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What I'm Saying Is, The Search For Equality Is Pretty Messy

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by A. E. Lowan, Nov 12, 2013.

  1. Feo Takahari

    Feo Takahari Auror

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    I'd like it to be stated for the record that I don't agree with Jabrosky here. Overall, I don't think rights groups in general are hostile to or dismissive of the perspectives of outsiders--discrimination in that sense occurs more on an individual level, unless you go on the creepy sites that maybe six people actually read, or seriously piss someone off. [Insert complaint about Jabrosky and fetishism that you've heard six gazillion times and are royally sick of.]

    P.S. I almost added "go on Tumblr," but I'm not sure that's true. I'm not sure if the creepy feminists have Tumblrs, but I've only encountered the reasonable ones and (how I hate to say this!) a bunch of middle-class folks of European ancestry who talk "social justice" but are dismissive of voices other than their own.
     
  2. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    In general, aren't most groups and individuals, to some extent, hostile and/or dismissive of people who don't share their viewpoints? Again to an extent, simply saying "I disagree with your belief" can be considered, at its core, a hostile and/or dismissive act. Even if it's stated nicely, it's still conflict.

    Getting the conversation back to writing...

    That's one reason I advocate characters disagreeing with each other. If you have all the characters in a room in agreement, you have no conflict.
     
  3. saellys

    saellys Inkling

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    It's really important to have this discussion here for the reasons A. E. Lowan stated in the post immediately preceding yours. If I go to a forum that is dedicated to these kinds of debate, I'm going to see a lot of choir-preaching between people who aren't in a position to do much about the issues. Writers are in a position to act. Writers are in the business of representing humanity. Being able to do so realistically and with balanced perspective is important.

    As Steerpike has already said, these are issues that are tied to writing--enough so that these threads keep popping up, usually with new links to articles by writers about writing. We are the writers. We create media for public consumption. We're capable of helping by representing and reflecting more in our own work, and we can only do that if we're aware of the issues.

    I'm replying to your PM now and will address this there.

    Conflict is great. Conflict makes the world go 'round, and propels stories. All hostility and dismissiveness involves conflict, but not all conflict has to involve hostility and dismissiveness.
     
  4. Feo Takahari

    Feo Takahari Auror

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    I don't understand what you mean. Speaking personally, I'm quite positive towards some groups I disagree with--I may not agree with their reasoning, but I respect that they're trying to do the right thing. (I'm also a little alarmed that you're conflating people who aren't minority members with people who disagree with the goals of minority rights groups.)
     
  5. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    My point was that, no matter how nicely stated, the very act of disagreeing is inherently hostile and dismissive.

    Look at it this way:

    You say the sky is blue. If I believe the sky is red, I am in a state of disagreement with you. No matter how nicely I say to you, "Hey dude, you're a moron. The sky's red." I'm still calling you a moron for not believing as I do.

    How can I do otherwise? If I'm right, then you must be wrong. Hence me disagreeing is me saying you're wrong which is, at its essence, me calling you a moron.

    There are obviously degrees of hostility, and I don't actually think anyone is a moron just because they disagree with me (implying that I have other reasons? :) ).
     
  6. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    I don't think that's true @BWFoster. Such discussions certainly can be dismissive or hostile, but they don't have to be. Like you, I don't believe that people who think differently from me are stupid. Or bad people. Two of the nicest and smartest people I know are at polar opposite ends of the political/social spectrum. Some people take that approach to disagreement, but it isn't a necessary or inherent part of disagreement. "Conflict" will exist, in a broad sense, but it doesn't have to be hostile or dismissive. It's only that way if you choose to respond in that manner.
     
  7. FatCat

    FatCat Maester

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    I was going to link every thread relating to the equality topic in this reply, but I simply am too lazy to do so. How current social inequality reflects in genre-fiction, to me, seems to be a trivial thing compared to the mechanics and ability of writing a compelling story that people want to read. If there is an ideology that needs to be advanced through media, people first have to want to consume that media. The amount of threads on this topic simply doesn't make sense to me. Now, if a thread in World Building was posted and the OP in this example asked on how to reflect current social inequality in his/her fantasy world, that is something I could see as a positive area of discussion. It occurs to me that we should just have one big post in the Research forum where members can talk about how they feel on the issue, then, should a member feel compelled to gauge the climate/attitudes of inequality (specifically of members on this forum, which is an odd thing to do, considering this is such a small minority of people compared to the hundreds of other areas that one can research on the internet), they can go to that post. That being said, I don't really see how that would be constructive compared to the example of a thread being started in World Building about a specific question in advancing the portrayal of these ideas into a fantasy-scape.
     
  8. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    @FatCat - actually I'm working on a story right now that heavily incorporates themes of gender and patriarchy, so I find the abstract discussions useful in that regard. Probably more so to me personally, because I already have a handle on the mechanics. But I think these kinds of threads are going to have varying use to different people. Some may find them extremely helpful and others may not.

    If I may ask a question (and this is meant in a friendly way; you know me :) ) - the thread has a title that pretty well telegraphs the content. Why click it? Why read it? In other words, is the mere existence of the thread on the site a problem for those who don't like the topic, or does it take some affirmative act on your part as well?
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2013
  9. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    Not at all.

    First, most disagreements aren't really that simple. Most of the time - I believe - it's not about one side being right or wrong, but about two people giving different values different weights.

    Take a look at discussions about fridging and the damsel in distress, for instance. The conflict usually focuses around the values reflected by two statements nobody disagrees with:

    - In isolation, they're not even an issue.
    - But these elements occur all the time, creating a pattern that is an issue to many.

    Which statement should be weighted more on an author who is thinking about using the two tropes? That's where the conflict comes into play, and the differing answers don't come down to one side being right or wrong - progressive or inconsiderate - groundbreaking or dumb. It honestly comes down to a basic outlook of how much you weigh the importance of an ongoing trend of minor instances vs. an additional occurrence of the incident.

    I don't really have an answer to that. People just see the world differently.
     
  10. saellys

    saellys Inkling

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    That's probably for the best, because I don't see the point of linking them all. I could dig them up too and point out how each OP had a different purpose, regardless of how each thread ultimately trod the same worn paths of semantics.

    I consider social inequality and compelling stories to be inextricably linked in most cases. How a writer chooses to handle issues of inequality, or not handle them, is a major part of storytelling.

    Agreed. Is there any reason we as writers can not develop our skills at making media others want to consume simultaneously with developing ideologies and presenting them in artful ways? The media I want to consume is, among other things, as inclusive as possible and reflects, in some measure, the issues real marginalized people face, while managing to not make marginalized people's stories exclusively about those issues. Same goes for the media I want to create. If we prioritize which skills come first, when exactly are we allowed to get around to the ideology part?

    Okay. It makes a lot of sense to me, because it's never just one topic and the discussion is never truly over.

    There have been a few threads very similar to what you suggest, and people have posted specific examples from their work in threads about broader issues, and gotten equally specific responses. None of these options have to be mutually exclusive.
     
  11. FatCat

    FatCat Maester

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    Curiosity, I suppose. Everytime one of these threads pop up, I can't help but wonder why. There's one thread here on swords, and epicly long and fascinating thread at that, but if the discussion of swords kept repeating itself, I'd have the same reaction. I get the idea of wanting to discuss the matters, what I don't understand is why there's such a heavy prescence of equality threads. Curiosity, my fellow feline.
     
  12. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    I hear you, FatCat. Thanks for the answer!

    [​IMG]
     
    Guy, teacup and FatCat like this.
  13. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    FatCat,

    I see it this way:

    There are certain people who feel strongly about this issue and, thus, when they see a thread, feel it is important to make the point that it would be helpful if writers were more mindful of equality in their writing.

    (I feel the same way about speech tags. Even though I've stated all over the place about how I think it's simply wrong in every sense of the word to combine a tag and a beat, I still feel the need to point this out in every location possible. :) )

    Others on the forum feel a personal connection to the issue and like to share their experiences.

    Still others, like me, simply like to argue, regardless of the topic.

    While this subject, even for me, tends to get stale after a while, it at least generates interest. If we didn't have these eight pages to entertain us, what would we be doing? Oh wait... Writing. Crap!
     
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  14. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    Really? Then since you disagree with me I think that you're a...

    No, not really.

    I just feel that the act of disagreeing is, in and of itself, hostile.

    Agreement = Hospitable and Inclusive.
    Disagreement = Hostile and Dismissive.

    To clarify, however, I get Devor's point. If there is no actual disagreement, there is no hostility. Often difference of opinion on this site come down to a lack of definition of the object of discussion. That's not hostility; that's miscommunication.

    I would suspect, however, that Saellys and I would have a vastly different opinion on the value of the pursuit of equality. No matter how kind or nice the conversation or how much we might respect each other's viewpoints, at the core of the issue is the fact that we each feel that the other is flat out wrong. This feeling in no way eliminates the possibility of polite discourse, but it is a hostile feeling.
     
  15. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    We're probably just using 'hostile' a bit differently, and don't necessarily disagree on that.

    I consider 'dismissive' to be a bit of a knee-jerk reaction, where someone's viewpoint is discounted without ever being considered and without much if any thought. To me, if you consider my viewpoint, think about what I'm saying, and still come to a different conclusion, you're not being dismissive of my view point.

    I suppose it comes down to semantics.
     
  16. Feo Takahari

    Feo Takahari Auror

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    I don't think you can accurately portray how someone thinks if you're completely hostile to them. I do think authors have been able to portray the thought processes of people they clearly disagree with. There's certainly room to argue with the first statement, but if both are taken as true, it follows that there are authors who aren't completely hostile to characters they fundamentally disagree with. (In fact, I believe that the trait that determines whether a writer is great is whether they're capable of accurately and believably portraying viewpoints that aren't theirs.)

    Yay! We have a connection to writing, and it only took eight pages!

    P.S. I was worried about getting into this, but praise probably isn't as bad as criticism. I love Jesus. I don't think he was always right, and for that matter, I don't think he was necessarily sane, but more than any other thinker in a thousand years before or after him, he embodied my ideas of how to be a good person and live a good life. I'll never be a Christian, and I have my share of objections to how Christ's word has been interpreted, but that doesn't mean I'm hostile to Christianity.
     
    A. E. Lowan likes this.
  17. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    Feo,

    I think it probably comes down to our respective definitions of "hostile."

    Hostile, imo, indicates opposition. To disagree is, fundamentally, to oppose. You seem to equate it more to the manner of delivery and the degree of respect given.

    I think you would feel this statement is hostile:

    You are wrong.

    but not this one:

    I disagree with you.

    I see both as being the same.

    So, if I write a story from the deep POV of a serial rapist and murderer, I either:

    a) Can't write an accurate portrayal of that person OR
    b) Am not hostile toward that person's actions/thoughts?

    Once again, I disagree.

    Thanks for getting us back on writing, though! :)
     
  18. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    That's a good point. But I'll say that a character also represents a level of detachment that may be more difficult to achieve in real life contexts.
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2013
  19. Feo Takahari

    Feo Takahari Auror

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    I don't see either as inherently hostile.

    The phrase "hostile to this person's actions" confuses me to some degree--it's not a term I'd use. I'd say that I think someone's actions are wrong, but I'd only describe myself as hostile or not hostile to the person.

    As for agreeing or not agreeing, I'll repeat something I said in another thread. To me, Humbert Humbert is the most repulsive character in fiction. To Nabokov, Humbert Humbert was a horrible human being, but not completely beyond sympathy. I think on some level, Nabokov loved Humbert even as he was, and that's how he was able to write him so believably. It's not forgiveness, not exactly, and it's certainly not condonement. It might not be much more than pity. But it's real, and I think it's necessary.

    On a side note, I think this is why so few writers can write a believable Hitler. The depth of his crimes prevents sympathy, and that in turn prevents comprehension. Those writers who have some success tend to write him as more a force of nature than an actual character.
     
  20. Shasjas

    Shasjas Scribe

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    Having thought about the comment I posted for a few days I no longer quite agree with it. The reason why that view is attractive to me is because it is something that I can work with. The only power I have to influence things is at an individual level. I cannot go into the heads of every person in society and remove prejudice. I cannot in any way influence the media to represent more of a certain minority.
     
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