Saturday, July 18, 2015

Let's talk about PC

I often hear people gripe about "Political Correctness."

And all I can think of is an event that drove it home for me.

I had a boss who called me Beth for two weeks and she got VERY irritated when I ignored her. She finally got in my face and demanded to know why I was disrespecting her and wasn't responding when she was calling me by name.

I told her "That's not my name" and tapped my nameplate that clearly said "Angelia" and had been on my chest for the whole two weeks.

What you rail against as PC, I see it as exactly that situation.

People have said "Don't call me this. It's not who I am." Whether it's a racial slur, a former name or an identity they aren't. And some people are still shouting "You're BETH and will answer to it!"

PC is about changing thinking by changing the language we use about things. People-first language emphasizes our common humanity. And we've been trying to do that for hundreds of years.
For instance, "Cretin" is a rarely used word today and always an insult.

But it comes from 1779: from French crétin, from Swiss French crestin ‘Christian’ (from Latin Christianus ), here used to mean ‘human being,’ apparently as a reminder that, although dwarfed and mentally handicapped by a thyroid deficiency, cretins were human and not beasts.

Or read up on The Southern Strategy. By coding the language around economics, they managed to convey their racism without ever saying words that had once worked and were now offensive.

What it comes down to is the age-old question of Why. Why continue to fight common courtesy? Why keep calling people things we think they should be called?

Are we really better people for being able to call minorities by rude words?
Are we straight shooters for preferring to say "retarded" and "crippled" instead of "Mentally handicapped" or "physically disabled".

People let us know what they prefer to be called.
To continue calling them what we prefer to call them instead is the equivalent of shouting "Beth!" in their faces and insisting they answer.

Please note, I am referring to actual, everyday language--African American, calling transfolk by the right names--not the levels of academically projected ridicule possible for me as melanin-deficient, mammary-enhanced, wofem of privilege.

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