Many times we'll read in comments or diaries how folks hate the thought of being "politically correct." No one wants to be told what to say and how to say it. And more than any other group, feminists are held responsible for the notion of political correctness, in its most pejorative context. We've all heard the jokes, short folks should be called "vertically challenged," etc., the notion of trying to change the very words we use taken to absurd extremes.
I only found out recently that the very term "politically correct" was used in the 80s by right wing conservatives to discredit the feminist movement, whose aim was, ultimately, justice, that all people should be heard and respected in the public square. And of course that really annoyed me, because clearly I had been duped as well as so many others; I also thought that feminists in the 70s and 80s were trying to tell me what I could and couldn't say and I felt it was a freedom of speech issue.
Follow me below the flip, if you are interested.
I have read a lot about the pie wars, have read about how many feminists left the site and still are leaving the site because they felt their efforts to communicate were being so blatantly disrespected as to make it pointless to continue to post. Regardless of whatever moral value one wishes to make on this exodus, I have found it extremely frustrating.
I can go to the library and read countless books on feminism, and have already done research on the internet. But it's not the same as hearing from indvidual women who were there at the time, who were in college or politically active in the 70s and who were around at the beginning of this endeavor to bring folks into the public discourse who before then had no voice.
It's not academic theory I want to know about, it's real life experiences. And Daily Kos is a great place to educate each other on those real life experiences. So to me, this lack of willingness to share these very important and historic actions is frustrating indeed.
Oh well. Can't have everything. You all are stuck with me writing about this instead of some expert or an authentic participant in this struggle. So I did find something very interesting on the intertron. A little piece from a fellow named Evan Reynolds entitled The Misnomer of the "Politically Correct".
Regardless of tactics and how well or badly it worked out, feminists of the day were interested in social justice, plain and simple. There was a reason language itself presented an obstacle:
A good example of the value of this movement and why PC is a misnomer for it can be seen in the movie Philadelphia. The corporate culture can be seen as the inciter of this riot. Because corporations were ruling the show under the economic conditions of the time and because most of the corporate culture was disparagingly white, male heterosexuals, there was an extreme injustice not just in the policy, but also in the birth of future policy. The idea is that no one person or group of people should dominate the political discourse. Because our society is based in self-interest, in order to get the interest of every person met, you need to have every voice represented. The whole unifying concept is that some groups have dominated the discourse with a language based in bullying, and thus, without the ability to use harsh and hurtful language to dominate and exploit minority voices, every voice gets a better chance of being heard. And if every voice gets heard, the problem of the tyranny of the majority can be to some degree solved. (emphasis mine)
Let's think about that in the context of our present situation in America. Until the 2006 election, we had an administration, a rubberstamp Congress and media, and whose voices were heard? Certainly not ours.
Frankly, the ones who have been "politically correct," in the pejorative sense that has become so stereotypical in our discourse, have been the republicans. Think of these words: liberal ... feminist ... abortion ... diplomacy ... reality (as opposed to ideology). And those are just a few. In a very short period of time the "tyranny of the majority," in this case the "majority" caused by the Rovian spin machine, a majority built out of noise and ignorance, have changed the definition of the very words used by liberals and Democrats.
And of course, one of the finest examples of this is "Democrat Party." Yep, it has been the Republicans who have been politically correct, not wanting to offend those who are so Godly as to believe fully there should be no separation of church and state, those who are so righteous that they believe we should be at perpetual war with those who are different from us, those who are so manly and virile that we should all, each and every one of us, be packing guns in with our lunchboxes, those who are so correct that they know marriage can only be between a man and a woman and who will be horribly offended to hear otherwise.
Women fought for and got the vote. Women fought for and got equal protection under the law when it came to harrassment and equal pay for equal work (granted, there is still more to be done, but we at least have legislation now). And women didn't stop there, just wanting justice for themselves, but for all human beings, without exception. That was a threat and it was handily dealt with by those with the most to lose, the power structure in our country.
Tomorrow is Earth Day. Rachel Carson, a woman, is known as the "founder" of the modern environmental movement. She was vilified by the powers that be, just as Al Gore has been vilified today over global warming. What both these folks have in common is a regard for all people, and all of nature, for all creatures that live on this earth.
There are so many words that need to be rescued from the degradation of the Neocons. Feminist is one of them. I hope that women who were there, who had anything to do with this movement in the area of working for social justice, that all voices be heard, will share their stories. We need to hear them.