So, in theory, political correctness sounds like a very reasonable idea and when we cast a cursory glance at it this remains the case. When it is more thoroughly examined, it may become the reason for having second thoughts about its reasonableness. Looking back at the history of PC we can see what great influence it had on building a world that we know today and how many lives it has changed. The term “political correctness” was first proposed by Karen Decrow, an American feminist activist in 1983 (Lassan and Lucinski, 2008).
It originated as an answer to all kinds of intolerance and injustice, especially concerning race, sex and religion.
It did undoubtedly improve the situation of African Americans who used to be persecuted and humiliated just because of the color of their skin; women, who were treated differently than men and did not have the same rights as men, just because of their gender. Many other examples could be listed here concerning other groups of people, such as the ‘physically challenged’ or homosexuals. What is important is the fact that since people became aware of political correctness, lives of all the groups of people mentioned above are much easier.
It was not a fast process, yet very needed one. PC is a very delicate subject and it might be assumed that it should be treated with all seriousness. As it turns out, this is not necessarily the case. For example, an American satirist and writer James Finn Garner in his book “politically correct Bedtime Stories” showed the absurd of exaggerated political correctness and unjustified censorship, making the features of PC language even more noticeable in some very well-known fairy tales, such as “Little Red Riding Hood” changed into “Red Riding Hood”.
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That particular fairy tale is a good example of abusing the idea of PC in many of its aspects. Garner’s version begins with “There once was a young person named Red Riding Hood”, where the usual phrase ‘little girl’ is changed to ‘young person’ because ‘little girl’ sounds helpless and weak, and PC rules claim that if anything said about women makes them seem weak and helpless, it is wrong. Later, Garner replaces the word ‘women’ with ‘womyn’ to avoid ‘–men’ at the end.
This again, reflects the feminist idea that the terms “woman/women” relate to the historical, ongoing social subordination of women, since the word “man” is seen as an exclusively male term, implying that “women” are a subset of “men”. A similar situation is shown by the wolf’s warning the Red Riding Hood that “it isn’t safe for a little girl to walk through these woods alone”. Her reply “I find your sexist remark offensive in the extreme”, again proves that anyone who finds a young female being incapable of taking care of herself is politically incorrect.
In the story we can also find numerous examples attributable to PC, such as, for example: – discriminating people because of their age; when the author says where the Red Riding Hood was going and what for, he adds that “her grandmother was not sick, but rather was in full physical and mental health and was fully capable of taking care of herself as a mature adult”; – physical disabilities; when the disguised wolf asks the Red Riding Hood to come closer, the girl says “Oh, I forgot you are as optically challenged as a bat. Grandma, what big eyes you have! In sum, what Garner did to this fairy tale, and several others, is a perfect example of abusing the principles of PC. Instead of being educating and entertaining as a fairy tales should be, these stories satirize both the genre and the notion of PC itself. It is clear that Garner wants his fairytales to show that political correctness is affecting our lives too much and that we all should realize it. Another tendency, which the politically correct language is inclined to, represents the use of paraphrasing as a kind of euphemistic behavior which, unfortunately, has also lately span out of control.
Correctly Political: A Look into the Dynamics of Political Correctness Every American probably knows what it means to be politically correct. After all, we hear about it on the news almost every night. We have to be constantly aware of whether or not something we say or do is going to offend someone. This mode of communication is present in every aspect of our lives, from the most formal to the ...
Thus, for example, ‘dead’ becomes ‘metabolically challenged’, ‘failure’ is ‘non-traditional success and a ‘homeless person’ is ‘a residentially flexible individual’ (www. funny2. com).
The examples of such ironic expressions where PC is inflated out of all proportions are numerous and they clearly show that somewhere on our way to changing the world for the better, we may have lost the main credo of PC which started to look funny and even pointless. This ituation may have been caused by the fact that the supporters of political correctness have tried to change too much too quickly. Overfed with the ‘politically correct’ language, people have simply started to mock it. The above examples prove that, if abused, political correctness loses its primary assumptions. Little did the supporters of PC expect that what they had been fighting for, for so many years, could become a target of jokes, mockery and ridicule.
Political correctness caused many good changes that affected lives of all of us during the past few decades; it has made us more aware of and sensitive to various social – and linguistic – abnormalities and injustices. However, as it turns out, even such a noble idea as PC may be sneered and laughed at, and disrespected when not used at the right time, in the right place and for the right reasons. So, the question of there being a borderline that should not be crossed in being politically correct still remains open.