Political Correctness An Extended Essay

884 words - 4 pages

The Australian Modern Oxford Dictionary (2003, p. 683) defines political correctness as the ‘avoidance of expressions or actions that may be considered discriminatory or pejorative to any minority or disadvantaged group’. The idea of political correctness has been attributed to many people and movements throughout the years. However with each new decade that which is and is not discriminatory – and therefore politically correct - changes. Each of these new changes has affected the Australian workplace. New laws have been introduced and old laws have been altered according to society’s view of what is right and wrong. In turn, people have been hired and fired according to these changes. This essay will examine society’s changing views on political correctness and the effect of this on the Australian workplace during the 20th and 21st centuries.In 1902 the Franchise Act was passed in Australia allowing women but not most ethnic minorities or Indigenous Australians to vote. By 1965 all Indigenous Australians were declared Australian citizens and had the same rights as non-Indigenous Australians. In 1966 married women were permitted to be employed. By 1972 women were entitled to the same wage as men for doing the same work. The Franchise Act recognised that women were equal to men at least to vote. While in 1966 it was decided that it was no longer politically correct for married women to be banned from being employed. Thus the ban was lifted. Each of these changes were landmark decisions that changed the Australian workplace. Although the term political correctness was only invented in the late 20th century, the idea of political correctness has existed for centuries. These changes in Australian law were made because a prominent portion of the Australian public of the time felt that it was politically incorrect for the situation to remain as it was.In 1986 the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission Act was passed. This was designed to ensure that discrimination in the Australian workplace was punished and ideally eradicated. This allowed for a fresh wave of political correctness. Society became more aware of everything that was said and done and whether it could be interpreted as discriminatory. For example, it was no longer politically correct or legal to assign a person different tasks from their co-workers because of their skin colour or gender. Nor was it politically correct to give someone a nickname on the basis of their skin colour or gender. Previously a woman may have been nicknamed Betty because she was a woman even though it had no relation to her name.However political correctness is not always simple and it is often a matter of opinion. While one person may think that is politically incorrect for a joke to be made about their race, another may not. That is why the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission Act 1987 exists. It decides what is and is not acceptable. For example, a...

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