Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A Few Words on Political Correctness

So, today Shakesville pointed me over to the Daily Kos, which I know of but almost never read and, well, I guess this kind of thing is why.

The writer, after really sensibly explaining that dismissing marginalized groups as "oversensitive" and "too PC" is just a convenient way to acknowledge what you're saying is disrespectful, but belittle and emotionally attack your critics, and go on offending people. Good.

Then, of course, he goes right on to belittle and emotionally attack critics and go on offending people. But don't worry! It's ok because the people he's pulling fatphobic, transphobic and misogynist joke about are conservatives! He also throws in some racism and ableism in at the end for good measure.

"Look. I totally sympathize with the transgendered that they would not want to be associated with Coulter..."

You REALLY don't get it already.

"Coulter dresses for 'fan service' - that is, she knows a significant percentage of her fans find her attractive and she uses that to her advantage... The fact that she's not particularly feminine becomes an obvious point of ridicule. Does that mean the message is 'Ha ha, Ann Coulter is a transsexual and transgendered people suck'? No, the message is 'Ha ha, Ann Coulter is trying to flaunt her stuff with so very little to flaunt.' Juvenile? Yes. 'Transphobic?' No."

Ok, first, fuck putting quotes around transphobic. I know you know it's real. The problem with jokes aimed at conservatives, or anyone, that exploit marginalized groups (in this case, people that deviate from normal/ideal gender phenotype and presentation) is NOT that you're directly saying "such and such groups sucks!" It's almost never that clear. But the joke just isn't fucking funny unless it involves the prejudice. If gender was acknowledged to be fluid and gender binary was meaningless? Calling Ann Coulter a man, a drag queen, a tranny, masculine, or saying she dresses too femininely, or isn't feminine enough just wouldn't make any sense, never mind being funny. By making a joke about anyone's gender nonconformity, you are reinforcing the validity of gender conformity. One may say "but I support transgendered people!" I'm sure you have, politically. But you're also happily engaging in the system that dictates their difference; their difference which makes them the butt of jokes, their difference that causes people fear them, their difference which causes their lives to be valued less than NORMAL people, their difference which causes the brutal murders which create the need for a Transgender Day of Remembrance.
You didn't mean to. But you fucking did.

I see similar in arguments against hate crime laws - why is this joke worse because it's aimed at a certain kind of person? Why is this crime worse because it's aimed at a certain kind of person? Neither is because hating super-special marginalized people is the super-awfullest kind of hate and so we have to be super-sensitive to it. It is because when you joke about, or harass, or commit violence against, one marginalized person (or one person who is targeted because of their perceived association with a marginalized group, such as a cisgender person who is perceived as transgender), you are sending a message to ALL people of that marginalized group: it is not ok to be what you are. It is deviant. It is funny. It is bad. It will not be tolerated. It will be punished.

God, I could go on, but that part infuriated me the most for personal reasons, and of course because I've heard too many "progressives" repeating the ever-hilarious "Coulter is a man" sentiment recently.

Here are a few calmer words on being "politically correct" (i.e. respectful) from Jay Smooth:

Jay Smooth: "...we think we need to prove to everyone that being past racism means being freed from the unfair burden of ever having to care how we affect each other. Did I mention that this means you're crazy?"

And embedding is disabled, but yeah, I immediately thought of Beau Sia's response to Rosie O'Donnell a few years ago, when the writer at the Daily Kos finished with:

"Let's quit trying to find reasons to be offended by each other and instead deal with the real issues facing us."

And I thought, real easy to say when you have the privilege of not associating these "jokes" with "real issues" like, say, the violence they justify.

Beau Sia: "I speak... for those who know what ching-chong ching-chong feels like combined with a swinging bat. Learn from this... Tap into the humanity I know that you possess."

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