Sunday, January 23, 2011

I am offended by other people who are trying not to be offensive

Guys.  If you know me, which I think both of you do, you know that I'm not easily offended by things.  Or at least I like to think I'm not.  But a trendy example that really gets my goat, and not because anyone else ever implied that I should be offended by this, is the new fad of plus-size women's clothing stores having the subtitle "Woman."  Jones New York Woman.  Talbots Woman.  Other Well-Known Store Woman.  This gets at two principles that are really pretty ridiculous -- the first, much smaller and more specific, that because I don't shop at a plus-size store, I am not a "Woman."  That Women have curves, and if you don't have curves, well, you're not Woman.

The other really ridiculous point gets to the overwhelming amount of tiptoeing we do as a culture these days.  Apparently, somewhere along the line, "plus size" became offensive, so now we call it "Woman," because that's flattering.  I live and breathe this phenomenon at an elementary school with 20% of its grade 3-6 students in special education.  Children aren't "bad" at something, they don't even have "weaknesses," they have "challenges."  Really -- we can't even say at a staff meeting among colleagues that children are bad at certain things anymore, or even that such and such a topic is a weakness?  In my enormous binder for my last certification class, there are sections of strategies to use in the classroom, assuming we have zero curricula.  One of them encourages the teacher to "have the skilled reader model effective reading strategies for phrasing and fluency for the learner.  The learner then echoes the skilled reader."  So, now slower, lower-performing students are called "learners."  Oh, I thought everyone was a learner, IT'S A SCHOOL.  It's the same principle as these new no-one-loses t-ball teams.  Everyone gets a trophy, no one keeps score, snacks and juice for all!  Can you even imagine what would happen if we told children that they LOST?  All this dancing around people's feelings to keep their worse qualities on the DL is making me sick.  When can we as a society go back to calling a spade a spade?  I hear that other countries are way less insane about not offending people.  That makes so much more sense to me.

A spinoff of that is using diseases or disabilites as adjectives.  For instance, it's politically incorrect to say, "he's autistic;" it's politically correct to say, "he is a child who has a diagnosis of autism."  (And don't even get me started on "nondisabled.")  The idea is, people with disabilities are people first.  But, like affirmative action, we're actually calling more attention to the condition when we pay it so much homage.  It's understood as a bad thing.  We don't say things like, I am a person who has brown hair; we say, I'm a brunette.  But that's neutral.  We don't say, she is a child who is gifted and talented; we say, she's gifted (and talented).  But again, that's positive.  My point is, in my ideal society where we call a spade a spade, we cut the crap and just come out with it, and moreover, it's not offensive.  Autism is only recently understood, I know.  We have understood blindness and deafness, however, for centuries.  No one insisted we say, he is a person who is blind.  He's blind!  The Deaf are the most prominent example of my ideal citizens in my ideal society.  They are so proud!  They have their own culture!  They capitalized their 'disability,' for goodness' sake!  We should all take a cue.

1 comment:

Gretchen said...

To be fair, I remember my mom buying "women's" clothes when I was little, so I'm not sure how much of a fad that is. To me it's just another category, like "misses" or "petite."

But I totally see your point :).