Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Can we retire the term "politically correct" now?



What does it mean, anyway? I first heard the term back in high school, in the late '80s. A feminist guest speaker was talking to us about sexual harassment and rape. In an open session, I mentioned that I thought it was a good idea for a guy not to walk right behind a woman stranger on a dark or empty street, but rather cross to the other side so she wouldn't be scared. For this, I was pronounced "a very politically correct young man."

That was then. The term was at first applied in a positive manner by late second-wave feminists, to describe a person who was on-side. However, with the backlash that inevitably came during the '90s, the term was appropriated as derision. Today, when someone calls me "politically correct," they're dismissing my opinion as overly-sensitive "politics" (as opposed to reality or common sense).

And that's what American Apparel is doing here, in this billboard shared by Sociological Images' Lisa Wade.

What this says is that when people complain that AA ads are encouraging the sexualization of schoolgirls, fetishizing sexual violence, or just plain exploiting people for fun and profit, they are just sucking up to feminist "politics." The fact that AA is sweatshop-free excuses all this, because their manufacturing is "ethical." Never mind that their founder, Dov Charney, was fired by his own board for "several instances of alleged misconduct" with female employees.

"Politically correct" is dead. This cynical advertising is just flogging its corpse. Time to move on.

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