My blog content has, unfortunately, dropped off a bit lately, in part due to a lot going on, but now I plan to get back to regular posts, even as I have a lot to do before I return to Israel, and continue working on more books.
That’s enough of that for now, however. Time to talk a bit about sensitivity and sensitivity readers. Jon Del Arroz recently put up an excellent post on the topic, which will be linked below, but I have some brief thoughts of my own to share.
When I first heard about the existence of sensitivity readers a few months ago, I wasn’t sure whether laughter or anger was more appropriate. The whole idea just seemed so monumentally terrible and stupid, especially when applied to the genres of science fiction and fantasy, which I favor.
The whole maxim of “write what you know,” while not entirely without merit, has to be largely ignored, or else most of us would be writing extremely boring things. This, of course, is the basis of the call for sensitivity readers. What if a White person writes a Black character without it being approved by a third party? Something terrible, apparently. And of course, they are appropriating a culture not their own… If you would believe these people, members of “marginalized” groups suffer when not “adequately” presented in works of fiction, and apparently people can only identify with characters that look like them. Apparently leftists think that members of minority groups lack imagination.
Ironically, this all seems to be in opposition to the leftist call for more “representation” in books, where they would call out (usually White and male) authors as not having enough characters of other ethnicities, sexualities, or gender.
I’m not going to get into detail on why both of these demands are stupid and will only lead to worse stories, as Jon and many others have covered it very well, but I will add that my early knowledge of these concepts is part of why I prefer writing non-human characters. Can’t very well call me racist then–except as we all know, these people will find a way, as they will invent an apparent “offense” if they can’t “find” something close enough to attack me with. Honestly, I look forward to seeing what they try and make up, because it’ll be hilarious to fisk.
Writers should write what they want, period, and the only other people whose opinions they should care about are those of their readers, and, as Jon said, if you write a fun and compelling story, they will most likely have no problem going along with you for the ride, no matter how much the crazy fringe (who are most likely not your audience anyway) scream and call you every name under the sun.
Ignore them, and write what you want, write great stories. Eventually, readers of authors foolish enough to submit to this scam will need good books to read, and you will be there, happily waiting to welcome them.