When I was growing up, it was a big deal for a woman to keep her "maiden name" after marriage. I changed my name from Jaben to Bratcher, mainly because it was really important to my husband. I preferred Jaben, taken from the Polish Grzbznrsch or some thing like that, changed in the early 20th Century when many in my dad's family emigrated from Poland to escape pogroms. My husband did not and it was not worth an argument to me.
I considered myself a "feminist" of the early 1970's, meaning I believed in equality for women. I did not burn any bras nor did I march in protest, I just wanted to excel in my profession and be treated with respect. My husband and I divided duties. While he always worked, as a lawyer, I usually earned more and definitely worked more hours. I took primary care of the kid's education, welfare, etc. I loved being a mother. My husband did more chores around the house. It worked for us. I am a feminist. During this time, though, "feminist" became a dirty word. Rush Limbaugh called us "feminazis." I always wondered what scared him about strong women. "Feminist" was considered ”politically correct" and people ridiculed the Term. In my book, feminist sure beat the derogatory words used against women, "bitch," "c--t," honey with a patronizing look, sweetly with the same look.
Women in the past did not have the same legal rights as men. Women could not vote until around 1922. Before that, women were considered "chattel" or property of their husband. Women could be whipped by their husbands and upon marriage, the property of the woman's became the man's property. The saying goes that when a man and woman married, they became one person and that person was the man.
More outrageous conduct was committed against African-Americans and other non-Caucasians. Slavery, slave-like labor, ridicule, punishment, and disdain comprised the lives of non-Caucasians in America. The reverse was not true against Caucasians. Caucasians, especially most Protestant Caucasians in this country had most of the power and were never oppressed nor enslaved. Calling a white man "honky" lacks the same bite as calling an African- American the "n" word, or calling a Latino "wetback", or a Muslim "camel jockey."
We must look to see which group has been oppressed before someone cries foul because of "political correctness." We haven't all had the same power. Slurs effect the traditionally down-trodden much more than the powerful.
Why can't we all just reverse roles, a psychodramatic device, to gain some empathy. As the song goes, "Walk a mile in my shoes..." The n word and sexual orientation slurs like "faggot" and "queer", have a greater impact than some white guy being called whitey. African-Americans, Hispanics, gays and lesbians have endured centuries of insults, violence and even enslavement at the hands of those in power. All disrespect is not created equally.
My mother's family had to wear Stars of David to segregate the Juden from the Gentiles in Nazi Germany. The emblem itself was not anathema to Jews, it was what it meant in society. One who wore a Star of David, had his business, his property and ultimately his life taken from him because of what the star symbolized to the Nazis. Words are symbols. Words can maim and kill, or lead to mass killing.
Political correctness is necessary as long as their remains prejudice and racism that divides people. I certainly don't condone the reaction to the recent insulting Anti-Muslim film. However, if we all treated others and other religious beliefs with respect, because people deserve respect, think about how many innocent people, including the American Ambassador to Libya, would be alive today.