Political correctness (often referred to as PC) is a term that is often used to describe language, policies, or measures that are intended to avoid offence or disadvantage to members of particular groups in society. Within public discourse and the media, the term usually has a negative connotation attached to it, often implying that the topics of discussion are too politically correct and people are too afraid to speak their minds anymore.
Just how true is that statement though? We’re going to look through a few different topics in which the term is often used alongside and see if the world has become too PC.
We’ll start easy. The term snowflake is a derogatory slang word for a person. It implies that they have an inflated sense of uniqueness, an unwarranted sense of entitlement, or are overly emotional, easily offended and unable to deal with opposing opinions. It is often used as a political tactic, especially in the USA where Trump and the republicans use it to describe the democrats.
Mostly though, it is college students and millennials that this term is used to refer to as it is now common to receive ‘trigger warnings’ on books or classes that some might find upsetting in this age group. This also carries onto when ‘snowflakes youngsters’ would watch old 90’s sitcoms such as Friends when it came to Netflix. They would find themselves offended by the Non-PC jokes in them. Trying to cancel a show that was a product of its time seems a bit excessive. While many now might not agree with the jokes, instead of trying to take down a series that ended years ago, more education should go into why these jokes are now not okay.
Toxic masculinity refers to traditional cultural masculine norms that can be harmful to men, women, and society overall. The concept is not there to demonise men or male attributes but rather to emphasise the harmful effects of conformity to certain traditional norms. Examples of this concept would be ‘boys will be boys’ and ‘Man up’. This is quite a damaging hegemonic view of men, which may lead to mental health issues and have long term effects.
How does this relate to political correctness though? Well, it ties in with it quite easily. This view of what a man should be is being pushed on the younger generation, who are rejecting it. It is now a lot more common to see a teenage boy wearing nail polish, talking about their feelings, and not conforming to what society deems as a ‘normal man’. They receive push back for this though, with the main argument being that the younger generation is too sensitive and unable to handle any type of criticism, which is just not the case. The younger generations are just not conforming to the narrative society has set up for them.
There is still a lot of toxic masculinity within society but it is slowly changing with each new generation, which is positive.
While there is nothing casual about racism, in Ireland this form of racism is sometimes the norm. What this term means is just racism in a subtle form. Ireland for many years didn’t see many tourists or people moving over here. Then we became a country within Europe and we saw an influx of people coming to settle here. Unfortunately, while the Irish people are known for being nice, there is also a racism problem in Ireland. It can sometimes be subtle which is the only reason you could claim it is casual racism.
Little jabs and jokes at the expense of someone’s skin colour, nationality, language are all forms of racism, yet oftentimes if you challenge the person saying it you’ll get ‘I’m only joking!” or “You’re too sensitive, it’s not a big deal.” And while it may not be a big deal for them, to the people experiencing this racism, it is a big deal. The world has not and cannot be too PC when calling out racism, this is something everyone should be calling out when they see it.
Cultural appropriation Vs Cultural appreciation
This might be the biggest topic in the debate on ‘if the world has gone too PC’ and one that is often used to say, yes the world is too PC. Cultural appropriation versus cultural appreciation is a heavy topic that needs more than a few paragraphs but this is something that needs to be touched on. To put it simply cultural appropriation is taking an aspect of a culture that is not your own and using it for personal interest. Cultural appreciation, on the other hand, is when someone seeks to understand and learn about another culture to broaden their perspective and connect with others cross-culturally.
Regardless of what people think, this does not mean the culture cannot be shared and celebrated. It is when a culture is nearly destroyed and then, years later, when some of that culture’s traditions are used commercially that it becomes cultural appropriation, as someone’s culture is not for others to play ‘dress up’ with.
A more common example of cultural appropriation is the Native American headdress that you now see people of all different backgrounds wearing when they do not know the traditions behind it. While it is okay to celebrate other cultures, knowing the history behind it is important. If you wear it because you think it just looks nice then it is insulting a culture you know nothing about. People’s cultures are important to them and it is up to each individual to respect that.
How does this make the world too PC though? Why is wanting to respect other cultures considered something that is too politically correct? The big question here is ‘is somebody mocking your culture or appreciating it?’ With Native Americans, you can understand why they dislike people using their culture and traditions as, for hundreds of years, Natives were fetishized, violated, forcefully converted and their very identity dismissed out of them.
If you look at how we celebrate Halloween that could also be considered cultural appropriation as it is an Irish Celtic holiday. The reason it is not is because the Irish were not forced to lose that part of their identity with the conversion over to Christianity, unlike the Native Americans.
To put it simply, it is not ‘political correctness gone mad’ to want people to be educated on your culture and understand that it might offend the people who have suffered from simply belonging to that culture in the past.
Answering the original question of ‘has the world gone too PC?’ though, is tough. In some aspects, you could say it has, (trying to cancel 90s shows that were products of their time) as people seem to find offence with things that have no bearing in today’s society, but on the other hand, it has not. The term PC is used to shut people down when they take a stand against injustices in the world. In that case, I’d say keep up the fight as the only way to change something is to have it out in the open. It is not wrong to want to be more sensitive towards other genders, races, and cultures.
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