Beef with the Phrase, "Sensitivity Training"
by B.J. Delas Armas
on 11/04/2007 05:57:00 PM
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Usually to prevent or buffer the tension after racial, ethnic, cultural incidents, employees undergo something called "sensitivity training."
I have a problem with this phrase for this activity. Why can't they call it something more rough and appealing like Getting-your-dumbass-educated Sessions?
I've never been through one of these trainings, but the name saps its importance and immediately attracts criticism by the same crowd who cries about the increasing "political correctness."
The phrase "sensitivity training" doesn't exactly inspire anyone to change their point of view because it doesn't sound very powerful or particularly enlightening. Makes it seem as if they're going to be at a park picnic table with flowers, over a cup of tea, talk, and learn the art of flowery ways of speaking. They're not going to have any important realizations, they are just going to be trained.
It's a triply tough pill for the hyper-testosterone politically incorrect-yelling rebels to swallow.
First the training itself, tells them to stop being dumbasses. Given what passes for news, I'm not sure regular people are ready to give up their right to be ignorant in public.
Secondly, the word "sensitivity" invokes feelings of softness. It's associated with femininity, which is associated with powerlessness. People are not going to want to or learn anything when they feel powerless or disempowered. In fact I think some people would be even emboldened to continue their ignorance or "insensitivity" after a "sensitivity training." It's their way to say fuck you to a training that in their minds practically threatens to chop off their politically incorrect kid holders. Males in general, don't really like listening to females. Males who hate political correctness definitely don't want to play what they think is a gender role associated with females.
Thirdly, the "training" part of the phrase exacerbates the problem. It's as if it's a rote activity to remember in case there's a test. It implies that you're only learning actions instead of substantial reasons behind the actions. The training implies you're not going to make any new revelations, which is probably what it would take to actually stop a way of thinking.
Taken together, "sensitivity training" implies a number of things. You will learn how to act, even though you still feel a certain way. On a deeper level you are being drilled on how to and what to feel. I'd imagine a self-proclaimed politically incorect person's instant response to a phrase like "sensitivity training" is that they're going to feel however they want to feel. In that sense they are right: You can never argue with yours or anyones' feelings. People will come in with a mindset already thinking that the way they feel about race, ethnicity, and other cultures is what it is and it's not going to be changed.
As a result, the content to be taken in during a "sensitivity training" comes off as something trivial and pointless, something people of many races can just get over to the convenience of the politically incorrect.
If this phrase weren't so disarmingly namby pamby, I'd bet you'd open up half the population to being more open minded about the training. If they framed it in terms of an education, I'd bet more I'd see more people advocating on its behalf.
I'd call it Seminars for highly evolved human beings.
Labels: Jena 6, Keying in on Language, Media Discourse, Racial Misunderstandings