"Keep it PG, Not PC" by Emma Landry
As the younger generations start to grow up, we’re seeing a shift toward a much more sensitive society. We use terms like “they/them” to be all-inclusive rather than assuming someone's gender or offending others by saying a term that is identified with one gender. The inclusivity this politically correct culture creates is, of course, a great thing in some regards, but there are two sides to every coin.
I don’t wish to argue against the need for a more inclusive society. As a whole, we could all use a little more compassion in our lives. Being accepting of everyone’s individuality is something that needs improvement, but the oversensitive system that is being put in place is far from flawless. In the same way, some individuals get uncomfortable being misgendered, others get uncomfortable when they are asked their preferred pronouns. Politically correct culture is creating an amazing sense of tolerance for one group, but invalidating the thoughts and feelings of another group by labeling them insensitive.
Attending a liberal university, when we go around the room to do the clichéd first-day introductions, we now have to say what our preferred pronouns are. This is a step in the right direction for individuals in the LGBTQ+ community and is a small price to pay to make people feel more comfortable, but some people are much more comfortable being assumed to be the gender they physically sign rather than being asked. Whether or not this is morally right or wrong is beside the point. The fact is that a politically correct culture lifts some groups while marginalizing others.
My qualm with political correctness is the need to watch my every word. I never say anything to hurt others. My goal is never to be insensitive or to offend. That being said, as a Californian from a surfer town, I have a tendency to call everyone “dude,” and more times than I can count, I have been shamed for this. My intention is not to misgender. I use the phrase completely gender neutrally. There is no malice behind my calling you “dude,” in fact, I think of it as a term of endearment, but for some reason, people assume I’m misgendering them and immediately get offended.
Instances like this are why I have developed an issue with certain parts of PC culture. I have no problem saying my pronouns if it will make someone more comfortable, but to ask me to completely change my vocabulary because someone thinks something I’m saying is intended to be offensive is a little much. Opinions need to be respected unless they are very obviously damaging, and while I disagree with a lot of other people’s opinions, that does not invalidate them. We live in a free country, we are free to say what we’d like.
On the other side of this issue, though, are the anti-abortion supporters that come to campus and yell in the faces of young women that they’re baby killers. Yes, you are free to voice your opinion, but do so in a respectful way. Once you start disrespecting others, they have no obligation to respect you. Anyone should be allowed to table on campus, of course, but the harassment that is often displayed along with it is way over the line.
Politically correct culture isn’t inherently a negative thing. It was born out of trying to create a more accepting society, which I think most of us can root for. The problem comes when things take a turn for the too PC. I offer a solution to this, though. Instead of asking yourself “is this politically correct?” ask “would this be allowed in a PG movie?” When approaching a public environment where a certain level of sensitivity is to be expected, this is sure to keep you safe. Aside from that, just try to be aware. I’m not going to stop saying “dude” just because it is associated with masculinity. I, and many others do not associate it as a masculine term, and I never say it with malicious intent. Instead, I ask that those that are easily offended by the words of others consider the context in which they’re being used and respond accordingly rather than jumping to assuming that the speaker is trying to be demeaning.