Let’s start with the when, the what, the how and most importantly the why.
When the heck did this “thing” come about?
You would be surprised to know that being “Politically correct” or “PC” or as the kids like to call it “woke”, isn’t exactly a new fad.
It was way back in 1970’s-80’s where college campuses suddenly saw a huge increase in students that were not white and male. Suddenly a whole new diverse mix of races and genders were thrown in together which resulted, like it always does, in utter chaos.
‘Republicans vs Democrats’
‘Blacks vs Whites’
and so on and so forth...
In order to make sure that these uh complications (to say the least) didn’t get out of hand, political correctness started being preached and here we are today.
Alright fair enough but what does it mean to be PC?
the avoidance of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against.
As if this definition didn’t make it clear enough, being PC means being a lot of things (including a pretentious know-it-all bas****)
It means very carefully articulating your speech and your words in a manner so as to not offend anybody. Anybody, that is with a traumatic struggle throughout history.
So that will be your women, your gays, your immigrants and yada yada yada you get the drill.
You know what. Despite the incredibly biased tone of this article I really think this whole “PC” thing fits right up my alley. How do I become one?
Well, dear reader, the answer is quite simple.
In fact, here I have a step-by-step guide for you.
Step 1: Don’t joke about anything. Ever. Jokes are offensive (3 men walk into a bar? ExCUse Me, siR, THIs is a bLAtant removal OF Women and their role IN society)
Step 2: Just don’t talk to anybody about anything ever again.
Okay, okay I am kidding. I was just joking around to get your attention and to perhaps trivialize this incredibly complex and scary topic of the day. But now that you have a fair sense of what PC is let’s get serious for a minute here.
To answer the last question of why we need to look at both the sides of the argument.
The first thing that you should keep in mind of PC culture is that it is not effective. Human beings, more so the educated than the others often go out of their way to be “right” or “correct” than they do to be kind or effective.
Being PC, in my opinion, is largely driven by the need to be correct than it is to be kind. Changing words for certain people do not change underlying discrimination, prejudices and perceptions against or about those people.
Yes. Words do shape our reality and speech plays a major role in terms of respect and shaping societal norms and there is conclusive research for that but in the end, calling a black man “African-American” does very little or nothing to change society’s behavior towards them.
All it does is that it gives what effectively is a license for a racist to get away with racism without the burden of guilt or blame because they used quote-unquote “the correct terminology”.
The second thing we need to know about the PC culture is that the very people it seeks to defend and garner respect for increasingly rejecting its philosophy and feel again, quote-unquote “uncomfortable” whenever they are placed in the receiving end of it.
Thirdly, we need to understand that being PC is almost entirely an educated privilege. The vast majority of people who identify as PC have a postgraduate degree. So every time they try to make other people feel bad or even guilty for not using the correct terminology and not being politically correct they are, basically, bashing other people for not having the education that they have had.
What might come naturally or what might seem quite ‘normal’ and ‘obvious’ to them is not, in fact, normal or obvious to the majority of people.
This resentment and sheer anger that is cultivated by the PC, for people who refuse to follow it because they can’t understand ‘the why’ creates a divide between people on the same side.
People who choose not to be PC are not people who disagree with the fundamental goals that PC strives to achieve (which is respect and equality for marginalized and historically discriminated communities) but rather people who seek other ways than constricted vocabulary to achieve it which brings me to my last argument,
Finally, being PC and imposing this culture does in fact limit and even discourage free speech and democratic discussions.
Think about it. If someone were to tell you that unless you use very specific words and behave in a very specific manner in every single situation throughout your entire life or you will end up offending someone, you would feel suffocated.
Your biggest example for this can be college campuses. College kids have increasingly stopped participating in controversial debates in the fear of not being PC.
Have you ever been in a situation where an interesting discussion was going on and you really wanted to be a part of it but you kept shut ‘cause you thought you didn’t know enough about the said topic and you didn’t wanna end up offending someone? Yup. That’s Political correctness for you.
And this is actually really depressing and regressive in a way. The thing is prejudices, whether we like it or not, exist within each of us. It is a natural byproduct of culture and society. The only way to root out these prejudices is through discussion and debate.
And if we are too cautious not to ask questions which might “offend” people then I’m afraid we will continue living with those prejudices within us which will in the end harm not only us but those very people that we were trying not to offend in the first place.
So finally to answer ‘the why’
The’ why should I be or not be PC?’
Even after all of my arguments, you could still say “But hey, discrimination exists and PC is there to fight it and what’s wrong with using correct words” I will only tell you that I am not against using correct words at all. In fact, I am guilty of being PC myself. Throughout this article, I have been using gender-neutral pronouns because personally I just think it’s a nice thing to do.
I am against the shaming that comes along with this culture, the “why did he have to say that?” the outrage that monopolizes our media every single time a white celebrity wears dreads or Starbucks doesn’t put Christmas decorations on their cups.
Stop feeding this useless debate of self-righteousness.
There are bigger and more important issues in this world, people wake up and discuss that stuff and not “Is this Halloween costume cultural appropriation?”
Be nice and courteous to people from all backgrounds. Call them what they want to be called and yes, next time do speak up in that debate about that very controversial topic because even if you might get some shocked “How dare you ask that” faces you will end up learning something important.
That’s it, folks that’s my two cents on the whole PC thing, do tune in next time where I pick a topic that will require considerably less research.