Are We Too PC for Our Own Good?

The History of Political Correctness

I’m usually for political correctness. The movement for two marginalized groups that I’m born into, being a female and being a minority. The original ideals fought to restrict hate speech geared towards people who don’t fit the dominant social quo. It also sought for more diverse perspectives from minorities, females, LGBTQ, and others to expand upon the dominant white, male aspect. I’d say those are pretty important goals, but there are times when political correctness has been overkill.

Elena Mikhailovna Kostenko [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Elena Mikhailovna Kostenko [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

The Coddling of the American Mind

According to The Atlantic’s article, The Coddling of the American Mind, the terms “microaggressions” and “trigger warnings” have risen into mainstream culture.  Microaggressions are actions or word choices that on the surface seem harmless but internally thought of as a kind of violence. Trigger warnings are phrases that blogs, articles, posts, and professors are expected to issue if the information presented may cause a strong emotional response. I’m familiar with these terms because I went to a university that is passionate about social justice, and I surf websites that deal with weighty topics.

 I’ve had microgressions directed towards me.

I’ve had microaggressions directed towards me. An example was when I was nineteen an ex-boyfriend complained that I had the driving traits of a female and an Asian. Yes, my driving was terrible because I was still getting used to driving independently, but using stereotypes was an awful way to correct me. I’ve used microaggressions when describing Asians who have no double eyelids, by referring to them as that Ch*nky person because I liked to pronounce the word ch*nk. I should know better since I’m Asian myself. I feel that calling out people on microaggressions is a “pick your battle” situation. If someone calls me something I find offensive, but it’s only said once, I’d ignore it because there are better things to use my energy. If it’s on a repeated basis, more than anything it’s intentional, and I’d confront that person.

Context is important when using trigger warnings.

Context is necessary when using trigger warnings. An example is xojane. Many of the authors write about their own harsh experiences on sexual assault, abusive relationships, self-harm, and other traumatic memories. The editors place trigger warnings in the titles of submitted work that has emotionally provoking content because many of the readers are survivors themselves.

I support how the editors used trigger warnings because there is a strong bias to these stories, and they are personal. Many readers are still in the process of recovery, and it shows that editors care about their emotional reactions.

I don’t support the use of trigger warnings in education. If professors used trigger warnings, that would be every book, section, and course description. The history of humankind has violence and tragedies. If someone is majoring in psychology, they will have to explore horrible situations such as spousal abuse, assault, and PTSD. A law student will have to study rape law and learn the mechanics of it. Professors are trying to present content as objective as possible; they don’t have an agenda to harm students. Also, students have a choice to step out and take a breather if the course is stressful. I understand that trigger warnings are there to prepare students, but there isn’t always going to be a warning. It’s up to the person on how they are going to take in the information.

“There are people who find political correctness to be a form of Newspeak“.

I’ve struggled to write this post because every time I’ve researched information on political correctness, I always see a different viewpoint. Some people find political correctness to be a form of “Newspeak.”

     Not everyone has been through assault, an abusive situation, or has witness a death, so why should they tiptoe with what they say?

I can see political correctness as infringing on someone’s freedom of speech, and that’s hard. Not everyone has been through assault, an abusive situation, or has witnessed death. So why should they tiptoe with what they say? Others say that political correctness is just victimizing the survivors and stalling the healing process. Eventually, survivors can’t break down on every little thing that reminds them of their trauma.

Showing Basic Human Respect 

People who support political correctness say it’s about showing basic human respect. Trigger warnings don’t force professors or writers to limit their content, but it gives readers a heads up. Also by providing trigger warnings, people can engage with triggering content because their psyches are mentally prepared for it. Labeling difficult content can help people engage with curriculum more fully and strategically, without them feeling anxious.

Political Correctness is a polarizing subject that is difficult to have a concrete opinion. Having a bleeding heart doesn’t help victims, neither does an insensitive one. Where does the balance lie?

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