Monday, May 02, 2016

But because they are right

Famously woke bae Matt McGorry said something that I really admire about the whole PC or "politically correct" issue.  I'm posting it below, and while it expresses an important point about language and gender, there is a deeper and more important point being expressed here as well.  Too many smart and informed and progressive people have decided that since they're smart and informed and progressive, they should never have to consider a more expansive view of the language they use or the ideas they express.   

To those on the receiving end of "PC" criticism, it feels like a correction, or censorship, or even an attack, whether that is the intent or not, and so the immediate response is defensiveness.  But is defensiveness a helpful or appropriate response?   McGorry offers his own insight into that moment of personal divergence.

"I said every woman with a clit deserves an orgasm as much as every man with a penis. And some people called me out and were like, 'This is not inclusive, it's transphobic — not every man has a penis, not every woman has a clit. And some have vice versa.' And at the time I was like, 'Fuck, I can't win. What can I say that will ever be right?' But I talked to a really smart friend of mine, and she was like, 'Well, they aren't wrong. So the question is really, How inclusive do you want to be?; You have a platform to show that you can be more inclusive in that way; it ultimately doesn't hurt you once you've learned that lesson and you know how to adjust. The response shouldn't be super-defensive. It should be like, 'Where is the value in what they are saying? And is that true?' And it was true. And I just changed it and said every person with a clit deserves an orgasm just as every person with a penis. It's a simple adjustment but it's more inclusive. "

Notice that his response didn't stop with "Fuck, I can't win."  Then think about how many liberal comedians, actors, journalists, politicians, and friends have expressed some version of that sentiment, but then never moved forward from that sentiment to absorb the larger lesson that McGorry is clearly trying to absorb.  If you can't move on from "Fuck, I can't win," to "Where is the value in what they are saying?" and then to a wiser and more inclusive philosophy, then perhaps you should consider whether you really are a progressive thinker.  If you're a comedian or a journalist or any kind of media talking head, perhaps you should consider whether what you're really protesting is the ability of others to tell you that they don't like your bullshit.

Because someone telling you that they don't like your bullshit is not censorship, and it never has been.  If you watched Bill Clinton wag his finger at BLM protesters as he explained their own oppression to them, then you no doubt understand that what was called for in that moment was for Clinton to stop talking and to listen - no matter how much it hurt his ego and his idea of himself as an unassailable lion of the Left.  So maybe the next time you're tempted to get your guard up over some "PC" stuff, ask yourself whether you're being the Bill Clinton in that scenario.  Because you do not want to be the Bill Clinton.  You really don't.  And because listening is the only way to keep your own progress alive.  


Dad E said...

You have great analytic skills into how to interact with people, middle child of mine.

Fran said...

Because listening - thank you. So little of that done these days, even among the most well-intended among us. Perhaps most especially with the most well-intended among us.

What irony, for so many the PC position is about what is fair to "others," but in reality is just a way to create an alternative universe overstocked with a bunch of 9 pound bags that each contain 10 pounds of shit. All of which stinks...

dguzman said...

I feel such a sense of joy and awe when I read your writing. Keep it up, wise friend.

Marshall Park Slope said...

What dguzman said^. I went into a long state of mourning when you took a sabbatical from this blog.

but this is yet another perfect post.