Feminism | Posted by Julie Z on 09/15/2010

Political Correctness: Where’s the Line?

where should we stand on political correctness?

where should we stand on political correctness?

This past week, my school’s website posted a link to my blog. This resulted in many of my peers who to my knowledge had generally thought of me as the random girl who sits in the corner (or hadn’t thought about me at all…no that’s definitely it) asking me about my views on feminism. In general, I love talking about feminism – not just because it’s “my thing” (as in “That’s Julie: The Feminist”) but because I like educating people about something they didn’t understand or thought was evil. The feeling I get when people I talk to about feminism actually begin to consider incorporating it into their lives totally overrides every negative comment people have made to me about feminism. Times a billion.

The thing that kept coming up in these conversations, however, wasn’t the misconception that feminists are evil monsters with a thirst for man blood. It wasn’t even that feminists are baby killers (which comes up a lot in Ohio). It was political correctness. I really like your blog, kids would say, but I think you guys overthink a lot of it. Sometimes it’s just so politically correct.

Generally, I’d respond, “you’re probably just not thinking about these issues enough.” But reflectively looking through the blog got me thinking: where’s the line? Which things are truly feminist issues, and which are overly sensitive responses to the reality that there ARE differences between men and women?

Here’s the thing: there are a LOT of things that especially teenagers look at in the world and percieve as unchangable reality. Women are supposed to disappear when they turn to the side and men are supposed to be in a constant state of buff roid rage. That’s just a fact of life. But it’s not a fact, just like violence against women shouldn’t be a fact – even though it happens with terrifying regularity – and just like gender based discrimination shouldn’t exist, yet does. These things can change and NEED to change. Maybe people will label speaking against them as being “politically correct” because they’re afraid of that change, or can’t see the vision of an equal world. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t change.

But I do think there is a line. Sometimes feminists tend to look at things like ads or celebrity culture and and find sexist elements to them that “non-feminists” can’t see. Maybe some of these things are just indicative of the difference between men and women. Maybe that song was metaphorical in its depiction of violence, not literal. Maybe there’s nothing sexist about that swiffer commercial. Maybe this movie doesn’t mean to portray blatant gender stereotypes and messed up messages about sexuality.

But here’s the thing. Sometimes overthinking things can be good. Look at it as practice. Train your eye to see the sexism in the world. Maybe sometimes you’ll be off base…but then again maybe the other person isn’t looking hard enough. Sexism exists, as does bigotry in general. I think we can all agree that it needs to end. And personally, I’d rather overshoot my attempts to end it than undershoot.

So the next time somebody calls me – or other feminists – politically correct for trying to identify and eradicate sexism, I’m just going to tell them to look a little harder.

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  • Amy CT @ at 11:30 am, September 15th, 2010

    Here here :)

  • Katherine C. @ at 12:39 pm, September 15th, 2010

    Keep rocking, Julie!

    (and I live 45 minutes from Cleveland and TOTALLY understand the baby-killer thing :( )

  • Roland Hulme @ at 3:29 pm, September 15th, 2010

    Political correctness is just a form of fascism used to control the way people express themselves. It’s utterly bankrupt, though, because shaming somebody into not saying what they think doesn’t stop them thinking it.

  • SarahC @ at 4:52 pm, September 15th, 2010

    That’s weird. Because I don’t think of this blog as being especially PC. You see, political correctness is very different from feminism. PC is about not offending anybody.

    Yes, there are certain PC terms used in feminist analysis of our lives and culture, but the intent is not the same as the prevailing definition of political correctness. The intent is to get people to take notice, sometimes even to get people angry.

  • Dave Rickey @ at 12:24 am, September 16th, 2010

    I like FBomb in part because it’s willing to question feminist orthodoxy. But this post is a little disappointing, because you flirt with questioning it, wondering if feminist deconstruction is “too hip for the room”, then re-affirm it with a glib “Look at it as practice.”

    The feminist label didn’t become toxic just because of reactionaries who resent Women’s Liberation. Those that embraced it became their own worst enemies through exactly that kind of ‘overthinking’. When you deconstruct everything you see and hear for subliminal sexist content, you do wind up seeing it not only where others don’t, but where they still won’t even after you point it out. And they’re not going to be more favorably disposed to the “feminist” label after you tell them the reason they don’t see the sexism is either being programmed with sexism themselves, or stupid.

    Sometimes a cigar is just a stinky smoke generating device.

  • Ryan @ at 5:11 pm, September 16th, 2010

    The concept of political correctness comes from the former soviet block. It was an element of the Bolchevic Communist Revolution.

    The American Cultural and Sexual Revolution took place in the 1960′s. This is when Cultural Marxism took hold along with political correctness. The Free Love concept comes from Alexandra Kollanti as well.

  • Samuel W. @ at 7:44 pm, September 16th, 2010

    Political correctness is a bankrupt, press-invented label used only by the FOX News & Daily Mail worshipers of the world. It’s thrown at nearly anything the ultra-conservative press doesn’t like. And it’s not real dissent or strong opposition to ‘political correctness’. It’s the weakest, saddest defense to anything in the history of anything to merely yell out ‘Political correctness has struck again!’ Sensitivity with certain words was never a nationwide campaign; it’s merely the way people want to act. It’s just the way it’s naturally become in society, society changed.

  • Heather Aurelia @ at 10:13 am, September 17th, 2010

    It’s interesting that I came acorss this because I just wrote a post about the hidden misogyny in a couple heavy metal songs.

    http://witchyfeminist.com/2010/09/17/hidden-misogyny-in-heavy-metal-song-lyrics/

  • Lucy @ at 5:11 pm, September 17th, 2010

    Samuel W. is right. So-called “political correctness” is just people trying to be nicer to each other at the end of the day. See this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGAOCVwLrXo

  • RebJ @ at 1:29 pm, September 19th, 2010

    I hate the term “political correctness”, it makes it sound like considering and respecting the diversity around you is a bad thing. I hate it even more when people purposely decide not to be “politically correct” just to be a rebel.
    Generally, the people who deride “political correctness” are the ones who are constantly around people just like them.

  • Stephine Cuttitta @ at 9:25 pm, October 6th, 2010

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  • David @ at 7:26 am, January 2nd, 2011

    Within our minds we all have the Reticular Activating System (RAS) and although I don’t know a lot about it, I know some of how it works. It is a major part of our brains system for recognizing patterns or relationships.
    Have you ever noticed how, when you get interested in a subject or person, you start to see or hear about them more often. Like before you buy a new car, you never thought much about Honda Civics, or whatever car, until you were thinking of buying one, -and then you see them everywhere! When you go out mushroom hunting, it takes awhile to find the first one, but once the pattern is locked in, bang, they are everywhere; that’s RAS.
    Well, RAS can be good and RAS can be bad. Have you have ever noticed how bigoted people only see one side of something, they only have one view. It’s because that is all their RAS is looking for. It feels good to be right and our RAS is only too happy to help us out by ignoring some things over other.

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