Political Correctness: The Cake Is A Lie

Hello, hello!  A few days ago, I posted the following image on my personal Facebook page and one of my friends thanked me for it.  I’m still not entirely sure whether she meant it as a “hey, I never thought about it that way before” kind of thing or as an “I can relate, as someone has done this to me” kind of thing.  Either way, I was a little taken aback.  Have we, as a society, really become so politically correct that we can’t take kindness at face value?  That we have to be told when people are being nice even if it clashes with our personal beliefs?  I even went so far as to read the comments on the original post (never read the comments), and people were actually arguing that saying ‘You’re in my prayers’ to someone you know is an atheist is like serving PB&Js to someone you know has a peanut allergy.  So, you’re going to go into anaphylactic shock because of something someone said?  That’s a mighty severe allergy you have there.

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This isn’t common sense?

 Seriously though, when did we become so caught up in ourselves that we couldn’t look at things from the other person’s perspective?  Honestly, I noticed a significant rise in this type of behavior when people started encouraging “political correctness.”  The Right argues that political correctness is a restriction on free speech.  The Left argues that it’s simply about being respectful and that there’s no hidden agenda.  I’m sorry, but any phrase that contains any form of the word ‘politics’ is hiding something.  That’s what politics are: the art of who can hide their true agendas from the public the best.  It’s sad, but true.

When we can no longer walk down the street during the holidays and wish people a Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukkah or a Joyous Kwanzaa or whatever we celebrate for fear of offending someone, things have gone too far.  When we can’t try to comfort an acquaintance the best way we know how for fear of offending someone, things have gone too far.  When sincere attempts at kindness are met by snark and anger under the guise of political correctness, things have gone too far.  So yeah, this whole political correctness thing has gone much too far.

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This.  So much this.

 There’s no hidden agenda behind political correctness, but in order to be truly PC, you have to fit the mold created around that ideal.  You can’t be overtly religious, you can’t have your own opinions unless they match everyone else, you can’t be different.  But America was built around differences.  It’s not called the Melting Pot for nothing.  We should celebrate our differences, not try to squash them out.

Don’t get me wrong, the basic concept or goal behind political correctness (treating each other with respect) isn’t bad at all, just the execution of it has perverted it into something else entirely (hence, the cake being a lie).  You see, respect goes both ways (even if politicians on both sides would have you believe otherwise).  Personally, I’m not someone who believes in the power of prayer, but I’m not going to disrespect someone else’s beliefs by telling them not to pray for me because of it.  Just like when I tell someone I’m sending them good vibes, I don’t expect a lecture on science calling my vibes pseudo psychological hippie crap.  That’s the kind of crap that’ll make me never talk to you again.  Learn to accept kindness at face value.

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That works too.

 In other words, stop worrying about being “politically correct.”  Be kind.  Be respectful.  Remember that we’re all different and occasionally people are going to inadvertently do or say things that go against your personal beliefs.  And if someone ever truly hurts you, whether physically or emotionally, by all means let them know.  But if it’s simply a case of their beliefs clashing with yours, let it go*.  After all, if we were all the same, the world would be a pretty boring place.

*This only applies if they’re being nice and respectful to you.  If they’re being asshats, do what you have to do.

The Writer’s Struggle: Cultural Appropriation

Hi all!  Today, I want to talk about something that is a really touchy subject for a lot of people: cultural appropriation.  It’s something I’ve seen tossed around a lot lately, and most of the time, I wonder if the people throwing that phrase around actually understand what it implies or if they’re just looking for something to rant about.  Honestly, it usually seems like the latter.

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It’s something that’s seeping into every aspect of life.  It’s gotten to the point where people are afraid to study other cultures because some lunatic might come up screaming “cultural appropriation” at them when really, they’re trying to learn how not to appropriate things.  People are afraid to cosplay characters outside of their race and gender because of the same reason.  It’s ridiculous.  As long as the cosplayer isn’t doing anything derogatory, what’s wrong with an African American Elsa or an Hispanic Tiana or a white Mulan?  There’s nothing wrong with showing your love for a character by cosplaying as them.  And that’s what cosplay is about, love and appreciation of a character, not taking something that doesn’t belong to you.

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For a writer, cultural appropriation is a terrifying thing.  We’re constantly told to write diverse characters, especially when it comes to popular fiction.  That’s like rule number one in writing.  However, I’ve seen a huge increase in authors (mainly white authors) getting called out and put down for writing outside of their own cultures, no matter how well they did their research and how respectful they were.  Basically, it seems like we’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t.

Personally, I tend to blend cultures in my longer stories (I’m from the U.S., aka the melting pot, so why wouldn’t I write that way?).  I’m constantly worried someone’s going to accuse me of cultural appropriation, but you know what?  I’m not going to whitewash my stories simply because some overzealous crusaders think a white chick from Texas shouldn’t incorporate Japanese culture, Greek mythology, and all of the other elements included in my stories in her work.  I like a colorful world that expands beyond my own horizons.  Sorry, not sorry.

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I do, however, follow a few rules when writing that I hope will deter the cultural appropriation shriekers if/when I get published.

1. I do my research!  Granted, I use a lot of mythology and, when there’s not a lot to go on, I tweak certain stories to fit my books, but I’m never disrespectful about it.  I know I’ll catch flak from some people for it, but I’m prepared for that.

2. I don’t rely on stereotypes when creating my characters and worlds.  Most stereotypes are quite insulting, a personification of the worst aspects of a person.  If something fits the character, I’ll use it, but it will be tempered by other aspects of human nature to create a fully fleshed out person.  At least that’s my goal.

3. The one don’t on my list is “don’t be a dick.”  I never use anything with the intention of making fun of or insulting a culture.  Research and not relying on stereotypes really helps with that.  Don’t get me wrong, my characters can be incredibly rude to each other, but there’s always a purpose for it in the stories.  It’s never an attack on any culture.

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So, to sum up…  Go learn about that culture you’re interested in (and all of the others)!  Go cosplay as that character you adore!  Go write all the things!  Just don’t be a jerk about it.