“She’s going to blow…”

Today my son called me with a complaint. When I had driven in to work today, I had taken with me all the Christmas goodies, from half the leftover turkey, through a large portion of trifle, very carefully carried, to the rest of the mince pies. His complaint was simple…there was no Christmas cake.

“I didn’t make one. Haven’t for the last few years. It seems a bit pointless just for me.”
“I have to experience that at least once more in my life!” This was dangerously close to a compliment, but I forbore to mention it.
“Okay, I’ll make one next year.”
“You might be dead by then!” That was more like the usual tone… “Or they might have banned Christmas cake. We might have to have Holiday cake instead… it wouldn’t be the same.”

The conversation echoed one I’d had the day before.

Baa, baa, what sheep?”
“Rainbow sheep…”
“You’ve got to be joking. It doesn’t even scan…” But the pre-school had changed the rhyme anyway in the name of political correctness, just in case the word ‘black’ might be seen as a racial slur. In this particular case, the wool of a black sheep would have been of more value than that of a white sheep as it would have not needed to be dyed before use. Therefore, if there were any racial connotations, they would not be derogatory.

I understand that there may well be some question about the real origin and meaning of the nursery rhyme, with some asserting that it refers to a protest on taxation and others suggesting it may have something to do with the slave trade, although there seems to be no concrete evidence to support either contention. Even so, no three-year old would know about either of those historical issues, nor would they ever think about such things without parents raising the issue.

I had also just been informed of the call to rename Father Christmas as ‘Person Christmas’, to be more inclusive of non-binary gender fluidity. Although this proved to have been a light-hearted suggestion, the fact it had spurred public reaction tells its own story. Then I was told of the demise of traditional nativity plays in schools. They are being replaced with non-religious Christmas seasonal plays in a bid to include those of other religions. The debates have been going on for some time, but hearing about them in the presence of my little granddaughters really threw the situation into relief. Except, as even the terms ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ are now frowned upon as being overly exclusive and un-PC, I probably have to refer to them as the progeny of my equal-partner-in-parenting descendant or some such nonsense, not granddaughters.

Add to this the fact that I have spent the week quietly fuming at hypocrisy, for while the supermarkets are busily capitalising on the commercial phenomenon of Christmas, raking in every penny we can be persuaded to spend, they will only play seasonal muzak, not Christmas carols, in case they offend…

I thought about it a lot more over Christmas dinner, listening to the well-loved carols. Both my son and I remembered learning the words to our first carol as small vertically challenged children miniature adults, ‘Away in a Manger’, and we remember them still. I wondered if my granddaughters and children of their generation would ever learn these simple, beautiful songs or the story that they tell, because in our multicultural society, they are deemed to be capable of offending.

The Christmas story need not be exclusive and it should be one of hope. The birth of a child happens in every family… and many of those families struggle with poverty, difficulty and prejudice. Some of those children will grow into adults who will write their own names upon the pages of history, adding their gift to the human story.

I cannot help wondering whether, in the name of so-called political correctness, we are throwing the proverbial baby out with the bath water.

Even though my own views of Christianity are rather unorthodox, I still honour the Christmas season as a time of light. I love the old traditions and see in them the progression of belief evolving naturally over the centuries. Many of them have their roots in a time when Christianity was still unheard of from cultures where the Christian faith was not the only choice. The traditions are multi-cultural by nature, encompassing the folklore, myth, and faith from many lands and eras. This enriches them in my eyes as it makes them part of the continuing human story.

I grew up in an era when many good people, with no thought of harm, routinely used terms that would be utterly unacceptable today. Every minority group, both racial and social, had a series of epithets attached to them which undoubtedly caused distress and ultimately engendered both hatred and resentment. Fifty years ago, such terms were common and used without thought. They have, quite rightly, been expunged from the vocabulary of decent people and are now only used by those who do have a bias of prejudice. That expurgation, to me, is ‘political correctness’ working hand in hand with common sense, decency and respect.

Perhaps, instead of tying ourselves in knots to avoid any word, idea or deed that might possibly give offence to anyone, we might try, instead, to foster understanding, by teaching our children to respect and care for each other, celebrating the rich diversity of human experience, belief, culture and origin as expressions of a shared life.

By nit-picking every conceivable connotation, all we are doing is highlighting the differences, according them, instead our human kinship, the highest importance. We create fear of each other and of those areas where we differ… even if it is only the fear of giving offence.  Such fear is always going to be divisive, fracturing communities instead of bringing us together.

We have a very long way to go before we become a globally inclusive and equal society, but even in my own lifetime we have made huge strides in the right direction. I would like to see that continue, not slide backwards as political correctness demonises half the dictionary and many traditions. True equality will not be born by querulously sifting through our days, searching out the least sign of possible provocation. It will grow from that golden rule that is common to so many cultures and beliefs… that we treat others in the way we would wish to be treated, without thought of return, but simply because it is the right thing to do. It will grow when we look into the eyes of a fellow human being… and recognise ourselves.

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She has written a number of books, both alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at scvincent.com and on Twitter @SCVincent Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email: findme@scvincent.com
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58 Responses to “She’s going to blow…”

  1. I agree. There needs to be a little more sensible attention paid to what is genuinely offensive versus what is expressing the differences between people. Because girls ARE different from boys. They just are. It doesn’t matter how one feels about it it. And skin comes in different colors. Expressing the differences isn’t racism. I think the nit-picking tends to dilute real racism by making all of it sound silly.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. It all just gets to be too much. We have politically corrected ourselves to death!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Couldn’t agree more Sue. The PC situation has gone to the extreme. I am not a church goer but my friend invited me to her church to hear her partner sing and join in the festivities before Christmas. I happily went, met some friends plus old friends, and acquaintances who I hadn’t seen for years, shared a mince pie and a glass of mulled wine. An altogether pleasing experience that put me in the mood for Christmas.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. jenanita01 says:

    Not many other countries bend over backwards to avoid ‘possibly’ offending anyone, and we usually respect their right to do and say what is ‘normal’ in their country.
    What we really need, is a load more respect for our own traditions and beliefs…
    Just saying…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. One thing that makes me laugh (rire jaune) is how we go to great lengths not to mention anything like skin colour that might be taken as insulting, not to mention a person’s religion when they are a walking advert for it, never to assume that a child has two parents of different sexes, yet it is still perfectly okay for school reading books to be full of boys being active and girls being completely passive or ‘caring’. The last barrier to be broken is the one that affects the greatest number, and it’s still a long way from even being taken seriously. Human relations seem to be based on a huge dose of hypocrisy and fad.

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    • Sue Vincent says:

      We do seem to be getting a few stronger heoines and emotionally mature heroes… but not many. Oddly enough, I was just reading an article on wages. The average real wage for a woman 40+ is still ten tousand pounds a year less than her male counterpart…
      Instead of nitpicking over words, perhaps we ought to be adressing the real inequalities that still quietly persist in our society.

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      • You said it! Gay rights will come long before women’s rights in every country, even the rabidly Catholic ones, because women still count for very little, and even though gay men are the unspeakable as far as the Catholic (and probably all religious) authorities are concerned, they are still men, consequently higher in the pecking order than women.

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        • Sue Vincent says:

          One day…probably long after we two are gone to dust… the pendulum will come to rest around common sense…

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        • floatinggold says:

          You know there are also gay women, right?

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          • Of course, and they are probably even lower in the church’s esteem than gay men.

            Liked by 1 person

            • floatinggold says:

              Probably.
              So gay women might get their rights sooner than straight females. Isn’t that interesting?

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              • Depends what you mean by rights. They will get the right to marry along with gay men, but the right to have and adopt children will be a sticking point as it is for male couples, and a gay woman won’t have the right to an abortion or equal pay any more than any other woman. Her rights as a woman, in the areas that only concern women won’t be any further advanced.

                Liked by 1 person

              • floatinggold says:

                In the eyes of the church, you are correct. However, what got me on this topic was your initial post saying that gays are higher on the ladder than women. What did you mean by that?

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              • I was thinking about Ireland where a recent referendum made Ireland one of the first European countries to allow gay marriage. It was a huge triumph and seemed as though Ireland was finally throwing off the shackles of the church and becoming a humanist society. Then there was a proposition to change the very strict and archaic laws on abortion. It was rejected. The Taoiseach, who is not only of Indian descent but gay, is firmly opposed to women being allowed to terminate unless theiir lives are in danger. The mounting pressure has meant that the government can’t avoid holding a referendum next year, so we’ll see if public opinion is in advance of the political parties. It often is. It’s the contrast that struck me. You can come out in favour of a controversial issue where men are involved but something that is strictly a female concern gets no support.

                Liked by 1 person

              • floatinggold says:

                So you were just trying to say that men always have more rights than women, and not that “Gay rights will come long before women’s rights”. Strictly (gay) MEN. That makes more sense.

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              • Yes. I didn’t phrase it very well, but that’s what I meant.

                Liked by 1 person

    • floatinggold says:

      I get your point, but when I was growing up, those books were the same – depicting “traditional” family roles, but guess what? It was still made clear that YOU choose your own path. What would be your idea of a solution? A book with a “caring” boy and an “active” girl? How would that be fair to active boys or caring girls? Or should we have two different versions, depending on what the kid prefers? If one is educated intelligently, one knows these are just examples, not necessarily something they HAVE to follow.

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      • The point is that is there is only one model, there is no choice. There was a move to try and stop gender stereotypes in school books here and there was an outcry from ‘religious’ parents of all varieties because they believe that traditional role models are the only ones otherwise you end up with gay boys (their words) and girls who don’t want to be mothers. Educating intelligently surely doesn’t mean feeding kids the same old model and expecting that somehow they will know how to find a different way if they want to.

        Liked by 1 person

        • floatinggold says:

          I’ve seen all kinds of books featuring empowered women, so it’s not like they all are the same “stereotypical” men’s world. Plenty of successful women I know did not care about the roles portrayed in the books. They became their own person, anyway. Like I said, it would not be fair either to just show girls be strong and guys be nurturing and caring. That would frankly hurt both in the long run. Honestly, I don’t see a golden solution for this issue. And because of that, I would stick to the old system.

          And to go all out, yes, I think men are forcefully being turned into… not men.

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          • If girls and boys grow up to become their own people regardless of what the school reading books portray as models, surely that cuts both ways—if they show women as doctors and men as nurses sometimes it won’t change anything, will it?

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            • floatinggold says:

              Right. Sometimes it won’t. But demonizing the image of a female nurse and a male doctor is not the way to go. Kids do need some guidance. And the things is that boys are different than girls and are meant to be better than girls at some things while girls are better than them in other fields. They can both strive to become whatever, but there is a reason for why males and females do not complete in the same sporting categories for example. Denying a boy the right to be strong does not help the girl in any way.

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              • I understand your argument, but it seems to me that it is a defence of the status quo rather than a defence of equal opportunity. Is it demonizing when a girl is portrayed as a doctor, or only when a boy is portrayed as a nurse? One thing that has become very obvious, in France anyway, is that as soon as a profession becomes feminized, rates of remuneration and levels of prestige drop dramatically. Over the last ten years or so, the legal profession has seen a dramatic swing towards female appointments. Law is one of those areas where I imagine you would agree women can perform as well as men, but men no longer want to go into law because they don’t like competing for jobs with women (and losing) and because the rate of women entering the legal professions has meant that legal jobs are less lucrative than they were when it was an all male preserve. The logic being that women don’t need to be paid as much as men for doing the same job. There is absolutely no scientific evidence that male and female brains differ to any significant degree. The only thing that the latest and largest study has shown with any certainty is that male brains show a much greater variability than female brains, meaning that they are less dependable and are as likely to produce complete duds as geniuses. I believe that one day soon, the myths about gender differences will be busted and girls will stop being automatically placed second. I don’t want to do boys down and stop them realising their dreams, but I do want the same for girls too, and as long as they are taught in school that boys and girls are fundamentally different and destined for different roles in life, there will always be prejudice, stigma and intolerance.

                Liked by 1 person

              • floatinggold says:

                I don’t deny that females should get the opportunity of becoming a lawyer or a doctor. I also agree with you that there are some great female specialists and not so good male ones. However, to say that females and males have the same structural brain is not entirely true. And those two genders are generally wired differently, making these genders better at things the others are worse at. I know plenty of doctors, and believe me when I say it that both – females and males see the difference between female and male doctors. I’m not saying one is better than the other, but they are different.

                Liked by 1 person

              • Each human being is unique. All I’m trying to say is that I don’t hold with the traditional gender models that are still taught in schools which have lower expectations for girls and allow boys to be unruly and chaotic with indulgence, because boys will be boys… I’ve seen too much of that behaviour in the kindegarten and primary schools to have much faith that teachers will miraculously start treating boys and girls the same—not unless they are obliged by new teaching programmes.

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              • floatinggold says:

                Lower expectations for girls? Well I encountered quite the opposite. More expectations towards girls to have them strive for success. Chaotic with indulgence… some free spirited teachers they must have. No, teachers should not treat kids same/ different depending on their gender. Kids should be treated individually.

                Liked by 1 person

              • floatinggold says:

                Because comments with links can be marked as spam, I will send you some reading material. Just an example that saying there’s no differences or they are all the same is not true. http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/04/study-finds-some-significant-differences-brains-men-and-women

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              • This is the latest study I was talking about, and the only conclusions they draw from it are, as I said, that male brains show more variability than female brains. That and male aggressivity are the only real divergences. I’m not trying to say that men and women are exactly the same, but the very small differences in behaviour and between the sexes don’t justify the huge differences of expectation and esteem.

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              • floatinggold says:

                No, that is not the only conclusion. “[W]omen tended to have significantly thicker cortices than men. Thicker cortices have been associated with higher scores on a variety of cognitive and general intelligence tests. Meanwhile, men had higher brain volumes than women in every subcortical region they looked at, including the hippocampus (which plays broad roles in memory and spatial awareness), the amygdala (emotions, memory, and decision-making), striatum (learning, inhibition, and reward-processing), and thalamus (processing and relaying sensory information to other parts of the brain).”
                and “The controversial—and still unsettled—question is whether these patterns mean anything to intelligence or behavior” which the author is unable to address and what you say about aggression is only implied by popular culture, not real studies.

                Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh dear, what has happened to the world we live in? I think it’s all centred on money and litigation these days. People are frightened of saying that might be considered non PC just in case they are sued. Sad times.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sue Vincent says:

      Sad times indeed, Stevie. And meanwhile the real injustices continue, people starve and are homeless, children are hurt…and we worry over calling people, things and concepts by the wrong name…

      Liked by 2 people

  7. ksbeth says:

    yes, i so agree – and i have been drawn to the common concept of the light in all traditions, for as long as i can remember. i always teach my kinders about all of the winter celebrations and help them to discover the important role that light plays in each.

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  8. Very well said! Respect is a good thing, but this political correctness stuff is just getting ridiculous!

    I myself am not a Christian by any stretch of the imagination, and yet I not only enjoy some of the Christmas music that speaks of the birth of Jesus, but even shared some on my blog on Christmas Eve. To me, it’s beautiful music that speaks of hope. Everybody needs some hope… Especially with all the stuff going on in the world right now.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This PC is getting out of control. ‘Person Christmas?’ Can he still be jolly and gay without offending someone? I heard they couldn’t film a remake of the classic Dambusters because of the name of the dog. It’s part of our traditional heritage for heavens sake! Though I do quite like the idea of rainbow sheep, but even a rainbow isn’t as innocent as it sounds.

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  10. quiall says:

    I have no problem being inclusive but not at my own exclusion.

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