I was clearing out a cupboard in the basement when I came across a zippered case full of cd’s from my daughter’s high school years. I tossed it onto the passenger seat of my car and started going through them. The first was the Boy’s to Men song of the above title. And I thought, aw, that’s so sweet. How woke of them! It’s like they looked ahead and saw how things were going to change in the world. Well behaved men would ask permission before making a romantic move. Though I should really credit Babyface, aka Kenneth Brian Edmonds for the foreshadowing–he’s the songwriter. But still. The boys did a lovely job. I assume they’re all men now.
It got me thinking. Things are changing pretty quickly, and I’m having trouble keeping up with the movements of the day. And the language of the day. (I can picture my sister Linda reading this and jumping to her feet. ‘No! Don’t go there! We’ve talked about this! (We have, indeed.)
It’s true that I often suffer from hoof in mouth disease, and why should my writing be any different? But one thought led to the next and suddenly I was immersed in the bewildering world of political correctness. Don’t get me wrong, people. I don’t want to find myself bombarded by posts from incels high fiving me because someone is finally validating their belief that women owe them sex. Because, you know, women are alive. And they owe them this. Nuh uh. (Although, I do feel sad for people who can’t find love. But that’s a whole other story.)
I’m talking about the rush of the world as it speeds toward a more compassionate way of being. The way that boys are now being raised to be considerate, to ask for permission before kissing a girl, and to view women as deserving of the same jobs, the same pay, the same respect. This was not always true when I was little. As I said in the first paragraph, this also applies to sex. The whole song is pretty racy, and I don’t want to break any copyright laws, so go check out the lyrics. Okay. They’re not THAT racy. But I’m the woman who took many decades to realize that so many songs of my generation were actually about sex and that’s what all the background moaning meant. Who knew?
Anyway, back to the point I was originally going for. Some of us are afraid of making mistakes in this kinder, gentler world we’re all aiming for. We don’t want to call people of other colours and races by the wrong names, we don’t want to mislabel others of various sexual persuasions. I worry that we (meaning I) will turn away from a conversation simply because I’m afraid I will say something wrong. Perhaps those of us who err on the doofus side should wear signs like those carried by cars with new drivers. Something like, I have a kind heart. Forgive me if I hurt you. Tell me what I did wrong and I’ll do better next time.
Okay. That’s a bit long for a sign. But you get my meaning.
There are also people offended by those who practice cultural appropriation by doing some of the following: Wearing blackface. (Justin!) Copying someone from another race, like how people dressed up as Beyonce before the word got out that it wasn’t nice. Guys dressing up like Dave Gunn (from Flin Flon) for Halloween. Does Dave mind? Weigh in here if you do, Dave. We need to know.
There are those in hot water for writing about someone else’s cultural/racial experience. Like author Jeanine Cummins. Her book, American Dirt, is about a Mexican woman and her son escaping to the US because their lives are in danger. I don’t want to give too much away, except to say that it’s a terrific read. Some Hispanic readers were upset because they didn’t see this as her story to tell. As an author, I can’t buy into that argument. If we only start telling our own stories, the world will be a very boring place. Think of Communist China under chairman Mao, where everyone dressed the same and ratted on their parents if they weren’t walking the party line. It feels dire, that kind of censorship. I might feel differently if the book was terrible, but the writing is stellar, and the story a real page turner. It doesn’t mean that someone else can’t their own version of what it’s like to ride the Beast across Mexico. But why should the world not get to read this book? I’m backing Stephen King on this one.
I’m happy that the world is moving in the right direction. I especially hope for a really big change on Tuesday, the day of the American election. There’s nothing like the leader of the country next door bragging about how he doesn’t ask have to women for permission, he just moves in and grabs them by the you know what. Does that set the world back about 75 years? More? Sigh. Here’s a good guideline to follow. If he does it, it’s probably best not to copy him.
In the meantime, I love you all, dear readers. Forgive me when I hurt you or disappoint you. I’m trying to outgrow my cluelessness, but it’s taking me a while. And finally, I’ll respond again to the title of this blog post by saying this: I’m old fashioned! Go ahead and kiss the girl! Okay, I’m being heavily influenced by the Little Mermaid here. Wait…is that bad, now? Sheesh.