Section: Opinion

Political correctness silences vital discourse

When I was abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark, I had the privilege to take a course on social media and how it affects the world today. The final project for this course was to create a social media campaign, the topic of which was completely up to the students.

My idealistic friend and I decided to take up the challenge of talking about feminism as men. We noticed that when anyone brings up the topic of feminism, 99 percent of men will roll their eyes. Our objective was to attempt to remove the negative stigma associated with the term and the greater movement. It wasn’t until we were at the end of our campaign that we found out why men are hesitant to label themselves as feminists.

At the end of our campaign, we had a particularly loaded comment thread on Facebook, in which we were accused of “mansplaining” and told that, as men, we were actively diminishing the work that females have already done on the subject. The definition of mansplaining is: “(of a man) explain (something) to someone, typically a woman, in a manner regarded as condescending or patronizing.”

We never set out to mansplain a woman’s movement to women, but there we were, given the label based purely on the fact that we are  men. I understand that, as a man, I will never truly understand the problems that women face today, but silencing opinions for or against something only succeeds in maintaining the status quo.

It wasn’t until this event that it clicked for me that, in today’s society, if I’m to voice an opinion I have to first declare my entire 0background, gender, sexual orientation and socioeconomic status.

I hope this is the last time that I have to do this. My name is Griffin Burrough, I’m a straight, white male of privilege, and this culture of denouncing oppositional opinions in the defense of political correctness has to stop.

Political correctness is a noble idea, but it’s gone way too far. Why was polling so wrong about this past election? Because we as a society have taken to shunning and spurning each other for having contrary beliefs instead of having conversations about them.

I don’t know if you have friends that voted for Donald Trump, but I know that if they did, they wouldn’t tell you, because everyone is terrified of going against Kenyon’s widely accepted status quo.

Calling someone racist, bigoted, or homophobic silences people who have a different opinion to the mass liberal agenda that pervades Kenyon.

Early last year I lamented to one of my female friends that I don’t like using they/their pronouns purely based on the fact that they are plural pronouns and cause sentences to sound off to me. Instead of talking to me about how it’s important to be sensitive to each individual’s gender identity, my friend said that I should change my transphobic beliefs.

Instead of spurning me, she could have said: “Hey Griffin, pronouns concern questions of identity and not recognizing that is incredibly insensitive of you.” Thanks to the PC police, I ended up being scorned and uneducated when a better alternative wasn’t far away.

Never again in your life will you be surrounded by as many intellectually-driven and fascinating people than right now. Instead of checking Facebook and Instagram in Peirce, let’s talk about what makes us different. Let’s not get offended when someone doesn’t share our beliefs and try and understand why they’ve come to think this way.

Your friend may not understand the fluidity of gender — instead of gawking and scolding them, educate them. If we are so progressive as a community, then let’s face these issues and expand our horizons.

Welcome to my column, and I hope this sheds some light as to what you’ll typically find here. I know what I write here is likely to attract controversy, so I’m going to be blunt and concise, and I’m very ready to hear dissenting opinions.

If you disagree with me, please tell me in next week’s Collegian why I’m completely wrong. I promise not to label you.

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