By in Relationships

What Makes Use of the Term ORIENTAL Offensive?

Most of my life, whenever we referred to a person who was Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Cambodian, and so forth, we used the word Oriental. That man or woman was "an Oriental" or they were "Oriental". There was no suggestion of better or worse, no intended negative implication. It was just another descriptive word, such as he had blue eyes or she had red hair. It did, admittedly, suggest (perhaps to most of us) a person who was not what we would have called "white". But it was not derogatory.

If someone called a person from the East (the Orient) an insulting term, there were plenty of them in place to choose from, don't get me wrong. But that is true of everyone in every part of the world. Just ask this honky, this cracker, this Johnny, and he can reassure you of that.

As mentioned above Oriental means a person from the Orient -- the East. Now there is a word for people like me... Occidental -- a person from "the Occident" -- "the West". Now don't you dare call me an Occidental! Just kidding. It was common term on applications and other paperwork. A box to check. As is the case with Oriental, which has come to typify persons with a yellowish skin, so too Occidental has come to suggest a person with whitish or pinkish skin, even though there are persons who are black, etc., who live in the Occident.

It does become rather boring that people invent descriptive words that are used, then decried as offensive and replaced, only to have another term used that, itself, will eventually become offensive and be replaced. The cycle is endless, it seems.

Don't think so? Then reflect on the word lunatic, a lover of the moon. Once used, it is horribly offensive when used in connection with those suffering from various mental aberrations.

Or think of the word "dumb". No, not stupid. A person who could not speak.

Image Credit » Pixabay

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MegL wrote on April 8, 2018, 11:46 AM

Many words have changed meaning over the years. Many now used for things they were never originally intended for.

VinceSummers wrote on April 8, 2018, 12:11 PM

I got to thinking, which is something I need to do less often. If the term Oriental is offensive, how much more so should the term Occidental be? For instance, if someone asked me, Were you Occidental, I would respond. I was not! My parents planned me.... OK. Sorry for the joke (no I'm not, really).

VinceSummers wrote on April 9, 2018, 8:40 AM

True. Although I do think the word oriental is not particularly among them. Search the internet and you'll see even some Asian professionals suggest it is not really a derogatory word.

lookatdesktop wrote on April 10, 2018, 10:21 AM

I am an Occident just waiting to happen. I suffer from being a Westernized Mixed blue eyed devil. A Caucasian with 9 European previous origins. I am just an average American White guy with an attitude. I get nose bleeds at high altitudes. When God made me, he broke the mold, but he made me anyway. But sometimes being broken gives us character. I think the acronym WASP is applied to those who are WHITE ANGLO SAXON PROTESTANTS. Funny acronym don't you agree?

Last Edited: April 10, 2018, 10:31 AM