Political Correctness

I say I am a bleeding heart liberal, but actually, I am not so sure about that these days. Oh, I still believe in the goddess, motherhood, Gloria Steinem, the American flag and apple pie, but I am not as tolerant as I used to be. Back when everything in my world was black and white, and shades of gray were the province of those hidebound old fogies in my parents generation.

And I don’t walk the talk. One wall of my house is covered with my collection of Indian Maiden prints, calendar art from the 1920s, that depicts these tall, willowy, scantily clad Caucasian beauties frolicking about the forest. Probably not the most sensitive art for archaeologists to have – especially if one of them consults with various Native American tribes on a regular basis.

Well, experience is a harsh mistress. I have managed to learn a few things along the way. In many life situations where I want to blame someone for being an idiot, there are often extenuating circumstances. Plus I am too tired to fight all the little battles I used to take on with such fervor. I think I am still basically a decent person. I vote and I volunteer. I donate to charity. But I don’t have patience when it comes to the small stuff. I am not as meticulously politically correct as I once was. I have seen too many instances where it has been carried to extremes.

I have personally endured my share of lewd comments and filthy jokes and homophobic rants in the workplace, and getting pissy never really improves the situation (However it does make you feel better to vent, and I’m all for venting). Of course, it depends on how bad it is, and who is doing it, and when, but there are always several ways to deal with things, short of castration with a letter opener or Marshalltown trowel. But we can go into dealing with asshats some other time.

Mr. GG has suffered more than I have. Like the time his bosses made him give fashion advice to Tube Top Tina. Tina was one of his employees who had a penchant for wearing (what else?) tube tops, and the kind of stilettos I call “Do Me Now, Right This Minute!” footwear to the office. You have to understand, this was your regular, staid, federal building, and though some people enjoyed her joie de vivre, others most certainly did not. The bosses were especially worried about one old guy, Walt, who was really close to retirement. When Tube Top Tina ate her lunch in the break room, Walt used to sit in the corner and hyperventilate. He had high blood pressure, and nobody wanted him to have a coronary at work. So Mr. GG had to take Tina aside and speak to her about appropriate office apparel. Maybe you have to know Mr. GG, but trust me on this, this situation is rife with irony. Mr. GG is in no way the Tim Gunn of archaeologists. No way. (One time when we were really poor, I let him cut my bangs, and I spent the entire summer looking like Moe from the Three Stooges). However, he sucked it up, had the little fashion session with Tina, and Walt lived to retire.

The one that really frosted me, is what I call the Tampax Incident. Mr. GG had a crew of two women and one guy working in the woods, and one of the gals asked the guy to stop at a convenience store so she could pick up some Tampax. Now, on the one hand, I applaud this woman for being so empowered, and on the other, well, she’d just met this guy, and couldn’t she have said she needed a bottle of water, or some personal items? The guy made a smartass remark. I don’t know if he was embarrassed or just a jerk, but next thing you know a grievance has been filed for sexual harassment, and guess who gets the blame? If you chose C) Mr. GG, you would be right. And we were on vacation at the time. We weren’t even in the continental 48. So Mr. GG comes home to a can of worms (or a box of Tampax), and next thing you know, the bosses have him all set up with Sensitivity Training and Sexual Harassment Workshops.

He had to talk me out of suing the government. Talk about rights! I married Mr. GG, not some sensitive, new age wuss! They had no right to alter his behavior! If they didn’t watch out I was gonna take them to the cleaners for mental cruelty, alienation of affection, and possible loss of consortium! Boy, was I mad. And nothing happened to Ms. Tampax. I would have been gunning for her, too, but she filed her grievance and flitted off to some other forest. Luckily for all involved, the sensitivity wore off, and I got my REAL HUSBAND back.

It is stuff like this that has influenced my present ambivalence about being politically correct. I weigh it against common sense. Being a parent has also reinforced the idea that you need to pick your battles. So these days, I will take a stand on blatant racial or anti-gay sentiment, but I let a lot of other stuff slide. I might indicate that I think the offensive person is a bigoted idiot, chauvinist or Neanderthal – with a gentle smile and a hint of steel in my voice. Then I drop it. Like my mom always told me, you catch more flies with honey.

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