The Whole “PC Police” Thing, and Why It’s Ridiculous

I hate the term “politically correct.”

Notice how it’s never, ever used by, say, a person of color to tell someone to be less offensive.  It’s only used as a term to encapsulate, “Those silly women/POC/gay people/etc. are OVERSENSITIVE so I have to be, ew!, politically correct.

The implication is that you don’t want to express yourself in a way that is not offensive, but you HAVE to because of, y’know, those silly whiny oversensitive people.  By extension, this means that not only do you not care about the opinions of women/POC/gay people/etc. regarding how they themselves are represented in discourse, but you are dismissing all of those people as being oversensitive whiners.  Which is not only rude and patronizing as hell, but how is it possibly helpful to the larger conversation?

One of the main things I hate about the phrase “politically correct,” however, is that it’s just plain wrong.  The “politically” part of it implies that “PC” means being polite/tactful to the world in order to avoid getting people mad (which, again, patronizing).  But if you look at the way the world actually works, particularly in America, the actual politically correct thing is to be a white straight cis-gendered Christian man who doesn’t make any effort to make sure the issues of women, POC, QUILTBAG people, or anyone else are a part of his platform.

Look at these charts.  Look at the number of people who wouldn’t vote for a gay person or a Muslim for President.  It’s not the “correct” choice, politically, to be gay or Muslim.

Look at book covers or true stories being whitewashed because the powers that be think diverse protagonists can’t carry stories and won’t take a chance on a POC.  Look at the way some people complain when movies do make efforts to increase diversity—in most cases, sticking with all white men would be considered the political choice.

Read the comment threads of anybody, POC or not, who expresses disappointment about destructive stereotypes.  Read the responses to any woman who dares complain about misogyny in media.  The POC, women, etc. who speak out about these issues—these are the people so often tagged with the derogatory term “PC Police”—but they are not, in reality, actually doing anything that is politically wise by speaking out!  They’re speaking out because they feel they have to, because they feel it is important, and they get slammed for it.  Being “political” would mean keeping their heads down and saying nothing and agreeing to disagree.

How did “politically correct” come to be a derogatory term for people who do the opposite of what is politically wise?

I know why, of course—it comes from people hating some nebulous idea that we must be “inoffensive” to everybody.  The problem is, nobody anywhere is saying that people should be inoffensive to everybody.  Nobody anywhere is telling people not to have strong opinions.  Telling people to STOP CONTRIBUTING TO INSTITUTIONALIZED BIGOTRY, PLEASE is very different from telling people to be tame and inoffensive.  And the people who often are the loudest and most offensive and most rage-filled about racism/sexism/other -isms, in other words, the least “political” people ever, are exactly the people who are most consistently labeled as trying to get everyone to be “politically correct.”

In other words, “PC” is a shorthand way for bigots to be dismissive of people they disagree with, and it doesn’t even make sense in the way it’s applied.  Can we please, as a society, just freakin’ lose this term?