Tonight I’m going to get a little serious with you guys. I’ve recently received an email from a reader who expressed an opinion to me that I took issue with. It wasn’t really a negative book review–I’ve gotten a few of those, and they’ve always been constructive and helpful, overall–it was an email personally written to me. The sentiments expressed in the correspondence echoed a lot of opinions I’ve seen floating around social media and YouTube lately, and in light of a few articles I’ve read on Reddit about this sort of thing, I wanted to say a few things about it.
First of all, I replied to the email sent to me–this is not addressed to anyone in particular. Now, on to the meat and taters…
There seems to be a culture of what I can only describe as “cultivated offense” in today’s society. There are so many blogs/videos/books/articles written about how (x) person finds (y) offensive, which makes the purveyor of (y) a racist/sexist/whatever. Sometimes this sort of thing is warranted, as in official policies, etc. What is confusing me lately is that this attitude seems to be infecting artistic expression.
Whether you’re speaking of video games, books, movies, or music, there seems to be a veritable army of people ready to take up pitchforks and loudly proclaim artists to be the worst kind of hateful people in our society. “Where’s all the black people in the new Star Wars trailer?” or “Video games are oppressive to women and GTA promotes misogyny!”. So many people have problems with so many things these days that it’s hard to keep track.
“Your writing promotes traditional gender roles and sets women back decades.”
I wanted to try and set the record straight about this, because I see a rising tide of angry people wishing to purge anything genuine from the arts. First of all, I certainly have never–not once–thought of myself as a misogynist, or a racist. My writing is not intended to promote any sociopolitical ideals related to race or gender, gay or straight, or any other label people want to place on themselves. I write Epic Fantasy. It’s about as non-inflammatory as one can get, or I thought it would be. These days…maybe not.
Yes, there is rape in my books. Yes, there is murder in my books. Hell, people eat dead bodies in my books. Doesn’t mean I want to promote the idea of eating dead people, and the same goes for rape, murder, or anything else that turns up in the pages of The Seven Signs or anything else I write.
When I write something like a murder, or imply that someone is in danger of being raped (I’ve never actually written a rape scene…I mean, gross) it’s because I want to demonstrate something. I want to put my characters in danger, I want to give them some adversity to deal with, some hard choices to make, some pain to ingest. I mean, without the adversity, the story would just go like “Shawna smiled at her father and lived happily ever after.”
Nope. Not in my world.
For me, the whole point of Shawna’s storyline is her overcoming the pain at the death of her family, giving the proverbial finger to the powers that want to take what she has, and kicking the asses of the people who have done this to her. Her storyline is exactly about a woman in a male-dominated society who nonetheless manages to be kick-ass anyway. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, and if you just want to read Shawna as a classic trope against women…well, that’s your prerogative. But it certainly wasn’t about that for me.
As you guys will find out soon, there are a few more female characters that are going to enter the story. ‘Cuz I like writing them, and I’m going to keep doing it.
Authors need the freedom to put things on display. Art imitates life, as the saying goes, and all of these things–rape, murder, child molestation, etc–exist in our society today. I didn’t invent them, and I’m certainly not going to stop writing bad things into my stories. I won’t apologize for offending anyone with my writing, because my writing is not intentionally offensive.
I also will not water down the bad things that happen to the characters in my stories, because that would make it suck, plain and simple. I know the majority of you guys don’t feel that my writing is offensive–otherwise you wouldn’t be here–but I wanted to clarify this just in case this issue comes up again. It is not incumbent upon me to advance anyone’s political cause in this world by changing the stuff I write about my fictional world.
And for the record, I’m actually a Humanist. The only “anti-” anything you can describe me as would be “anti-ignorance”. Shawna, Nalia, Bethany, and Allisondra aren’t meant to advance anything. In the story, they’re just people dealing with adversity. Just people, not statements.
You guys will find out about Nalia and Allisondra on August 15th.
I hope I didn’t leave you with a bad taste in your mouth, but I had to get that out. Don’t forget to like, subscribe, share, etc, and I will talk to you guys soon.
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