Thursday, October 26, 2006

Frances Huang's article, PC Movement- the cure or the placebo?

PC Movement – the Cure or the Placebo?

As the consciousness of ethnicity and feminism arises during the past decades, political correctness has become a please-pay-attention issue in society. Avoiding the usage of discriminative expressions shows consideration to mankind and concern of equality, which reflects the progress of humanity. However, the world itself is after all not perfect. Over emphasizing PC is like persuading ourselves that the world is full of peace and prosperity by eliminating words such as crime, rape, or hunger. Words can be replaced by sound-better alternatives, but the social problems will not go away as easy as that.

Also, I consider overwhelming PC as being condescending, which sometimes turns out to be hypocritical and might make people uncomfortable. This article reminds me of another article in this book “You’re Short, Besides!”. Sucheng Chan is a “physically-challenged” woman who calls herself a “cripple”. She neither sees herself different from other people nor searches for the protection of PC. On the contrary, people’s politeness toward her makes her uncomfortable. That’s true, being too polite causes confusion and distance. The art of speech is that you say what you mean and mean what you say, of course without the intention of hurting others. The real freedom is in one’s heart, not the words.

Moreover, the very precious part of a language is that it carries culture. From a language, we can sense the ways of thinking, history and the common background of its speakers. Accumulating the assets of cultural heritage takes thousands of years, they shouldn’t be denied even if they were no longer up-to-date. The author illustrates an example from Ms. Maggio. She indicates that “king,” “lord,” and “master” are “especially bad” because they are “hierarchical, dominator society terms”. It is hilarious to me, I think she is being captious (Sorry, but I don’t mean to offend her). These words enrich my childhood. Who can imagine the world without legends that depict the stories of the “king”, “lord” and “master”?

I have more to say about the controversial issue of the usage of “he” or “she”. To spend so much time arguing when to use “he” and “she”, or even creating a neutral term for it is meaningless and not economic. It is also beautiful to give gender-related terms to the world surrounding us, because men and women, the opposite sex, make the world as a whole. Men don’t really argue why we call the earth “Mother Earth”, so why should women be bothered that “Superman” is a man. Maybe that’s why the word “pettish” is often used to describe women. “Womyn” is even out of my imagination. Who can deny the fact that women bear men so that human beings won’t become an extinct species? And I don’t think that having “man” to refer to “mankind” is totally a bad idea. If it means that men play a dominant role and take more responsibilities, why should women be displeased?

Finally, I would like to give an example of the Asian pop singer Wang Lee Hom. I was impressed and touched by how he called his own style and his interpretation to it. During an interview with Lorraine Hahn from Talkasia, Lee Hom was asked to describe his style. He replied, “I call my style – and I hope I don’t offend any of the viewers – but I call it “chinked-out”. He then further explained why he used this “derogatory racial slur”, “I want to repossess the word…I hope I can make it cool.” “Chink” to the Chinese has this racial-sensitive meaning as “nigger” to the black, but despite all the unfavorable suggestions to this word, Lee Hom tries to give people a new impression about this word with his influence and his music. He doesn’t change the word, but he tries to change the discriminative content linked to the word. I think it is more meaningful than draining your brain to think what is politically correct and what is not.

No comments: