The term 'oriental'

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I would like to know why many Asians find this term to be offensive. I would appreciate an earnest discussion here, because honestly it puzzles me that the word is offensive in the first place.
 
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Here we refer daily to the two zones of the country (Bolivia) as oriental and occidental. It is simple geography, although related to a part of the world or the whole world. I suppose that if you were in Asia you could refer to the US as oriental, but the term, in general use, comes from Europe where the spices and silks were brought by traders from the east, first over land routes and then around Africa.
 
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Originally Posted By: L_Sludger
I would like to know why many Asians find this term to be offensive. I would appreciate an earnest discussion here, because honestly it puzzles me that the word is offensive in the first place.
FWIW, I'm a third generation Japanese-American and I don't find the term "oriental" offensive. It was a term I grew up with and used freely. My parent's generation still uses the term. I still wonder who it was that actually was offended by this to begin with. I think someone became offended because "oriental" is a thing and "Asian" is a person. At least that what my Caucasian friends tell me. I'm surprised that no one has yet to be offended by the current Panda Express commercial...."Panda Anda You". When I first heard the commercial it cracked me up. Reminded me of my pigeon-English conversations with Grandma. grin
 

gathermewool

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The popularity of it as an an offensive word has increased, it seems, and so too has it become less politically correct to use it here in the States (at least, I don't know about elsewhere) in reference to Asian people. It is ok to refer to things as oriental, but not people. IMO, it's similar to how any word to describe a race or ethnic origin is sometimes sensitive, and changes from generation to generation. Look at the evolution of African Americans and other Black cultures. Negro (i.e., black) colored people and people of color, and black have all at one time or another (and still, depending on the context) been acceptable. The use of these is now considered inappropriate at times, but not necessarily a slur. It really depends on the context and how they're being used. For me, 'oriental', as used to describe a person, is simply as outdated as calling Black people "colored people," even if it was acceptable at any time in the past. So, even if I'm not offended by any iteration of how one might describe my race or ethnicity, that doesn't mean I shouldn't be sensitive to others' needs. Also, this type of thread is inherently against the rules, but hopefully won't be locked, since it's a good question to ask, I think.
 

gathermewool

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Originally Posted By: Quattro Pete
I'd better keep quiet that I'm wearing Orient watch. Someone might get offended. smile
Not likely, as your watch is a thing.
 
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As a related aside.... From my experience living in Japan, Japanese don't like to be called "Asian"....any more than a citizen of a Caribbean nation would like to be called an "American"...
 
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Originally Posted By: Quattro Pete
I'd better keep quiet that I'm wearing Orient watch. Someone might get offended. smile
QP which one do you have? What do you think of the movement? I have been looking hard at a Royal Orient. Not to hijack the thread just curious.
 
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Originally Posted By: widman
Here we refer daily to the two zones of the country (Bolivia) as oriental and occidental. It is simple geography, although related to a part of the world or the whole world.
Richard's point here is well taken - sometimes it's about perspective. Look at some of the slang from the British Imperialist days. A good example would be the major in Fawlty Towers talking about cricketers in "The Germans" and a certain piece of slang he used - note the history of the term, where people from India were called oriental, but North Americans likely wouldn't call them that. I'm not going to quote his crude comments or provide a Youtube link, since I'd get a vacation before this even got political. wink
 
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Had a relative mention going to eat lunch at an oriental restaurant at his job and they made him go to sensitivity training.
 
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Americans refer to Japanese or Chinese as Oriental but in reality it is anyone or anything from any one of these countries: This includes the Far East (comprising Hong Kong, Japan, Macau, Mainland China, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, and Taiwan in East Asia, plus Brunei, Cambodia, East Timor, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam in Southeast Asia), West Asia (comprising Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Cyprus, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen in Western Asia or the Middle East (aka the Near East), Central Asia (comprising Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan), North Asia (aka Siberia), and South Asia (mainly the countries on the Indian subcontinent and below, comprising Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, and Pakistan, plus the British Indian Ocean Territory and the island countries of Sri Lanka and the Maldives in the Indian Ocean).
 
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My ancestors immigrated to the U.S. from Germany in the 19th century. Does that make me a European American or an American of Western European descent?
 
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Originally Posted By: Trav
Originally Posted By: Quattro Pete
I'd better keep quiet that I'm wearing Orient watch. Someone might get offended. smile
QP which one do you have? What do you think of the movement? I have been looking hard at a Royal Orient. Not to hijack the thread just curious.
I have probably the most basic and common of them all - the Blue Mako. It's very simple. It's my #1 go to watch. Love it.
 

gathermewool

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Originally Posted By: jimbrewer
Had a relative mention going to eat lunch at an oriental restaurant at his job and they made him go to sensitivity training.
Either that's not all he said or his employers don't have a clue, as many restaurants have 'oriental' in the name...
 
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It is a broad-brush term that is often not used in a polite or well meaning manner when directed at a person."Orient" is a broad general term for a large area of Asia... even as far west as the middle-east or Egypt-Syria. Like any term that is broad, the context can reflect its use to determine the offensiveness. Any "general" term to reflect a group of people (accurate or not) is potentially offensive. Calling someone of Cuban heritage in Miami "Hispanic" might be considered offensive. Someone from Britain labeling me as a "Yankee" is offensive... as a yankee or the proper term, "[censored]", is definitely a derogatory term. It all depends on context... and normally it is best not to over-generalize when referring to people. gman, that makes you a barbarian. Technical term for someone beyond the roman sphere of influence smile
 
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