Why I’m ‘Politically Correct’. TW: Discussions of rape, abuse
**This note focuses on the Western side of oppression, because often when I run into racism or sexism I hear that it doesn’t exist in the West (we’re so civilized!) so that’s what I wanted to talk about and expose.
I recently had an experience where, at school, a guy came up to me and said “Wow, you’re really Politically Correct, aren’t you?” Before I could stop myself I snapped back, “No, I’m just not a terrible human being.”
That may have been a little harsh, but I’m not sorry I said it, because I meant it. The only part I am sorry about is that I didn’t expand on it because it is something so near and dear to my heart it has, literally, kept me up tonight.
So, before I explain why I’m a Christian, and yet so horrendously Politically Correct (the nerve), I want to dedicate this letter:
To the lady who told me that it was great if I wanted to work with youth, but I needed to be “under a man” so that it wouldn’t be too difficult for me,
To the Professor who said that he was totally for equality, and then berated feminism and talked about how women had “complementary” characteristics, which he freely thought he had the right to dictate,
To that same Professor who argued the wage gap is a myth,
To that same Professor who refuses to hire a female TA for the fear of “upsetting sponsors”,
To any Christian male who argues that one’s stance on women in ministry is not a fundamental to the faith and thus ignores fifty per cent of the population who need Jesus too,
To the white heterosexuals who think “Racist Wednesdays” is somehow a funny, ironic joke,
To those same people who’ve added “Sexist Thursdays” to the mix,
To the Professor who allowed racist actions in his class, and even threw in a racist/homophobic comment himself,
To the Christians I’ve heard making jokes about homosexuals,
To any Christian who says the poor are lazy or somehow deserve to be in the position they’re in,
You’re the reason.
There is a group in our school who have started something ‘ironically’ called Racist Wednesdays. I haven’t really spoken up about it. But it’s not funny, and it’s not ironic. I’m specifically talking to the white people here, as we’re the ones who grew up with Privilege. We’re the ones who never have to worry that we’re going to be accused of shoplifting. We’re the ones who don’t have to worry about increased jail time and conviction rates because of the colour of our skin. We’re the ones who never have to worry that by walking down the street we’ll be attacked or arrested because we looked “dangerous.” Why do I not make racist jokes? Because I have no idea what it would be like to not grow up with the White Privilege I did, and I’d rather be an ally than an instigator. Because I don’t want someone to feel that the only identifying mark they have is their race. Because it bothered me when a Professor was talking about black people, and added “Right, _______?” to the only non-white kid in the class. Because I remember Jesus talking to the Samaritan woman about herself as a person, not making “ironic” jokes at her expense.
I cannot count the number of times I have run into sexism while at school. Anytime a woman asks me about my school I feel the need to warn her. If she goes into the Religion programme, people are going to tell her she’s wrong. That she shouldn’t be there. That she shouldn’t speak up for herself. Second year of university I was the only person in an entire class who dared to defend feminism against the guy who argued that mat. leave “hurt men and businesses” and the Professor argued that some things (such as pastoring) are just not for women, and that’s part of equality! (Funny, he never explained what serious, Christian related activity besides childbirth a man can’t do)
I have heard my share of sexist jokes from guys too. Why don’t I “lighten up and get a sense of humour”? Because, while a punchline of “Nothing; you’ve already told her twice!” is the epitome of witty comedic humour, you have never experienced domestic abuse, and if you do, it statistically will not be to the extent that a woman would experience. You don’t have a one in six chance of being raped in your lifetime. You don’t have a one in four chance of being sexually assaulted in your lifetime (and because we are at school, that statistic is a little higher). You don’t have to worry about being physically and emotionally tortured and then blamed, because a) you dressed a certain way, b) you consumed alcohol c) you had the nerve to leave your house as a woman. You don’t have to worry that you will only ever make seventy-seven cents to the dollar that a man makes (and if you’re not white, that number goes down). It’s not funny because you’ll never have to worry about not having the power.
Finally, I have also run into homopobia and have been chastened for not laughing hilariously at the expense of an extremely marginalized group. I admit, this one I have actually faced the least of, but it’s still worth mentioning. Making jokes like “no homo” play into the white, male, heterosexual society we live in. As a Christian, I believe homosexuality is wrong. I do. But you know what I think’s worse? That when a kid is struggling with homosexuality, they are much more likely to be suicidal. They are much more likely to be bullied. They are much more likely to face violence. Nothing about that is funny. As Christians, that alone should break our hearts.
To everyone I’ve addressed in this letter: You have some sort of inherent power you were born with. That’s what systematic oppression is all about it. But you can use it. You can use it to work for change. You can use it to be an ally. You can use it to show Christ’s love.
Or you can sit around, cracking racist, sexist and homophobic jokes (no big deal because we don’t REALLY mean it!), and complaining about those darn people who are so PC and have no sense of humour.
It’s your choice, really.