• Helen Field

To Be Politically Correct ...or not!

Updated: Jan 19

It came to my attention early on in the writing of my debut novel The Mystery Shopper & The Hot Tub, that I had an important choice to make; to write as I wanted or give in to the PC brigade.

When I look back on my life, it’s hard to come to any other conclusion, than that I have always been and still am, a forthright, opinionated and irreverent kinda gal, who tends to see the funny side of most things in life. This has meant that when others have chosen to keep quiet, minimise their views or not challenge and confront controversial or questionable things that people say or do, I have thrust my head above the parapet and fearlessly spoken out. I guess my underlying belief is that my opinion is no less valid than anyone else’s. It may be different, but an opinion can rarely be plain right or wrong.

For example, I own a fur coat. I didn’t buy it but I do wear it. I came by it whilst clearing out my Mother-in-law’s flat after she passed away. I love it and it’s the warmest coat I have ever had the pleasure of wearing. It was perfect for my month in Finland last winter.

I will wait for the hate mail to arrive.

I also have a keen sense of the ridiculous and enjoy making others laugh by pointing such things out – I’m a bit like the equivalent of a modern-day court jester. This is particularly problematic in the world of creative writing. It appears that this sector is brimming with politically correct people who are quite frankly terrified of writing anything at all that might offend. Well, that kind of puts the kibosh on writing a novel really. (Lionel Shriver wrote about this very topic in The Guardian a few years back.) These days it seems to me that there is a group of people in society who are actively looking out and waiting to be offended by as many topics as possible. I have no idea why.

If I had listened to them all, I would never have written my debut novel, which has already been enjoyed by a number of people. Some authors put warnings in their book descriptions, but in my case, I fear the list of subjects that might offend would overtake the actual description of the story. Everything from the ‘f’ word to a crude reference to oral sex, to a chauvinistic viewpoint of a character, to poking fun at the class system, bottom slapping, the use of cockney rhyming slang by a non-cockney, using a visual stereotype of an ‘Essex Girl’, pervy behaviour from male characters… the list goes on.

I actually describe my book as ‘irreverent’ in the first line of the book description. A fairly standard definition of the word is ‘having or showing a lack of respect for someone or something that is usually treated with respect’ – a hint to readers that if you’re prudish, humourless, hypersensitive, easily offended or politically correct then you’re unlikely to enjoy my writing. So probably best not to buy my books but look elsewhere for laughs. No-one who doesn’t enjoy ‘irreverent’ should buy a book that states clearly that it is ‘irreverent’ and then complain that it’s ‘irreverent’ - duh!

Trouble is, my 20 years of work in training and human resources involving the profiling thousands of people has proved to me that many people are really quite deluded and lacking in self-awareness.

So, I will continue to plough my own furrow and know that ultimately, I will win some readers and lose others.

Thanks for reading!

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