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I l-o-v-e it when people agree with me! Hearts out to A Truly Elegant Mess, a blog that recently posted the amazing bit Who wakes up and says, “I wish I could be oppressed too”?.

My favorite part:

As far as this idea of “politically correct” (scare quotes intended) as code for “uptight” or “restrictive,” I don’t see why it is so important to some people to be allowed to use words that create an othering effect of specific groups. One thing that must be put out there right now: complaining about being forced to be “PC” is, in essence, complaining that you can’t be a racist, sexist, ableist, homophobic, transphobic douchenozzle without there being consequences.

Agreed. I have this train of thought often. I hear people gripe about the expectation to be “PC”, implying that somehow their freedom of expression is cramped, or that it gets in the way of honestly expressing themselves. Well, here’s the thing. Being PC is about respecting all people equally. Specifically, it is about not using terms that traditionally oppressed or marginalized groups find offensive. Using such terms is typically (though not always) something that a privileged group does, with the intended or unintended effect of reinforcing oppressive social structures.

You don’t have to be PC – you don’t have to treat anyone with respect either. But there are, and should be, consequences if you decide to treat certain groups with disrespect by using insulting terms towards them. If your honest feelings towards a group of (traditionally oppressed) people is one of inferiority, feel free to be honest. Like all moments of honesty, if the truth is painful, people will react. So complaining about being PC is like Dori from the above post says: it’s complaining that you can’t be a bigot without some degree of public censure. Allow me to join you in a big Boo Hoo.

Perhaps you’ve always been accustomed to using certain terms amongst your peer group that you realize get a bad reaction when used outside of that group. For example, certain words you use to describe blacks while in your all-white circle of friends don’t fly when the group is racially-mixed. I would suggest to think this one over. If POC find the terms offensive, why use them at all? Especially when out of earshot of people of color? The fact that we would use certain terms when in an all-white (or all-male or etc) group but not in a mixed group demonstrates that we know the difference between offensive and inoffensive remarks, but we still resort to insulting terms when we think it’s safe.

I have this suggestion. Why not use only terms that you would be unashamed to use in any social situation, regardless of the make-up of the group? Particularly for those of us who belong to social groups that have a lot of privilege, why not respect those who don’t? Why actively participate in white supremacy, male dominance, heteronormativity, etc? This is a relatively easy form of rebellion against social inequalities… give it a go!

October 2014
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