Can we stop calling them oriental fragrances

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cameron

Well-known member
Oct 17, 2011
I don’t feel right using this term or seeing this term now in 2021. Does anyone else find it out of place to call a style of fragrances “orientals”?
Use of this term for fragrances seems out of place. I don’t think I felt this way 3-5 years ago, maybe I did, but it seems even less appropriate now.
 

Mak-7

Well-known member
Sep 19, 2019
Doesnt bother me, because i associate this word with easter direction.
If thinking about perfume, associate it with spices, because east and cultures there are blessed with spices and fancy plants, resins, etc.

People are overthinking stuff these days
 

PStoller

I’m not old, I’m vintage.
Basenotes Plus
Aug 1, 2019
I object to calling people and cultures “Oriental” because it defines them relative to Europe and the Americas. I’m not sure the word does the same for fragrances, save perhaps in the most abstract way. You couldn’t very well call the products of Orientalism “Asian,” because they’re clearly not. They’re a mix of influence, admiration, idealization, and fetishism—sophisticated execution of an arguably naïve concept.

Oriental perfume is an olfactory microcosm of this. It’s about as Asian as Orange Chicken, but that doesn’t mean it can’t smell wonderful. And we have nothing else to call it.
 

Darjeeling

Well-known member
Oct 29, 2012
As far as I can tell calling objects, etc. oriental isn’t an issue but I’ve seen plenty of people asking not to call people or cultures oriental. For what it’s worth, this is more in the US and Australia, but there doesn’t seem to have arisen in the UK.

Then again I’m not Asian so there are others who are better placed to speak on this. I’m just summarizing what I’ve heard and read in the past.
 

motorcade

Well-known member
Dec 21, 2020
Maybe? And why why stop there when:

"Animalic" = disrespectful of the animals that have had to suffer for the sake of perfumery?

"Men's" vs. "women's fragrances" = sexist and artificial?

"Medicinal" = disrespectful of people who need to take actual medicine for real health issues every day?
 

Hugh V.

Well-known member
Dec 9, 2016
I don’t feel right using this term or seeing this term now in 2021. Does anyone else find it out of place to call a style of fragrances “orientals”?
Use of this term for fragrances seems out of place. I don’t think I felt this way 3-5 years ago, maybe I did, but it seems even less appropriate now.

I'm not Asian so obviously my two cents don't carry too much weight on the matter.

That said, I'm not using the term "Oriental" to describe someone of Asian descent. Also, I don't believe it was ever commonly used as a slur against Asians in the first place. But it seems so out-of-date at this point in time that continued use to describe a group of people would come across as being passive-aggressive.

Back to fragrances, it did feel weird at first, describing certain fragrances as "Orientals," and even worse, typing out sentences when I admit I'm not a fan of them. But I got used to it, as everyone here knows what fougeres, chypres, orientals, and gourmands are. I don't feel bad really because I'm using it as term for an style of fragrance, not a people.

Since the fragrance community is pretty small and under the radar, I don't think people really care. If and when "Fragcom" hits the mainstream I'm pretty sure someone will seize the opportunity to get clicks/views/subs/followers by shaming use of the term.
 

Darjeeling

Well-known member
Oct 29, 2012
Maybe? And why why stop there when:


"Men's" vs. "women's fragrances" = sexist and artificial?

?

You may note people on Basenotes referring to scents as marketed to men/marketed to women for this reason. Do it if you want, or not. Whatever :)

The internet has given the world a voice. Unfortunately, the world has chosen to use that voice to complain about everything.

You forgot to add the part where you say “and yes, I’m aware of the irony of me complaining about it on the internet”. ;)
 

JJ The Terrible

Well-known member
Mar 2, 2020
It's just more BS for people of a certain political philosophy to keep people divided and at each others throats because they are miserable, humorless scolds with no meaning in life. I can't dumb myself down, twist or take fantastic leaps of (il)logic or bastardize and murder language enough to equate the word "oriental" as something derogatory. The people that view it as derogatory and racist must be the ones that used it in a derogatory or racist way because it sure as hell wasn't me, my family or anyone else I know. It must be your own guilt convicting you. Quit projecting on to others.

So pretty much any word used to describe a region that was coined by people that populated the demographic regions that make up western civilization is derogatory or condescending(?) Give me a break.
 

grayspoole

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Feb 4, 2014
Use the term or not, as you like, but it might be helpful to reflect briefly on the issues that are being discussed and not merely PC vs, anti-PC arguments.

The Orient was defined as the “East” only in relation to the “West,” the Occident. But is China somehow similar to India? Is Greece like Canada? How, exactly? (Fill in with any countries you choose.) Then ask yourself: what purposes are served by categorizing the races and cultures of the world in these dichotomous terms?

But those questions take us far beyond the concerns of this forum. If we stick to perfumery, I will just say that the term “Oriental” is fairly useless, since there is no single definition of an Oriental perfume, or of an Oriental object, for that matter. Oriental is just a marketing category for a wide and diverse range of perfumes that might be more resinous or balsamic, or rely upon a vanilla base, or use a lot of spices, or evoke incense, or whatever. There are better and more illuminating ways to describe a perfume.

What’s an Occidental perfume, I wonder?
 

The Cologne Cabinet

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Jul 22, 2014
I don’t feel right using this term or seeing this term now in 2021. Does anyone else find it out of place to call a style of fragrances “orientals”?
Use of this term for fragrances seems out of place. I don’t think I felt this way 3-5 years ago, maybe I did, but it seems even less appropriate now.

If it doesn’t feel right then simply don’t use the term. If the term offends you then come up with an alternative and use that in conversation instead. We all have the ability to choose to not be offended, which is a valuable skill in the age of outrage culture.
 

chypre

Well-known member
Oct 10, 2006
i don't enjoy the attitudes that gave rise to Orientalism - the othering, the fetishisation of the exotic, treatment of certain groups of people as little more than novelties. And until someone has actually experienced this, I think it's difficult to understand how this kind of insidious racism feels like.

Having said that, I think labelling a fragrance family as orientals is a step removed from actual Orientalism, so it doesn't really bother me very much. Of course, I'm happy to be corrected here (deleted, sorry, terrible mistake).
 
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Rüssel

Well-known member
Dec 23, 2010
I thought oriental fragrance refers to Middle Eastern perfumes?

Before China, then east went further east and the former east was now nearer or middler.

I'm offended by fragrance body shaming. Most fragrance adverts use skinny, young, model types who would get laid even after eating a raw onion when clearly perfume is needed even more when massively overweight and thus tending to be more sweaty.

Not sure if I'm doing pc right, guys.
 

Darjeeling

Well-known member
Oct 29, 2012
I'm offended by fragrance body shaming. Most fragrance adverts use skinny, young, model types who would get laid even after eating a raw onion when clearly perfume is needed even more when massively overweight and thus tending to be more sweaty.

Not sure if I'm doing pc right, guys.

Youre doing great, sweaty. These perfume ads promoting unrealistic beauty standards clearly have a negative effect on your body image and I’m 100% behind your campaign for perfumes to be promoted using real men of all shapes, sizes, and smells.
 

JON RODGERS

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Dec 5, 2007
Does anyone else find it out of place to call a style of fragrances “orientals”?


raw
 

FiveoaksBouquet

Scented.
Basenotes Plus
Jul 16, 2004
The French perfumers’ society has always labelled this group of perfumes as “ambrés.” Then they break it down to different types of ambers like floral-amber, floral-woody amber, spicy-amber, etc. I find this terminology more logical and more in line with other western descriptions like floral, green, aldehydic, etc. While I don’t find it offensive, imo there’s no real reason for the term “oriental” to exist in perfumery at all.
 

KBF1972

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Aug 23, 2013
I see no problem at all describing a fragrance as oriental or with the word oriental as it means “from the orient” This ultra sensitive, everything offends me cancel culture is getting WAY out of control and will only get worse.
 

KBF1972

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Aug 23, 2013
Furthermore if THIS is what you feel the need to complain and get upset about with all that’s going on in the world right now, you may need to re-examine your life.
 

cacio

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Nov 5, 2010
As others pointed out, the name did arise with orientalist connotations (a la Said), and while in general there was no negative implication, I have seen old ads that were certainly orientalist in a bad way. Nowadays, the name doesn't suggest any orientalist connotation to me, not any more than many other geographic terms that need not be related to the actual place. But, as usual, it's up to people of Asian origin to decide whether the term is ok or not.
 

SubUmbra

Well-known member
Jul 9, 2018
This ultra sensitive, everything offends me cancel culture is getting WAY out of control and will only get worse.

To be fair, most of these things which many say are offensive have real, problematic historical roots. If we're really looking at this original post critically, OP isn't saying everything offends them -- rather, that they suspect this specific word is problematic and have observed it to be in some situations. That's a far cry from someone who just wants to complain.

It never ceases to amaze me how worked up some people get when others think critically about inappropriate things. There are many, many things we could probably all agree on as being inappropriate, but I'll bet at one point in history some group of folks were saying "well WHAT WILL THEY TAKE AWAY NEXT!?" about those very same things. Most of the time, the thing that people are starting to label as "inappropriate" was formerly normalized, so that's why you're feeling this frustration. Society's expectations about the use of a word are changing, whether you're ready for that or not.

I think it's really disingenuous and, frankly, lazy to just assume that any earnest attempt at calling out something that's inappropriate is somehow "just someone taking too much offense."

Side note: KBF1972, when I say "you" above, I'm really speaking to the general "you," I'm not trying to be combative.
 

KBF1972

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Aug 23, 2013
To be fair, most of these things which many say are offensive have real, problematic historical roots. If we're really looking at this original post critically, OP isn't saying everything offends them -- rather, that they suspect this specific word is problematic and have observed it to be in some situations. That's a far cry from someone who just wants to complain.

It never ceases to amaze me how worked up some people get when others think critically about inappropriate things. There are many, many things we could probably all agree on as being inappropriate, but I'll bet at one point in history some group of folks were saying "well WHAT WILL THEY TAKE AWAY NEXT!?" about those very same things. Most of the time, the thing that people are starting to label as "inappropriate" was formerly normalized, so that's why you're feeling this frustration. Society's expectations about the use of a word are changing, whether you're ready for that or not.

I think it's really disingenuous and, frankly, lazy to just assume that any earnest attempt at calling out something that's inappropriate is somehow "just someone taking too much offense."

Side note: KBF1972, when I say "you" above, I'm really speaking to the general "you," I'm not trying to be combative.



The problem is nowadays everything offends someone somewhere. It’s a very slippery slope when we start banning everything because a handful of people find it inappropriate. This thread is a perfect example of that. The OP obviously finds the word “oriental” troubling. The word in itself describes a particular region and several people of Asian decent have said it doesn’t bother them on this thread. The irony of all this cancelling is that it’s often not even the actual people affected who are offended by the word, but rather people who really don’t have anything better to do and it has nothing to do with them.
 
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