This week, I've heard way too many people complaining about political correctness.
In my world, that's two times too many.
Political correctness has gotten a bad rap because it's most often used in a pejorative manner where people get hung up on the term itself rather than what it's all about: using respectful language when we talk about (and to) other people.
When you complain about having to be politically correct, you're bitching about having to use words that put people first rather than their condition or disability and respect their gender, cultural identification, and ethnicity.
Still feeling all "RA RA POLITICALLY INCORRECT!"?
Like anything else, political correctness can be taken too far, and suddenly we're calling short people "vertically challenged."
I'm pretty sure that "short" is still an appropriate descriptor. Midget? Not so much. But hey, I'm tall, so I can't be completely sure.
I'm vertically gifted.
But when I hear people complain about "having to be politically correct," roll their eyes, or make a call to "be politically incorrect!" because it somehow kills truth, it's pretty clear that they probably have never had words used to oppress them.
Aside from having "dirty jew" keyed into my car in Mississippi (which is hilarious because while I'm dirty, I'm hardly Jewish. Well. Sort of) and snide comments made related to having a vagina (even by other people with vaginas - ah, misogyny runs deep), I've never experienced true verbal oppression myself.
I'm tall, straight, and thin. And I look white. Take out the half-Chinese part and the vagina and I'm a walking "majority."
Don't think that verbal oppression just comes in extremes: Chink. Kike. Faggot. Retarded.
I'm talking about even the smaller nuances: Oriental girl. Homosexual male. Disabled kid.
As humans, we use language to communicate and connect. We identify ourselves with words; we have names formed from letters, not symbols.
So words matter. And how we use them matters too. They influence and make change - for better or sadly, for worse - they express our thoughts, our ideas, and our ideals.
You can explain it as being too sensitive.
"Lighten up already! It's funny!" I heard someone say about the JCPenney shirt describing girls as being too pretty to do their own homework.
But my guess is that you probably wouldn't be saying that if you were the one being called out. Or were the parent of a kid being called out.
Ridding our language of hate words and inappropriate descriptors is just the first step. Let's also stop perpetuating stereotypes based on race and gender.
Boys can cry. Girls can do their own damn homework.
I'm all for growing a thicker skin. But not without one helluva loud, bullshit-calling mouth to go with it.