Political Correctness: Where's the Line?

This past week, my school’s website posted a link to my blog. This resulted in many of my peers who to my knowledge had generally thought of me as the random girl who sits in the corner (or hadn’t thought about me at all…no that’s definitely it) asking me about my views on feminism. In general, I love talking about feminism – not just because it’s “my thing” (as in “That’s Julie: The Feminist") but because I like educating people about something they didn't understand or thought was evil. The feeling I get when people I talk to about feminism actually begin to consider incorporating it into their lives totally overrides every negative comment people have made to me about feminism. Times a billion.

The thing that kept coming up in these conversations, however, wasn’t the misconception that feminists are evil monsters with a thirst for man blood. It wasn’t even that feminists are baby killers (which comes up a lot in Ohio). It was political correctness. I really like your blog, kids would say, but I think you guys overthink a lot of it. Sometimes it’s just so politically correct.

Generally, I’d respond, “you’re probably just not thinking about these issues enough.” But reflectively looking through the blog got me thinking: where’s the line? Which things are truly feminist issues, and which are overly sensitive responses to the reality that there ARE differences between men and women?

Here’s the thing: there are a LOT of things that especially teenagers look at in the world and percieve as unchangable reality. Women are supposed to disappear when they turn to the side and men are supposed to be in a constant state of buff roid rage. That’s just a fact of life. But it’s not a fact, just like violence against women shouldn’t be a fact – even though it happens with terrifying regularity – and just like gender based discrimination shouldn’t exist, yet does. These things can change and NEED to change. Maybe people will label speaking against them as being “politically correct” because they’re afraid of that change, or can’t see the vision of an equal world. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t change.

But I do think there is a line. Sometimes feminists tend to look at things like ads or celebrity culture and and find sexist elements to them that “non-feminists” can’t see. Maybe some of these things are just indicative of the difference between men and women. Maybe that song was metaphorical in its depiction of violence, not literal. Maybe there’s nothing sexist about that swiffer commercial. Maybe this movie doesn’t mean to portray blatant gender stereotypes and messed up messages about sexuality.

But here’s the thing. Sometimes overthinking things can be good. Look at it as practice. Train your eye to see the sexism in the world. Maybe sometimes you’ll be off base…but then again maybe the other person isn’t looking hard enough. Sexism exists, as does bigotry in general. I think we can all agree that it needs to end. And personally, I’d rather overshoot my attempts to end it than undershoot.

So the next time somebody calls me – or other feminists – politically correct for trying to identify and eradicate sexism, I’m just going to tell them to look a little harder.

More articles in WMC FBomb by Category: Feminism, Girls, Media, Misogyny, Politics, Violence against women
More articles in WMC FBomb by Tag: Activism and advocacy, Sexism, Title IX, Gender bias, Sexualized violence, Discrimination, News



Julie Zeilinger
Founding Editor of The WMC FBomb
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