<Disclaimer: None of the following opinionated bullshit belongs to my husband, my employer, my bosses, my coworkers, my family or my friends. The thoughts expressed here are mine and mine alone. Whether or not any of the aforementioned agree with me, I know not. Okay, maybe I do know, but I’m certainly not telling you. If you’d like to know, feel free to ask them before you crucify them.>
I am not now, nor have I ever been, politically correct.
I don’t get the need to be. I’m not interested in getting it. And I’m not going to pretend to be PC because that’s the way we’re “supposed to” be here or anywhere else.
I know the reasons people give. They claim to be anything less is to be discriminatory. They feel being PC avoids hurt feelings and unfair situations. Or something. But I’m of the mind that if we stop attaching “good” and “bad” to things that are neither, we’ll see the human need to classify things isn’t as disparaging as we originally thought.
Occasionally, people take my obstinate refusal to conform to a mold I neither fit nor understand as bigotry. More often than not, though, the problems my lack of PC-ness cause are with people who simply cannot fathom a world that not only allows labels, but embraces them as just a way to classify something and not something to be seen as good or bad. Usually a straight white cisgender person who’s full of so much guilt over their privilege that they see discrimination all around them.
I live in what’s considered by most to be the ghetto. There are definitely worse places, but my neighborhood is impoverished, crime-ridden and dismal. The people are predominately black, followed by people of Spanish descent, then white people. I couldn’t tell you in which order, but after white people are the Guyanese, Indian (from India) and Arab folks. And we all classify each other by race and nationality. In some cases, it’s racism or mistrust. In others, it’s just how we tell each other apart. “The black girl who lives in the blue house” or “the Puerto Ricans on the corner” or “the white lady at the corner store”.
So often, growing up, I heard that it’s wrong to see color. That classifying people is dangerous. That it not only hurts our country’s ability to be a community, but it hurt’s the feelings of the people who are being classified. And I always thought, “Why does it hurt someone’s feelings to be who they are?”
And here’s where I delve into dangerous ground. For all intents and purposes, my minority status stops at being female. You can’t see bisexual. I don’t dress or act the way most people expect tree-hugging pagans to dress or act. My Native American heritage is not visible in my appearance. And since I wear my hair long, and occasionally don makeup and “girly” clothing, the most anyone ever thinks of me is that I’m a “tomboy” which is acceptable in most corners of U.S. society.
They’d be correct. I’m not transgender. I know I’m a woman. I’m comfortable with being a woman. I don’t want to be a man. I won’t say I “feel like” a woman or I “don’t feel like” a man because I really have no idea what that means. Whether because of how I was raised, or by sheer luck, my mind and body are in agreement about what gender I am. I just happen to enjoy aspects of life that have been, for much of history, considered to be interests of the males of our species like sports and beer and things with motors and jeans and t-shirts. I also enjoy female aspects of life like needlepoint and skirts and strappy sandals and cooking.
Some say that being a white cisgender woman in a heterosexual marriage takes me out of a position to be able to say what I’m going to say. I say my being a white cisgender woman in a heterosexual marriage doesn’t change the reality of the situation.
There’s nothing wrong with being black. There’s nothing wrong with being gay. There’s nothing wrong with being transgender or Vietnamese or white or bisexual or obsessed with Pokemon. Okay, if you’re over 14 there might be something wrong with being obsessed with Pokemon depending on what level you take it to.
I refuse to be afraid to say someone is black or gay or obsessed with Pokemon because it might hurt their feelings. I’m sorry that it hurts your feelings to be those things. I empathize with you. I have tons of things I’d rather not be. Like fat and loud (mostly due to issues with background noise and not being able to hear myself speak) and (technically) mentally ill. But the sooner you accept you, the sooner everyone else will, too.
I’ve stopped trying to keep up with the newest LGBT lingo. If you tell me you want to be called something specific, I’ll go with it if I can remember (and apologize profusely when I forget) but I’m not gonna go into a long list of letters that I can’t even remember every time I talk about LGBT issues. You’re lucky I remember LGBT.
I’m not gonna refrain from asking you about it, either. I ask the people around me from New York City projects what their lives were like growing up. I ask the Indian couple who runs the store nearby about their religion. I ask Mel about his cock. If I’m curious about your sexual persuasion, and the conversation turns to it, I’m gonna ask. Simple as that.
I’ve known people from all sorts of walks of life. I have a genuine curiosity that burns deep within me when I meet someone “different”. I like to get to know “different” people. To understand what makes them tick. Not always out of a desire to befriend them so much as to study them. Learn about them. Sometimes friendship happens, sometimes it doesn’t. Either is fine with me. I like being liked. Who doesn’t? But if I don’t click with someone, I don’t often take it to heart anymore. That’s just the way things are.
I can honestly say there are scant few people I dislike who haven’t wronged me or someone I care about in some way. And even then, I am the queen of second chances. I know I’ve fucked up a lot in my life and I’d be nowhere if it weren’t for second chances. So I try to give people the opportunity to redeem themselves.
I’ve never in my life judged a person by their nationality, sexual persuasion, religion, gender. I’ve never understood why people do. Explaining racism to me when I was a kid was like trying to describe a Monet to a blind person. “But Mom, it’s just their skin! Your skin’s got nothing to do with your personality!”
I do, occasionally, make wisecracks about people of a particular nationality, sexual persuasion, religion or gender. Usually with someone who falls under one of those labels and people who know me well enough to know I’m busting on them. Never with malicious intent. Because they make them, too, and we all think they’re hilarious, and I’ve never been one for the whole “You can’t tell a black joke unless you’re black.” thing. Everyone tells blonde jokes! I know on account of I was blonde till I got pregnant the first time and people were constantly telling me blonde jokes.
How do you know a blonde’s having a bad day? She can’t find her pencil and her tampon’s behind her ear.
How do you kill a blonde? Put a scratch-n-sniff sticker/mirror at the bottom of the pool. Or spikes on her shoulder pads.
How do you know a blonde was the last one to use the computer? There’s White-Out all over the screen.
A smart blonde, Santa Claus and a redhead are in an automobile accident. Only one person survives. Who is it? The redhead. The other two don’t exist.
I’ve been accused of being racist on occasion. I think my inherent need to classify everything around me is often perceived as something it is not. People assume there’s an ultimate “good” and “bad” bin at the end of every classification I make because either that’s how they are, or that’s what they’re used to. But that is not the case for me. I don’t even classify people I do and don’t like as “good” or “bad” people. They’re just my kind of people or they aren’t. And not being “my kind of people” just means we’re too different to get along. “Different” is not synonymous with “bad”.
I do classify people according to physical and personal characteristics depending on why I’m talking about them. Having lived so many places growing up and throughout my early adulthood, and having dealt with so many different kinds of people, I learned early on that who a person becomes has much to do with the culture in which they were raised and the people who raised them. However, there comes a point when people decide for themselves which path they’re going to follow. Beyond that point, who they are is on them.
I’m rather firm in my belief that we, as human beings, can’t fully know what’s right or wrong. We just sort of have to go with our gut. What we’re comfortable with. What feels right to us. And that’s obviously subjective.
But I live in the ghetto. And labels here, in our neighborhood, are just labels. They’re not who you are. Unless they are. And then that’s your problem, not ours. And really, I think that’s as PC as anyone needs to be.