Tag Archive | "political correctness"

On Gay Labels and Gay Memories


“The mass of steel started to crawl away from the train station. The smell of rust was drowned out by a deafening noise that signaled our departure. I reached for the nearest handrail as the ground beneath me started to move. The whole cabin swayed to a rhythm that was random and measured at the same time. In between sobs, my heartbeat tried to catch up with this rhythm but it soon took its own cadence. I was three or four years old. It was a few years before the people power revolution. But all I cared about was where my mother was. And the man seated next to me, who claimed to be my grandfather, had promised that she would be waiting at the next stop.”

This is my earliest memory. I wrote it as part of a writing challenge I accepted for 2013. I have also secretly doubled up this challenge by seeing if I could consistently frame anything I wrote with an LGBT perspective. But my earliest memory does not have anything gay about it, unless I turn it into fiction and “gay it up.” I am, after all, a gay writer. I have also occasionally introduced myself as a gay activist. I am also a freethinker, a photographer, and a teacher. But I have never called myself a gay freethinker, a gay photographer, or a gay teacher.

So when is it appropriate to make something or someone ‘gay’ simply by adding the ‘G’ word? If you’re gay and you’re reading this, does it make you a gay reader? And as my partner (who happens to be gay, so perhaps I should say my gay partner) properly posited, should someone self-identify as a transgender in order to be a transactivist? And how about marriage? Why do some people reject the term gay marriage and prefer marriage equality?

Ascribing labels is a basic concept in identity politics and serves multiple functions. Minority groups use labels to claim an identity, or define an experience that would otherwise be assumed to belong to the majority. For example, we do not usually hear someone say “I am a straight statistician” as the heterosexual majority has made us assume that everyone is straight unless they say they are not. But one could be a gay statistician if one so chooses because it is his way of claiming an identity in a field dominated by straight men. Guy Branum, in his article “Yes, Nate Silver, You Are a Gay Statistician,” slams Silver for rejecting the word gay in his title. By dropping the word ‘gay’, Silver is attempting to detach his identity from his experience. It is as if calling himself a gay statistician would require him to use a pink computer and to “gay up” his calculations.

This same hesitation is shared by those who do not embrace the term gay marriage. According to detractors, if we follow this logic, we would have to append the word ‘gay’ to everything that is currently not accessible to gay people. We would have to fight for gay adoptiongay inheritancegay visitation rightsgay immigration, and so on. It would seem too obvious to point out that the labels matter less than the actual benefits and improvements to our lives.

This is where identity politics comes in conflict with political correctness. Political correctness is a hungry monster that devours unsuspecting words to sustain its relevance. It then spits out neutral labels that have been stripped of their rich history, political conviction, socio-cultural value, and ultimately, their original identity. And that, to me, is a pity.

Don’t get me wrong, I acknowledge that political correctness has its place in social discourse. In fact, for the sake of interpersonal relationships and political harmony, I will continue to use marriage equality and whatever other permutations. However, I will keep calling myself a gay writer. If I wear a rainbow shirt and use a fluffy pen when writing about gay characters, it would be of little to no consequence. What matters is that I am a passionate writer who also happens to be proud of his sexual orientation. And if I become successful, I would prefer to be remembered as a successful gay writer and not simply a successful writer. Perhaps, when the time comes, I would figure out how I can be a gay freethinker, a gay photographer, or a gay teacher. For now, I am happy being a gay writer.

The train behind me sped away taking with it all worries I had. In place of my mother, there he stood, the boy of my dreams.

 

 

Posted in Advocacy, Gender RightsComments (0)

Political Correctness


Last October, Fox News TV political commentator Bill O’Reilly appeared on the show “The View” and stated that America was attacked by Muslims on 9/11. This caused two liberals of the show (Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar) to walk out of the discussion in protest.

News analyst Juan Williams was also fired from the left-leaning National Public Radio (NPR) after he relayed his personal feeling during a discussion at the O’Reilly Factor show of being worried before boarding an airplane whenever he sees folks in “Muslim garb” which is indicative of these folks identifying themselves as Muslims first rather than as Americans.

Left-leaning folks were furious about such statements because they claim that people like O’Reilly and Williams are accusing all Muslims to be terrorists when in fact terrorism acts were committed only by a few extremists.

The objection is about the political incorrectness of painting all Muslims with a broad brush and they feel that terrorists ought to be labeled with the “extremists” tag to be fair. So now if we want to discuss about whether America has a “Muslim” problem or not, is it imperative that we watch out for political correctness by saying that America has a “Muslim extremist” problem, instead?

Yes, I get it! Not all Muslims are terrorists and it would be prim and proper to be politically correct so as not to offend generally peace loving people of religion such as Muslims. However, although there may indeed be idiotic bigots out there who believe that all Muslims are out to kill all Westerners, I personally do not know of anyone who espouses that thinking.

I personally do not know of anyone who truly intends to offend all Muslims or even the religion of Islam itself. So whenever I hear a discussion by regular day-to-day folks about the terrorists who attacked America on September 11, 2001, if I hear the terrorists being tagged as “Muslims”, because of my personal experience of only encountering people who don’t really intend to paint all Muslims with a broad brush, I tend to assume that the folks I hear are not really referring to all Muslims but only those who are out to kill whom they consider as infidels.

So in a way I’m kind of getting sick of this political correctness thing because it is one extra step to worry about in a discussion where more important points about the issue need to be discussed other than the already obvious fact that not all Muslims are terrorists. Bill O’Reilly gave an example stating that no uproar is heard whenever it is pointed that the Japanese attacked the United States at Pearl Harbor.

Come to think of it, yes there seems to be no demand, for political correctness sake, of tagging the attackers as “Japanese Extremists”. So why is it necessary to treat the case for the 9/11 attack (and other jihad-related attacks) differently just because religion is involved? Why must religion be accorded special treatment?

The thing is, although I realize the virtues of political correctness, I do not think this is always necessary or even always applicable when discussing about certain societal segments as Muslims. When O’Reilly said that America (or was it the World?) has a “Muslim Problem” I do not view this as a bigoted statement or a statement that needs to be politically corrected as “Muslim Extremist Problem”. O’Reilly’s statement, although it doesn’t sound too warm and fuzzy, I believe has validity!

Sure, not all Muslims are terrorists but the fact that the majority of Muslims who are peace-loving are not doing anything or not doing enough to stop the extremists in their fold, makes this their problem too!

Dr. Susan Berry makes a very good case in her article in bigpeace.com. She notes:

“Let’s take the tragic issue of child abuse. Unfortunately, I have encountered a number of families in which child abuse has continued for years without any report from a family member until the child becomes involved in school and activities outside the family, when someone in those venues notices something is wrong. The heinous behavior of the perpetrator aside, I am still always taken aback when I interview family members of the abused child who say they knew of the abuse, but did not report it to anyone because they were afraid of some repercussions; they thought, perhaps, the child’s frequently obstinate behavior deserved this treatment (rationalization); they couldn’t deal with it because of other issues in their life, so they ignored it (denial); they understood how difficult the perpetrator’s life has been, so figured they had to be understanding of it (overcompensation).

Clearly, the other family members did not take their hands to the child, but don’t they share responsibility for passively allowing the abuse to continue?

Similarly, do the family and colleagues of a drug addicted medical professional have a responsibility to confront this individual, to avoid unsuspecting patients from being harmed by his or her behavior? Clearly, the family and colleagues are not directly harming patients themselves, but don’t they share responsibility for passively permitting potential danger by not speaking up?

And, culturally, when Americans view other Americans terrorizing others, committing crimes, or threatening a way of life- do they have a responsibility to confront these others? Clearly, not all Americans are engaged in this behavior, but aren’t they responsible to speak out against it in order to stop it?

Honesty with ourselves, our families and friends, our colleagues, our fellow citizens, and our political leaders is hard. It involves confronting fear. But, those who are slaves to the denial, rationalization, and overcompensation of political correctness are not solving the problem. Instead, they are contributing to its strength and power.”

I really think that there are more important and fundamental things to give priority to, other than mere appeasement, as achieved in being politically correct with “special” groups such as religionists (e.g. Muslims).

Being focused on political correctness can be so insane and even ironically unfair because of special treatment considerations. For instance, take the case for sexual harassment. If a man talks dirty to a woman, that’s sexual harassment. But if a woman talks dirty to a man… that’s $2.99 per minute! What’s up with that?!

Posted in PoliticsComments (11)

Wrongness: A Propos for the Propagation of Political Incorrectness


There is a widespread suggestion that political incorrectness is a detriment to social enlightenment. There is a unanimous decision to avoid using terms that have derogatory connotations. A person’s inclination towards saying words such as fat, nigger, and midget is not only considered to be a symptom of malicious personal prejudice, it is also considered an affirmation of one’s own stupidity and ignorance.

But what many people don’t realize is that prejudice and political incorrectness is not just a cultural phenomenon, it is an inviolable human tendency – and, in my opinion, a social necessity.

I. Humorous Transcendence

One aspect of human intelligence that makes it superior to other species is humor. It is the ability to recognize the “wrongness” of a situation and actually derive pleasure out of it. Political Incorrectness is funny. It is completely incongruous with what is perceived to be appropriate. Our recognition of humor allows us to transcend the wrongness.

For example: “Let’s all go to my house, run around naked and try to pee on each other.”

There is a common and unanimous assessment that peeing on each other is wrong and the very act of suggesting such behavior is incongruous to what is expected of decent human beings, yet there is a level of amusement the notion, however absurd, provides.

The humor of wrongness, at the end of the day, trains human perception to recognize and transcend absurdity. It trains the human consciousness to better adjust to the absurdity of a mortal, human existence (It’s stupid – work, worry, suffer, and then die).

The truth is that it is hard to live at the brink of oblivion without first being able to recognize, transcend, and derive pleasure from the “wrongness” of one’s own human condition. Political Incorrectness trains the human mind to accustom itself to the political incorrectness of everyday existence.

II. The Re-Contextualization of Hostile Symbols

One reason political correctness is considered correct is because it implies a will or desire to dodge negative connotations that may be associated with certain signs and symbols – the term “African-American” is free from the “slavery” associated with the term “negro.” The term “homeless” is free from the “laziness” associated with the term “bum.”

Political Incorrectness challenges the notion of connotation.

Wearing a Che Guevara shirt does not make a person a communist, neither does it suggest that the said person advocates communism. In fact, the commercialization of such a symbol (Che’s face) is counter-intuitive to its original intention (anti-capitalistic) further proving the possibility of altering the meaning of symbols.

Limiting the usage of symbols (such as the Nazi symbol) that supposedly represent derogatory prejudices only further affirms the prejudice – the ideology – by isolating the symbol to a single meaning (Antisemitism).

The best way to neutralize strong symbols is to simply trivialize or create ambiguity with what these terms and symbols represent. Che’s image, for example, has ceased to be a political symbol. It has become more of an aesthetic symbol – representing a person’s fashion preference rather than his political ideology.

The same could be said of terms such as nigger, Jew, fag, tranny, fatso, bitch etc. Its constant usage from different contexts subverts its connotations. An example is the cartoon, South Park. Through constant usage, the cartoon has stripped these terms of their original connotations and has trivialized them as simply childish name-calling.

South Park’s attitude towards supposedly offensive terms is dismissive rather than defensive. This approach pushes the notion that “it’s not a big deal.”

These symbols of hostility do not have to hold any profound impact if its connotations are trivialized or dissociated from its symbols.

III. The Production of Authentic Art

One goal of art, particularly, expressionist art is to elicit an emotional response. The best of this type of art intentionally jars the human consciousness to inspire passionate discourse (argument) – to cause an inevitable collision between opposing views. Even bad art, kitsch art, or amateur porno can be an efficient avenue for such discourse. Political correctness, however, sits on the fence in an attempt to avoid such a confrontation – taming the spirit into domicile conformity.

Authentic art demands from the artist (and from the audience) a commitment to and an acceptance of his own volatile and, often, prejudiced inclinations. Authentic art requires authentic representation, which is not possible with political correctness, because political correctness is, supposedly, free from agenda.

IV. Conclusion

There are situations that necessitate Political Incorrectness (or, my preferred term, wrongness). A lot of what we consider humorous satire, a lot of what we call literature, is for the most part cleverly concealed with blatant prejudice. Satire – whether humorous or literary – is a highlight of human error and cannot be represented in a manner that could be considered, “politically correct.”

Posted in SocietyComments (3)

In Defense of Your Perversions: On Bukkake and Political Correctness


Konnichi wa. My name is Maria Ozawa. You may be familiar with my thespian work. I have a quite extensive portfolio, many of which have become contemporary classics and are thus in wide circulation. The subtle nuances of Super High-Class Public Whore, the profundity of Monster Swallowing Ecstasy, and the heartfelt introspection of both The Main Purpose of Special Delusional Bathhouse and Torture with Sperm 2 have endeared me to a large section of pornography’s purveyors.

Nonetheless, I have a number of detractors as well. These critics find my specialization, bukkake, to be grossly offensive in nature, touting this sexual art as politically incorrect, something that purposefully delights in the subjugation of the female via the showering of ejaculate from multiple sources. The act is deemed humiliating as the sperm is considered either a vile substance, a symbol of utter masculinity, or both. Thus, supposedly, womankind should be offended by bukkake, and can consider it politically incorrect should someone bring it up in conversation—the same way a woman can no longer be complemented on her sweet ass at office hours, unless the speaker is asking for a world of hurt.

Now, isn’t this the very essence of the argument against pornography itself? The answer is yes—50 years ago. It is 2010, kind reader. I would like to believe that we are above and beyond notions as archaic as ‘porn is bad’ and ‘sex is for married heterosexuals.’ If you’ve been able to read up to this point, this fairly suggests that you are not a moron and, as such, understand that women like sex a whole lot, too, and are as capable of delighting in a smorgasbord of perversions as men are.

Which brings me to my main point. I wholly respect the opinion of women who feel offended by bukkake, yet I also feel responsible for explaining why I myself am not offended. For me, and I am sure for a number of other women as well, a large group of men ejaculating all over a woman’s body at roughly the same time is a form of flattery. They find me desirable, and so much so that they are able to orgasm to my presence and, moreover, in the presence of their colleagues. It as an act of unity, stripped of shame and geared towards the quite literal adulation of the female. Is contact with semen harmful? No. Furthermore, semen’s being a symbol of masculinity is quite impotent in the case of bukkake as the seed is spilled, not sown.

But what of the woman’s whimpering? What of her writhing around and looking helpless? I myself see it as a form of kink. Some women delight in the idea of being dominated. This doesn’t instantly purport that they allow themselves to be demeaned by men in real life. That is an unfair assumption. What about men’s dominatrix fantasies? What about handcuffs and ball gags and other sadomasochistic accoutrements? A simple striptease, in fact, is enough to render a man powerless. Should we be condemning those, too?

Bukkake’s political incorrectness cannot be an absolute truth because political incorrectness is, in the first place, a matter of perspective. There is a far grander, more intensive argument regarding the demerits of our PC culture, but as I am a very, very busy girl, let me just throw two points out there for you, kind reader, to chew on. First, people are free to be offended by anything they want to be offended by, and they have the liberty to explain why they were offended. It’s only decent. Second, be that as it may, this does not immediately mean that what a person is offended by is wrong. It depends from one offensive entity to the next. Bukkake, an act wherein no one is actually getting hurt, doesn’t have to be seen as wrong.

In the end, bukkake is a fetish, and a harmless one. Some people like the idea, and some people don’t. And that doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. Or let’s put it this way: I am certain many of you, upon reading this essay, were quite surprised to find me sufficiently articulate, and quite able to profess intellectual insight. Many of you expected an adult video sensation such as myself to be a nubile idiot. But I’m not. There are just some things people prefer to do (or, in my case, be), and while these may seem unusual to some, there’s no point in deriding it if there’s no harm done.

There. I have said my piece to the best of my abilities, and I do hope, kind reader, that you were thoroughly enlightened. However, it is time now to excuse myself, I’m afraid. It has been quite a long day, and I am in dire need of a shower.

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