Let’s Talk About the Free Market
Do you have a minute to talk about the free market? You know, that thing in which if a book is bad you don’t read it?
I know, I’m insane, right? After all traditional publishing houses release books that are barely proofread, books that have no objective plot and books with unintentionally repulsive characters all the time. One could almost say that’s 99% of their production.
But what do they REALLY care about? Why books that portray a “protected minority” in a way that might offend someone, somewhere.
Never mind that all identifiable and quite a few unidentifiable minorities have a variety of experience, which might or might not be opaque to a non-minority. Never mind that the way to define worlds with “closed experience” is different for each person. Never mind any of that. We need Sensitivity Readers.
Look, guys, if I were writing a book about someone who grew up in the bad parts of East Saint Louis, regardless of the person’s coloration, yeah, I’d ask the person about it. If I were writing a book about a world war II veteran, I would read biographies of those. That’s just decent research, right? In the same way if I were writing a gay man in contemporary America I’d read a lot of bios, and probably ask one of my friends to vet it, at least if it involved the dating scene. (If he just worked at an office, I think I can intuit his experience.)
Yeah, that’s just good writing. But Sensitivity Reader? Ah, those are something else.
From the article above:
Critics cling to their associations with the word sensitive and not the actual substance of the job. Many claim that sensitivity readers are diversity police officers telling (white) writers that they cannot write cross-culturally, and that our very existence (or presumed power) is proof that censorship runs rampant, stifling their freedom to write what they want to write. Most of the articles about this topic have focused on white, cisgendered, able-bodied, heterosexual writers’ feelings about this process and the pain they’ve suffered when their books are discussed in online spaces.
One thing that gets left out of the conversation is that, when an author fails to write well-rounded, fleshed-out characters outside of their own realm of experience, it’s, at its core, a craft failure. In simple terms: it’s bad writing. I subscribe to the personal philosophy that writers should write what they want to write, but they should aim to do it well.
Sure, but who are these “sensitivity readers” and who died and made them all-seeing gods, of how to portray, say, minorities? Would the experience of a black man who grew up as a military dependent in bases abroad be the same as that of one who grew up with a welfare mother in inner city Chicago?
Who decides? Who knows which one is right.
Why, the sensitivity readers of course. They were educated in the finest Marxist analysis in our best universities, and it never occurs to them they’re superimposing the perspective of a dead German male on a reality that has long surpassed his rather pitiful ability to predict.
But they KNOW. And if you don’t hire them, they’re gonna cry in their safe room!