Saturday, July 14, 2007

Politically Correct

Heterosexism is the latest addition to my lexicon of politically correct words. Google the word and you will find almost 600,000 entries. The ending of the word is intended to connect it with words such as racism. Heterosexism apparently is an ideologically motivated opposition any kind of non-heterosexual behavior. In practice it seems to be the sin of saying or implying that monogamous male-female relationships with children are in any way normative.

This is an interesting development. Back in the early 1980's when I was still teaching social studies we had an incident involving an individual teaching promoting his own version of history that happened to be highly prejudiced against the Jews. One of the outcomes for social studies teachers was that we were supervised more often (to catch anyone else who was promoting anti-Jewish ideas). Another outcome in this province was the promotion of tolerance and understanding as a key to a multi-cultural society. We were told that we needed to understand the basis for the differences in our society and to respect the rights of all groups to their own way of life. This is a bit different than the notion of heterosexism. Now the minority group does not seek to be understood or tolerated. Instead it seeks to make non-heterosexual behavior into a lifestyle that is equal in every way to any heterosexual lifestyle.

What has clearly changed here is any notion that there is a particular lifestyle or way of life that is "normal." This notion of society telling its members which behaviors are desirable and which are undesirable has been the basis for social organization (at least according to some sociologists). Clearly there still are some behaviors which we are still not prepared to condone as a society. (Think for example about pedophilia.) So the question is, does this new way of thinking about sexual lifestyles represent a new stage of enlightenment for our society? Or is this another step on the road to the disintegration of our society? Does my difficulty accepting this new way of thinking reflect homophobia on my part or does it reflect my socialization? If we used the "slippery slope" argument here does it follow that any choice regarding sexual lifestyle should be accepted as "normal" including those which we demonize today? I hope not.

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