It was just another day at the office. Salesmen sat around the table, exchanging stories of past negotiating conquests and embellishing the oddities of customers we’d encountered over the years. One seasoned salesman recalled riding along with a particularly strange colleague with a habit of asking uncomfortable questions. The worst of them?
“He turns to me in the car and says, ‘What would you say if I asked if I could suck your dick?’ I just stared at him. ‘What the fuck are you talking about?’ And he says, ‘I’m not going to do it, I’m just curious. What would you say?’ And I just told him, ‘Look, you can’t go around saying things like that. You’re making me uncomfortable. People are going to think you’re weird.’ Weirdest fucking guy. He’d just say stuff like that. He never would’ve done anything, but he’d say the strangest shit.”
I listen to this and wonder: how many men like this one would ever reflect on that experience and think, Is that how I make women feel? Is that how it feels to be hit on or leered at or asked wildly inappropriate sexual questions disguised as casual conversation? Probably not many, I guess. I actually started to pose the question out loud (amid the cacophony of reactions from around the table) when the whole scene was interrupted, as if on cue, by a woman in her early twenties walking down the hall off this conference room, prompting the same salesman to remark, “Oh yeah, I’d get with that for sure. Damn.”
Yeah. I’m sure he had spent considerable time musing over the impact of unwelcome sexual conversation.
It’s hilariously sad. He never thought about the uncomfortable, threatening climate he creates for women, even when he experiences a watered down version of that treatment from another man. Why not? He doesn’t have to. He is part of the powerful controlling class. Men. Hetero men. Hetero white men. Hetero white evangelical men.
Wait, no way. He’s not an evangelical. Oh come on. Of course he is. He’s at least more welcomed by that sect than an empathetic, considerate, kind homosexual man would be, and much more likely to share the same fears about homosexuality and tolerance for blatant sexism.
I bring evangelicals into the mix not because sexism reflects their core beliefs or the majority of their flock (though both may very well be true). I do so because they’re in power and have been for a long, long time. As much as hardcore evangelicals claim to be persecuted, they have no clue what persecution is. What they perceive as marginalization and mistreatment is simply a loss of power in the overall fight for America. They have slowly lost their dominance, but with the election of Trump, whose true evil core is far more representative of evangelicalism than most would like to admit, they’ve wrestled quite a bit of that power back.
The fight in America takes place on three battlefields: what we see on TV, who controls the White House and Capitol Hill, and what we’re allowed to say at work. Forget foreign-policy, healthcare, education, and taxes. All that is along for the ride aboard the pop culture train. Most people, I contend, don’t care nearly as much about reality as we do about how reality is portrayed. Television, workplace conversation (fueled largely by TV), and the balance of power in Washington collectively make up our thermometer of cultural norms.
If you are a white evangelical, you want no gay kissing or sex of any kind or swearing on the TV, a Republican president who does not get criticized by the lying media, and you want to be able to tell female coworkers, “You look cute in that skirt, sweetie,” without getting written up for sexual-harassment. Right? That is the gist of Donald Trump’s evangelical America.
I don’t want to use the term other side, because there are a lot of different perspectives in this country, but there are a whole lot of people who can agree that all of those things are horseshit.
And this is where evangelical correctness comes in: the rules of language and presentation. Chief among the fallout of America’s worst political mistake (the entire 2016 presidential campaign, start to finish) was the verdict that many Americans are sick of political correctness and the general attitude that we the (evangelical white male) people can be told by anyone what we’re allowed to say, do, or believe. This is, of course, a stance reserved for people who think homosexuality is a sin, transgenderism is a joke, Islam is a violent hoax of a religion, racism is dead, sexism is a nonissue, climate change is a myth meant to undermine the true promise of rainbows, evolution is one part theory and 99 parts assault on the Bible, abortion is murder when done by doctors but God’s will when doctors are unable to prevent its natural occurrence, and healthcare is a privilege not a right (and certainly not a responsibility). The cultural mandate that ensures the opposite of those views dominate television programming and acceptable work (and social media) conversation has marked a significant blow to the former power stranglehold on the culture, and evangelicals hate it.
Political correctness demands showing consideration to women, minorities, all sexual and gender orientations, ethnicities, classes, scientific realities, and religious beliefs without preference to the prevailing cultural religion.
But my religion says your lifestyle is sinful. Your religion also says you aren’t in control, you are not to long to be in power, you are to give away all your wealth, and you should mind your business and seek to be at peace with everyone.
Evangelical correctness says, vote republican. It says no homosexuality in public. No talk of sex (the occasional lewd hetero reference is okay but frowned upon). No breastfeeding in public. Merry Christmas is essential. Happy Ramadan is blasphemy. Happy holidays is offensive. Don’t say fuck, goddamn, asshole, or cocksucker, and don’t even teach me what cunt means. Prayer in school is ok, as long as it’s to Jesus. You can always say the pledge. You also have to. Oh, and all races and faiths are okay as long as they’re dressed like rich white Christians. And we should be allowed to use the words Oriental and retarded. You know I don’t mean it offensively.
All of those norms revolve around the perspective and experience of the evangelical while dismissing the feelings of everyone else, everyone not in control of the norms. Evangelicals have no qualms about telling everyone else what to do, what they can say, and what they must believe. They can because they know they’re right. Everyone else, though, should shut right up.
Over the past few decades, the power has gradually shifted to be more female- homo- trans- science-friendly, and that’s scary for people whose sense of faith and country are so intertwined.
It’s time for all people to accept that human rights, the basic sense of universal compassion and empathy that true political correctness attempts to uphold, takes precedence over the sensibilities of the ruling religious class. Evangelicals don’t have the right to oppress anyone and should stop fighting for it.
Stop being that guy who says, “You can’t say those gay things. They make me uncomfortable,” and then proceeds to make other people feel uncomfortable. See the other perspectives and empathize. It’s the Christian thing to do.