|Significant usage issues have arisen lately, prompting my own searches for meanings and etymology. Particularly charged jargon like “politically correct” and “feminazi” made me wonder if Barbelith would benefit from a generalized Lexicon thread.|
I found a site that claims the OED defines politically correct as: a body of liberal or radical opinion, esp. on social matters, characterized by the advocacy of approved causes or views, and often by the rejection of language, behaviour, etc. considered discriminatory or offensive.
The site also claims the term was first used in 1789, to precisely clarify the difference between “United States” and “people of the United States.” The OED usage apparently arose circa 1970, and persisted into the 80’s.
Peter Ives notes that charged debates between feminist and marxist scholars over which analytical perspective – gender-based or class-based – was more correct institutionalized the term. conservatives (admittedly also a charged term) skillfully twisted the meaning into what we see today, a parody of the OED definition centered on the derision of “approved causes or views.” In 1977 the New York Times first used politically correct to paraphrase a radical statement, and the abbreviation PC was apparently first used by The Washington Post in 1986.
quote:Peter Ives, “In Defense of Jargon” 1997
With the clever manipulation of the term 'politically correct,' the Right has managed to get many people on the Left to tacitly accept its logic. The only thing that all the perspectives that are slandered with the term 'politically correct' have in common is that conservatives are against them. It is only from a conservative perspective that a concept of 'politically correct' as a derogatory epithet makes sense. In the past, the fact that these diverse struggles have common enemies has been used positively to build alliances. But for the past decade, partially due to successful use of jargon, conservatives have used this one attribute to slag a host of progressive movements and pit them against one another. This overtly political perspective has been smuggled into everyone's minds and language including not only the mainstream of society, but also Left, progressive people. Without thinking about it, we strengthen the worldview that we oppose by using its language. But we can also learn from this example how a well-placed phrase can do so much work in changing how people view the world. . We need to take heed of this example, and follow it for our own purposes.
We know who we are; we who have used and debated the term. And hopefully we can put it to rest. It belongs to the Right and it oughtta stay over there. Presumably the Left, from liberal through progressive to radical, might benefit from defining new terms and appropriating old ones.
1) Can we start with Queterosexual? Is the word useful, beautiful, valid, already in use? And what does it mean?
2) ‘Queering’ pronouns: Kate Bornstein suggested, in Gender Outlaw, the use of the gender-neutral pronoun hir, widely in use on the board, and from personal experience is acceptable within the academy. Bornstein also suggested ze (in place of he or she), a somewhat less appealing term. S/he is similarly unappealing, but better than ze, he or she, she, or alternatiung between the terms. Does anyone know which, if any, are in use; particularly within feminist and queer communities.
3) Do y’all think this is worth doing?
[ 09-07-2001: Message edited by: [Your Name Here] ]