To all the Asians out there how do you feel about the word oriental?

i was in a group of people the other day and said somebody was oriental and the Asians got all quite and said that that was a racist term. I was kinda shocked by it because i have been saying oriental since I first played monoploly when I was a kid.


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Most Helpful Girl

  • Of course I'm not speaking for every Asian out there but I don't find it offensive. I think it's a strange, funny word to use but I don't think it's racist. A lot of people need to calm down about a lot of things. At least they didn't call the person a chink. :|

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Most Helpful Guy

  • I'm not Asian myself but I have lived in east Asia and I have a girlfriend who was born and has grown up there. I also consider "oriental" to be a racist or at least a rather offensive term. It's not true what this anonymous guy below said that "oriental" is a synonym for "east Asian". "East Asian" is strictly talking about a geographic location. If you say that Japan is in east Asia, you simply say that it is a country that is located on the (north-) eastern end of the Asian continent.
    "Oriental" on the other hand, talks not just about geography but more importantly about culture and mentality. The term was created by British, American and French colonialists and imperialists of the 18th and 19th century who travelled to east Asia to explore, colonialize and "civilize" these "new lands". The notion of colonialism has to do with all kinds of stereotypes and clichées about countries such as China, Korea or Japan. Though not all of these stereotypes are negative, it is still offensive to use the term oriental because it reinforces ideas about east Asian and its people that are not true. East Asia was (and sometimes still is) both romanticized and mystified by westerners. Europeans of the late middle ages, renaissance and early modern times considered east Asia a place of strange wonders and odd behavior. This and similar notions were used as a reason to conquest the countries in east Asia and try to "bring them to the right faith and religion". Asian women were often depicted as insatiable, overtly sexual beings, which was used as justification by western explorers to exploit them sexually, rob them from their Asian husbands or boyfriends and keep them in a sort of harem. Asian men, on the other hand, were often considered tiny, weak and overtly feminine barbarians who need the strong western hand to govern them because they are too incapable of governing themselves. There are countless more stereotypes like these.
    In a nutshell, Orientalism has to do with the imaginations of what east Asia is supposedly like rather than with what it is really like. Asians don't like to be considered "exotic" or even "strange and mysterious" because they're not. If you say somebody is exotic, you're implicating that YOU and the culture that you come from are the norm by which all other cultures should be measured. This is why finding something cool simply because it's "exotic" can come across as offensive. Even today, Asians in the west face all kinds of stereotypes.

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What Girls Said 1

  • The word choice doesn't offend me. What offends me is when someone assumes I'm Chinese, Korea, etc... without ASKING me first. I'm not going to get offended if you just take the time to ask me what I am rather than assuming.

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What Guys Said 1

  • Yeah I don't get it either. It's just a relative term like 'Western' which they seem to be comfortable using. I suppose in a connected world it doesn't make much sense any more but I can't see how it's any more racist than 'East Asian' which I believe is acceptable to them.

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