|photo by Katie Tegtmeyer||via PhotoRee|
Can I say mad?
Reading over the protests against the proposed SOPA / PIPA legislation recently my thoughts wandered from censorship to the limits society put on what we say or write.
Example 1. In the times BC (before children, not before Christ!), during a particularly busy day at one of the bases I worked in I said “Jeez! It’s like Paddy’s Market in here!“. A hush fell over the colleague with me. “You can’t say that!” she whispered, looking around to make sure no-one had heard my faux pas. I was baffled to be honest! “Jeez? I didn’t mean it as Jesus, just erm like gosh?!“.
“No, you can’t say Paddy’s Market! It’s may upset someone who is Irish“.
Jeez! I did explain that my Father was Irish and that as far as I know it’s not a hanging offence to utter such a thing but the PC police had spoken.
Example 2: When doing my counselling training, we split into groups and proceeded to brain storm ideas for …… No we didn’t. We were informed by the tutor that Brainstorm was no longer respectful as it may belittle those with epilepsy or similar conditions. I’m now told “Mind” isn’t the correct term, so “Thought shower” it is.
Example 3: Englishman, Irishman, Scotsman jokes – for many these are a no go. The stereotypical way the Irishman is always portrayed as “dumb” and the Scotsman as a tight-fisted whisky drinker is unacceptable (jokes about the death of Amy Winehouse, the Riots, Bin Laden etc are fine, because these are just funny though).
Perhaps I’m missing the point?
I’m not talking about blatant racism / sexism etc, I’m talking about once common terms that seem to be unacceptable now but it’s not always clear why. Sometime it seems that people find fault where there is none. Perhaps I’m being blinkered and such things are offensive and I just can’t see it as well as others.
I’m a freelance copywriter when I have my professional hat on so of course have to be mindful of these things, it is very important to not add anything in that may cause offence however with the goalposts constantly hanging, who is to know what the next no-can-do thing to say or write will be?
What do you think? Are there any examples like mine above that make you groan or am I behind the times and need to wake up to the political correctness revolution?
* I was taught many of the Englishman / Irishman / Scotsman jokes by someone who is Irish. I never once got cross about the Englishman being the one who seemed to always miss out on all the fun times.
Today’s guest post is from Cass who writes the hugely successful (and great to read) blog The Diary of a Frugal Family. She writes about her experiences of cliques. Does her story sound familiar?
I’ve always thought that cliques existed in most areas of society – I guess it’s natural really that like minded people gravitate to each other, close friendships are formed and it’s difficult for outsiders to break in to the group once that’s happened.
But why is it difficult to break into an established clique, is it because the people in them don’t want to involve others? Is it because they want their little gang to be the ‘in gang’ that everyone else is jealous of? Or is it simply that people looking in perceive the group to be impenetrable and therefore, don’t bother to try and make friends.
I always thought it was the first two reasons but lately I’m not so sure after a recent experience with the school mum’s ‘clique’.
When my children started nursery, I worked full time so either my child minder or their Grandma used to take them and collect them afterwards which meant that I didn’t really get to know the other mums very much. By the time I changed my hours at work and was able to drop the kids off and collect them again, all of the other mums had formed their own little groups and even though I wanted to, I didn’t make any effort to be a part of any of these groups. I think I was intimidated and a bit scared if I’m honest, I’m a worrier and I always worry whether people like me or not.
Don’t get me wrong I’ve spoken to the other mums and both children always have plenty of play dates (is that what they’re called?) with their friends but by and large, at the end of the school day, my position in the school playground is usually at the back of the crowd away from the groups of mums – usually pretending to do something with my mobile so I don’t look pathetic all on my own.
Anyway, after the Mad Blog Awards last weekend where I met some gorgeously lovely bloggers who couldn’t have been nicer to me, despite my shyness and my annoying cough (since diagnosed as a chest infection) I decided that enough was enough. If I could go all the way to London to meet people I have only ever spoken to on Twitter before then I was pretty sure I could ‘infiltrate’ one of the school mum cliques.
So off I went to school on Monday afternoon to collect the kids and instead of taking up my usual position at the back of the playground, I marched (well, edged is probably a more appropriate description) up to the front and stood right next to one of the little groups. I thought about it for a bit, then took another step towards them and asked one of them a question, I can’t even remember what it was now but the mum answered me and another one of the group joined in. Someone then asked me a question about something else and by the time the kids came out, we were chatting away.
By the end of the week, I feel comfortable in walking straight over to them and joining in whatever conversation going on at the time, they’re genuinely friendly to me and I feel accepted. Except now, I don’t look at them as a clique, they’re just a group of women picking their children up from school – just like me.
I guess the point to this story is that it’s up to you to make an effort to get more involved and to befriend people. If you don’t you could be the lonely one stood at the back of the playground but if you do, you could be the one who is going to a girly night this week at one of your new friends houses .
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