kerravonsen: fobwatch: "Windmills of your mind" (fobwatch)
[personal profile] kerravonsen
Saw this on twitter this morning:

Cultural appropriation of rainbow

Of course, everyone is mocking the original tweet, but it did get me thinking. Because, as a Christian, it has annoyed me for a long time that I can no longer use a rainbow as a symbol of God's love. Because the symbol is more commonly recognised in these times, as belonging to another group, symbolising something completely different. And that makes it feel like it has been stolen. Is that cultural appropriation? I'm not sure that it is; after all, the rainbow is up there in the sky, and people have used it before the LGBTQ movement to symbolise other things, such as ending racial discrimination. So why do I feel as if it has been stolen? Partly, I expect, because the LGBTQ symbol represents something completely anathema to God's teachings. Other uses of the rainbow haven't been for something hostile to Christianity. Does that hostility make it cultural appropriation? I don't know. It is something, but I'm not sure whether "cultural appropriation" is the right term for it.

Hey, thoughtful people, what do you think?

Date: 2017-04-03 03:10 am (UTC)
cheyinka: A Metroid from Metroid Prime, made to look like an old, faded photograph. (faded Metroid)
From: [personal profile] cheyinka
I feel the same way, though I don't like that I do - it feels particularly petty of me, because no one's taken the story of Noah and repurposed it, they've just used the idea of a spectrum of colors to mean a variety of identities. (I feel the same way about the word marriage, and again, it seems petty of me.)

On the other hand I do think the original tweet deserves mockery; it's an attempt to take people's complaints of cultural appropriation ("this thing is part of our culture, and you're claiming it for yourself without understanding it or caring about us") and turn Christians into the victim - which we aren't, anywhere we're a majority.

Date: 2017-04-03 03:37 am (UTC)
beatrice_otter: Dali's Christ of St. John of the Cross (St. John of the Cross)
From: [personal profile] beatrice_otter
Here from the network!

Cultural appropriation usually requires two things that are not present in this case.

First, it requires that you take something that belongs specifically to a particular culture. Like, that is where you got it from. Like a Native American war bonnet, or something like that. The rainbow is rather more universal; it has never belonged specifically to any one group, religion, etc., etc. And from my understanding, when the rainbow flag was developed, it was not a case of "hey, let's take a Christian symbol and make it mean something different!" it was "hey, here is a universal thing that everyone recognizes that has special meaning to us because Judy Garland is a favorite among many queer people, and "Over the Rainbow" was her signature song, so let us use that!" Do you see the difference?

Second, cultural appropriation generally requires an abuse of power. Like, the group with the most power smashes a group with less power, then picks through the ruins and goes "hey, this is cool, I like this!" It's the power differential that makes it skeevy, not the cross-cultural bit. When a person from a marginalized or fringe group picks up something from the majority culture, it's not appropriation, it's assimilation. In this case, Christians are the group with (even today) more power in American society than the queer community, and this was certainly true in the 1970s when the queer flag was developed.

So, no, I would not count this as assimilation. I don't know what I'd call it, but it isn't that. I would say that while the rainbow as a flag is pretty firmly associated with the queer movement, the rainbow as a rainbow is still universal enough to not fall into any one group or meaning, which means you could still use it as a symbol for the universality of God's love without it looking like you were taking a specific sociopolitical stance which obviously, you do not share.

[side note: I am, in real life, a Christian minister, and I would disagree that the "LGBTQ symbol represents something completely anathema to God's teachings." But that's a whole different Bible study ;) ]

Date: 2017-04-03 06:18 am (UTC)
beatrice_otter: Dali's Christ of St. John of the Cross (St. John of the Cross)
From: [personal profile] beatrice_otter
On the other hand I do think the original tweet deserves mockery; it's an attempt to take people's complaints of cultural appropriation ("this thing is part of our culture, and you're claiming it for yourself without understanding it or caring about us") and turn Christians into the victim - which we aren't, anywhere we're a majority.

Exactly! Like, okay, Christians and Jews use the rainbow as a symbol. But both faiths have A HUGE NUMBER of other symbols that we use more regularly. If I were asked to name the top ten Christian symbols, the rainbow would not make it. They, on the other hand, do not have a huge store of positive symbols. I think we can let them have the rainbow.

And, let's be real, a color spectrum is neither the best nor the only way to turn a rainbow into a flag. If I wanted to make a "Christian rainbow" flag to tie into the story of Noah, what I'd do is I'd take a blue background and put a rainbow on it, so it's not just a color spectrum it's AN ACTUAL RAINBOW, and a much better callback to the Noah story. (Maybe I'd make it a grey background, instead? for the storms?)
Edited Date: 2017-04-03 06:19 am (UTC)

Date: 2017-04-03 08:58 am (UTC)
tree_and_leaf: Isolated tree in leaf, against blue sky. (Default)
From: [personal profile] tree_and_leaf
I came here to say pretty much exactly this.

Date: 2017-04-03 08:59 am (UTC)
tree_and_leaf: Isolated tree in leaf, against blue sky. (Default)
From: [personal profile] tree_and_leaf
I also agree that the rainbow, as a rainbow, gets used pretty frequently in churches where I am, and it' s not generally read as a LGBT+ symbol. Unless, of course, the church is also displaying the pride flag...

Date: 2017-04-03 11:49 am (UTC)
kalypso: Susan and Tumnus (Queen)
From: [personal profile] kalypso
Well, obviously I'm coming from a very different perspective (I wore a rainbow bracelet on Saturday to mark Gilbert Baker's death), but I perceive the rainbow as a symbol in many different cultures - in the Noah story, obviously, but also as Bifrost Bridge and the goddess Iris - and also I associate it with the death of a child I knew. So for me, it's never had an exclusive meaning, and I welcome its diversity.

PS That wasn't the icon I was thinking of, but never mind.
Edited Date: 2017-04-03 11:50 am (UTC)

Date: 2017-04-03 01:05 pm (UTC)
cheyinka: the words 'glory, glory, send your glory' on a golden background (my glorious)
From: [personal profile] cheyinka
I would definitely go for grey + a series of stacked arcs, yeah - color out of colorlessness, hope out of the storm, etc. (I am kind of thinking of making this into a project for my 5-year-old and I, now, so thank you!)

Date: 2017-04-03 06:01 pm (UTC)
beatrice_otter: Me in red--face not shown (Default)
From: [personal profile] beatrice_otter
You're welcome!

Date: 2017-04-03 02:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lindahoyland.livejournal.com
I think a rainbow should just be a beautiful natural feature. Any cause should have it's own logo.

Date: 2017-04-03 03:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] reynardo.livejournal.com
The rainbow is the symbol of a lot of people, not just the LGBTQI +and not just those who follow the Old Testament.

It's the Chakras in Hinduism, and also the Bow of Indra. It's the Amuesha (Peruvian) method of transporting diseases. And to the Indigenous Australians, it's the Rainbow Serpent, in charge of water and the passage of time. So it's been adopted by many cultures, as well as the Judaeo-Christian ones.

To the LGBTQI+ community, it's a symbol of inclusion, and a dream of a world where there's no discrimination and violence based on your gender, preferences or sex. To those who follow the Judeao-Christian God, it's a sign that he won't destroy the earth again.

So if you want to hold onto your definition of it, there's no reason not to. If you want to make a distinction, just go with a rainbow with more than 6 colours. Great-Uncle Isaac believed in 7, so perhaps go with that?

Date: 2017-04-03 04:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ericadawn16.livejournal.com
I used to feel it was like stealing but then, I went to an appearance of Obama and Biden. I took LOTS of photos but when he was talking about marriage equality and lgbt rights...my photos had a rainbow in them. I took over five years of photos with that phone. I never had that happen ever again. I felt like it was a sign from God that the rainbow belonged to the LGBT now and God was cool with that.

Date: 2017-04-04 12:25 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jaxomsride.livejournal.com

Growing up with a certain children's programme the Rainbow symbolised for me, love and hope and the inclusion of all. The LGBT movement are just declaring it louder than anyone else.

No one can own a Rainbow. It cannot be caught and held, it is as ephemeral as the showers that cause it. Celebrate the Rainbow's true meaning and donot be afraid to use it.

BTW
Which Dorothy was being spoken about? All I thought of was the "Wizard of Oz"! and "Somewhere over the Rainbow".

Date: 2017-04-04 02:23 am (UTC)
delphipsmith: (IDIC)
From: [personal profile] delphipsmith
Partly, I expect, because the LGBTQ symbol represents something completely anathema to God's teachings.

Welllll...maybe. Some folks might have a different opinion on that ;)

In fact, there are very few symbols out there that carry only one meaning. The pentagram or pentacle has several different meanings, as do the swastika, the maltese cross, the infinity symbol, an inverted cross, the bald eagle, the Star of David -- even UT's "hook 'em horns" which is an old symbol for the Devil! If it's meaningful to you in a certain way, perhaps that's what really matters.

Date: 2017-04-04 10:12 am (UTC)
watervole: (Default)
From: [personal profile] watervole
Every race and culture has it's own rainbow associations. To the Aboriginals it's the serpent creator god - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rainbow_Serpent

Would they have seen Christians using the rainbow as cultural appropriation?

I think we all feel a sense of loss/discomfort when something we have as an image in our mind undergoes a cultural shift.

I remember when what originated as the CND (campaign for nuclear disarmament) symbol started to pick up all sorts of interpretations that felt disconcerting to me. (Not quite the same, but the example you're most likely to be familiar with)

Date: 2017-04-04 10:18 am (UTC)
watervole: (Default)
From: [personal profile] watervole
See the reply about Judy Garland (I hadn't known this bit either)

Date: 2017-04-04 10:20 am (UTC)
watervole: (Default)
From: [personal profile] watervole
Absolutely. To me, the Star of David is the logo of the English Folk Dance and Song Society.

It's what you get when you weave six longswords together in the traditional end of a longsword dance. http://southernstarlongsword.co.uk/

Date: 2017-04-04 11:47 am (UTC)
delphipsmith: (queenie)
From: [personal profile] delphipsmith
It's the power differential that makes it skeevy, not the cross-cultural bit.

Yes!

I really like your two-point definition. It's possibly the clearest explanation of "cultural appropriation" that I've seen anywhere. Thanks :)

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kerravonsen: (Default)
Kathryn A.

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