I hate the term “politically correct.” Which isn’t to say I hate the spirit behind it. I’m all about that. I just think it fails to accurately describe the intentions or the behavior. And even worse, it’s become a term loaded with derogatory meaning in an effort to undermine the cause, like “Obamacare” or “Sex and The City Fan.”
Here’s a brief history lesson: once every generation a group of diverse people raise up their voices and say, “Hey, just so you know, we think this is insensitive.” And every generation a group of not so diverse people raise up their voices even louder and say, “NO, IT’S NOT!” In the 90’s these two camps were called “politically correct” and “politically incorrect.” Today we just call them “straight white dudes” and “everyone else.”
OK, what I just said is potentially divisive and that’s wrong of me and I’m sorry. See what I did there, Straight White Dudes? OK, I apologize for that, too. But here’s the thing with the term “politically correct.” In the 90’s it quickly became this term that was sneered at. No one was called “politically correct” out of respect. It was said in the same tone they had been calling people “humorless, frigid, cunts” – or worse – for years. So the fact that people are bringing this back now immediately changes the discussion to an adversarial one. They don’t want to be open to what people have to say. They want everyone to know these people are humorless, frigid, cunts.
But what I hate even more about the term “politically correct,” is that in and of itself it’s incorrect. Have you looked at the politics of our country lately? We have a major political party whose members consider it correct to govern women’s bodies for them, teach creationism, and shoot unarmed black kids. We’ve heard their “politically correct” language. That’s why we’re here.
I think the term “politically correct” is lazy, in actuality it says nothing about what people are trying to do, but I get why we use it because it’s shorthand and what we are trying to do takes too long to say. I think what we’re trying to do is just raise awareness. Hey, here’s something you probably haven’t thought about because you’ve never had to or no one has felt comfortable bringing it up before now. That’s how I try to hear it when someone says it to me because we’ve all been on both sides of this and we all we continue to be. And raising awareness is a good thing – it’s the only thing that got us out of The Stone Age. But maybe wanting to be out of The Stone Age is all about perspective. The Stone Age, and many ages afterward, were bad for people like me. I like being out of The Stone Age. I can vote. I can earn my own money. I can keep that money. It is not my husband’s legal right to beat me or have sex with me whenever he wants. I have (for now) access to birth control and reproductive freedom. But The Stone Age was pretty sweet for some people. And maybe that’s why they’re so desperate to stay there.