I’ve got work to do. I’ve got to finish the rough draft of a novel for a gaming IP by the end of February, and then I’ve got two short stories due the first part of March, but Monday morning I see this nonsense. How could I not take a minute to fisk it?
As usual, the original is italics and my comments are in bold.
I Challenge You To Stop Reading White, Straight, Cis Male Authors For One Year
Bold headline. Short answer? No.
I thought: what if I only read stories by a certain type of author?
On purpose? Then you’d probably be a racist.
K. Tempest Bradford
Pick any whackadoo Social Justice Warrior controversy in sci-fi/fantasy publishing over the last few years and you’ll find K. Tempest Bradford in the middle of it. She is perpetually outraged that someone may be out there, right now, having fun wrong.
Let’s start by analyzing this picture of Tempest giving America a good scolding.
Now, you might be wondering why Neil Gaiman is the designated bad guy this time. By all accounts, Gaiman is a brilliant, entertaining, extremely successful author, who also has a reputation of being a very nice guy to his gigantic fan base. Not only that, but I believe politically he is on the left, so you’d think he would be at least marginally more sympathetic to the various SJW causes.
But he’s Tempest’s Evil White Cismale Oppresor because of this other recent bit of SJW nonsense by Hugo winning feminist Kameron Hurley. http://www.scifinow.co.uk/interviews/kameron-hurley-on-neil-gaimans-trigger-warning-responsibility/
Sadly, I don’t have time to fisk the one I’m fisking, let alone fisk the background fiskings, but that Hurley article is very fiskable. My favorite part is where a SJW laments how awful it might be to have other creators attack you in social media… Yes… I can’t possibly imagine what that would be like.
Basically, Gaiman wrote a book called Trigger Warnings, which triggered SJWs. Now, Gaiman has offended these people before by saying that maybe they shouldn’t be so quick to form angry lynch mobs against innocent people, like when they attacked and slandered his friend comedian Jonathan Ross into resigning from being the Hugo MC because he *might* hypothetically, in the future, tell a fat joke.
For those of you just joining us, not I’m not making that up. SJWs are really that paranoid and vindictive.
But anyways, because he stood up against witch hunts, and was in favor of telling the truth about someone rather than the narrative, Gaiman equals Satan-Hitler.
But the ironic thing about that picture? Tempest is wearing a Dr. Who shirt. A TV show about a white man and his white female sidekick, created by some white men, with episodes written by… Neil Gaiman.
Back in 2012 I faced a conundrum. I write short fiction, and I wanted to get better at writing it. To do that I had to write, write, and write some more.
I actually agree with that. The more you write, the better you get.
But just as important was reading, reading, and reading a lot more.
Also true. Authors need to read in order to become better writers. Exposure to other styles will help you improve your own.
Reasonable so far, but don’t worry, she’s about to go off the rails into racist crazy town.
And I tried. But every time I thought about delving into one of the many science fiction and fantasy magazines at my disposal, or even reading compilations of the “best” stories that had been nominated for and/or won awards, my brain resisted.
Her brain resisted? But, remember, it is my side that is supposed to be small minded.
Also, I want you to think about what kind of stories have been nominated for and/or won awards in recent decades. Plus, I’d invite any of you to go check out some of the various years best compilation anthologies. Go through them with a critical eye and see how they skew politically.
Because every time I tried to get through a magazine, I would come across stories that I didn’t enjoy or that I actively hated or that offended me so much I ragequit the issue.
She RAGEQUIT? (anybody who ever played Call of Duty knows that word is spelled all caps).
Now normally people, when investing their valuable free time into something, when they find that item isn’t to their taste, stop, and simply switch to something else they think they’ll like better. There is after all, a whole lot of things to choose from competing for your entertainment dollar.
But not Tempest. She is powered by RAGE. I bet she RAGEQUITS lots of things.
Go through enough of that and you start to resist the idea of reading at all.
Uh huh… It must suck to be confronted by such dangerous badthink that it would cause a professional writer to give up reading. That would be kind of like an artist saying she was so offended by someone’s painting that she wanted to pluck her eyes out. Or in other words, complete bullshit.
But hang a minute… She doesn’t name any names, but If you look at award winning/nominated short fiction, and Best Of compilations of short stories, you’ll find tons of them that already cater to Tempest’s world view, and yet she still RAGEQUIT. What was she reading exactly? FIRE HOSES & ATTACK DOGS. Bull Conner Presents the Best Fiction of 1965?
Then I thought: what if I only read stories by a certain type of author? Instead of reading everything, I would only look at stories by women or people of color or LGBT writers. Essentially: no straight, cis, white males.
I suppose that would make sense, if you’re a huge bigot blinded by irrational hatred.
Cutting that one demographic out of my reading list greatly improved my enjoyment of reading short stories.
Now just flip that “that one demographic” to Jews and see how much that sounds like a skin head.
That’s not to say I didn’t come across bad stories or offensive stuff in stories or other things that turned me off. I did. But I came across this stuff far less than previously.
So, Gay and Lesbian People of Color, you still offend Tempest, but not enough to cause RAGEQUIT. Don’t worry. Once all the White Cismales are gone, you will be reeducated so that there is no danger of you having fun in an unapproved manner and causing microaggressions.
Limiting myself in this way also made me aware of how often certain magazines published whole issues in which no women or POC authors made an appearance.
Fun Fact: Did you know that when you submit a story to an editor, there is no place on your query letter to tell them about your Race/Sex/Orientation?
And pretty soon I didn’t even bother looking at those magazines when I went on my monthly search. When I ran out of known-to-me magazines, I went on the hunt and discovered several that published new-to-me writers and also a surprising number of magazines dedicated to underheard voices.
The key here is the known-to-me and surprising bits. Most Social Justice Warriors aren’t well read. They like to pretend they are, but when you start talking about what is actually out there to choose from, they are shockingly ignorant. But what do you expect from people who RAGEQUIT when exposed to offensive opinions? This is why when you see them attacking other authors’ works, it is almost always stuff gleaned from the Wiki summary or something completely fabricated.
I ended that year with a new understanding of what kind of fiction I enjoy most, what kind of writers are likely to write it, and how different the speculative fiction landscape looks when you adjust the parallax.
People like different things. That’s fine. Everyone is going to gravitate toward whatever kinds of work pleases them the most. Some of us like action, exploration, or drama. Others like character driven works, or big questions, or even strong message fiction. Tempest hates white men. So, whatever works.
This past week Sunili Govinnage wrote in The Guardian about her experience reading only novels by writers of color for a year. It’s a challenge she set herself at the end of 2013 inspired by a similar project by Lilit Marcus who read only books by women for a year.
Now, most of us read whatever books sound the most interesting to us, and truly don’t give a shit what skin tone the author is, or who the author likes to have sex with. But then again, we don’t write for the Guardian.
Just like opening up space for more stories from women,
No anthology editor anybody who has ever heard of is trying to keep women out of anthologies. This is one of those things SJWs like to toss out, figuring people will accept it as truth.
Recently I was speaking with an editor who put together a charity anthology. The sales of this anthology went to pay for another author’s medical emergency. The authors who contributed stories to it were not paid. They were volunteers. Because time was of the essence, the editor put out a rushed call for submissions and said he would run with whatever he got by a certain date. Many authors volunteered stories (again, without pay!) and the editor went to press in a hurry (again, medical emergency!), only not a single female author volunteered a story. So of course, when this anthology came out the editor was attacked by SJWs as misogynist woman hater trying to keep female voices out of fiction.
there needs to be a conscious effort to support multicultural voices and fight the assumptions surrounding what the mainstream market supposedly wants.
I like the “supposedly” there. Stupid markets. With their freedom and choices. What the mainstream market really needs is to have people like Tempest Bradford scold them for having fun wrong.
The mainstream market wants to enjoy itself. It doesn’t like to be yelled at. It gets annoyed when you call it racist. Since most books don’t even have back cover photos anymore, the mainstream market probably doesn’t know what color the author is. The mainstream market has zero clue what culture the author grew up in, and if that information is available at all, the mainstream market probably doesn’t give a shit.
The mainstream market buys books based on the following criteria:
- This cover looks cool. I will pick it up/click on it.
- The back cover blurb/description interests me.
- It has good reviews/word of mouth.
- I will purchase it with my money.
- If I liked it, I may purchase other books from this author.
Govinnage is a writer of color herself,
Writer of Color is a stupid term. I hate the term People of Color. It is just Colored People backwards.
yet she still learned a few things from the experience, including “just how white [her] reading world was.” Even when you’re coming from the viewpoint of a marginalized identity, the privileged view is everywhere and pervasive. It’s easy to buy into it without really knowing that you are.
Privilege huh? From what I’ve heard about Tempest, she grew up in a rich family. Luckily one of my readers copy and pasted some stuff from her bio into the comments. She attended NYU—which I believe is the most expensive undergraduate program in America—to study opera. She then dropped out to attend the “Gallatin School for Individualized Study” where “There we had no “majors”, only “concentrations”. My concentrations were in performance, writing, the history of mythology, interstitial art (though we didn’t call it that, then), and the collective unconscious”
But wait, there’s more about what it means to live such a life of marginalized hardship: “After leaving college and realizing that the life of a corporate drone is horrendous, I decided to throw it all away so I could attend Clarion West in 2003. I left my job, left New York, and left any notion that I’d be leading a normal life in the dust. After Clarion West I wandered around the country for a few years visiting friends, writing, and discovering that all one needs to survive in life is confidence, charm, and many well-off friends. In 2006 I returned to New York City and took up freelancing to support myself.”
I know when I think of marginalized lives, I think of mooching off your rich friends while playing tourist.
I only say that because I grew up with all that fancy Portuguese Dairy Farmer Privilege, where I got to have an alcoholic mother and a functionally illiterate father (who is way darker skinned than Tempest), where I got to spend my formative years knee deep in cow shit at 3:00 AM, so that I could later work my way through Utah State (only after getting a scholarship for my freshmen year because I knew a whole lot about cows), to then spend my adult life working corporate drone jobs of increasing difficulty and skill requirements, all while writing on the side while I supported my family, until I could make it as a professional author.
Lecture us more about privilege, Tempest. It’s fascinating.
It doesn’t help that most high-profile venues that exist to alert readers to new books and their worthiness are skewed heavily toward privileged voices.
Who? Publishers Weekly? Locus? Io9? Tor.com? GoodReads?
No, seriously. Name some high-profile venue names here, Tempest. Or is this the Bull Conner Upcoming Books of 1965 Alert List? Because I didn’t sign up for that one either.
The funny part is when Chaos Horizon did an unbiased breakdown of the pro review sites comparing my last release to Scalzi’s novel coming out around the same time, despite our selling about the same, all of the pro places reviewed him, and none of them talked about me. So if there’s a bias there, it sure as hell isn’t in the way Tempest is thinking. (But to be fair, Scalzi may be a SJW, but he is super white and has professed to living life on the easiest difficulty setting.)
A few years ago some best-selling women writers pointed out that the New York Times reviewed significantly more books by men than by women.
Which is funny, since the New York Times is so super right wing. Oh, wait…
The problem is not limited to the Times. Nor limited to just men vs women. If the majority of books being held up and pronounced Good and Worthy are by white, straight, cis men, it’s easy to slip into thinking that most good and worthy books are by authors that fit that description.
You know, in all the time I’ve been doing this and fighting with these people, I can’t find a single mainstream example of anybody of note holding up a book and declaring it good and worthy because it was written by a white heterosexual male. Normally, when regular people declare a book good, it is because they thought the book was good.
I have however seen hundreds of examples of Tempest’s side holding up a book as being good and worthy because of the author’s racial/sexual identity.
Most of us judge books on their content, not the color of their author’s skin.
And, of course, that’s bull.
Nope. And as we’ve already established, because of my Portuguese Dairy Farmer Privilege, I know more about bulls than Tempest does.
“Slowly but surely, the world is noticing that ‘meritocracy’ in the arts and entertainment industries is as fictitious as Westeros,” Govinnage says.
You can declare merit a myth all you want. You can do the same thing about gravity. Doesn’t change reality. Falling off a roof still hurts, and you’re more likely to make a living as a writer if you entertain people. At the end of the day, regardless of their genetic makeup, Neil Gaiman has more talent in his pinky finger than Tempest Bradford has in her whole body.
The fact they used Westeros as an example of fictitious is illuminating, because it was created by a straight white cismale, but everybody knows who George R.R. Martin is and has heard of his work, because it is popular, and people like it.
The “Reading Only X Writers For A Year” a challenge is one every person who loves to read (and who loves to write) should take.
No. We shouldn’t. Because we’re not boring racists.
You could, like Lilit Marcus, read only books by women or, like Sunili Govinnage, read only books by people of color.
How do you guys even know? For example, it wasn’t until last year I learned that Steve Barnes is black. I first read his stuff in high school. When you see an interesting book, do you rush off to Google to make sure the author is racially acceptable?
Or you could choose a different axis to focus on: books by trans men and women,
Is there like a special search box to check for this on Amazon that I don’t know about?
books by people from outside the US or in translation,
I’m a Akira Kurosawa junkie, doesn’t mean I’d want to only watch his movies for a whole year.
Side note, do you think it would pain Tempest to know how much money I’m making off of foreign translations? 🙂
books by people with disabilities.
Or how about we read books because they look interesting/entertaining, rather than because the author checks some arbitrary box on an EEOC form? It wasn’t until I saw a Facebook thread this morning that I found out two writers I’ve known online for years are disabled and one is in a wheelchair.
Because who gives a shit?
After a year of that, the next challenge would be to seek out books about or with characters that represent a marginalized identity or experience by any author.
No. They don’t have to do anything. We’re entertainers. Our job is to entertain the readers. Tempest is getting this backwards. The writer works for the readers. Not the other way around.
In addition to the identities listed above, I suggest: non-Christian religions or faiths,
Again, how do you know? I’ve plugged books by everybody from Atheists to Asatru, and I only know their religion because of conversations in real life.
working class or poor,
Kiss my ass. This one in particular really pisses me off. Working class or poor describes most writers.
and asexual (as a start).
No shit. For a year? Only books by asexual authors. How few books do you read?
Whichever focus you choose,
I choose the “this book looks interesting” focus myself.
it will change the way you read and the way you go about picking things to read.
That’s certainly an understatement.
When I settle in to read a magazine now, I read in order of stories I think I’ll like best. And if I do decide to read one by a new to me author who appears to be a straight, white, cis male, it’s usually because I trust the editor and the magazine.
Read that sentence again and mull over how incredibly racist and sexist that is.
Feel free to change it around. Change it to Black or Jew, but it’ll be okay if she sees a Jewish sounding name or a Black sounding name, because she trusts these editors, and they’ll probably be one of the good ones.
My reading sessions are filled with much less stress these days.
What a vapid, useless screed.
This whole thing really bugs me. Why would you limit your exposure to books and ideas based on such asinine, superficial things?
Louis L’Amour saved my life. He taught me to love reading. I didn’t care that he was whiter than I was, or that we were from different cultures, religions, and backgrounds. Nobody engrossed in a story gives a shit about that. I was expanding my mind, not artificially limiting it.
From there I went on to read whatever I could get my hands on, and I’m sure most of those books were written by old white guys, because at the time most writers were white guys. As demographics change and there were more writers who weren’t old white guys, I read more books by people who weren’t old white guys, and again, didn’t give a shit.
The super evil mass market consumer doesn’t finish a book and say to themselves “This was an excellent read. I’d go tell my friends, but I suspect this author has slightly more/less melanin than I do, or might possibly come from a different socio-economic strata so I’d better throw it away.” That’s the kind of nonsense SJWs fret about.
Do you want to know the best way to get more people from diverse groups to be writers? Get them to be readers. Readers become writers. Populations with more readers will produce more writers. Some of us are compulsive story tellers, and get them immersed in the medium, and they’ll want to tell stories of their own in that medium.
How do you get people to become readers? Introduce them to books you think they will enjoy. The sexual/racial identity of the author is irrelevant to enjoyment (unless you’re a flaming bigot, because it will make you RAGEQUIT). People tend to keep doing stuff they enjoy.
How do you know what books people will enjoy? That’s the trick. Everybody is different. Everyone has differing tastes. That’s why you introduce them to a wide variety of books. I’m talking real diversity, not the skin-deep superficial diversity SJWs glom onto, but real diversity of thoughts, ideas, and imagination.
SJWs love diversity as long as everybody is diverse in an approved manner. My side welcomes everybody and thrives on competition, whether it is art or ideas, the more the better. I want more people from every possible group writing books. Because the more books that are created, the better the odds that there will be something truly brilliant.
Come to think of it, I’ve got a sneaky suspicion that Tempest’s motivations aren’t exactly purely on behalf of social justice, but rather in the naïve hopes that if fewer people read Neil Gaiman or other white heterosexual males, they’ll buy her stuff instead. That’s one problem with statists. They think the pie is finite. If George Martin gets another dollar, they feel like that dollar was stolen from them.
Sadly, they know as much about economics as they do about literature.
To counter Tempest’s racist challenge to only read books based not upon their content, but upon the color of their author’s skin, I offer a different kind of challenge.
I challenge you to read books based upon what you think sounds awesome, and never give into the finger shaking scolds.