I Am Not Politically Correct
An un-PC spoken-word performance about the PC culture today. First delivered on 23 Feb 2019 at InkQbate 2 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Best viewed on PC/Mac/some computer. #justsaying
my fellow storytellers, artists and all lovers of humanity.
(Including Brooke Schwartz for writing a most beautiful piece about the BS that is “BNBR”, and Kitty Hannah Eden because, indeed, “Being a Decent Human has Nothing to do With Gender”.)
those who believe in me, who believe in my candid self, my uncensored voice and ultimately in the power of truth.
my teacher Datin Siti Suleiha Suguna.
Am I safe here?
Am I safe to speak here?
Is this a truly safe listening space
for voices unheard, for unfiltered honesty, for uncensored personalities to speak out loud and proud…?
Is this really a safe space for truth to prevail,
above all else?
I am asking because I am not politically correct.
But I am diplomatically cautious and poetically concerned about the state of our honesty today.
I am concerned about our personal sincerity and frankness
in sharing the truth about what we actually know;
especially about the subjects not found in school — subjects for kids aged seven and up.
can I be seen and heard as outspoken?
And not be mistaken as “opinionated”?
Because I am a work in progress. About things to be confirmed. To be continued. My voice is subject to change.
For serious inquiries only.
For age eighteen and up.
But, caution — drink is hot.
(Although, if you can handle it, satisfaction guaranteed. ;)
I would like to speak faithfully to you.
Without discrediting any of our sagacity, our spontaneity, our humanness.
I would like to be honest and frank for once;
as unapologetic as the late George Carlin, the greatest poetic American social commentator I know to go under the disguise of a loud-mouthed and brash comedian if only because
he cannot help but be candid about his unpoetic reality.
And, boy — does the truth hurt.
Although, mainly to those who feel the sting.
Siapa yang makan cili, dia yang terasa pedas.
— Malay proverb
The one who tastes the chili — for whatever reason — feels the burn the most.
honesty doesn’t have to hurt.
So long you kill your ego and open your heart to listen, that is.
And think, thoughtfully, considerately, before you even try to respond (and not just react).
…are you listening?
Because I speak not just for myself:
I speak on behalf of the people who envy those who speak brazenly in public view;
through their phones and dictaphones — thinking out loud as they communicate with the former, whom the latter can barely fathom, also, just
why on earth so many of us would rather self-censor and self-police our messages to a point where we feel so much more comfortable to stab at our phones or stare at an inanimate screen for hours on end…
…than it is to have a five-minute phone call…
…just to say hi to another human being?
Why do we persecute ourselves?
I speak on behalf of a Singaporean friend — and many others — who told me as of last week that she, I quote,
cannot even write a confessional piece which she fears may be too confessional for public consumption;
so she will need to edit it before putting it on Medium.
Why should we persecute ourselves?
I mean — do you guys know what Medium really is?
Medium is meant to be an international open platform for storytelling. It was created by, I quote and paraphrase:
…Evan Williams, a co-founder and former CEO of Twitter, to encourage users to create posts longer than the then 140-character limit of Twitter. In 2012.
For crying out loud, Medium acts like a YouTube for writers and readers and lovers of words!
So why are we writers, especially, persecuting ourselves?
Even before anyone else does?
Where is the real freedom of speech here?
In a supposedly “democratic country”?
In a supposedly “pro-liberal” and “understanding” “post-modern” global community?
Okay, let’s forget about the verbal speech for a second:
[Any Australians here?]
I also speak for a Filipino Aussie friend,
who is disallowed by the local LBGTQIABCDETC — okay, I’ve lost count of the acronym updates here —
— basically, the queer and homosexual community he’s living with judges him openly for dressing his baby daughter in pink,
even though he just likes the colour,
even though he just felt like it.
So what if a guy likes the colour pink?
Is that wrong to begin with?
- Heck — okay, this quote wasn’t mentioned at the time of performance, but I shall put it here for all to see:
An article titled “Pink or Blue,” published in the trade journal The Infants’ Department in 1918, said that the generally accepted rule is pink for boys and blue for girls. “The reason is that pink being a decided and stronger color is more suitable for the boy,” it said.
— “The complicated gender history of pink”, by Puja Bhattacharjee, CNN
Again, is pink wrong to begin with?
Did it come with a gender arbitrarily attached to it in the first place, as with the gender of his daughter since birth?
Yet, some of these supposedly disenfranchised people within my Filipino Australian friend’s community think he is trying to condition his daughter into “heteronormativity” and are not okay with it. And, till this day, he can’t even walk together with his half-Chinese daughter without people staring him down…
…wondering who her real father is.
I have a friend whose sister is in Canada;
giving pride to her transgender friends by insisting in her self-introduction to every single person she meets that she should be called by the pronoun ‘She’.
Just in case.
As if her straight-ass “heteronormal” self can be confused for some LGBTQIA-whatever.
I wrote an anti-Valentine’s Day vent and got it published on Medium;
after vetting it through a male American editor.
I have a friend who claims to be a proud “egalitarian”,
a downright “feminist” in South East Asia,
who would not let go of her perceived over-generalisation in my article headline. Even after reading my article and admitting that it’s not what it seems.
Just because I titled my very obvious vent as “I Want Men To Man The F Up”.
Even though I clearly concluded my personal story with “I wish more men would man the fuck up.”
More. Not all.
And I’m only just getting started with the confessions of these crimes against my and our humanity.
I can give you a million and one other personal testimonials and examples of social persecutions against simple frank honesty around the world, but most significantly,
isn’t it sad
that I… we… even need to explain myself,
defend my and our truth,
no matter how harmless or innocuous it may actually be
in the bigger picture?
Just in case.
Look, I get it —
from a legal standpoint, we all need disclaimers to cover our asses just in case.
Just in case someone misconstrues or misunderstands what we mean.
Just in case some dumbass can’t see eye-to-eye with our perspectives and also can’t. just. let. us. be.
Without a good fight.
It’s not personal,
it’s just business,
But wait a second —
if it’s only business,
if it’s only legalese where disclaimers really matter,
how or why on Earth do we all need to become walking and talking disclaimer generators now?
In our everyday lives?
In fear that we accidentally-on-purpose — whatever the fuck that means — attack our audience’s fragile ego?
Unintentionally pick on their closeted, deep-rooted psychological issue in relation to whatever the fuck we wanna talk about?
Regardless of the fact that we are just trying to speak from the heart,
to the hearts of willing listeners,
about what really matters to our humanity?
How can we apply agenda,
all these mental, societal constructs
which are limited by our worldview
to something as vast and essentially infinite and fundamentally pure
as the human heart?
How on Earth can I speak with all my heart
without a single doubt,
by being primarily politically correct then?
especially when “correctness” as we know it is such a subjective thing in the first place?
No, my friends of humanity.
There is no truth in political correctness.
The fact that this so-called “correctness” is preceded by “political” to begin with should raise a lot of questions — even if subconsciously so — to the consciously aware.
The fact that this diplomacy-policing terminology is called “political correctness” should concern anyone literate and sensible and sincere enough — in other words,
it should concern an educated person of real integrity.
Because the term discounts the benefit of the doubt for the audience’s critical thinking ability.
It discounts even the messenger’s sincerity and integrity. Sagacity.
The fact is,
no matter how considerate and thoughtful we try to be,
you and I know that we cannot please everyone in this world.
Commercial break / Author’s note:
- So, right after my first public performance of this whole piece (as mentioned in my sub-title above), at the end of the event, I was approached by multiple people of different faiths and genders, including members of the LGBTTQQIAAP/LGGBDTTTIQQAAPP (etc.) crowd — both artists and non-artists alike.
The first people to approach me personally were from Syria. I was amazed — because I was and am painfully aware of the contentious overtone of my clearly not-so-PC speech/message. Yet this Syrian and her queer Syrian friend, thanked me enthusiastically for saying all that I say (well, except for this bit and certain edited bits, and you’ll see why in a bit), because
“there’s a lot of political shit going on in my country, so what you said really resonates with me. Thank you, thank you. During the whole time you were speaking I kept going, yes, yes, yes, that’s exactly on my mind [too]. So, are you going to put [your speech] up online? I would love to read it later.”
She wasn’t the only one asking me that question; hence, why this whole transcript (and then some) exists at all for you dear sensible lovers of free speech and critical thinking.
- Now, why am I putting in this addendum then?
Why am I “suddenly” seeming reticent to just go straight to the point?
Because, when I first tabled this formerly-unedited transcript to certain American editors I used to work with on Medium, I was cautioned strongly about the seemingly “combative” political nature of my piece.
It was clear to me then, as far as the rest of the online world and I are concerned, the topic of gender identity and equality is very much at the heart of all ‘social justice warriors’ (SJW) of America (in particular).
Medium came from America, and therefore I understand if many historically marginalised others from this region might feel somehow “targeted” simply because I have cited some real-life examples which may not paint these increasing acronyms of identity in the most positive light—but please remember that I’m not trying to target any individuals associated.
- And, guess what, darlings? I, too, am a disenfranchised marginalised other within my own so-called “democratic” country (which, FYI, is a façade for a totalitarian/authoritarian/autocratic hegemony for the last 60+ years since our Independence Day from the British imperialists) where the local authors — especially Chinese Malaysian authors — “tend to self-censor … because those who stay at home run the risk of political retribution for their work”.
So the last thing I would intend for anyone on Earth is to shut down their personal truths as well. So, please, if you can, hold your judgments on my entire presentation here and read/listen well to me first.
- I know I may sound very outspoken (not “opinionated”). But, I feel — and I hope you can see my overall message in the big picture in the intended light (see, I’m aware that I can’t simply throw the word “right” around anymore these days, without risking social persecution for being “subjective” or “biased” or “bigoted”);
I hope you can see that I am merely trying to speak my personal truth which evidently seems to hold some global resonance/value for numerous others as well (judging by the warm and personalised reception I received in open public, even from people who self-identify to fall under the category of the acronyms I was just being sardonic/irreverent about #ysoserius).
- What’s my overall message/premise?
The freedom of speech/expression in the world today, worldwide, is not truly free after all.
Even when we are simply expressing ourselves from the heart.
- This brings me to my next point:
Why should your right to freedom of speech
trump a trans-person’s right not to feel offended?
in order to be able to think,
you have to risk being offensive.
I mean, look at the conversation we’re having right now … You’re certainly willing to risk offending me in the pursuit of truth;
why should you have the right to do that?
It’s been rather uncomfortable.
You’re doing what you should do, which is digging a bit to see what the hell is going on!
But you’re exercising your freedom of speech to certainly risk offending me — and that’s fine. I think more power to you as far as I’m concerned.
by being [primarily] politically correct,
we override our pure unadulterated truth;
in the name of niceness,
Speaking of tolerance, let’s look at Malaysia for a second.
Dian Zaman is a founding member of IMAN, which is a think tank of social research and policy-making in Malaysia and South East Asia.
Dian Zaman wrote in her latest book, Holy Men, Holy Women, the following quote:
Much has been said about the country and its tolerance for the many faiths practised by its people.
Malaysia makes for a fantastic advertisement on multiculturalism…[but]
note the word ‘tolerance’.
Herein lies the root of all the problems this country faces.
Now, consider the fact that November 23rd last year is the day our country leaders gave the biggest middle finger to the human rights advocates at Uncle UN’s house, when some of us said boldly on November 4th:
Consider also the fact that a few weeks ago on February 15th, a Penang mufti managed to shut down a local play which “featured comedy sketches of couples discussing relationship, marriage and social issues, [even after] the police said the play did not contain pornographic or obscene elements and confirmed that it was only a comedy sketch.”
if “tolerance” is indeed the root of all our growing nationwide and worldwide issues,
and if Malaysia is indeed “Truly Asia”…
…you know what?
Sooner or later, we Asians — and all who idolise us — are all screwed.
So, no, my friends of Humanity, Truth and Love.
I am not and I refuse to be politically correct.
So long as I want to be honest with you, from one global citizen to another on this earth,
as someone who cares about our general wellbeing and personal evolution,
I cannot be politically correct.
Because in doing so,
I am censoring not just my personal truth,
but your truth and also the truths of many others who may want to have as many or more balls than I figuratively have
to think and speak out loud, too.
In the present and the future.
More than ever before.
let me ask you again:
Am I safe here?
Is this space sacred enough for the truth to prevail?
Above all else?
I am asking only because I know that when we focus on our ego, our pride, our prejudice, our anger, our jealousy, our hatred and especially our fears …
…we become blind to what really matters.
I know that when we put ourselves before the truth,
the truth can never prevail.
Allow me to conclude my confession with two beautiful quotes and a song:
You gotta speak up /
even if your voice shakes /
You gotta stand up /
even if your world breaks /
Be there for one another /
we’re all in this together
— “Speak Up”
Thank you for listening.
Have a good day.
Also know as Phoenix Li, Jolin Kwok is a Chinese Malaysian scribe by profession and a storyteller by vocation. Her storytelling style is experimental, egalitarian and viscerally evocative at best, and is not limited to poetry or prose or creative non-fiction. If you enjoy her thoughtful words, kindly “clap” up to 50 times — or more — on each of her Medium posts (so more people can read this), and consider buying this author a nice cup of coffee here (so she can keep writing creatively, freely).
Thank you for your support!