Political correctness is a doctrine “which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a bit of shit by the clean end”. In my opinion, political correctness is a major inhibiting factor when interpreting and applying bureaucracy and common sense (often the ingredient missing of lots of decision making) into our daily life. This ultimately can affect our wellbeing.

Bureaucracy on its own does have its place, however at times it can limit how we do things because of the many layers of rigid rules that may complicate getting the job done on the ground. This occurs in everyday life whether completing tedious processes, filling out pages of paperwork, or dealing with a system that appears to be more focused on processes rather than helping achieve an outcome. 

When a disaster strikes (catastrophic fires late 2015 and early 2016) and other personal health and safety issues arise in our life, layers of bureaucracy are not always helpful, they can exacerbate an already tense environment. We have spoken to many blokes who feel both frustrated and restricted in their reactions to these disasters because of the many layers of procedures that had to be adhered to. Common sense was taking second place!

The point about the effects of this political correctness doctrine, is that it enshrines both bureaucracy and common sense and quite often masks/dilutes what should be done and said and can also inhibit robust discussions.

Blokes, by our own nature are hard wired to be action orientated, i.e. we want to solve problems, and we want to do stuff now. Once this is stifled by political correctness, a few things can start to happen:

  • normal stress can become distress;
  • short cuts can be taken (with increased risk);
  • we inhibit our natural problem solving process;
  • blokes shut down and stop seeking help (we go into our cave and don’t come out).
  • It creates an “us versus them” mentality.

So where have we gone wrong and how can we make changes?

  • Don’t allow political correctness to mask what should be done and said. Sometimes we have to be critical and blunt about our processes to keep them relevant and up to date.
  • Bureaucracy should facilitate what we do, not dictate how we do it (not create barriers and thus frustrate people who are trying to deal with a challenging situation at the coal face).
  • The common sense rule should be applied to everything we do. I repeat, apply it to everything we do.
  • People/communities have the innate ability to band together and deal with stressful situations. This should be fostered thus empowering individuals and communities rather than disempowering through micro-management and removing them from vital decisions regarding their own lives and local community.
  • “Language” is always important. Appropriate language that can be understood needs to be used. A robust discussion is vital to air all points of view and to prevent the same mistakes being made again.

Remember at the end of the day we are responsible for our own wellbeing. Hopefully these suggestions, encourages communities to claim back some responsibility and ownership. This would bring about positive change not only in blokes lives but the whole of the community.

Owen and the Team

The Regional Men’s Health Initiative
delivered by Wheatbelt Men’s Health (Inc.)        
PO Box 768, Northam WA 6401            
Phone: 08 9690 2277                
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