feet when it comes to political correctness. Because I swear to God, I have no idea what is acceptable and what isn't, these days.

The Spanish Olympic basketball teams have apologised for the picture. And the Chinese aren’t terribly offended, by the looks of it. But everyone else and their pet turtles are.

Perhaps I should begin by asking, "Since when did slitty eyes become a bad thing??" I have dated many Chinese men in my 29 years of roaming the planet we fondly call Earth, and I think it looks very good on them, in case you hadn't noticed yourself.

You know ol' Stevie of You-Tiup? He has slitty eyes and he's very cute. I should know - I've gone out with him before AND sat in his famed 1990 Honda CRX with a 1.6l DOHC ZC engine before it got sold off. (Eat your hearts out, girls).

How could natural physical features ever be a bad thing?

I once went to Kenny Rogers for lunch with three of my Malaysian-Chinese colleagues. If you've never been there, I should explain that their meal-set provides for one muffin, the flavour of which is your choice.

Yours truly picked chocolate, while the other three picked banana and vanilla flavours, I think. When the muffins arrived together, I found it amusing.

"Look," I pointed out, "we've chosen our flavours according to our skin tones!"

I was severely chastised for that. "You shouldn't say that about your own skin colour," my colleague rebuked me.

I don't understand why. I'm Malaysian-Indian. I'm dark.

Compared to a Scandinavian, I'm charcoal. Compared to the Spaniards, I'm somewhat tanned. Compared to the average Malaysian-Indian, I'm sort of light-skinned. Compared to an African, I'm paleface.

So-freaking-what? I love my skin colour. Don't presume that I don't like it. Don't presume that being light or dark-skinned is a bad thing. It isn't, no more than having slitty eyes.

And why can't people refrain from speaking on behalf of other people? Most of the outrage came from people who know neither the Chinese nor the Spanish.

I've lived in Madrid for a bit. I think they're probably the most friendly people in the European continent, though I admit, I haven't been to every single country in Europe. Yet. :)

But seriously. I've been on the Metro, sat in their buses, gone into their stores, driven on their roads, filled up fuel at their stations - and not been discriminated against, even once.

The fuel station story is an interesting one. I figured theirs would be self-service like Malaysian ones, but I didn't know what the procedure might be like. So I asked my colleague, Emilio, what the word for 'full tank' was.

"Lleno," he told me. It just means 'full'. I also discovered they didn't have swipe counters at the kiosk like we do here, and I didn't want to leave my credit card with the guy manning the store inside.

"Would he be worried about serving a foreigner?" I asked Emilio.

Emilio looked bemused. He obviously hadn't considered that situation. "Just tell him you're a foreigner and leave your pasaporte as exchange, if he asks," Emilio finally suggested doubtfully.

I wasn't too comfortable with that idea, but I had no choice.

At the petrol station, I stated my request to the store clerk. He smiled, nodded and waved me on. I didn't have to leave my credit card, a cash deposit or even my passport.

He just trusted me - a foreigner - completely. Heck, I could have driven off without paying. There's no one in Malaysia who would trust me so explicitly and yet, I'm a citizen of this goddamn country.

This woman has lived in Spain for two years and she agrees with me that whatever they may be, the Spaniards aren't racist.

My friend Tim, has a very apt saying, which could be used to describe the Spanish Olympic basketball team.

'Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity'.


walla said...

this blogger has a beautiful mind.


Jingo said...

you got that right!

rox said...

Me got no slitty eyes. And WHAT! You dated Stevie? You lucky, lucky girl! ;)

Axinar said...

"I love my skin colour."

Yes ... we know ... :)

It's just this deep seated desire you have to jump ship to another ETHNICITY typically with a remarkably similar skin colour ... :)

Crankshaft said...

Walla - beautiful face, too! :p
But also very the perasan.


Rox, hehehe. :) Stevie is great company, and he is acquainted with half of the world population. No shit.

What I really like about Chinese culture (or at least the one Stevie's family is into) is that they take things easy.

I met his sister and mom and bro-in-law and friends, and no one did a double take at me being there.

Now if it was the reverse and I had brought Stevie to introduce to my parents, they'd have flipped.

I ought to blog about the pains of being Crankshaft one day.


Ax, I don't necessarily WANT to be Black, I just find them to be an amusingly colourful bunch!

walla said...

i want that roti canai soon.

Patricia said...

I couldn't agree with you more, says this chocolate muffin! ;)

I am married to the cutest and handsome-est chinamen ever! So don't they give me no lip about slitty eyes or whatever.

For me and Chuan, race, colour, whatever, doesn't figure in the equation. When you like someone, or you love someone, race and other shit like that ceases to exist. You are just two people. And that is all that matters.


GobloKing said...

I am somewhat puffy slitty eyed..but have never considered it insulting if ppl pulled a slitty on me.

A friend & I were in Rome Airport many eons ago & a little Italian boy kept looking between her (even more pronounced) slitty eyes and mine.

Finally he asked us "Can u see with yr eyes?" His mum pulled him away - being embarassed but we just howled! He's right!

The truth can't be denied. So laugh with it lah!

You know who hv no color bias? KIDS! I never for a moment of my childhood thought my playmates were different from me because of their color.

But you know why we grow up with this bias? Our blessed family & our environment!

Try to catch the 1958musical "South Pacific". There's a song "You've got to be carefully taught" Lyrics below:
"You've got to be taught to hate and fear
You've got to be taught from year to year
It's got to be drummed in your dear little ear
You've got to be carefully taught

You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made
And people whose skin is a different shade
You've got to be carefully taught

You've got to be taught before it's too late
Before you are six or seven or eight
To hate all the people your relatives hate
"You've got to be carefully taught?

Anonymous said...

beauty is subjective and what's considered 'beautiful'or desirable in one culture isn't necessarily accepted in another. Like the story about an African king, enamoured by the charm and wit of a beautiful hollywood actress lamenting to her "if only you were black and fat i could have married you"

Knights Templar said...

Nice ...

jugular said...

Hi chocolate muffin :)

Couldn't agree more. Having been subject to not a few jokes in my adopted country based on my cultural background I find it amusing rather than offensive.

Crankshaft said...

Pat - you're so sweet! :)

GobloKing, the song is so apt! Funny it should mention eyes and skin colour - the 2 topics I had to wax lyrical about! :)

Anon, I wonder which Hollywood actress it was. :p

Hehehe. Hi jugular. Fair dinkum, mate? How could they not appreciate Brit humour and eccentricities??!

jugular said...

How can you tell when a plane load of poms land at Sydney airport?

They turn off the engines and you can still hear a loud whining sound.

Crankster said...

Hahaha! But I have met the Brits who complain a lot. I was in Fiumicino airport in Rome when the flight was delayed.

Dunno if you're aware that Fiumicino has a great view of aircraft taking off? I was spellbound, but there was this British woman (judging by her accent) who thought it fit to complain to her husband every five minutes about the delay.

Perhaps British men are hard of hearing or remembering things.

Now I understand British weather, though. :)

But otherwise I like the pommie bastards and their sense of humour!

Stevie said...


my eyes got slitty just for you, you sexy thing.

Crankster said...

Ah, my huney-bunny-wunny. Miss you so.