Why I'm Drifting Away From Social Justice
Updated: Dec 10, 2019
Happy New Year!
I hope everyone has spent a wonderful time with family and friends during this holiday season. The new year always brings resolutions, and I’m sure many are especially motivated to get things done. That’s good. Let’s keep the good work going.
I unexpectedly found myself on holidays for two weeks and I enjoyed the time away from work by resting. My Fitbit is honestly congratulating me for sleeping so much. I don’t even think I’ve yawned once for the last week. I have been trying to keep busy as I can, although I have found myself bored more than once. I am terrible at entertaining myself for too long, so in a way, I am happy to go back to work. There’s only so many yoga classes you can attend in a week; you know what I’m saying?
This time off would have been the perfect opportunity for me to think more about this blog – but of course, I didn’t. I still have no specific idea as to where The Curious Métisse should be heading. There are ideas swirling in my head, but if there’s one word that would describe me best at this time of my life is indecisive.
Although I might not know the direction I want this blog to take, I know what I don’t want. In that sense, living in Canada has slightly changed my worldview. I have already talked about this topic in my post on political correctness. Political correctness (or PC for short) is the idea of avoiding to use expressions or commit actions that could – potentially – exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are discriminated against. Although the concept definitely comes from good intentions, the term is usually used negatively, implying that those policies are excessive or taken too far.
Well, Canada would definitely be considered the champion of political correctness if you ask me. It creeps through all aspects of everyday life and it gets heavy, absurd even. This censorship is sometimes used so excessively that it has made me averse to the most ‘progressive’ thoughts and actions. Ah! What an irony. After all, I am among the first beneficiary of the social justice movement. Not only am I a woman, I am also a visible minority and an immigrant in my current country of residence. Life might be comfortable enough for me right now, but it would have sucked fifty years ago. Duh.
So why am I not a fervent supporter of the progressive agenda that is currently sweeping through North America? Because of ridiculousness like this news article: Here's how to pronounce my name, and why it matters to me. The title pretty much says it all. Among the many things you may be doing wrong while interacting with other people, one of them is mispronouncing a name.
I have to admit, at first I was curious. I also have one of those weird names that nobody seems to be able to pronounce right on the first try. It gets easier once they see it written, but it usually takes a few tries for anyone to get it right – and remember it. That’s why I sometimes use my nickname when introducing myself. I also use a different name whenever I order coffee. At the moment I’m stuck with Maria, but I’m thinking of switching it up. I am open to suggestions!
I got however disappointed as I read through the article. It was rather obvious that this was just another of those articles that aim to raise awareness on issues that shouldn’t be considered issues in the first place, and then goes on about teaching people that the polite, socially aware and respectful way you should call someone is with a perfect pronunciation of their name, or else you are clearly no better than the worst of racists.
This is just one example out of many that I have witnessed recently as I navigate through Canadian culture. Another was earlier in December while I was at work. We were having a training session and discussing the common mistakes our students make in French. One of them was their inability to differentiate ‘il’ (he) from ‘elle’ (she) when summarizing conversations between a man and a woman. One of my colleagues joked that realistically, students should be allowed to use ‘il’ for a women and ‘elle’ for a man as after all, there was no gender in Canada. I thought her joke was particularly on point and the room seemed to agree based on the laughter that followed.
Of course, my colleague’s comment should hold true in the sense that gender doesn’t matter. Furthermore, transgender people should have the right to decide whether they identity with their biological sex or with the other, and they should be allowed to do so at all time. The same goes with any minority, to be honest, would it be racial, religious or sexual. Everyone should be allowed to live their life as they see fit and everyone else should respect that as long as it doesn’t hinder their own freedom. That’s not what we were laughing about, let me be clear here.
The absurd reality we live in is that I am almost a hundred percent sure – and I think my colleagues would agree – that a student could argue that they should not be required to use gendered pronouns at all because it would be discriminatory to assume one’s gender based on their voices… Because that’s the kind of rationale that is being used everyday in this country.
That’s what the PC culture is all about, really. We now live in a world where you can and are justified in being offended because someone that has never seen your name in his entire life cannot get it right the first time. I live in a country where I can face criminal charges if I use the wrong pronoun to refer to a person – and yes, this is also something I have ‘endured’ myself, as most people I send emails to don’t know whether my name indicates a woman or a man, and they often assume I’m a ‘Mister’. Is it annoying? Certainly. Do I wish they would get my gender right? Well yes. Do I think they should face criminal charges because of it? Absolutely not.
In summary, that’s why The Curious Métisse cannot continue the way it has so far. I cannot be exasperated by nonsensical arguments about how the French language is sexist and should therefore be completely reviewed AND write about social justice at the same time. It doesn’t feel right.
I’ll continue to brainstorm in between French lessons. In the meantime, I wanted to share a little mantra I learned during my last yoga practice of 2018. Don’t hesitate to repeat it whenever you feel lost, and hopefully 2019 will be your best year yet!
May I be healthy
May I be happy
May I be at peace
May I be free