Political correctness, comprendre?

Politically correct pronouns

Politically correct pronouns

Looks like someone out there thought it is time to take political correctness mainstream. It is time to learn French all over again. Pardon my French, I meant English.

The new part of speech: gender-neutral pronouns

Seems like the Vancouver School Board has just gelded the English language and approved a new set of gender-neutered English pronouns. Xe, pronounced zee, has replaced he or she, while xem, pronounced zem is now to be used in place of him or her. His and hers are henceforth junked; the correct term is xyr, to be vocalized as zare.

The neutering proposal finally got passed in the fourth round of voting. All four rounds of voting were pretty acrimonious, I understand, presumably because some of the board members were not very happy with xere… sorry, their English getting politically corrected and Frenchified (at least going by the sound effects) at the same time. Xey… they tended to go overboard with their emotions, mouthing some colorful, politically incorrect French nobody knew they were capable of.

I sympathize with xem… oops, them. Having to deal with a whole new set of political-correctness-inspired English pronouns is bad enough, but a whole new set of political-correctness-inspired English pronouns with a French flavor? Quel désastre! The French don’t even know how to pronounce their words the way they spell them.

Another manifestation of that lurking English – French divide in Canada, I suppose. Wish they would leave that political grandstanding out of the school system, though.

“We’re standing up for kids and making our schools safer and more inclusive,” one of the board members said later. This person—obviously part of the pro-PC, pro-French camp—knew what xe was talking about. In standing up for the kids, the board members made sure the writing was on the chalkboard and brought all parents onboard.

Making kids safer

Inculcating gender-neutered values in kids makes them safer from evil folks with the wrong intentions, who would be confused by what they were seeing—or rather, not seeing suddenly.

I mean, how does a potential evil-doer set about xyr nefarious tasks when xe is unable to make out whether xe is dealing with a xe or a xe? Xe would have to go back to the drawing board, so that xe could first reconfirm xyr own sexual orientation.

And as for the more inclusive part, it was a long time coming. Finally, divine intentions have been recognized and honored. If god did not want inclusiveness, why would xe have put all the xes and all the xes on the same planet? Xe would have chosen Mars for the xes and Venus for the xes.

Where do we go from here?

This opens up a whole new dimension of delicious disarray.

Here’s a cigar for you

Take the case of baby delivery. In my part of the world, fetal sex determination is illegal, because of the scourge of female feticide. So here is this wearied woman who has just done delivering, with xyr hysterical husband and xyr pernicious parents, waiting with bated breath for the package to be announced. The beaming nurse holds up the baby, all cleaned and wrapped up, and declares, “Congratulations! You are now the proud parents of a xe”.

She walks out, leaving the husband and xyr parents groping for the truth, if you get what I mean.

John Doe, john don’t

Or say you are going home after a business trip to another city. You have dined sumptuously on sea food with your hosts, and have been driven to the airport, where you have checked in and are waiting to board. The lobster, which stared with malevolence at you when you chose it, appears to be nursing a grudge, and you can feel the initial stirrings building up into strong turbulence. Your system soon has ignition, and you know that if you don’t launch before the countdown ends, you are in trouble.

You rush over to the toilets, and as is normal, there are two entrances: one for the xes and the other for the xes. The door for the xes features a signboard reading XYR, while the door for the xes features a signboard reading XYR.

Three-two-one-zero. Houston, we have a problem.

Politically correct toilet doors

Politically correct toilet doors

Political correctness and authors

Or take us authors. I don’t do romance, thank god, but I can imagine some author describing an intimate scene in a book.

Xe brought xyr lips close to xyr. Xe breathed deep, then gently brushed xyr lips with xyr. Xe sighed, then moved xyr arms around xyr neck and clung to xyr in a tight grip. “Never let me go,” xe said.

Ick.

If that doesn’t make you dyslexic, it’s only because it will have cured you of the dyslexia you already had. Either way, it is enough give you a serious, life-long allergy to romance and to osculating whoxoxyr’s lips.

And as for the author, heaven help them. The whole thing is enough to send any author to a sanatorium. I also suspect we will be seeing a whole bunch of editors and proofreaders taking premature retirement.

I have been wondering about the wisdom behind political correctness ever since I first heard that term sometime back in the last millennium, if I remember correctly. I am wondering even more now.

Just what is a good thing, and just what is too much of a good thing? I am somewhat hard of hearing in one ear, and am a diabetic. I hope I never hear anyone describing me as “hearing impaired”.
And if anyone describes me as “glycemically challenged”, I am going to be inflicting some impairment myself.

I am slightly deaf. I am diabetic. Those two words are not offensive. I have not seen any negative connotation attached to them in any dictionary, any encyclopedia or any wiki site. I do not register any negativity when I hear them used, even to describe me.

I don’t think the village idiot who first coined politically correct terms like “hearing impaired” asked deaf people whether they found the word “deaf” offensive, or whether they like being referred to as impaired. Nobody has ever asked me whether I find the word diabetic obnoxious and whether I would like to be known as challenged. Anyone who asks me that question is going to find me obnoxious.

From a saner perspective, I accept that there are some words, like the n-word, that are nasty, and that is because I am aware that many of the people that word is used for do find it abhorrent. The same logic goes for any words used derogatively with people of specific age, gender, origin, color, social status or religion. The politically correct question that needs asking is: are the people being described thus finding these words unacceptable?

Mission accomplished

And here’s the biggest oxymoron of all. Politically correct? Politically correct? Politically correct? Since when did these two words fall on the same side of the spectrum? Are they really on the same spectrum at all? On the same freaking planet at all?

I mean, you know, are we talking politically correct as in enhanced interrogation techniques and Operation Iraqi Freedom?

Hope this post struck a note somewhere in you.

Please comment, please share, and ask your circles to do a bit of sharing xemselves.

It takes a moment, it shows you care.

  • Interesting article, Venky. I’ve always thought there was something incorrect about political correctness.

  • I’ve always said that “politically correct” is an oxymoron. A more accurate term would be “socially approved by crybabies.” Removing all gender from personal pronouns is just totally ridiculous, as you’ve demonstrated with the romantic fiction example.

    I don’t think this will go anywhere. “Ms.” caught on because it filled a need. But notice where words like “herstory” and “womyn” ended up. These new ones will go the same way.

Political correctness, comprendre?

by Venkatesh Iyer time to read: 5 min
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