Race. Ethnicity. These are two words that seem similar. But they are two words that mean different things.
When I studied cultural studies at university, the terms ‘race’ and ‘ethnicity’ often appeared within academic texts that I read. The more I read about these two words, the more I realised they are more complicated than they sound.
Commonly, ‘race’ and ‘ethnicity’ encompass grouping and categorisation. But each word is its own concept. As people and culture change, history and stories rewrite themselves; each word builds upon lessons of the past and revelations of the present.
Each colour has different meanings in each culture. Different cultures perceive different colours differently. Different colours speak differently to each community and individual over time, past and present.
If you live in Australia or have travelled around Australia, chances are you’ve heard the word ‘mate’ a lot here. For instance, you might’ve heard, ‘G’day, mate’ or ‘How ya doin’, mate?’
Living in Melbourne, I’ve friends from different backgrounds, different ethnicities and different age groups living different lifestyles. Western, Asian, Indian, hippies, hipsters, corporate business types, baby boomer types – so many of them say ‘mate’ all the time.
The idea of ‘mateship’ goes hand-in-hand with the word ‘mate’. According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, very broadly ‘mateship’ is ‘an Australian code of conduct that emphasizes egalitarianism and fellowship’. Throughout Australian history and up until today, saying ‘mate’ is a mark of Aussie culture:
‘I love you’. Just three words. But three words some typical Asians like those of Chinese heritage find hard to say out loud when it comes to dating and romantic relationships.
There’s this common stereotype: Asians are reserved about expressing romantic sentiments towards each other. In a progressive world where traditional and modern perspectives collide, sometimes this is still true, and sometimes not.
There are different degrees of love, physical and emotional. Different ways of expressing romantic love during different moments – depending on our personality, the ways we are actually comfortable expressing it and what we believe in. Personally, I’m reserved about my love life and won’t be sharing my serious relationships here; it isn’t the whole world’s business.
Some Asians are hoarders. That is, some of us Asians like collecting things, accumulating things over time up until we struggle to find somewhere to put away all that we have.
Most of my childhood and adolescent life, my Chinese parents were fond of bringing things home even when we didn’t need them. Our house was always rather full – every shelf was never empty. I suppose I was partially to blame as I liked collecting some things back then too. But these days, not so much.
Hoarding is not only about collecting things, but it’s also about putting aside these things and not touching them for who knows how long, maybe for a few weeks or never ever again. Often, hoarding is about collecting things that we don’t really need or don’t have a use for, and over time these things can become junk to us.
When it comes to fashion and clothing in Asian cultures, modest and conservative styles are more acceptable. Skimpy, figure-hugging, translucent and transparent clothing tends to be frowned upon, or at the very least not the go-to look for quite a few Asians.
Modest dressing is my kind of style pretty much every day. But that’s not to say I don’t wear something bordering on the ‘wild’ side. Occasionally I do, and have no regrets even though I come from a typical Chinese background.
In a nutshell, for many men and women alike, modesty is about dressing in a way where we avoid drawing attention to ourselves and avoid inspiring sexual attraction. It’s also about our attitude and character, about being humble and reserved in the way we live our lives.