14 March 2006

clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right

i've never been a fan of "political correctness". in fact, when i was more actively involved in social causes, i used to get a bit of a cheap thrill by baiting the sort of people who insisted that all evils in the world could be eliminated if we simply imposed restrictions on acceptable language and shamed anyone who didn't share our views.

i worked in an atmosphere that had a lot of that element to it and was routinely put down, sadly by other women, as a "bad feminist" because of the fact that i wore dresses and make-up and didn't apologise for it (feminist don't wear fishnets...), ignoring a lot of the more meaningful parts of my life and personality in favour of what they could see on the surface. so i know what it feels like to be on the receiving end of a politically correct diatribe and i don't have a lot of patience for it.

that said, now that i'm out in the "real" world (as opposed to an overly academic, self-reflecting dream-world), i am starting to notice a lot of the things that got these people so riled up to begin with. i was speaking to a couple of co-workers today and both of them, one of them a pretty senior person, were going on at some length about how they only wanted to have men as bosses, not women. i was pretty clear that i thought it was stupid to make assumptions based on gender either way (i've had bad bosses of both sexes), which immediately gets me branded as some political correct language cop cracking down on them for expressing opinions (it's amazing how many people equate challenging an opinion with challenging their right to hold that opinion).

how did i end up on the wrong end of both sides of this debate? i don't care what anyone says, it is asinine in this day and age to talk about women and men as somehow homogeneous groups (whether you're judging them from the left or the right). although this is common sense to me, it's apparently heresy to most individuals, who are afraid to disturb the convenient little compartments into which they place everybody. (i will also add that i think this is especially an issue with gender. i don't believe that it would have been considered acceptable for a co-worker to say she didn't want to work for anyone who was black, for instance, although i'm sure there are people who do say such things.)

although this has been in my mind today, it's something i've noticed a lot and on an ongoing basis. on the one hand, i detest it when anyone cries out that they're a victim every time someone says something that hurts their feelings. on the other hand, i hear enough stupid statements about others based on broad stereotypes, mostly from people who should know better, that i also understand the urge to yell.

and here i am, arguing with both sides and wondering why people are so hung up on maintaining their preconceived notions, even in the face of evidence that those notions have lost whatever marginal usefulness they might have had. i believe it was shaw who said that common sense was the least common of all senses. it's a statement that unfortunately seems to gain currency over time.

2 comments:

Andrew Evans said...

This is a great blog! I suggest you read Daphne Patei's book "Heterophobia" She is a gender studies professer in the states who seams to have a similair perspective to you when it comes to "identity politics". I am a straight, white male who performs stand up comedy. Challenging opinions held by women on stage is death to someone like me. I am not allowed to have opinions about women, unless they are positive, or men are ultimately to blame. I do not go out of my way to make fun of women, but if I see a hypocrisy withing the feminist movement or something that just doesn't make sense to me, I would like to voice it. Keep challenging those opinions, the world needs you to do it!
Andrew Evans
www.angryandrew.com

flora_mundi said...

haven't ever been shy about the opinions, so please drop by any time...

i can't help but notice that a disproportionate number of us common sense types seem to come from or have lived in halifax... must be all the extra fluoride in the water down there.

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