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How much sympathy is left for people who still like traditional gender roles?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Mythopoet, Nov 23, 2015.

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  1. Nimue

    Nimue Auror

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    I'd like to disagree that zero diversity and pandering are the only options, as though you can't possibly have a good book with genuine diversity in it...

    Also, it'd be good to know in what context you're being told to read a book based solely on its diversity? If you're referring to those lists of diverse books that go around every so often, you may have to consider...that list isn't necessarily for you. There are kids and teens and people out there who have been waiting to see themselves reflected in books. Assuming that it has no value because you don't care about it is pretty narrow.
     
  2. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    They are called "consumers" and are perfectly correct to express their opinion of your product.

    If I say to you a Lada sucks because it does not have ABS brakes, it does not mean that I have to build a better car or any car to have a say. Did Ralph Nader have to build a better car when he wrote "Unsafe at any speed."? Do I have to build a car before I get to say "Holy Cow, those Pintos are exploding!"?

    I could go on for pages with the analogies but I think you get my point.

    And with television and movies I think there are very serious issues with the way both gender and race and represented, and I am grateful for educated consumers and activists who point this out.

    I think with fantasy literature it is a tad more complex.

    I freely admit there are people who get outrageously offended on some very tenuous slights, but there is also lots of fiction that is misogynous, racist (directly or indirectly) or just plain tone deaf to groups with real concerns.

    If you suggest the consumer who takes the time to speak out is lazy, how lazy is the writer who simply parrots the genre and leaves aside any deeper considerations or worse doesn't even take the time to think about how their work will impact people?
     
  3. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    I will go out on a limb and answer your question.

    The book that lacks diversity that should have diversity is worse than the book that panders.

    The book that panders is simply shallow and annoying.

    The book that ignores diversity can be harmful.
     
    Nimue and qWirtzy like this.
  4. Miskatonic

    Miskatonic Auror

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    And who determines whether a book should or shouldn't have diversity?

    Give me an example of a book being harmful because it ignores diversity.
     
  5. Devouring Wolf

    Devouring Wolf Sage

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    I'm not saying zero diversity and pandering are the only options. There are plenty of stories that have characters which are diverse because the author likes writing diverse characters, but there are also quite a few books that feel like they're pandering. What I was saying is that books that lack diversity completely are better than books that pander in my opinion. Books where the characters are all stereotypical straight, white males might be a little boring, but I find books that pander offensive.

    I never said books that include diversity have no value. Contrary to what you may believe, I rather enjoy fantasy not based on the typical medieval European model. Diversity is definitely a point in favor of any book that can do it well, but some people pretend like it excuses bad writing and non existent plot or that a lack of diversity is necessarily bad.

    Maybe I'm unique in that I take issue with the idea of a book being marketed to anyone on the bases of "look the main character is just like you". I believe everyone should be represented in fantasy, because like any writing genre it ought to reflect the multiple facets of the human experience, but I find the idea that characters in books represent me because they share my sexual orientation/ gender/ race/ economic status ect. offensive because these things do not make me what I am and I resent the implication that they do. My values make me who I am. Books about diversity are a breath of fresh air, but I take issue with them being marketed towards children like something holy.
     
  6. Ban

    Ban Sir Laserface Article Team

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    As long as you don't portray your worldviews as if they are the one and only truth in your fiction, then no one except for a few fanatics will care either way. For example, no one will think of you as a lesser writer if you choose not to write lgbt couples. If you don't start the discussion, by for example stating that you believe gay marriage to be wrong in your book (which would be an extraordinarily badly thought-out move anyway), you won't be criticised. Just don't poke the hornet nest and you'll be fine.
     
  7. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

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    Nimue and Heliotrope, it's good to know that you two do not personally look down on the housewife, but in my experience this is not how the majority of feminists are. I have experienced far more condescension from feminists than I have acceptance. So I'm not sure that you two are truly representative or whether there really is a "modern feminism" that is better than "the old feminism". It just doesn't ring true with my experience.

    In addition, this thread isn't about "diversity" as such. There are all kinds of interesting spectrums of human experience than I love to explore. But gender and sexuality is one of the defining issues of our times and more and more the places on the internet I go to act like if you don't accept the mainstream view of these things you might as well be less than dirt. I started this thread because I was interested to see what you guys as individuals think about an author who doesn't subscribe to the mainstream view of these things and just wants to tell stories while maintaining gender and sexuality on the traditional side. This isn't about sales, or audiences really. I'm more interested in having person conversations about what this makes you think about an author.
     
    Dark Squiggle likes this.
  8. Ban

    Ban Sir Laserface Article Team

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    Do you want a completely honest answer to that question?

    I don't mind that you're a housewife in the slightest. As long as you can provide for yourself and your family somehow than that is good. The social and emotional education of one's child should always be most important. If one has the financial means of course.

    However when it comes to your other worldviews i whole-heartedly disagree. Equality for all regardless of sexual orientation or gender identification is something i find very important. Without becoming too political here, i believe that gay people should have the same rights as straight people. There is nothing that makes them less capable of being loving spouses and parents.

    If you write the world in such a way that it makes a statement against these things then i would certainly put the book down and never read it again. Your ideas as a writer might be uncompromisable, but then you should also accept that i won't compromise mine as a reader either.
     
  9. Devouring Wolf

    Devouring Wolf Sage

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    It's true you don't have to know how to fix something to know there is a problem. I don't have a problem with people people bemoaning the lack of diversity in TV and movies or stating what they don't like, but I hate it when they expect pre-existing content to change because they think it has a problem. I hate a great number of "strong" female characters. I rant about them constantly, but I understand that this is my personal opinion and not a problem other people should be addressing. It is not the author's job to fix their portrayals of women because I don't like it. They should be able to portray woman however they want no matter how offensive I find it. I can say I don't like it, but rather than asking them to change it, I should create original content that has female characters I do like.

    You can tell people what you want, but don't expect them to make it. No one is obligated to meet your standards.
     
  10. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

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    How about if I write in a world where my views on these things are just part of the background, never emphasized, but there are no homosexual relationships and no gender fluidity. Not as an agenda, but just missing from the way the world works. Would that bother you? Would you decline to read such stories?
     
  11. Ban

    Ban Sir Laserface Article Team

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    That wouldn't bother me at all. Most traditional fantasy has no such things whatsoever. The problem only comes when and if you write the world in a way that makes it seem like these things don't exist, because they're "wrong". If you are adamant about not portraying certain things than make sure you go all the way and never even mention them. Better yet don't even come close to mentioning them, because people will criticise you for it if you do. And as a beginning writer you certainly do not need that kind of negativity in reviews.
     
  12. NerdyCavegirl

    NerdyCavegirl Sage

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    I'm in a very different though similar position. I was raised Catholic and Evangelist, but while I agree with many things in the Bible, I realized a long time ago that it is fundamentally flawed. While inspired by God, it was transmitted through the human brain. I now consider myself a primitivist/rewilder both spiritually and politically, and you can't get anymore traditional than that. I believe that through cunning and/or hard work, men and women are capable of attaining equality in many areas, but that we were designed for different tasks. I enjoy sewing, cooking, and gardening as much as I like stalking someone in the woods and attacking them. I don't believe in marriage, but energy has no set gender and all consensual love is valid. I'm bi, many other natural species are, and I've always thought exclusive homosexuality to be a safeguard against overpopulation, which is a major problem and why I'm also an antinatalist. I'm sure my work reflects all of this and I don't care. :p
     
  13. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    The answer to your first question is "the consumer."

    I would rather not give specific examples because that is simply unfair to the author and that is not what I am trying to achieve. But the simplest example is a book set in the modern US in which the MC never encounters any gay or characters of colour of significance despite travelling and encountering many people.

    That would be at the simplest and least harmful level. It gets worse from there.
     
  14. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    Absolutely. But I can chose not to buy their product, I can encourage other people not to buy their product, I can publically criticize their product and I can suggest how they can make their product better. I can also tell their publisher or sponsors that I find their product deficient or offensive.

    Last time I checked there was not PC oversight committee that controlled the publishing/broadcasting industry. There are just people trying to influence those industries, some who you might call progressive and some who you might call conservative.
     
    Nimue likes this.
  15. Miskatonic

    Miskatonic Auror

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    I don't consider a consumer, as I said previously, someone who pays little to no attention to the story or the quality of the story, and instead focuses entirely on whether it meets some diversity standard. To me that looks more like an idealist looking for ammunition to condemn and shame an author, or the company that published the book.

    So every time someone travels they are guaranteed to run into a particular group of people? And what if they have a negative opinion of these people and state it in no uncertain terms? Is that harmful as well?

    And what if consumers have no interest in increasing diversity? Are they "uneducated" consumers then?
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2015
  16. Miskatonic

    Miskatonic Auror

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    Better according to your subjective beliefs.

    Progressive is another one of these terms that I wish would be replaced. As it stands it connotes only a positive. As if the alternative is backwards and negative.
     
  17. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Seems to me that books with traditional roles do just fine in the marketplace. It's nice that those aren't the only books we have, and I can understand why authors want more and more to break out of that mold. But there's nothing wrong with writing those stories if that's what you want to write. If the book is good, I'll read it whether the gender roles are traditional or not.
     
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  18. Miskatonic

    Miskatonic Auror

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    I'm a huge Clive Barker fan and he has dealt with sexuality in a wide variety of ways. I'd say he was rather ahead of his times when it comes to introducing characters of different sexual orientations, both as MC's and supporting characters. Especially in the horror genre.
     
  19. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    In the world of writing, and human nature, one should be prepared to accept that subjective beliefs are very important.

    If you are looking for true objective evaluations of your product, writing fiction is the wrong field.
     
  20. DeathtoTrite

    DeathtoTrite Troubadour

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    Not at all. Plenty of authors have done this just fine. Hunger Games and Harry Potter both come to mind (barring later statements by J.K. Rowling). Game of Thrones just sort of has gay characters more as a ''historical'' note than political statement.

    I have a story set in Victorian England, featuring no obvious LGBT characters. Racism is rampant. I don't condone either of these things, but I'm not going to make all the important characters my mouthpiece for everything wrong with that time and place.
     
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