That Time Political Correctness Landed on Its Ass

They say it’s best not to write something when you’re angry.  How about when you’re perplexed, confounded, immersed in the phrase – WTF!!??

I’ve had plenty of discussions around the idea of political correctness over the last year, in particular for how it’s been used in various topics on Aboriginal issues.  In these cases, I believe the correct usage of the P.C. definition applies.  That is, as defined as this, the result of a simple Google search:

po·lit·i·cal cor·rect·ness

  1. mad donkey 2the avoidance of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against.
  2. … Or the more urban version:  when the desire to be offensive at the expense of someone in a weaker position socially, economically, or in health is taken away thereby making your own offensiveness day less easy or fun.

It’s a short diatribe, but to me it’s one loaded with worthy points to ponder, particularly for the idea of feminism, and women’s rights to complete equality with an equal dose of general respect. And please, haters of the word feminism, please stop equating it with a request to ignore simple manners and common courtesies that everyone should be employing regardless of gender.

The story that began this moment of umbrage is also short.

I had to change a password used for a national alarm security company. I had to change the password that I’ve had for eight years up to this point because it was recently declared offensive. The word(s) of offense was: fat ass.

Like many people, I grew up understanding that donkeys are asses, and that’s what we called them.  However, for the purposes of this note, I don’t think the other version helps their case either.

The reason the alarm company thought it was offensive?

“Because if a ‘woman’ had to call me to check on a possible security breach ‘she could’ take it the wrong way”.

Let that sink in.

‘Cause you know, we women are just that much more sensitive about farm animals and our personal associations with them.

Regardless of that, have we really been found such a delicate gender that we all would automatically adopt that word as a personal affront?  Especially in answer to an innocuous request for one’s password?

I spoke with three different employees at that alarm company. They were all unmoved by my thoughts. They simply reaffirmed that they must take care of their female employees and they have determined that the word ass is harmful, particularly if the word fat precedes it.  Apparently their male employees have larger ass shields and are more able to handle the ‘ass•ault’.

They insisted I change my long-held password, and so I capitulated, stomped down by the hooves of cloven sensitivity.

Or could it be that I am just unaware of my own new level of insensitivity?


 High five 2P.S. I just want to send a quick high five thank you to my new followers.  I really appreciate your support, and I endeavor to meet all of you at your own sites at some point, however I admit to being a slow reader.  Please take no offense.


Women Too Unstable For Leadership? A Blogging Conversation from the Mid East

One of the benefits of being a part of the blogosphere is getting a ‘fly on the wall’ perspective of other cultures.  One of these perspectives recently caught my eye and has been in the back of my mind since.

One of the bloggers I follow is a young educated woman in the Middle East, whom I believe to be early twenties in age. She is a lovely writer who has written about such things as her impending arranged marriage.  She is accepting of that, and has great respect and confidence in her parent’s decisions made on her behalf.

EqualRIghts allShe recently posted another view in regard to gender equality that said she does not support the idea of equal rights for women, preferring instead the idea of equal respect for both genders.  This certainly piqued my interest.  What did that mean exactly?

I was further intrigued by the number of readers who liked the post, some declaring it her best yet, and other comments that were highly in favor of women knowing where they are meant to be as women. Some congratulated her on her mature and reasoned outlook. Some made me sad about the way they disparaged other women.

The much shortened version of what she said was essentially that men and women are different with equal value, but not equal in strengths such as leadership.  Women are really meant to grow families, and men are meant to rule.  One of her replies to a comment on the post said: “Yes I know some of history’s greatest rulers were women but ruling is an attribute of men because they are more emotionally stable than women”.

I don’t think I have to point out how most of us in our part of the world would react to that statement, nor to any of the comments that followed.

I wrote her for some clarification, offering circumstances where their ideals might not suit all women’s situations.  She said she understood Western ideals and agreed with most of what I had to say, but she was speaking from her own cultural stance and to what is important in her part of the world.  She said she felt the issue for them is not so much about ideas like equal pay, as they are already paid equally there, but more around social interaction like those that use humiliation to coerce and make women feel badly.

I thanked her for explaining herself to me, but I still came away feeling a little uneasy.

I’ve been a self-sufficient woman for the majority of my life, and I have been dependent on a husband for part of the balance. In either case, I firmly believed that I had full and equal rights in all decisions and responsibilities in my home and in all realms of our society.

Along with the power of making one’s own decisions is the burden of responsibility for them, and of any consequences.  I wonder how the idea that women make poor leaders, or whether or not women have ability, is a justifiable statement from a place where one does not yet have full responsibility for decisions. What kind of fear(s) is this based in?

The bottom line is that I believe that making decisions about your own life is the intrinsic point of a ‘right’.  It is a right that belongs to all people. It is all having a voice in all that matters.  Certainly that involves exercising it or giving it away at will.

To hear, and see it supported, especially from young women, that women are not equal to men and to imply they should not have equal rights, is disheartening to me.  Regardless of culture, to have it stated that women are equal in value to men, just not in strengths is puzzling given the amount of history easily attainable. One woman’s ambitions are another woman’s weaknesses?

I hope someday they can compare all the amazing and inspiring women leaders the world has known to all the numbers of men who have failed miserably in the same role and see that it all had nothing to do with gender.  Maybe there will even come a time when they will see that some men make exemplary stay at home parents too.  It’s their ‘right’ to be whatever they feel best suited for; it’s their right to act upon that.

It was very interesting to get a personal glimpse into a part of the world I’ve never been, and to get to be a part of a discussion I might never have had outside of these blogging contacts.

In the end, she and I respectfully agree to disagree.  It’s an enormous conversation and not one that was going to be completely resolved or understood in a few emails. This will be about eventual circumstances and time to see what is to evolve.

I am curious though, about the things they do want to change about their culture.  In particular those things that they said were hurtful to women. Who will pick up the lead on those changes if not themselves?


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