Because my last guest author used the term “political correctness” I feel the need to comment on it. I won’t edit to that degree, but I do like to clarify why I don’t, and won’t, use this term.
I remember when ‘politically correct’ started being used. It was a term meant to deride activists and other progressives who didn’t want to be called things that were pejorative, racist, insulting or otherwise unfortunate.
You know, like adult women not wanting to be called girls, and black people not wanting to be called the N word.
We were, then as now, derided for being oversensitive, pushy, and annoying for insisting on being called things that brought us respect and didn’t identify us only in the context of white-het-capitalist-racist patriarchy. Nutty, I know.
In the classroom I’ve noticed it is a term that has somehow become neutral, that even progressive students use it casually to mean things like “language policing” or the like. When students and colleagues do use it neutrally, I often ask them to define it, first: what do we mean when we say it, and what makes it a bad thing, exactly? To call marginalized, oppressed people things that don’t further marginalize and oppress them? I mean, how is that not cool?
So I’m pleased to see this piece by Julia Serano outlining some of its current usage. She says:
In other words, “political correctness” is merely a pejorative wielded by those who wish to protect the status quo. But of course, the status quo is always evolving. The proverbial line in the sand that determines which words or ideas are acceptable within civil discourse and which ones are deemed to be beyond the pale is constantly shifting over time.
The key words here are ‘civil discourse’ by which we mean both what’s considered polite and what we, as a citizenry, consider appropriate.
& That is all it is – no more & no less. Some of us are trying to evolve culture into something that looks a little more humane, a little more fair, and a little less deadly, and believe that language can and does shape reality.