1. Welcome to the Fantasy Writing Forums. Register Now to join us.

Bigotry and inequality in historical settings (with article)

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Feo Takahari, Nov 8, 2015.

  1. Feo Takahari

    Feo Takahari Auror

    There might be multiple mindsets involved here. Take the thread in World Building about a society with no bows and arrows. I didn't contribute anything because I don't know much about defensive tactics, but I've also written a society that never invented ranged weaponry, and I had a lot of fun writing fanciful swordfighting scenes with no bows or guns to render swords inefficient. In the thread, a whole bunch of people posted about how bows were invented thirty thousand years ago and it's implausible for a society to not invent bows.
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2015
  2. MineOwnKing

    MineOwnKing Maester

    I'll put a toe in the water...then I'm heading right back to the beach.

    A fictional purgatory from desire, could be compared to the classic struggle between good vs evil, something that many modern writers are trying to avoid in their stories.

    In the real world, the desire to survive, is fulfilled in part by advancing through the stages in the spectrum of personal power and by allowing oneself to submit to the will of beings that dominate with good intent.

    If one adheres to the popular notion of gray, why then avoid writing about good vs evil, and yet run to the idea that a sapient being could be so selfless that they would not even show enough desire for pleasure without first subconsciously categorizing what desire is derived from, including:environment, level of intelligence, age, instinct, character, and most importantly power and all the beneficial nuances of personal power through relationships, intimate or not and negative or not?

    How can all these items be factored in without character biases, equaling some form of sexism or bigotry even at the microscopic level?

    The negative side of our reality is that people can be taken advantage of, mistreated, physically harmed, etc.

    But, we are fiction writers and can make a reality whatever we want it to be.

    If we want to sell more than one copy, we need to connect to a fan base.

    Here comes the tricky part.

    When it comes to literary entertainment, what people want in life, does not equate to what people need from their fantasies.

    Reading a fantasy novel is just as valid a way of getting off, as is physical intimacy, and so the same rules apply, which are as follows: there are no rules to private pleasure, literary or otherwise.
  3. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

    Not to mention that anything can be taken the wrong way. Even by accident. What one person may feel is harmless, another may take to mean something it was never intended to mean. Especially if, because of past experience, one is sensitive to those sorts of issues.
  4. Miskatonic

    Miskatonic Auror

    I'd try and focus on the origins of the relationship between the two groups and what the catalyst was that made these unfavorable views of each other possible. Combining this with what is going on in the present should paint a larger picture that's more realistic.

    I can't stand it when the reason some group is bigoted towards another is overly simplified.
  5. Velka

    Velka Sage

    One of the reasons I enjoy Agent Carter is for how it demonstrates the very real challenges she faces being a woman in the "boys club". Every day she walks past the ladies on the switchboard (a respectable occupation for a woman at that time) and into a world that she must fight tooth and nail for every shred of respect she earns. Sure, at times it can make me squirm, but that's a sure sign that they're doing it right.

    This thread has made me think of where I include this kind of tension in my work, and where I haven't, but maybe should.
  6. evolution_rex

    evolution_rex Inkling

    Even in fantasy where there isn't sexism, homophobia, and racism, there are usually metaphors. Where humans of all colors get along and no one cares if you're a woman or gay, you still may have a separate species which is oppressed in some way.

    Oppression and revolution are extremely common themes. So in my opinion, I'll never understand why bigotry would be frowned upon in someone's work when the bigotry is portrayed negatively.
  7. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    Sure, but that doesn't mean that every human experienced oppression and bigotry, nor that they perceived oppression and bigotry even if they experienced it. For example, tribalism runs deep. People inside your tribe are Good, people outside your tribe are Bad. A person in tribe A would experience the bigotry of tribe B, but he would not perceive that as bigotry. He would perceive it as being perfectly sensible.

    That said, it would indeed be absurd to write about a historical society that was completely free of bigotry. That is, to write a story that made a point of this, built character interactions around it, constructed plots upon the premise. One might try to get away with that in a fantasy world, but not one with pretensions to historicity.

    In my own story, I have Romans and barbarians. Most Romans are pretty contemptuous of the barbarians, but that doesn't prevent individuals within my story from growing a bit and changing their attitudes a bit as a result of direct contact. And those characters don't prevent others in the tale from being outrageously exploitative, or arrogant (the barbarians have their own prejudices about Romans).

    But none of that is a priori. It derives from the needs of the story, not from any sort of external agenda. If I really felt the need to write about gender bias or racism, I'd write a story about contemporary society. It just seems a more natural fit. I don't expect a literary novel to say anything about elves, either.

Share This Page