The problem with political correctness

Political correctness is a phrase I’ve seen used more times than I can count. It’s come from my father, and echoes in my head now. It’s come from racists, transphobes, a game reviewer and politicians evidently without the capability of logic & self-examination to have a part in running this country. 

It is, from what I can tell, an utterly illogical strawman fallacy made up of several elements.

“Maybe the next Spiderman can practice tai-chi, be a vegetarian and drive a Prius!” 

A sarcastic excerpt from a rant about how a black Spiderman in a comic book is the harbinger of the politically correct end of all dudebroity. This is a fairly common element of the fallacy, where people who contribute towards ending oppression are stereotyped as doing things percieved as unmanly  or ridiculous by the stereotyper. 

Even if this had a basis in reality,  it would still be irrelevant to the discussion, because of the point of ending oppression is to end oppression, not force a particular lifestyle or hobby on everyone, making this a bias-reliant ad hominem.

“People who experience a label of autism” 

“Mentally challenged” 

“Persons of size” 

“Gender reassignment surgery”

Frequently, the stereotype of “political correctness” conflates using roundabout, often unclear language like this with using oppression free language. However, in many cases, such language as this is loathed by the people it is meant to describe on the very grounds that it is oppressive. For example:

“People who experience a label of autism”. 

The problems with this are clear and easy to articulate, even for me. Firstly, I don’t experience a label of autism, I am autistic. Labels do not make me flap my hands and bang my head and get a sight more likely to be abused. 
Secondly, there’s no pressure for allistic people to say they “experience a label of allism”.
Thirdly, it’s just blatant flinching from the reality of my disability, in the thought that it’s some terrible, offensive, awkward thing.

“Mentally challenged”

Everyone is challenged mentally by something, therefore using this for mentally disabled folks doesn’t work unless you’re NT-normative as all hell.

“Persons of size” 

This is supposedly a politically correct term for fat people, yet I’ve never even seen or heard a fat person use it. As far as my thin self can tell, the only reason you’d consider “fat” offensive to everyone, as politically correct people are supposed to, is because you think the whole idea of fatness is a bad idea and wish to avoid it. Which is clearly sizeist.

“Gender reassignment surgery”

Said to be a politically correct term for genital reconstruction surgery. Busted due to conflating sex with gender.

The idea that people who intend to end oppression all use this language was blatantly manufactured by the ignorant.

“Political correctness offends me” 

“I’m sorry I offended you/ you were offended / my term was offensive / etc /etc”

“I don’t care if you’re offended”

“And x is supposed to be offensive to black people!” 

“It’s not my fault you choose to be offended”

Probably the most common element of the idea of political correctness that I’ve seen is that the problem with oppressive language is that it’s offensive. This is absolutely absurd, because not only am I not offended, I have no capability for offense. I do not understand the fundamental idea of it, because I have never felt it. I have three emotions, possibly four. Offense is not one of them. Yet, still, I dislike and refute busted terms, instead of ignoring them. 

Because, you see, it’s not that those terms are offensive. Privileged and ignorant people can get offended too, you know. No, it’s that those terms are oppressive. 

Like how you grow up hearing “crazy”, and you associate anything bad with being non-neurotypical. Like how when you grow up hearing about how all rapists are crazy and that’s why rape happens, there’s an underlying, subconscious idea that you can’t be part of the problem of rape, because rapists are crazy and you’re not. Like how you grow up with “men & women” and “both genders”, and by your teens, the belief that there are only two genders is deeply entrenched, and will be zealously defended even against the kind of evidence that would disprove almost any other opinion.

Like how you grow up with “gay” used as an insult, and talk of “shemales”, and all that happy horseshit, and then you smash Angie Zapata’s head in with a fire extinguisher, because you found her attractive before she was ready to tell you that she was trans and pre-op, and therefore she was an it, not a she, and that made you gay. Bad. Wrong. Nasty. Something used as an insult.

Not convinced? Then do some research and some thinking. You’ll find that the amount of oppressive language used about something, both in general and in a single area, corresponds to how much predudice centers around it and how zealously the belief in it will be defended, and that every bit of language I find oppressive can be proven to state or imply oppressive things with cold logic. 

Finally, we come to the term itself. 
Politics do not have universal values, and so it’s not even possible for something to be “politically correct” outside of a highly specific context. The term merely attempts to play on distrust of politicians, evoking emotions in place of logic, because it has no logic, it’s nothing but a scare term. There’s simply nothing about it that isn’t a fallacy of one kind or another, or just plain denial of what’s exceedingly obvious.

It’s no more than verbal stand-in for the unreasoning rejection of something you don’t want to hear.

About chassisbird

Chassisbird is autistic, trans, a survivor of abuse, possibly gray-asexual, queer, polyromantic and very into D/s. It uses it/hir pronouns, tends towards apathy and would like to resemble a spider much more closely.
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