Why I Refuse To Identify With The Word 'Gori'
Updated: Jan 12
So what does the word gori mean? In the Urban Dictionary gori is defined as a word used by Indians to describe white girls.....not particularly offensive. So if the denotation isn't particularly offensive why don't I relate to such an innocent word? Sure, when children refer to me as the gori it is usually meant in an endearing manner. However I have experienced the less endearing connotations of gori. However I believe that not only the context of how the word is delivered is important, but also the impact of the meaning of the word.
Typically it is Indian men who will use this word to label me as a gori, and most of the times it is thrown around by lewd and drunk men who attempt to grope me. Or men who gawk at me walking down the streets, as they nudge their mates telling them to "check out the gori". Even when friends are extending dinner invitations, I have heard them say to my husband, "Be sure to bring your gori wife." Or when strangers see that I am a foreigner appreciating their culture I have heard whispers, "It's nice to see a gori embracing Indian Culture."
There is no question that the word gori has an objectifying and demeaning connotation in such instances. This is because of the negative depiction of white women in pornographic films and Hollywood movies. If an Indian man is staring at you like you are the porn star he grew up with as a teen and he starts talking to his friends about you, the gori, it most certainly is not endearing but rather objectifying.
Not only this, it also implies other characteristics of being a gori, such as sexual availability, drinks alcohol, smokes, has no cultural values and lacks respect for elders. Therefore why should I identify with such a derogatory word?
An Interesting Article By Nothing Is Exotic: Why I Do Not Identify With The Word Gori
Usually when people refer to me as gori I pay no attention to it, however I only questioned the meaning behind it yesterday, when I attended a wedding. This lewd and drunk man came stumbling towards me from behind saying "hello gori". He then placed one hand on the side of my waist and the other hand he attempted to grab my bust, but instead managed to jab my ribs, then scurried away to the dance floor.
This was one of the in laws of my husband's friend, who just so happened to be the groom and to make it worse, he was a British Punjabi so knew better. To think that he did this in front of family and friends, and when he could clearly see I was standing right beside my husband, and in clear sight of the bride & groom. The looks on the bride & groom were priceless, you could clearly see they were mortified and embarrassed.
It is these connotations towards the word gori that makes me refuse to identify with such a word. Those who use it innocently do not fully understand the meaning behind such a word. Not dissimilar to other slang words across other cultures, that appear to have an innocent denotation, however only ever used in situations to convey disrespect.
An Interesting Article By The White Hindu: I Am Not A Gori Wife
Even many Indian songs use the word gori as a reference to fair skinned Indian women. The use of the word gori in this instance is objectifying a woman's beauty. So how is this any less derogatory? I guess the word beautiful or fair skinned woman doesn't have the same appeal in a rap song.
Having experienced the not so endearing connotations of gori, it is a word that I prefer not to associate with or even use myself. Especially when there are so many more adjectives that could be used that aren't disrespectful, such as Australian, English, perhaps Caucasian, fair skinned, or even beautiful if that is what the speaker truly means. Though that is most likely not the true intention hence why the use of the term gori.
There is simply no need to call me a "gori wife" when I am merely a wife. Or refer to me as "the gori", when you could refer to me as Caucasian. Or even "the gori friend", what does my colour have to do with being a friend. So why would you even use gori unless it was intentionally derogatory? I certainly can't think of any situation where it has been used as a compliment.
Though with all that said, I have absolutely nothing against those women whose prerogative is to embrace the word and use it to refer to themselves as a gori wife or gori. The main point being is that it is their own prerogative.
Who else refuses to identify with such a word?
Or is this a term that you have embraced whole heartedly?
I'd love to hear from you so be sure to leave your comments below in the comments field.