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Sep 22 2013

“Mindy” sounds nothing like “Xena”

Have you heard about this book, Warrior Princess, by Mindy Budgor? It’s about a young California woman who spent a whole 3 months to become a mighty Warrior Princess of the Maasai. They’re discussing this blithe bit of cocksure cultural imperialism at Making Light. I rather liked this comment:

Some daft billionaire ought to sponsor scholarships for curious Masai and Amazonians who want to study the rich spiritual traditions of Ozarks auto mechanics, or take part in the initiation rites of Dakota wheat farmers.

I know about those Dakota rites. They all involve cow tipping, so there is a deep spiritual linkage with the Maasai already.

40 comments

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  1. 1
    Ingdigo Jump

    My info is a bit rusty but IIRC the Maasai practice an age set hierarchy so no individual can become a “warrior”. The entire generation undergoes initiation ritual (which again IIRC is a painful circumcision) when the set above them graduates to the next level.

  2. 2
    chigau (違う)

    No.
    No, I had not heard of this.
    Thank you so much.
    (yes, sarcasm)

  3. 3
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    [Mister Rogers]Can you say ‘cultural condescension’?

    I thought your could.[/Mister Rogers]

  4. 4
    RFW

    Sounds like it is cut from the same bolt of cloth as “Into the Crocodile Nest” by Benedict Allen. Differences: Allen is male and he underwent his manhood initiation in New Guinea among the Sepiks. Similarities: both authors come across as idiots, Allen by reading him, Mindy Budgor by reading between the lines of P-zed’s precis.

    Allen spent six months undergoing treatment for various ailments at an institute for tropical diseases in London after his return to the UK. In another “exploit” he traveled across the Amazonian jungle from the Caribbean to civilization. Had to eat his dog at one point in that trek.

  5. 5
    Ichthyic

    It’s about a young California woman who spent a whole 3 months to become a mighty Warrior Princess of the Maasai.

    3 months? Hell, I know tourists in California who only had to pay a hundred bucks to become Indian Warriors in just a single afternoon!

  6. 6
    atheist

    I wonder, did the Masai receive payment for making her a “Warrior Princess”? If so, this could make a bet of sense.

  7. 7
    Ichthyic

    Mindy’s determination paid off and she was the first woman accepted to be a ‘moran’

    nope. nope. not gonna go there.

  8. 8
    Ingdigo Jump

    There’s a rumor that this is largely sponsored by Under Armor

  9. 9
    dezn_98

    Apparently the Maasai men also took her for a ride. In that Maasai women responded to this recent turn of events and told the press that there are literally dozens of “warriors” of such a kind.. you can find them in members of parliament, or in CEO families… Basically there have been a lot of white rich women going into this tribe seeking an “adventure.” They spend a lot of money, buy a lot of gifts, maybe have sex with the men, and the Maaasai men in exchange, take their money and take them through a bunch of phony traditional practices – laughing all the way to the bank. They basically set up a dog and pony show for rich white imperials and take their money. This woman basically got scammed and is too ignorant to notice.

    Some Maasai women, also showed their distaste for the white savior complex western imperials show. In that they mention dozens of experiences with rich white women just like here coming in and trying to “civilize” Maasai men… when in reality they never do anything to spark any amount of change, and really do not care about the Maasai women. Other Maasai women said that they tire of the cultural appropriation of westerners. In that, westerners like that have to stop using their culture as some sort of fashion trinket.

    Reminds me of that racist Miley Cirus incident.. where some white rich suburban woman… uses another persons culture, or really stereotypes of that person culture, as props for their mundane personalities. They use such things to make them seem edgy, or “spiritual” and then make a profit off of it by selling it to other ignorant white people. It is pretty gross…. to objectify an entire group of people for your own trivial ends.

  10. 10
    A. Noyd

    Maasai grandparents in the community I visited were taking over goat-herding duty from their grandkids so the kids could focus on getting an education. And the warriors were working as tour guides so the community could afford to build schools on their land.

    But, y’know, what the Maasai really need is some American “princess” to come play warrior and save Maasai women.

  11. 11
    Inaji

    Oh lord. Another plastic shaman, just what the world does not need.

  12. 12
    Becca Stareyes

    Well, at least they’re making money from people like her, though it’s not a good thing that they have to sell their culture* to rich tourists to get by, while putting up with the condescension. (While I know very little about the status of Maasai women, I somehow doubt Ms. Budgor’s adventure had any effect on it.)

    * Or at least pretend to by putting together a set of rituals.

  13. 13
    eigenperson

    If it takes only 3 months to become a warrior princess, perhaps it’s time to reconsider whether students really need to spend 4+ years to get a PhD. After all, universities need to remain competitive in today’s fast-paced world.

  14. 14
    NateHevens, resident SOOPER-GENIUS... apparently...

    Yeah.. some Maasai have responded

    According to one of the comments, from a Maasai woman:

    What Maasai King and Queen (they don’t exist by the way) made her a “princess”? Of what Maasai clan specifically? And since our clans are so bound together, when was the clan meeting, where, and who were the representatives that came to a consensus to name this white woman a “warrior princess” (and representative of our culture) after three months off a tour-bus? Do my Maasai relatives in Tanzania and the clans there know of this? Is she their princess too? Or is she just a princess for Kenyan Maasai? My Maasai brothers take a minimum of 15 years to become warriors and some don’t even make it, and even THEY know that unless they finish the process, there is no way they can claim warrior status as they will be SHAMED by the clan (and real warriors who survived the process).

    There’s not a single paragraph break in the whole comment, and it’s much longer, but if you can get past the WallOfText it’s a damn good read.

    There’s another comment at the very end from apparently an actual Maasai warrior saying that what Mindy went through is actually illegal (in Maasai law, I’m assuming). It’s a tad sexist (“Where on earth did any one ever heard of the maasai having women warriors?”), but still…

    Mindy’s facing down the barrel of some of the worst embarrassment I think perhaps anyone’s ever experienced in their lives…

    I certainly hope this doesn’t lead to harassment, and if it does, I’ll be the first to defend her from it. But this is a fine example cultural appropriation, imperialism, ethnocentrism, and racism and needs to be called out as such.

  15. 15
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    And of course, not only does she win a fast track warrior degree, but she is also somehow a princess.

  16. 16
    Skatje Myers

    There’s a rumor that this is largely sponsored by Under Armor

    Hmm…

    I looked down at my own breasts and felt secure, protected, and properly positioned all due to my UA sports bra (style #1001216). I wanted this woman to feel the same comfort I felt, so I untied my olkarasha, lifted my UA tank top (style #1206284) over my head, removed my sports bra, and gave it to the mama.

    Ah.

  17. 17
    chigau (違う)

    OMG
    A sport bra!!!
    They’re saved!!!!

  18. 18
    Jadehawk

    I looked down at my own breasts and felt secure, protected, and properly positioned all due to my UA sports bra (style #1001216). I wanted this woman to feel the same comfort I felt, so I untied my olkarasha, lifted my UA tank top (style #1206284) over my head, removed my sports bra, and gave it to the mama.

    there’s product placement, and then there’s creating the text-equivalent of a catalogue

  19. 19
    Ingdigo Jump

    So this is what Elaine from Seinfeld is up to now?

  20. 20
    John Pieret

    When did they decide to remake the Ugly American?

  21. 21
    rosieredfield

    Apparently cow tipping is also a cultural myth, exploded in a recent Slate piece: http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2013/09/cow_tipping_fake_debunking_a_persistent_rural_legend.html

  22. 22
    chigau (違う)

    rosieredfield
    cow tipping was never taken seriously
    ever

  23. 23
    Ingdigo Jump

    @Rosierefield

    Did anyone believe that Cow tipping was real? I mean…cows lay down to sleep.

    They’re also really heavy

  24. 24
    Trebuchet

    I tip cows as much as 20% if the service is really good.

  25. 25
    eigenperson

    Hey, guys, remember that Dr. Redfield is the Tyrant Queen of Science, and therefore significantly outranks a Warrior Princess of the Masai, let alone the rest of us. You should address her with appropriate respect and fear.

  26. 26
    chigau (違う)

    Renfield?

  27. 27
    Inaji

    rosieredfield:

    Apparently cow tipping is also a cultural myth

    No! It may be a cultural myth (what culture, yogurt?), but it’s for really real real out here in rural land, you know, where cows abound. It’s called Norf Dakota. Yep. You can take my word on that, honest. I have this bridge, by the way…

  28. 28
    Inaji

    Ing:

    I mean…cows lay down to sleep.

    Shhhhhhhhhhhhh. You’re supposed to say they sleep standing up! How do you expect to make any money from the city folk?

  29. 29
    Nick Gotts

    TW: Culturally approved abuse of women and girls.

    Unfortunately, traditional Maasai culture is grossly misogynistic. The link corresponds closely with what I was told by an anthropologist who had lived with them.

  30. 30
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    White women peeking into some culture or other and then writing “authentically” about it are the latest fashion. I mean, it’s oh so empowering.

  31. 31
    Moggie

    As a result of this training and advocacy, the Maasai in Loita, Kenya, are leading the charge to change tribal law to allow women to become Maasai warrior. Mindy as a tribe member is ready to return to stand with her fellow warriors against whatever opposition they might face — be it lions, or elephants, or Western influence.

    Parody, or complete cluelessness?

  32. 32
    brucegorton

    RFW

    Wasn’t he so far gone with malaria at that point that eating the dog turned out to be pointless?

  33. 33
    birgerjohansson

    I know cow tipping is real because I saw it on an episode of “Beavis-and Butt-Head”!

    Interestingly, the episode ended with Butt-Head getting the chain saw treatment by the farmer.

  34. 34
    Anri

    Unfortunately, from the article:

    Mindy Budgor doesn’t swallow, and will never make Khaleesi.

    I suppose, culturally speaking, they felt they had to go there. Can’t have an article (justifiably) mocking a woman without have some references to cocksucking, after all.

    I dunno, maybe I’m overreacting.
    Just seems like SSDD.

  35. 35
    Esteleth, [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    Not just that, Anri, but they had to work in a pop-culture reference. Not that there’s that much overlap between the actual non-horse-riding African Maasai and the fictional horse-riding ambiguously-brown Dothraki.

  36. 36
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    White women peeking into some culture or other and then writing “authentically” about it are the latest fashion.

    Maybe a step forward, insomuch as this activity was formerly restricted to white (upperclass) men ;)
     
    The internet abounds with writings by knobs who go as tourists to places without a tourist industry, take advantage of the people living there, and write self-importantly about their “genuine” experience. Hence.

  37. 37
    SallyStrange

    Cow-tipping is a myth? Yeah, probably. The real coming-of-age rite in rural towns is drinking, bonfires, and coning: stealing cones from construction sites and putting them on your least favorite person’s car. I have no idea why having cones on your car is supposed to be bad, but that is what people did when I was in high school. Also, if you can steal a cop’s spotlight, another rite of passage is driving around and annoying people with it.

  38. 38
    cuervocuero

    Sounds like the Maasai more sorely need people willing to come live *with* them, not among them, and to watch cattle and not screw that up (because there’s far more to being a coward/cowherd than some dang noble’s snotty dismissal) so the elders can catch a break, while the young folks of the People get the outside education needed to stop tribal land expropriation.

    It’s too bad this visitor wanted the fantasy more than the mundane complexity of a real culture. I guess she’s going to be educated one way or another now she’s presented her falsifiable testimony.

  39. 39
    Rich Woods

    Dunno about cow-tipping, but sheep have on occasion been fair game.

    But back to the Maasai thing. I’m sure I remember reading as a kid that a young Maasai man could only prove himself a warrior after he had killed a lion single-handedly, armed with just spear and shield. Apparently the trick was to fall flat underneath the long, buffalo-hide shield as the lion leapt, then stab it in the heart with a short spear. Not sure I’d want to volunteer for that; it makes unsterilised knives and penile scarring seem like a safe option.

  40. 40
    blf

    I tip cows as much as 20% if the service is really good.

    If the cow was any good, there’s nothing left to tip. I cleaned my plate. And the platter. And if the waiter wasn’t too careful, s/he probably should count her/his fingers…

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