Bored white lady from California becomes first bored white lady Masai warrior

Maybe she should appropriate a name from her adopted culture too. Something like Xeniflores.

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I think that once your stupidity and ignorance has been published in international magazines (not to mention the book) that you’re no longer entitled to the “Don’t Be Mean To Stupid People” protection. Assuming that exists.


What a Canuck warrior princess might look like:


Re: haggling, I’ve been to a number of places where not haggling is looked down on. It gives the impression that you don’t care about money and see yourself as being on a much higher level than the locals. Haggling is often a very social act, so not haggling can be seen as not wanting to communicate with people. Knowing the right price also shows that you have some familiarity with the culture and separates you to some degree from tourists who only see a country as a series of places to go. I’d say it depends a lot on the culture you’re visiting and most importantly on the amount of cultural sensitivity and humility you show.

One time I really felt awkward about my presence abroad was when I visited a large orphanage in Tanzania. The group I was working at the time with had raised some money for water barrels that could be rolled along the ground rather than carried on your head (it wasn’t their main work, this was a small-scale fundraiser). When it came to actually giving the water rollers to the orphanage, a group of about 20 Americans who were visiting for a week or two came along to help. There was probably more than one camera per person on average, and the focus of the whole event seemed to be everyone getting photos with the barrels and kids. The thing was, most if not all of these cameras were digital, so even designating one person from the group to take photos would have made it less about us and given people as many photos as they wanted. It’s not like the barrels were a huge gift or anything anyway, but it changed a nice gesture into the sight of 25 incomprehensibly wealthy westerners throwing some crumbs to the poor Africans. While this is a more extreme example, there are many ways to make it clear that the only reason you’re in another country is to impress people back home or otherwise personally gain from the experience.

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I think ‘socially acceptable’ and ‘good’ are two very, very different things.

You are correct, being mean to people you don’t know based on harmless things they do is socially acceptable. The message we get in media, especially places like Fox news, is quite clear on that front.

I’m still thinking it’s not a good thing. The right to be treated like a human being should not be subject to exceptions. Some people here are creating their own stress by getting angry about this, and the sort of trauma that could be caused if she reads threads like this (or awkwardness that could be caused if somebody she knows did) is actually pretty substantial.

We are horribly raised as humans, aren’t we? This isn’t genetic, this is training.


I think cameras are something you have to be especially careful about; aside from being a clear indication of your relative wealth, taking a picture can almost be seen as a violent act when done in the wrong way. You’re introducing unknown observers to a group and could be creating a distance between you and the people around you. You become a silent and even threatening observer - why are you taking pictures of these people? Why is it more important to take photos of people than to interact with them? Why don’t you ask before taking photos of their lives? You choose what to take a picture of for your own reasons and you get to choose who will see it and in what context. To some people, what you think is a charming example of traditional culture is a sign of their poverty and lack of development, and not something they necessarily want the rest of the world to see. Some events may be photogenic but are not appropriate for photographs. When it comes to groups like the Maasai, they are quite familiar with people cosying up to them for a few weeks or months, taking pictures and then returning to their own country to profit from their culture, while the groups themselves see no benefit from this (maybe the photographers claimed that it would give them exposure? /s).

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Pretending something is great when it isn’t is not being kind. Allowing something like this to go unanswered is not being enlightened. Avoiding conflict is not being a pacifist. Allowing stupidity to go unchecked is not smart.


Sadly my sense of shame and guilt prevents me from making money like this.



But then you get to the matter of implementation, don’t you?

Threads like these, and Faux news articles just create a lot of worked up people and occasionally drive people who accidentally got too much fame to become broken, retreat, or occasionally suicide.

Something valuable would be somebody who knows her and respects her as a person trying to give her a little perspective, or somebody graciously offering to help expand her view a little.

That’s not what I’m seeing. The only options here are ‘nothing is accomplished and people get all worked up about something that has nothing to do with them’ or ‘trauma is created’. Sure, some people might get to feel a bit superior, but. . . yeah, yay. It’s not like her naivete is going to interfere with another human’s actual life in a negative way.

I think this is a social acceptability flaw and a perspective one. It’s considered socially acceptable for people to be dicks to strangers. I believe that’s a root of a lot of the actual REAL bad things that happen, and I think I can support that blindfolded and with half of my brain tied behind my back.


Ah, the White Woman’s Burden. Thank God for Yoga Pants and mommywine.

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I want to say that I only reply to you because I respect you and what you are trying to do.

First, I believe that social behaviors evolve in the community that we, as participants, don’t understand ( yet. ) Humor is one of those things, as are art, the blues, pop music, politics, political parties, blah blah blah.

Social shaming in the form of humor is a complex behavior. Possibly even your response is part of the whole complex of us working it out. It isn’t necessarily for the actual “person in the picture” that we do it for, but the upwelling of disapproval couched in mockery indicates that some, at least, recognize this behavior as emblematic of other behavior that is becoming widespread and seems to have escaped reflection so far. Her acts become a sign for an attitude. Satire.

My underlying point is that human behavior on the individual and the group level is an evolved system that works in ways we don’t see or understand. I am not suggesting we just throw up our hands, though, not at all. But attempting to prescribe human behavior or censor, even self-censor, human behavior because of what you perceive as hurt feelings is just not going to work. You need to engineer for the humans you have, not the humans you’d like to have. Culture holds many secrets still, one needs to approach with some humility and respect for what has come before. The 20th century is filled with the dead bodies of innocent people, victims of idealists attempting to re-invent culture from the ground up. Can we try, this time, to respect the evolved nature of the problem and try to see what is there before laying waste to it with typical imperialist verve?

( Please excuse my exaggeration. It is so much fun. )


And you almost did :wink:

Also, ditto!:stuck_out_tongue:

Do you like Jimmy Carr?

I bet you already know who he is, but he’s a British comedian who appears on QI quite frequently. He’s brilliant and says some of the most awful, horrible things. If you don’t believe me. . .

Notice anything different about him? Not ‘what he says’ but ‘what emotions he puts into his subject matter’.

He can make you cringe, but he’s not hateful, he’s not angry, and he’s got perspective.

It’s kind of the opposite of what we see here, right? But moving on (keep those thoughts tabled though!)

I agree actually. It’s not like I don’t ever fall into the same trap, I’ve just been looking at myself a lot more closely than I used to, and sometimes what I see is a bit less awesome than I had hoped.

I think there are three specific problems here.

  1. We’re raised to think it’s socially acceptable to say mean-spirited things about a specific human we don’t know,
  2. We’re raised to believe that the moment somebody ‘gets attention’ they never deserve to escape it, and
  3. We’ve got our media outlets serving us bite-sized-bits of horrible from 7 BILLION people.

I think that interplay is important. 3) destroys our perspective, 2) destroys other people, and 1) destroys US.

Now, that isn’t to say that we don’t need to try to get in front of actual people who are in the PROCESS of doing awful things to other people. . . politicians who are pushing for war and zealots who are pushing hate and all of that. That’s something else entirely. There is room to be angry and frustrated there. That’s completely fair in proportion to the damage they do, right?

Somehow that all got merged with ‘obsessing over the tongue of Hanna Montana’ and ‘ridiculing SPECIFIC strangers at Wal-mart’

I think we didn’t just find a slippery slope culturally, we completely steamrolled it, didn’t we?

Nothing’s going to work if we don’t try, right?

But we do have science, and evidence, and things like that. They can help us. :smile:

In cases like this, I think we DO need to pay attention to the impact of our actions. What if she was a fan of Boingboing? What would discovering this thread DO to her? Imagine one of your friends who occasionally gets a bit . . . weird. (you have one! I know you do!) You’d be kind of upset yourself you saw him/her getting shamed like this, when you knew he/she never meant harm, right? And people have killed themselves over less.

That’s why I posted here. Maybe somebody here will get it, but I posted for the benefit of her and those who love her . . . just in case.

Pfft! Like that ever works!

You know a bit about what I’m up to elsewhere, right? I’m ALL about using sugar and honey rather than salt and vinegar. I know for a fact we can create a better economic system PLAYING GAMES, and I’ll somehow find a way to make that happen.

But we DO need to draw some firm lines, and I think this is one of them. It’s a pretty easy to identify line, and it’s not like anybody loses if they try, right?

:slight_smile: It is!

And I pick my battles, this is one that impossible not to win. I don’t need everyone to agree, just to slowly collect those who are willing to think things through, right?

You know I has layers!


Gobshite. That is a spectacular word. Thank you for that.

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What is this I don’t even

I don’t say that lightly. I mean, whoa. Geez. A whole book, huh? Couldn’t even get through the second paragraph.

I weep for My People.


Across the nation, hundreds of satiric screenplays are being tearfully thrown into the trash because someone has acted them out for real.


Woe nelly. Damn, I totally agree that media teaches us to be hard hearted little consumers and I hate that every day.

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See? You take a couple of steps back and it gets really obvious, doesn’t it? And a little tragically disturbing.

And if I got really lucky, I also introduced a person or two to Jimmy Carr who’s freakin’ hilarious! :wink:


I think that covers about 75% of this thread.

In this thread: white people getting really angry about those evil white people buying titles the tribe uses to buy stuff. You know, y’all are right. Let’s stop giving money to the Maasai. Let’s spend our money on things advertised here on BoingBoing, instead.

Am I doing this right? In all seriousness, if anyone is concerned about people like the Maasai, is there a reputable charity that will help them without just handing them aid? Is there any way we can give them work to do without corrupting their culture?

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The point is that historical interaction between the Maasai and outsiders often amounts to exploitation. Their pictures, style and name are used to advertise products without their consent. Their way of life is threatened by climate change and pressure for land, less so by the need for money and international aid. One thing we could do is support groups who try to combat cultural appropriation, but I’m not so sure that they do need or want too much of our attention from us in the first place.

Mindy Budgor saw a cultural rite that is based on a long tradition as a simple test of bravery and strength. Rather than training with the people, she approached it as a stereotypical westerner by working out in the US and seeking corporate sponsorship, while trying to right the wrongs of a culture she didn’t really understand or have any great stake in. After she ‘won’ the test (that was a very small part of the process of becoming a Maasai warrior), she went back to the US, wrote a book and had interviews with various news organizations, thereby cheapening the whole experience. It’s kind of like if I went to the US, took the kind of physical tests that marines undergo, then returned to my own country and called myself a US marine prince.


I would be totally cool if you did that!