Open The Kimono

These days many software projects have replaced “non-inclusive” words like blacklist and master with more “inclusive” words like denylist and main. It was taken as a controversial move (especially outside U.S.) and I also had a mixed feeling. Then there comes a “got it” moment.

Have you heard the phrase “open the kimono“? I had not. It is a business jargon, implying “being transparent” or “opening the book”.

I found this phrase in a “non-inclusive term” list. Indeed, it sounds ridiculous. If you are Japanese, you’ll easily find it racist and sexist. There is no ambiguity. I would rather say “show the dick” or something if I really had to use this phrase. (It is still sexist, but at least not racist.)

Still, a Google search suggests that it is not so obvious to some people in English-speaking counties. It feels bewildering and frustrating to face this ignorance and insensitivity. How can it ever be “it depends”???

Then I realized how ignorant and insensitive I have been to other cultures. I think I have concealed it well enough so I haven’t offended anyone too much, but I can never consider myself as empathetic or considerate either.

In Japan, males are over-represented and females are under-represented. The degree is much more severe than it is in U.S. Non-inclusive Japanese terms from this angle are everywhere, but these are so deeply rooted in Japanese culture that it has been a bit tricky to me, a Japanese male, to feel it.

The abrupt insensitivity of Open The Kimono is, on the other hand, tangible. And it reminds me that we don’t like the world where people are speaking the words that stink.