In a lot of ways, I am a PC person—probably more PC than most. Depending on the people I am talking to, I may come across as uptight and educated to the point of being an elitist. I do demand certain standards of acceptance and tolerance, but to some, I may look naïve and void of a backbone to stand up for what is right all of the time.
The way I present and explain myself varies depending on the time and place and my audience. I’m a walking, talking, breathing billboard of queerness and LGBTQ advocacy. I have no patience for misogynistic bullshit. I actively smash the patriarchy. I know the importance of listening to and seeing people who live in the margins so I can be of service in their fight for equality and equity.
But I’ll be damned if I don’t love a good dirty joke. I have the perverted mind of a hormonal teenager. And I can’t help but notice a great set of boobs. Here’s the thing: I am not always PC, but I am always a good human. Are these two things mutually exclusive?
I like dirty jokes with double entendres, even better if they assume or embrace homosexuality. Raunchy jokes are funny, and they open the door to relaxed (and fun!) conversations about all kinds of sex. I played rugby for years; it was not only a place of LGBTQ acceptance, but it was a sport full of LGBTQ players. The songs we sang at the post-game socials were filthy. They placed Jesus in uncomfortable situations, sang praise to cunnilingus, and highlighted the plethora of ways one may enjoy S&M. But they were shouted with affection and glee as straight and queer arms were linked and beers were clinked with teammates and rivals.
At the end of the day, no one cared who anyone went to bed with, but we did want to know what kinky shit people were into. Because an orgasm is universal, and talking about all the ways to get one allowed people of all orientations to feel included in a basic human desire. Being un-PC with friends made sex and sexuality easy to talk about.
I am also a loyal listener of Howard Stern. He is a genius and I absolutely love him. He got his reputation for being a shock jock because of his sexual content and a guest line-up that featured rock stars, strippers, and porn stars. But if you get over his “shocking” content, you will see that he is brilliant at exploring sexuality and exposing our natural curiosity to it. He has an amazing ability to examine human nature through taboo topics.
Some listeners may be drawn to Stern just by the sexy subject matter; those listeners are not always very educated or open-minded—honestly, some are truly just perverts. But therein lies Stern’s genius: he is a sensitive man who goes to therapy and isn’t afraid to cry, he stands for LGBTQ rights, and he demands race equality. He sucks in listeners with crass humor while influencing them for the better. He educates the uninformed and forces people to examine their prejudices. Sex doesn’t just sell; in this case it turns borderline bigots into liberal-minded allies.
Being raunchy or inappropriate does not disqualify me from being a feminist. Neither does watching porn. I am not saying I dig all types of porn—I will tell you the kind I like another time—but some of it is really good. It’s hot. The right kind normalizes the way I have sex. It helps me feel more comfortable in my body and sexuality. I do not lose respect for women by watching women have sex. I do not forget the importance of consent. And while I am seeing women and men as sexual in the videos, I know people are not for objectification. Watching other (paid and consenting) people get off doesn’t make me a deviant; it makes me curious and human. I can watch porn and still have a healthy relationship with sex and the people who have it.
Giggling at dick and vagina jokes, pointing out the truth and humor in stereotypes about race, religion, and sexuality, and poking fun at the things we don’t think we can talk about don’t revoke my progressive card. Besides, how progressive can we really be if we don’t understand the nuances of our differences?
Being seen is a huge component to being understood and respected. I am not suggesting we make fun of or belittle any segment of the population, but there are topics that intersect these segments that can be laughed about together. And of course, whether something is a “joke” depends on who’s says it and how it’s said.
It’s okay to let go of the notion of being politically correct all of the time. If we do it right, we can find commonality in humor. We can be inappropriate without being degrading. We can talk about sex without stripping away someone’s right to say no to it. We can examine oddities of what we don’t understand. All of this depends on the person delivering the joke or the message, however. It’s okay to think some things are silly, but understanding the messenger and the true intention behind what they are saying is critical to things being funny versus ignorant and bigoted.
We can’t really laugh until we get the joke. And getting the joke means getting people. I don’t watch my mouth or shy away from what people might consider to be crude and low class, but I don’t care. I get the joke. I get people. I will take that understanding over political correctness any day.
Being too politically correct can be more harmful than beneficial. It creates unnecessary tension and takes away our ability to communicate. Sometimes we are so sure we know what the right and just thing is to do and say, but that idea might be too out of reach for someone else to understand. Socioeconomic status, faith, race, and political parties divide us and make it hard to see that we often want the same thing. Common ground is found in the ability to laugh at the stereotypes that often define us in spite of ourselves. The answer is yes. Being crass can pair well with human decency.