The myth of political correctness

Can I tell you how tired I am of hearing people bemoan “political correctness”? “Gaaawwwd, we have to be so ‘politically correct’ all the time,” they spit and huff, usually after being called out for saying something racist, misogynistic, or homophobic.

But can you define “politically correct”?

The Merriam Webster definition of politically correct is: conforming to a belief that language and practices which could offend political sensibilities (as in matters of sex or race) should be eliminated. That’s it.

Being “politically correct” used to mean things like changing job titles from policeman or fireman to police officer or firefighter to ensure that we were using language that is inclusive of women who are also performing these jobs.

Now, when someone gets called out for saying something outright and unquestionably insulting about women, people of colour, or people in the LGBT community, they immediately jump to hollering about how their rights to free speech are being limited or how they’re sooo tiiired of having to be politically correct all the time because some delicate little snowflakes get offended too easily.

There is not only an unwillingness to discuss how what they’re saying can be hurtful and actually damaging (by perpetuating systemic discrimination, for instance), but there is a complete dismissal of anyone who thinks that their life experiences (as a woman, person of colour, or member of the LGBT community) are in any way valid.

Political correctness has become a myth. Rather than ensuring that we’re using inclusive language, hollering about political correctness has really just turned into a way for the powerful to shutdown critical dialogue.

This video on micro aggressions gives some good insight into why what some bemoan as political correctness is so important.