to wonder if PC actually makes people less prejudiced?(5 Posts)
NOTE: This isn't a 'raaaaaagh PC gorn mad' thread, just something I've been mulling over recently.
Generally, I think the motive behind PC is a good and noble one. It's important to make sure minority groups aren't constantly being treated like the butt of jokes or throwaway prejudice just because no-one bothers to think about it or care.
But do you think it actually results in people actually less prejudiced?
I've worked in some pretty male-dominated places and seen a huge range of behaviours all the way from openly making sexist jokes through to being very pointedly PC. And what struck me, thinking about it, was that the worst sexism, in terms of things that actually impacted on me, came from people who gave all the outward signs of being committed to equalities but then found other ways to justify their behaviour. I won't give examples in case it outs me but the experience was a kind of pro-equalities-but-still-treating-me-badly-because-no-penis gaslighting. Conversely, when I think about the really outrageous makers of sexist jokes, they have had plenty of female employees and actually been very egalitarian about hiring, promotion and firing in practice.
So I wonder: beyond the basic requirements of good manners, does PC actually make people nicer? Or just more hypocritical?
I think thinking about being inclusive does make people more inclusive. Realising why a sexist joke or a culturally insensitive remark is hurtful does make people more aware of others I think. It really is only fun when everybody is laughing.
PC alone can only impact appearances/language, it cannot impact thoughts, feelings or beliefs in a positive way (depending on the person or situation though it can have a very negative impact).
What it does is demand people give the expected response as opposed to an honest one (like smiling sweetly and acting grateful for a gift when you think it's hideous, but far more serious and with major implications). Bringing about genuine change in people's opinions and beliefs is more difficult than giving them a behaviour rule book.
I don't think PC actually makes someone less prejudiced. They may be more careful about how they talk/act outwardly but the prejudice is still there. In some cases it may even fuel their prejudice.
I am a fan of so called PC language and I think that it can go some way to addressing prejudice and ingrained ways of thinking. Prejudiced ways of speaking and thinking reenforce one another.
What isn't helpful is well-intentioned people will say 'you can't say X or y anymore' without thinking why that's the case or explaining it fully. There are usually sound reasons why certain terms are outdated or inappropriate.
Take for example terms to describe people whose parents belong to different ethnic or racial groups.
The term 'Half-caste' to describe someone of mixed black and white parentage - has uncomfortable and inaccurate echoes of the heirachical Hindu caste system. By describing the two with clear implications that one of the racial groups is superior to the other (almost inevitably the implication that white is superior to black) and that the two 'castes' shouldn't intermingle.
Likewise people who insist it is 'politer' to describe black people as coloured. As if the 'shameful' fact of them not being white was something that should be ignored or skirted over as if it was akin to an unfortunate haircut or halitosis.
Once you start unpacking what the term implies, you have a better chance of convincing people there's good reasons not to use it, rather than presenting people with what could appear to be a list of 'approved' and 'banned' words.
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