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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Ethics and Politics » T-Shirt

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Author Topic: T-Shirt
Boldly Obscure
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(hopefully this belongs here...)
So I was just wondering about the politics of a certain t-shirt that i bought a few days ago. I didn't realize it at the time, but my mother pointed out that it could be deemed offensive or inappropriate on a few different levels... Just to describe it a bit, there is a picture of a Buddha in the middle, with the words "rub my tummy for good luck" written around it. The Buddha's tummy just so happens to be right across my chest, which I also didn't realize at the time of its purchase. Pretty much just thought it was a cute shirt.
Does anyone find this inappropriate or offensive? My mother seemed to find it culturally degrading, and an invitation to people to touch my chest. Thoughts, anyone?

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Gumdrop Girl
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I'm a Buddhist, and I am EXTREMELY offended by that shirt.

Seems a lot of the Judeo-Xtian West missed the boat here. The Buddha is NOT meant to be rubbed for luck. His images are not to be worshipped as idols (the idea is to worship the ideas, not the figurines). Heck, given that the Buddha teaches that we should avoid attachment to worldly goods, I find it ironic (and not in a good way) that there are corporations making MONEY off images of the Buddha.

So yeah, the shirt oughtta go. far. away.

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JamsessionVT
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Well, I'm also buddhist, so I agree with Gummy on most of it.

I don't think it is as big a deal that the shirt's graphics happened to be centered over your breasts (I've seen much worse...in fact, there are many shirts on the market that have comments written on them meant to be about the wearer's breasts) as it is the message that it's sending. Unfortunately, I don't think many young adults know enough of other cultures, buddhism in this case, to really know that it IS culturally degrading to print a message like that on a shirt. Gumdrop Girl pretty much said it: one of the big teachings in buddhism is to seperate yourself from possessions, so printing that sort of message on a t-shirt is very ironic.

I doubt anyone who isn't buddhist or knows very little of the buddhist culture will understand the shirt anymore than a picture of a fat guy telling you to rub is tummy. But for those out there who do understand it, it's a reason to be careful about a persons beliefs and feelings. So, I'd say find a better use for it than clothing. A dust rag , for example. [Smile]

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Boldly Obscure
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So, pretty much, scrap the shirt because it gives off a message of ignorance and is offensive to the unfortunately small portion of the population who is educated enough to pick up on the (false) concept? Okay, good reasons. Will do.
But, why on earth is it that no one teaches us anything about culture at school? Isn't being aware of other peoples' religions and beliefs kind of an essential life skill? (Not denouncing my own responsibility here, I am guilty as charged) I just think it would be really interesting to actually learn something which is applicable to real life situations, instead of being taught four years in a row how to write a correctly formatted essay and make footnotes.
Oh, and Gumdrop Girl, what do you mean when you say "most of the Judeo-Christian West seems to have missed the boat here"?
Also, how did the misconception that one is supposed to rub the Buddha for luck get started?
Sorry if this is getting a little off topic...

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September
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Ya know, I've been saying for years that the school is not a place for religions. Of course knowing the difference between Buddhism and silly superstitions is part of cultural awareness, and everyone should know a few basics about cultural awareness, but the school is simply not the right venue for that.

The problem starts with the fact that, at least in the US (but also in most other Western countries) the predominant religion is some form of Christianity and any class on religion is almost automatically going to be biased into that direction. And even if you can manage to balance it out, which religions should you include? Because this is where it really starts. If you want to include Islam, for example, that's just bound to start discussions. And even just sticking to the major religions isn't going to be enough because someone will feel discriminated against and left out. And it's just really impossible to have a class that includes everything from A for Agnosticism to Z for Zororastrianism because there wouldn't be enough time.

So really, if you're interested in religions (and hey, kudos to you for wanting to educate yourself) your best bet is really to spend some quality time at the local library.

[ 05-17-2006, 02:49 PM: Message edited by: September ]

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Johanna
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JamsessionVT
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I think Gumdrop Girl and I were leaning more towards scraping the shirt to avoid offending those who PRACTICE buddhism in any form, rather than those who are simply educated about it (it has actually become very popular these days, however much of it is incorporating the teachings into one's everyday life).

However, you can learn about religions without actually preaching them. My freshman year in highschool, we did a great deal on 5 predominant religions, their beliefs, conflics associated with them, etc. I think they were Catholicism, Judiasm, Buddhism, Islam, and Hinduism. And while these may cover the biggies, many religions are actually subcategories of the larger ones, or take big parts of them to form their own. So, on the whole, if you look at religion, many of them teach very similiar ideas.

So, there are certainly ways to learn about something without forcing their teachings. I wish more schools would incorporate some sort of cultural integration into their curriculums, b/c as far as I'm concerned, most areas in the U.S just aren't diverse enough to really get a good idea of cultures. But if you have access to resources like your local library, Aranel, it would be a great idea to spend an afternoon reading up.

I don't know exactly how the whole rub-my-belly bit came into existence, but I can tell you that there is a figure based on a chinese monk called Hotei or Bu-Dai. He is often seen in temples/monasteries, restaurants, etc, and is probably better know in english speaking countries as the laughing buddha. He is incorporated into Buddhist cultures, thus the connection to buddhism, and often represents contentment, good luck and abundance. So put that together and I wouldn't be surprised if someone saw a statue of a fat bald guy in a restaurant one day and came up with "rub my tummy".

[ 05-17-2006, 04:59 PM: Message edited by: JamsessionVT ]

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greenapp1es
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September...I would like to disagree with you about saying that school is not the place for religions. I just think it has to be careful how it is done.

I took "world religions" as a college class, which taught about all world religions while trying to explain them and their practices from the viewpoint of those who practice that faith. This included watching a video of a tour of india where hinduisim was explained through that light, reading passages of the koran, reading essays of the religious experiences and practice of the tribal people of africa...etc. The point of the class was to gain an understanding of the religion from the point of view of that religion's beleifs...and to try to view how the different religions operatate without bias of the faith we were raised.

Also, in History in high school, when we discussed a given culture or event in history a very, very basic look into that culture's religious beliefs was mentioned, or how religion played an effect on the event. It's kind of hard to learn about the crusades without understanding the difference between christianity and islam, for example. When we studied ancient china, we learned the basic fundamental points of taoism, confucianism, and buddhism. In studing the culture of ancient isreal, we learned the fundamentals of judiasm. All of the different religions were explained by the end of the year on a very base level, not enough to be a background to practice...but enough to recognize the religions and the basic tennants of them and how they play into the culture of those peoples.

Where religion in schools becomes dangerous is when religiosity influences coursework and how it is taught. My boyfriend went to a private catholic high school, where all of every subject was taught with a judeo-christian Catholic slant. My boyfriend's government teacher went so far as to grade non-Catholics, or those who she did not consider to be "good Catholics" more harshly than those who were on the ministry team, for example. I understand this was a private school, but it does illustrate my point. The controvercy over evolution vs. intelligent design ties in with this, as school is being attempted to be taught at a faith angle.

Teaching about the different religions in school, so far as it is from a "these are the tennants, this is what this culture believes" standpoint without slant I believe is ok. I believe that it can actually be beneficial to the "cultural awareness" issue that the origional poster brought up. The problem comes when any one belief system affects the teaching of any given subject, or is used to slant the perception of another beleif system.

I truly hope this doesn't hijack the thread...I'll be happy to open/continue discussion elsewhere if it does. Just my take...

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September
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I'd reply to this, but I am not sure if the original poster would be okay with this off-topic-discussion. Aranel, if this is not okay let us know, so we can continue this elsewhere.

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Johanna
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Beppie
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It is a slight veer off topic. Perhaps start a new one in the All About You forum? [Smile]
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PenguinBoy
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I'm pretty sure what i've learn't at school (UK) is compulsary, i've learnt about loads of religions at school in "religious studies", spent about 3 months atleast studying budhism 3 years ago. The only problem in Religious studies at school is that the teachers are verry rarely good ones. I don't know why that is, but they all seem to be very young, usually non-english student-teachers and not very good at controlling a class.

I don't identify myself as a budhist, but i do take allot of influence from budhism in my own inner contemplations. I don't really find the t-shirt offensive. i find it worying that people might not be verry well informed. and buddah being a commercial fashion item isn't that great though not that contraversial. Allot people i know who wear a gold cross round their necks just for the look. I wouldn't chose to wear something like that tshirt. but in my opinion people have a right to wear it if they'd like to. They will however probably be judged by it and should expect it.

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Boldly Obscure
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Well, I'm not sure if it is allowed, but the veer off topic really doesn't bother me at all. It was kind of what I intended to happen, actually, as I was really not expecting a direct answer to the question about my t-shirt because it is quite a complex topic. In my opinion.
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September
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Okay. In that case, I've got a short response to what greenapp1es said.

I'm aware that it's possible to touch on religions in different contexts, such as literature and history. And this is done in quite a few high schools and it's a pretty good start. But nevertheless, that information is going to be limited and someone who really wants to learn something about a religion will have to seek that information outside of school. It's just not possible to touch on all religions or cover them thoroughly. And like I said, I don't really think a school is the place where something like that can be made possible.

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Johanna
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greenapp1es
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Well....until college anyway [Wink] But then college is not at all like high school and is intended for thorough and more complete indepth study. My world religions class did quite a good job. But...I do concede that high school would not really be hospitable enviornment for more than I cited above.
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Heather
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Of course, going to a school/living in a community which is diverse, period, often changes that scenario a lot.

For instance, while the students of my juniour high -- the LEAST diverse community I spent time in growing up -- were at least 80% Jewish (for our Chicago users, on the furthest northwest side of the city and in Skokie), I also had two close Hindi friends, a Latvian Catholic friend, a Catholic friend whose family immigrated from Mexico a couple years before, a couple Christian friends, a couple Tibetan Buddhist friends, etc. By the time I got to high school and we did do world religions (mind, it was an advanced high for working student artists) it was basically an afterthought, and very easy to balance, even though everything was touched on lightly, given the range of world religions, in an inner-city Chicago high school.

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Boldly Obscure
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** Just an update on what i did with said shirt **

Well, I did not turn it into a dust rag. I recently received this amazing book on how to alter your t-shirts using scissors, etc. and found this one design that allowed me to keep the shirt, but pretty much obliterate the message on the front. I changed the front to the back, then cut some diamond shaped holes all the way down the back and tied the loose ends together. It is now a very cool shirt, with no offensive designs! [Smile] just thought I would mention that as I am quite proud of it. The book is called "Generation T" if anyone is interested...

More on the current topic, I am constantly surprised by the diversity of my community. My elementary school was pretty much white and christian, with no Asians, a few Jews and one Black person. By the time I got to Middle school, it was starting to branch out a bit and now in high school I could probably find someone to represent nearly every cultural group I could think of. It was quite a sudden transition from an environment where no one would be offended by an off-key cultural refferance to one where something racist would be picked up instantly. On one hand, I adore the cultural differences because they offer a great opportunity for everyone to grow as a person. On the other, I think that a lot of racism etc. probably comes from our countries being so integrated, what with the whole global village concept and all. Which pretty much sucks, because integration is such an amazing thing when people are open about it. (For the record, this is not speaking against integration in the least. It's just that every situation has its pros and cons)

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Heather
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Might I ask why you think racism stems from integration, just out of curiousity?

I ask, because that stands pretty counter to most thought and theory on the matter, as well as a lot of historical/cultural patterns., and much study on bias in general, which generally finds that the LESS exposure someone has to diversity, the more biased they tend to be. Looking at much of the American south DURING staunch segregation, for instance, and afterwards -- while there was a period in transition that was intense -- it's pretty clear that integration wasn't the cause of racism.

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Boldly Obscure
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Right. I only think that racism would stem from integration in the way that if everyone were exactly the same, there would be nothing to base prejudice on. I suppose I am using the term integration somewhat incorrectly in this situation... I am not referring to integration as in the ideal cultural experience to have in a society, but in the sense of people of different races being together in the first place. Racism couldn't possibly exist if no one even knew about the existance of people from different races than them, therefore if neither integration, segregation nor assimilation had the opportunity to be put into effect, there would be no racism.

However, if you don't look back as far as the first people travelling out of their areas of origin and meeting others who were different from them and stick to where we are today, racism certainly wouldn't be logically traced back to integration. Presently, integration is a great experience for all and it is when we are segregated from people who are different from ourselves (but are aware of them and do encounter them eventually) that we develop prejudices against them.

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PenguinBoy
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I can see where your comming from. My school is mainly a white english christian kinda place. Racism exists, but it's just not an issue as there are very few people to be racist towards. but the fact is i know it'd be allot worse if i were in one of the other local schools. Where race is more diverse and people congregate in groupes reliant on their race, and it all gets very competative and very violent.

I'd far rather prefer it if racism occured less because people were more tolerant. Not because it wasn't relevant. But i suppose we should just do the best we can.

[ 05-20-2006, 10:33 AM: Message edited by: PenguinBoy ]

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stacia
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i dotn think when the people made the tshrt i dont think they noticed the tummy of the buddah would be across the person wearing its chest ki think it was supposed to just be a cute t shirt that got tooken out of hand

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Gumdrop Girl
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stacia, the thing that was offensive at all about the shirt was that it had a picture of the Buddha on it. Not just the placement, but the fact that they were mocking a religion and selling it to people. That was very inconsiderate of the shirt makers.

But I do like what Aranel did with the shirt. Very cool idea. Way to be creative!

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O
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[ 12-12-2006, 07:46 PM: Message edited by: Officer Friendly ]

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logic_grrl
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The thing is, it's really not up to you to decide what people of other religions can or can't be offended by.

Many people would be offended precisely by the idea that it's okay for a central image in their religion to be commercialized as a "cute, silly" "suggestive little gimmick".

Different people within a religion will react differently, but Boldly Obscure asked for opinions and Gumdrop Girl explained how she felt as a Buddhist.

And it sounds like Boldly Obscure came up with a really creative way to modify the shirt [Smile] .

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Beppie
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Officer Friendly, Boldly Obscure came here and asked a question about an image that invokes a particular religion (for want of a better word-- it's not always the best term to describe Buddhism), specifically expressing concerns about it being culturally degrading. People who actually follow that tradition to confirm that her fears were valid, and in response to that Boldly changed her shirt. Nobody forced her to do it-- she made a choice based on the way in which people who practice Buddhism viewed that particular image.

You say you are a Christian, so I ask you: how would you feel if someone was mass-marketing pictures of Jesus on the cross with a message saying "Rub my belly to remove sin"? Wouldn't you prefer that your friends avoided promoting such an image out of respect for your beliefs?

Mindmeld with Logic! [Big Grin]

[ 12-12-2006, 07:19 PM: Message edited by: Beppie ]

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O
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[ 12-12-2006, 07:45 PM: Message edited by: Officer Friendly ]

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Beppie
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Officer, I hope you didn't feel overly set upon here-- Logic_grrl and I repsonded independently, niether of us aware that the other was responding.

You need to be careful about how you word things; if you step back and look at your initial post, you do say that we were taking things too seriously, indicating that you were talking about more people than just yourself. The issue isn't that your opinion differs, the issue was that your initial post in this thread DID make a comment denigrating the opinions of others. If that was not your intent, then maybe you need to spend a little extra time composing your posts, because you do need to be very clear about what you intend to communicate. [Smile]

[ 12-12-2006, 07:48 PM: Message edited by: Beppie ]

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