Monday, November 27, 2006

Culture

Some people in Britain and the USA have an interesting perspective on this subject. They feel happy taking off their shoes at the home of an Asian person whose culture demands removal of shoes, but consider it deeply rude for a British or American person to insist on visitors to her home removing their shoes.

There are two problems with this attitude. Firstly, there is a touch of cultural arrogance about it. It implies that the Asian custom of removing shoes is purely of spiritual or cultural significance with no practical value. Maybe Asian people are primarily concerned about keeping their homes clean! Behind the pretended respect for a foreign culture, there is the unspoken assumption that Western practice is superior.

Secondly, this attitude seems to take a rather static view of culture, seeing it as a set of chains that bind people to particular rules of behaviour. In fact, culture is dynamic and fluid, it changes over time.

It seems to me to be quite obvious that if a person of Asian descent can be considered British while keeping her home shoe-free, it is perfectly accpetable for a White British person to keep her home shoe-free.

It may be the norm in Britain and most of the USA for shoes to stay on in homes now, but this may change. In fact, I believe it probably will. Many White Americans and even British people are adopting the custom of shoes-off in homes.

We are living in a global village with increased immigration, travel and communication between different cultures. There is tremendous potential for different cultural practices to migrate across geographical boundaries.

6 comments:

Richyrich said...

Many White Americans and even British people are adopting the custom of shoes-off in homes.

Yes and let us indeed hope that it will become more common. Do you know of some celebrities or any famous people who are known to have shoeless homes. The only one I have managed to come across when researching the subject on the net who does is Gwyneth Paltrow, she is on record as asking all visitors to her home to shed their shoes in order to protect her young children from germs.

No doubt there are some other well known people who adhere to this good custom, do you happen to know of any? If they are prepared to talk about it in public, they could influence people to follow suit.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

I had not heard about Gwyneth Paltrow. Good for her. I will have to join her fan club.

I heard on a chatroom that Madonna adopted a shoes-off policy after having children. But I have read nothing else to confirm that.

I think I remember something about the late Marlon Brando insisting on shoes-off out of appreciation for Japanese culture, but I may be confusing him with somebody else.

I remember when I was 15 reading an heavy metal magazine called Kerrang! I noticed in a photograph that a Swedish band called Drain (I think) were all in their socks. I found out many years later that Swedes all take their shoes off at home.

Sven Gorran Erickson is Swedish, so he might well have a no-shoes home (though his girlfriend is Italian, so maybe not). That goes for anyone Nordic, so maybe Bjork.

God Bless

Matthew

Richyrich said...

Having thought more about it, I have a recollection of reading that John Lennon and Yoko Ono asked that guests to their home removed their shoes too, but then she was Japanese, so it would have been natural for her.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

I should think they would.

I am so looking forward to my trip to Japan in January.

Richyrich said...

I am so looking forward to my trip to Japan in January.

Why are you going then? Is it holiday, business or a missionary trip?

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

It's a two-month missionary trip.

If I get on well there, I can consider applying for long-term service in Japan.

It is going to be absolutely freezing cold.

God Bless

Matthew