Shared Thoughts on Privilege and Political Correctness

I’m still using this blog. Sorry I haven’t posted lately. I’ve also been writing a few things for Bubblews. A hard-to-pronounce name, I know. So lately, I’ve been blowing off some steam (and still trying to be nice about it) regarding the political correctness-style bullying I was subjected to a short while back. Wanted to rant here, but I’d just be repeating the things I’ve already written. I’ll just offer the links, if you’re interested. On Privilege, the Racebending Incident, and the fact that “sensitivity” has nothing over manners.

Hope you had a very Merry Christmas, and happy New Year!

And if Foz Meadows and/or anyone at Racebending actually reads this: I hope you all had a Merry Christmas, too. May your next year be full of joy, wisdom, and many more smiles than frowns.

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A Plea for Reason in Sci-Fi/Fantasy “Discrimination”

Edit: November 2, 2013: Don’t like what’s said on this post? Fine by me. But if you choose to mistake maturity for being “oblivious,” then there’s not much I can do to help you. I could go off on another rant, but I’ll defer to Brad Stine on this one.

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Lately I’ve been seeing quite a few accusations of discrimination being flung around the sci-fi/fantasy community. Mainly, it focuses on the fact that many of the writers are white males portraying white male protagonists.

Sorry, what? I must have forgotten to change my race and/or gender before I embarked on writing sci-fi and fantasy. My bad.

Forget about telling me that my “white privilege” is showing or I’m “mansplaining” things to you. I’m addressing you all as human beings, created as equals in the image of God — no more and no less. Look, can everyone quit the mud-slinging for five minutes and just admit this for what it is? If sci-fi and fantasy have somehow been overwhelmed by white, male protagonists/authors (and to a certain extent, that is true), that doesn’t mean it’s racist or sexist. It’s just boring. Well, it’s boring if skin color and gender of the protagonist(s) are a huge deal and determine the quality of a story.

I’m not arguing to keep things the way they are. By all means, let’s start increasing the variety of characters. But it’s nowhere near as important as crafting a good story and fascinating characters to drive it. Aren’t those the basics?

Honestly, I don’t care what the author or character’s race or sex is. I just want the story and the people it’s about to be interesting. In my experience, the only people who have cared a great deal about things the author and character cannot help, like their melanin content or chromosomes, belong to one of two types:

  • Those not-too-common actual racists or sexists — immature people who try to ruin others’ experience with science fiction and fantasy by belittling their race or gender (though I have hardly met any of them)
  • Equally immature people with notes from their classes in race studies or gender studies constantly on the brain, worrying about different types of humans and whether they are “represented” equally among authors or characters, and who think an under-representation of any group is a miscarriage of justice that MUST be addressed (I have met plenty of these, and would rather hope to not run into them again)

Last time I checked, writing classes and books didn’t have much to say on the subject of race or even gender, though that could easily change in the Age of Political Correctness. I don’t care one bit that Avatar: The Last Airbender or The Legend of Korra hardly have any “white” characters. I don’t care that Korra is a girl. I love both series, because the characters are well-developed, and the stories are amazing. And the fight scenes are mind-bogglingly awesome. That too.

But I also don’t care that many of the other stories I love, from Star Wars to Lord of the Rings to Jurassic Park, happen to have a lot of white, male characters driving the story. Because those are exactly the traits of human beings no one should be making a big deal about. What was that Martin Luther King, Jr. said, about people being judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin (or the arrangement of their chromosomes, for that matter)?

Female protagonists are supposed to have strength of one kind or another and be proactive, not because they’re female, but because they’re the protagonists. That’s why. There’s nothing in the chief character’s sex that robs him/her of the need to be decisive and proactive. No one except for the aforementioned groups is going to care how light or dark an author’s or character’s skin is. Most of us just want a great story, featuring interesting people and created by someone who knows what they’re doing.

Now can we please get back to having fun, writing the best fiction we can and sharing it with the world? Thanks for your time.

Mini-Rant: Manners Before Sensitivity

I recently noticed something about sensitivity training and political correctness. While the intent behind them is noble and good, they give us more of an excuse than ever to let our own lives be influenced by the opinions of others.

What does sensitivity training set out to do that good manners haven’t been telling us already? Manners are not only older, they’re better and healthier, because they encourage maturity. They encourage both sides of a dispute to act like grown-ups. Manners are based on mutual respect. And don’t tell me “Well, people hardly ever have manners anymore” as if that ends the conversation. Manners are all the more important when few people follow them.

The newer laws of so-called etiquette are based on suspicion, and must inflate hurt feelings until they look like a social disaster. They cheer someone on for being hypersensitive. The offended is rewarded for not being mature enough to let go of a slur or insult. They are told they should always be worried what other people think and say about them.

Yeah. People have opinions about you, and about others who are like you. Not all of those opinions are positive. Some of them are extremely hateful. What is that to you? Keep on going. Keep living your life. If they aren’t telling you anything healthy, don’t listen to them or take their words to heart. Don’t stop, point and scream at the “bigot” or “monster” who bruised your self-esteem. You’re capable of much better things than that.

The longer you let a leech stick to your skin, the more it drains you. Don’t let it. Tear off the leech any way you can. Words can obviously hurt, but they only become landmines that ruin your life and traumatize you when you let them.