Political Correctness: More than just being polite

Political Correctness: More than just being polite

With the release of our Cheeto-colored presidential-elect Donald Trump’s derogatory remarks about women, there has been an increase in debate about the use of political correctness.

Being politically correct refers to avoiding language and actions that insult groups of people who are socially discriminated against. Mr. Trump has already stated his claim on the matter. He said, “We have to stop being so politically correct in this country.”

Many people agree, thinking that this generation in general is just too sensitive. Time Magazine journalists Bradley Campbell and Jason Manning wrote, “Even unintentional slights are acts of aggression, all hurtful words are a threat to their safety, and it is the responsibility of authorities to protect them.”

Elaborating on that idea, an anonymous sophomore said, “White millennials, usually females,  [get] the most offended for minority groups.”

However, while statistically women are not a minority, they are treated as such. Living in a patriarchal society (a society of which men hold more power), women face sexism, at times so severe, that their basic human rights are still being questioned, even though they are not actually a minority.

For example, women in the US on average make 17.5% less than men. In addition, the hashtag #Repealthe19th trended on Twitter on October 12. It called for the repeal of the Constitutional Amendment that granted women the right to vote, something that took a ridiculous number of years for women to obtain, even though that is supposedly a given right for Americans. With that level of oppression and discrimination, women are given suitable justification for being offended on behalf of minority groups.

#Repealthe19th was, according to the journalist Abby Ohlheiser of The Washington Post, a, “real, anti-feminist hashtag that sits at the intersection of the alt-right’s sense of humor and genuine misogyny.” It’s difficult to believe that this absurd ‘joke’ exists at all, when women have progressed politically so far as to have a female presidential candidate. Yes, internet trolls, the 19th Amendment is definitely going to be repealed just because you don’t want Hillary Clinton for president. It’s not like half of the United States population consists of women, or that this is the 21st century.

It is doubtful, however, that everyone using that hashtag genuinely desired the repeal of the amendment. That begs the question, when does a statement or joke become offensive?

Sophomore Marisa Parisi said, “It depends what the person intended by making the remark, as it could be meant to be offensive or it could be said ironically.” Besides intention of the speaker, it also depends on the listener’s own background.

Senior Arielle Enos said, “I think a joke becomes offensive when it hits too close to home. If it’s about a touchy subject like religion or race.” Someone may not find a statement or action particularly derogatory until they are the one being attacked. Therefore, it is often difficult to understand why something could be hurtful.

Interestingly enough, when Mr. Trump was poked and mocked in the parody of him by Alec Baldwin during Saturday Night Live, he was extremely offended. Mr. Trump said in a tweet, “Watched Saturday Night Live hit job on me. Time to retire the boring and unfunny show. Alec Baldwin portrayal stinks. Media rigging election!” This, coming from the man who strongly believes people are too sensitive, and that being politically correct is unimportant. It’s perfectly okay for him to get offended at a sign of disrespect, but when others do they’re being thin-skinned. I believe that is called hypocrisy, Mr. Trump.

Of the people interviewed, everyone who was opposed to being PC had a common connection. Like Mr. Trump, they are not part of any minority. They have what is considered privilege, and due to this, have never experienced offense towards their gender, religion, sexuality, or race.

Sophomore Reilly Leconte said, “The people who don’t think political correctness is important are the people who are not insulted, disrespected, and misrepresented consistently.”

Senior Victoria Cameron found this to be particularly derogatory coming from public figures, such as politicians. She said, “When they say and do things that are unfair, untrue, and unfounded, it’s derogatory.”

Sophomore Olivia Cornell agreed, taking grievance especially from Mr. Trump’s impersonation in August of Asians, where he used disjointed speech to mock poor English-speakers. She said, “Being a minority myself I find Donald Trump’s political incorrectness and insensitivity to be very offensive.”

There’s a reason why “Treat others the way you want to be treated” is the Golden Rule. We are taught at a young age to respect everyone, and it is thoroughly depressing to think this is a controversial topic at all.