Doctor Love: Confused

Sunday, December 8th, 2019

Readers, email your question to [email protected] Your letters are edited solely for grammar, spelling and length.

Dear Doctor Love,
I’m an older woman and I really don’t know how to socialize without feeling like I have to weigh and censor my opinions. It seems like any discussion of current events becomes a debate about political correctness. One example is, the other day someone in our group said that restaurants and bars in San Pedro should put in gender neutral bathrooms. I said that San Pedro needs to address the limited wheelchair accessible bathrooms and stores first before worrying about accommodating such a small percentage of the population. This started a whole conversation about how I was being insensitive. The more we talked about it, the more people added their two cents and the hotter it became. To be completely honest, I don’t understand any of this stuff. I don’t want to offend people but it seems that any way I think is wrong or “politically incorrect.”
I’m too old to keep up with all of the new trends but I don’t want to come across as biased or racist or whatever you call it. I don’t want to change people or interfere with however they choose to live, I just feel like everything today is a huge issue and people are waiting to jump on anything that isn’t what they consider sensitive to others.
How many others do I have to be sensitive to? How do I discuss topics and not walk into a minefield of hurt feelings and offended people?
/s/Confused

Dear Confused,
The term “Political Correctness” came about in the nineties and whether you choose to try to understand it or ignore it, it’s here to stay.
The idea of political correctness in its loosest form is to try to right the wrongs that have been accepted for decades in the way we speak and think—discrimination by default. One obvious example is how much of our language accepts gender-specific words—words like chairman or fireman. It could be discouraging for a woman to apply for a job as a chairman. If we change the way we refer to someone who fights fires from a gender based word to an all inclusive identity then nobody can be offended. The better word is “firefighter.” Once you’ve gotten used to “chairperson” you realize that changing from the gender-specific “chairman” wasn’t a big deal.
Yes, the times they are a-changing. Start trying to identify those instances where discrimination and bias are accepted and learn how to adjust the way you think. Maybe instead of saying whatever pops into your mind, you’d benefit from listening to other sides of the debate first.

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