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Literary SJW’s: Don’t read stuff written by straight white cisgender males like Shakespeare

March 17, 2015

My latest blog post for the Independent Women’s Forum:

Activist H. Tempest Bradford: Do not buy this book by this heterosexual white man

The idea got its first big publicity boost from by H. Tempest Bradford (she’s apparently the author of some short stories in the fantasy genre) on Feb. 22, and it’s already gone viral. She’s issued her manifesto on xoJane :

“[T] the privileged view is everywhere and pervasive. It’s easy to buy into it without really knowing that you are.

“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. 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. 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.”

So here’s what you need to do:

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. You could, like Lilit Marcus, read only books by women or, like Sunili Govinnage, read only books by people of color. Or you could choose a different axis to focus on: books by trans men and women, books by people from outside the U.S. or in translation, books by people with disabilities.

“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. In addition to the identities listed above, I suggest: non-Christian religions or faiths, working class or poor, and asexual (as a start).”

***

And here’s Gizmodo’s Saladin Ahmed scolding those right-wingers who actually think people buy books written by white cis-het males like Jeffrey Archer or Neil Gaiman because they write entertainingly:

“‘Bestselling author’ is, functionally, a job. And nearly every single one of those jobs goes to a white person (quite often a white man). When women still make only seventy five cents for every dollar that men make, and 98% of the New York Times bestseller list is composed of white authors, anyone who reads primarily white male authors is contributing, quite directly, to the economic inequalities that pervade our culture. Now, some readers — particularly those of a politically conservative or libertarian sensibility — don’t give a s*** about this. Indeed, they may be actively hostile to the very notion of egalitarianism. The market, in their view, is a pure meritocracy. But many other book buyers believe, as I do, that the market itself is racist and sexist in all sorts of unseen ways. Choosing to buy and read books by women and people of color is one small way to address this.”

Posted by Charlotte Allen
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2 Comments
  1. Days of Broken Arrows permalink

    Why don’t they go whole hog and also boycott everything built and/or invented by a white man? Seriously — why single out authors?

    Bill Gates makes money from software; the CEOs of energy companies make money from electricity. Why not call for a boycott of computers and electricity? Then there’s the automobile, dishwashers, etc. etc…

  2. Lastango permalink

    Actually, I sort of agree. No SJW should ever be allowed to read Shakespeare.

    Like someone condemned to hell, they have chosen their fate and ought to take full, uncontaminated ownership.

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