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Political Correctness | Its Origins and the Backlash Against It


What does Politically Correctness mean?. It’s definition, the PC culture, and Pros and Cons. "Political correctness" is the practice of communicating without upsetting anyone. Love it or hate it, what was once regarded as simple “common courtesy," has become much more concerning and frankly conflicting. What exactly is political correctness?.

Where did it come from? and why do we like to argue about it?.  Political Correctness is a concept that explains written or spoken language deliberately phrased in order to avoid offending or stigmatizing groups characterized by such social attributes. Such as ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or abilities.

Beyond the obvious elimination of blatant slurs, Political Correctness also includes avoiding terms that reinforce preordained negative stereotypes. Elimination of verbal prejudice is often deemed to be one of the main objectives of political correctness. Since the 1980's the increasing demand for political correctness has been celebrated, ridiculed and critiqued by commentators from all sides of the political spectrum.

The term is sometimes used scornfully to mock the idea that language can change — or that people's opinion and prejudices against certain groups can change through speech.

One of the more subtle ways of political correctness is to avoid the use of micro- aggression's — brief off-hand remarks or acts that either deliberately or inadvertently show adverse favoritism to any oppressed or minority community. For example, telling a Bengali, “You people are too politically opinionated,” although it is intended as a compliment, it can be perceived as a micro-aggressive slur.

A comparatively new form of political correctness is to avoid "mansplaining." A combination of "man" and "explaining" is a form of political incorrectness in which men subvert women by trying to explain something to them — often unnecessary —in an arrogant, reductive, or juvenile manner.

PC Culture Currently, PC culture — a supposedly politically correct society is most frequently associated with initiatives such as gender equality, gay rights, and ethnic minority activism. For example, the PC culture avoids the word "spokesman" or "spokeswoman" to be replaced by the gender-neutral word "spokesperson."

However, the PC culture is not limited to political or social causes. In order to promote secularism, "Merry Christmas" becomes "Happy Holidays," and the demand for simple sympathy calls for "mental retardation" to be substituted by "intellectual disability."

  • Pros and Cons: The promoters of the concept of political correctness claim that our understanding of someone is heavily affected by the words we hear describing them. Words, therefore, when used thoughtlessly or unfairly, can expose and encourage our prejudice towards different identity groups. 

In this way, the strict use of politically correct terminology tends to avoid the oppression and social isolation of these communities. People who oppose to political correctness consider it as a form of propaganda that undermines right to free speech and severely restricts public discussion on important
topics. 

They often accuse the promoters of severe PC culture of producing derogatory terms when none had occurred before. Others claim that even the word "political correctness" could be used in ways that can actually hinder attempts to stop hatred and discriminatory language.

Once again, those resistant to political correctness claim that convincing people that it is socially unacceptable for them to express their views and values in other ways does not help them go away. Sexism, for example, does not stop by merely referring to salesmen and saleswomen as “salespersons.” Likewise, referring to the homeless as 'temporarily displaced' does not create employment or wash out poverty.

Although some individuals can swallow their politically incorrect opinions, they will not give up the spirit that influenced them. Instead, they'll keep those emotions inside to linger and become more toxic and dangerous.

Author- Rtr. Megha Ranjan
Club- Rotaract Club of Dumdum Metropolitan
RID- 3291

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