I want to tell you an honest truth people, because of all the racism I have endured in my life (and even seeing the racism my own children have had to face) I cannot help but resent when caucasians write about Asian culture. Yes, I resent them. I absolutely do. Yet, at the same time, I appreciate them for at least trying to do it, when they do it right.
It is a complicated situation. There is no easy answer. We need diversity in literature. We need it desperately. Diversity is not only for the under-represented—the truth is, diversity is important for everyone. All people need to be exposed to other races and other cultures in positive ways. All people need to learn tolerance and acceptance of differences. When we promote only a homogeneous view of society in our literature and our media, and deem books or movies about minorities as unsuccessful, it harms everyone. And so it is important that all authors include diversity in their books.
But there is that part of me that wonders why is it that when I see a list about what Asian fantasy books are out there, the books are predominantly by caucasian authors. Are POC writers not writing them or are they being passed over for books written by non-POC authors instead? And why is it that books by or about POC don’t tend to sell as well as other “mainstream” books. What is the difference? Is it the difference in how they are marketed? Is it their cover art? Where they are placed in the bookstore or library? How they are pushed or not pushed by the booksellers, librarians, and teachers?"
this boggles the mind
I hope this post weeds out the unbelievers.
I’m not in the camp where ~artistic vision~ and ~creative license~ are the end-all, be-all shield to a writer/artist’s craft and how their work relates to an audience because that’s bullshit. I’m not about protecting artists and writers’ ~delicate creative sensibilities and feelings because if their work sucks, their work sucks, and needs to be improved/critiqued/beta’d/just fucking looked over. This all sounds vague, but allow me to get specific.
I’m talking about when fanwriters and fanartists write and draw every white cis character and their dog, but completely forget about everyone else—people like me, for instance. And when they get called out for that, the delicate artistes flutter their hands in front of their faces and cry out, “I don’t want to fuck up the attempt!” or “I write/draw what I feeeeeel!” or “I have no control over what inspires meee!” Or better still, “That takes a lot of effort and research!”
Haha, oh look more bullshit.
Are you telling me, that you can somehow find it in yourself to empathize/sympathize/identify with elves and mages and fictional aliens and dragons and artificial intelligence constructs, enough to write/draw from their POV, but somehow trying to connect with a character whose melanin content differs from yours is like scaling the Great Wall?
Are you telling me, that you’re willing to spend hours reading your fandom’s wikisite articles, research esoteric topics that are only tangentially related to the plot of your fic in order to lend the story a sense of “realism” and “authenticity,” brainstorm elaborate, extensive worldbuilding headcanons and speculations about a fictional universe, but can’t be bothered to Google “how to write characters of color without fucking it up”?
Are you telling me, that your imagination is just so creative and expansive or that the fandom-universe you’re playing in is so inspiring and new and unique that all you can come up with are stories about white people doing white things with their white friends and white significant others and having white adventures, thus further adding to the abyss of white narratives that countless ~creative artists before you have contributed to, thus making more of the same and being not special at all?
If you’re not telling me any of those above things, then what exactly are you telling me? Because I’d love to know, white fan(girls), I really would. Please explain to me how your utter lack of creativity prevents you from writing/drawing characters of color. Please explain to me how your utter lack of empathy prevents you from writing/drawing characters of color. Please explain to me how your ~artistic license and ~creative vision excuse you from improving your craft and broadening your horizons to include characters whose life experiences differ from yours—which, don’t you know, is one of the whole fucking points of writing fanfiction and drawing fanart anyway.
Nothing? You got nothing for me?
Welcome to white myopia—population: every white fan(girl) ever.
how to make your alternate medieval fantasy story both original and not shitty
As a fantasy writer, I am RIDIC tired of reading the same goddamn story over and over and over again. It’s all basically Lord of the Rings, but with different names and different territories. (I’m dead serious about that. Whole books have been written about how LOTR changed fantasy as a genre forever, and while I get that, let’s stop rewriting it, ok?)What I’m not talking about here is historical fiction. That’s another thing entirely. Alternate medieval fantasy (also known as high fantasy or epic fantasy) takes place in a recognizable world that is somehow reminiscent of the medieval period in our own history. There are roughly eight billion examples of this, including but not limited to: A Song of Ice and Fire, The Lord of the Rings, The Farseer Trilogy, Kristen Cashore’s books, pretty much anything about King Arthur, etc.Most high fantasy has tropes. These tropes are fucking old. We can do better.
- Stop making everyone white. Guys I am so fucking serious, all this does is show that you know fuck-all about history and how many people of color were doing a m a z i n g shit in the medieval period. Also? You are MAKING THIS WORLD UP. It is NOT ACTUALLY BASED ON EUROPEAN HISTORICAL FACT ANYWAY. The hell is everyone white for? (There’s a much larger conversation to be had here about most people who write high fantasy having no idea that the European world they’re loosely envisioning as they write has nothing to do with the historical reality, but that’s another post).
- Don’t make it about white people vs. non-white people. If your white hero is going up against savages from the desert-lands, you’re fucking up.
- Yo, for serious, no one cares about your reluctant noble bastard-born son of the king. Every other alternate medieval fantasy story has a reluctant noble bastard-born son of the king out saving the world. I just yawned writing that sentence. Do something else. There are literally BILLIONS of different characters you can come up with as a writer, come on.
- People didn’t just start becoming queer in the 20th century in this universe. People have been queer basically forever, in a lot of the world. No1curr about your book full of straight people. Totally over it.
- If your protagonist is a lady, her entire story shouldn’t be about saving the kingdom and also suddenly finding LOVE. Love is a many splendored thing, love lifts us up where we belong, but I promise you can write a story where a woman falls in love that isn’t about the woman falling in love (with the only man who never doubted her!)
Avoid these hideous tropes and remember: YOU ARE MAKING UP THIS WORLD. Why should it be bound by the same bigoted bullshit we run into in our world all the damn time?
what I mean when I say I hate white people
- the most important thing to remember is that I don’t actually hate white people. I just hate White People.
- I hate white people because it’s so fucking easy for them - easy for them to be racist and easy for them to point their fingers at other, ‘more racist’ white people, while asking me if, you know, they did well, waiting expectantly for me to give them a fucking honorary-POC get-out-of-jail-free card for the next time they make a joke out of my culture and my history.
- the expectation that I have to teach them about my culture, about my anger as an Asian American woman, and why am I so offended anyway when they ask me how to tell the difference between Asians? Why is it so offensive to perpetuate stereotypes if they’re ~*true*~?
- and if I don’t explain my anger calmly, in a way that makes it clear this is directed towards those other, actually racist white people and not the person I’m speaking to, who is clearly an enlightened exception to the rule who just didn’t know the proper terminology, then I am an angry, bitter, reverse racist, spitting seething POC bitch and I surely can’t expect people to listen to me if I can’t even talk civilly!
- oh but wait DO I EVEN COUNT AS A REAL POC? I’M PRETTY LIGHT SKINNED, RIGHT? ASIANS ARE TAKING OVER THE UCS, RIGHT? WE’RE PRETTY WELL OFF, RIGHT? THE MODEL MINORITY ISN’T JUST A MYTH, RIGHT? Don’t fuck with me, I know what you think and I see your skepticism, and, you know what, if other PoC want to debate this with me, I’m all ears - I am well-aware of the racism within the Asian American community and the tensions between Asian Americans (especially East Asians/light skinned Asians) and other communities but, white people, you, of all people, do not get to make that decision for me.
- white people having. it. so. easy. I have lived and will live every day of my life always hating myself a little bit even though I have finally learned how to love myself and cut the bullshit, I will always remember that, to some white person, I am not good enough, not smart enough, and definitely never American enough.
- I also hate white people for making me hate myself for the majority of my life thus far - I have learned to always second-guess myself, to always undervalue my worth because that’s always the safer route, to soften my anger when I always need it sharp, to believe and buy into, even for a second, the stereotypes, to find it hard to believe in myself, because my race has always meant everything. I will always know I amAsian American thanks to every fucking white person who has asked me where I’m from, no, they mean, where I’m really from.
- for worrying that I’m not being fun, that I’m being the party pooper of the privileged white kid party, that when I don’t find mildly racist and classist humor offensive, it’s because there’s something wrong with me, I am too serious about hating white people for me to ever truly be funny, because caring about issues is so UNCOOL and God, when I do my “Asian thing” - it’s just so awkward, you know? Everyone at the table feels awkward, why can’t I just let it go? It’s not like there’s real racism here or anything, right?
- And, God, just - white people. Having it so easy.
today’s anxiety attack was brought to me by this asshattery IRL.
I belong nowhere. I pledge allegiance to no flag and no land. I don’t smell home in the damp earth of my motherland or the rain slicked streets of this big city. I can’t see myself in posters, magazines, television screens, window panes, mirrors. I am innoculated and simultaneously vulnerable
and asthmatic, utterly ethnic but a bland and watered down expression of my color. I was born in a neighborhood of exported souls and misplaced humans, just like me, on a crossroads of livelihoods and new misplaced lives. A better life, a better life, a bitter life — a life with helter-skelter opaque identity, a life evaluated by material goods and the luxury of education — we want a house, and a car, and 2.5 kids and enough money to never be hungry — but we want the old world’s value, the mystery of that agape kind of love, that treasured close family dynamic, that language, that religion, that home away from home — an invisible house made of glass. The feeling of being surrounded by items and feeling completely empty and inarticulate. Why am I here? Do you think I want to be here? Do you think I’m here to steal your job? Do you think I like being asked where I’m “originally” from, or if my marriage will be arranged, or how many arms my god has in comparison to your white washed messiah (who probably looked more like me than you if and when he existed)? I just want to be comfortable somewhere. I just want a home somewhere. But I am who I am. I am the child and grandchild of immigrants, and I have to fight every day to formulate my identity and evaluate my existence.
I debated whether or not to share this story.
And then I debated whether or not to put it on Tumblr…but I decided it was important. Because in my own way, I can (unfortunately) point out exactly what is wrong with men when they don’t realize how hard it is to be a woman. How we do not have equal opportunities and freedoms in everyday life. How most men, even good caring men, have no clue what we go through on a daily basis just trying to live our lives.
So here goes.
I often ride the Metro when I commute from North Hollywood to Long Beach in order to save money. I bring a book, pointedly wear a ring on my ring finger to imply I’m married (I’m not) and keep to myself.
Without fail, I am aggressively approached by men on at least half of these commutes. The most common approach is to walk up to where I am sitting with body language that practically screams LEAVE ME ALONE and sit down next to me or as close to me as possible, when the train is not crowded and there are many empty rows. Sometimes an overly friendly arm is draped over the railing behind me, or they attempt to lean in close to talk to me as if we are old friends. Without fail, the man or boy in question will lean to close and ask me
What are you reading?
Is that a good book?
What’s that book about?
This serves the double purpose of getting my attention and trapping me in a conversation. If I stop reading the book I enjoy to talk to you, random stranger, you hit on me or just stay way too close to me. If I tell you to leave me alone, you get mad at me. Because I somehow, as a woman, owe you conversation.
Tonight when I boarded the train in Long Beach at 10:30pm, it started up right away. I was not on the train more than three minutes before three boys who looked eighteen sat in the row behind me and leaned over the seats into my personal space, close enough to breathe on me. The one with his arm draped over onto the back of my seat asked me—surprise— “what are you reading?” I went through my usual routine. I told them loudly and firmly that I wanted to be left alone to read my book. They got angry. I was told “Why are you going to be like that? I just wanted to talk!” His friends start laughing at me and they don’t move, telling me come on! and why are you gonna be like that? until I tell them to leave me the fuck alone, stand up, and move to the front of the car near the three other people on the train, a couple and a business man in a suit. They spend the next two stops shouting at me from the back of the car, alternating between trying to sound flirtatious and making fun of me, shouting “I bet she’s reading Stephanie Meyer! I bet she’s reading Twilight or some shit! You reading Twilight or some shit?”
They exit the train at the next stop, and I’m relieved. The train is going out of service at the next station, so we all exit to board a new train to Los Angeles. As we board, the business man steps aside to let me go through the door first and asks me if those guys were bothering me. I say yes, that it happens all the time, and he tells he’ll beat them up for me if they come back. He is a nice person who talks to me like I’m a human being instead of a walking pair of tits, and I make a mental note: This is how a real man talks to a woman on a train.
The business man and the couple exit our new Blue Line train an exit or so later, and I think my night is ending on a good note. A seemingly normal man enters the train with his bicycle. At this point I am three rows from the front of the car, another man was sitting near the back of the car, and the rest of the car is empty. Bicycle Man walks halfway down the row, and settles into the seat directly opposite me. Perfect, I think. Twice in one night.
It’s not the first time I’ve been bothered multiple times. As such, I’m still amped from the teenagers on the first train. So when this man leans across the aisle into my personal space and asks me, yes, what are you reading, I assertively but calmly tell him to please leave me alone, I am reading. The man stands up, moving to the front and muttering angrily over his shoulder that it isn’t his fault I’m pretty.
Yes. Exactly that. I am the bad person in this situation because somehow this is all my fault. I started this by being attractive. I am making a mental note to bitch about this to my friends later. I go so far as to write it down so I know I’m remembering it properly.
It is at this exact moment I realize Bicycle Man is not taking it well. The seemingly annoying but normal man a moment before is now talking to himself, becoming agitated. In my years of being bothered by total strangers, I have learned how to hold a book and seem to be reading while taking in everything around me. He is glaring at me, and says out loud in an angry baby talk voice “PLEASELEAVEMEALONEI’MREADING. PLEASE LEAVE ME ALOOOONE.”
Then he’s up out of his seat and things go from bad to worse. He begins pacing back and forth in front of his bike, alternating between screaming something about his mother being dead and calling me a slut, a hoe, a bitch. I am frozen in place. There is one other person in the car, and I’m not sure if trying to change seats will draw more attention to me or less. I trust my instincts and show no fear, doing my best to appear to be calmly reading my book, never once looking up to acknowledge the abuse he’s hurling at me. There are four stops left until we reach the main downtown station where there are lights and security officers. Those four stops are virtually abandoned, and I have no guarantee that leaving to wait for another train won’t motivate him to leave the train as well, leaving us potentially alone at a metro station platform just outside of Compton. I’m frozen in place, trying to plan what I’m going to do if he decides to take all this rage directly to me. I’m ready to kick him, scream, make enough noise that he panics and flees.
At this point he’s punching the walls and doors of the train, screaming at me. He stares me full in the face and screams
SUCK MY DICK, BITCH
YOU STUPID BITCH
YOU GODDAMN HO
IF I HAD A GUN I’D SHOOT YOU
I WOULD FUCKING KILL YOU BITCH
This went on for two stops. No one came to see what was happening. The man in the last row was as frozen as I was. I’m not angry he didn’t come to my defense. He was smaller, older, and frailer-looking than I was. Again, I was worried if I got up, I would be turning my back on him to walk down the aisle. In the state he was in, I had no guarantee it wouldn’t get physical, and I had more physical strength with my back to the window and feet in kicking position where I was. If he had chosen to assault me, I would only be making it easier for him by standing up and putting myself directly in his path. On and on, over and over, he screamed at me, screamed at his dead mother, screamed at me again.
The moment we reached the downtown station, I was out the door and down the stairs. I still had to catch a connecting train to North Hollywood, and made sure there was no sign of Bicycle Man before I entered the car. That’s when I finally starting shaking, and almost threw up. By the time I exited the Red Line and reached my car I could barely breathe and my heart was pounding out of my chest. Even now, in my own home, my hands are still shaking and for some reason the stress has made my back muscles feel cold and numb. From all the tension, I can only assume. I can’t eat anything, I still feel like I’m going to vomit, and I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t cried so much, so hard I still have the headache.
So when people (men) want to talk about “legitimate” forms of assault, tell girls they should be nice to strangers and give men the benefit of a doubt, tell them to consider it a compliment, tell them to ignore the bad behavior of men, I want them to be forced to feel, for even one minute, what it feels like to have so much verbal hatred and physical intimidation thrown at them for nothing more than being female and not wanting to share.
I just wanted to read my book.
It’s not my fault I’m pretty.
I’ve regularly had very similar experiences to this as well.
To the manbabies who baaaaaw at me about how it hurts their feefees when I write about being terrified when unknown men approach me in public, it is because of experiences like this. I have no way of knowing which men are going to simply call me a bitch and which will escalate further (Or, even more rarely, the ones who will leave me alone without pushing it when I don’t respond. They are the rarest of all). Maybe the interrupting man is harmless, or maybe he’s like the pieces of shit above, it’s impossible to tell by looking. All I have to go on is the fact that both the harmless men and the pieces of shit men feel entitled to invade my space and interrupt me from my book or sketchbook, without having made even passing eye contact with me, simply because they have decided I should be paying attention to them.
All I can do to keep my eyes down, not respond, and get away as soon as I safely can.
It’s not a matter of me being rude, it’s a matter of protecting myself based off of my experiences.
Does that make you mad that I’m not being fair? Fuck off. Walk a mile in my shoes.
When white male writers complain that publications devoted to promoting the work of women and people of color are “unfair”
I don’t get it. Y’all tell us that if we want representation so badly, then do it ourselves. But when we do, you whitewash, ignore the fact that they’re actually black because you can’t stand that they don’t look like you, and hate when we tell you to shut up, stop whitewashing, and let us have this one thing that’s not about you.
Every thing I write, every novel, every short story, every joke-filled crackfic that I write on a cabin dare has at least one strong, black, female protagonist. No, I am not always writing myself. No, I do not need to learn to write a different type. I’m actually tired of reading books where the lead doesn’t look like me, or my cousins. People tell me all the time, “If y’all want representation in media, then make it yourself.”
So I do. And I just love it when I write a black, female protagonist who isn’t pregnant, drug-addicted, or any other stereotype and people assume:
- I’m writing myself.
- She’s white.
- She’s unrealistic.
And they get mad when I respond with:
- Nope. Go on somewhere with that nonsense.
- Not everyone is white, and I told you otherwise several times over the course of the story and occasionally multiple times in the chapter. You either have no mastery of reading comprehension, or no clue that ebony is a color, referring to dark brown or black, in reference to the dark wood of the ebony tree (think piano keys). You also probably have no idea what onyx is either. I’d be surprised if you were aware of the existence of anything but pearls and snow. Piss off.
- You’re sheltered and perpetuating stereotypes. Fuck yourself.
And feel the need to say:
- You’re mean.
- YOU HATE WHITE PEOPLE.
- I AM NOT. It’s just how black people USUALLY ARE you bad mean awful person.
And get reoffended when I say:
- I don’t have to be nice to you. Fuck yourself.
- Have you met my fiance? And his brother, whom I offered to allow a large, homophobic racist to come to my house and fight me over? And his parents? Yes, I clearly hate white people. Please choke.
- NOnononoshuttheFUCKup. No one asked you to tell me how black people act. I am one. We have a wide range of personalities. Eat a dick.
Eventually the conversation devolves to:
- You’re still mean. This is why no one likes black people.
- I don’t care! Your protagonist is not white and you called me an idiot and told me to choke! You hate white people! Why do you hate white people? Why are you so mad that no one wants to see you in media? It’s just how things are! You guys have black people TV that doesn’t have us in it and I don’t think that’s fair! I’m underrepresented to as a white cis female!
- You do not. You’re a really bad credit to your race, and I don’t believe you. Why do you people want representation anyway? Why do you need it? It’s not like anyone wants to see you anyway.
And by that point the only thing I feel obligated to tell you is
- Yeah yeah, no one has to be nice to your uncreative ass. Get the fuck out of my space.
- Get the fuck out of my space. Seriously. Out.
- Why are you in my space? Shoo.
So I’m gonna need white people to make up their mind, because y’all are contradictory as fuck, and y’all are predictable, and I’m tired of dealing with y’all’s predictable, contradictory asses.
"A piece of cake could send me reeling, especially if I’m stressed. I could reach for another, and then a few cookies, and maybe a scone from Starbucks I buy surreptitiously with my iced coffee, and then a stop at the grocery store where I throw in a bag of lettuce and a few apples to make the pint of ice cream and the package of tortillas look innocuous, and before I know it, I’m cruising.
“Cruising,” much like how frat guys bar hop to pick up dates, is when you enter a state of half-awareness, propelled solely by the search of food, almost driven mad by the need to eat, to feel better, to quell the anxiety building up in your throat. As if food will keep you together. It won’t, of course, because you cannot eat away an emptiness that is not hunger, and you will hate yourself through every bite. Sometimes, you’ll cry while you’re stuffing your face, and you have no idea why you keep moving your hand to your mouth, and yet this is the coping mechanism you’ve reverted to."
“Breaking Up With Binge Eating,” Ella Ceron
Gosh…I really, really needed to read this this morning.(via saturniinae)
SO YOU WANT TO WRITE A FANTASY:
How exciting! Fantasy is so fun! You can do anything you want to your universe, because it’s fantasy - which is really great, because you’ve always wanted cats to talk and everyone else to share your distaste of squash. Plus you could have magic! Or not, you know, low-fantasy works too. Maybe it will be another Epic/High fantasy, and surely you’ve got a trilogy in the works, or perhaps you’re writing steam punk…anything your heart desires! This is so fun!
What’s that you say? You say you have a hero in mind? Wonderful! Your hero is a strapping young farmboy? Yes? Well, okay. It’s been done before, but I trust you. He’s an orphan, you say? And the Chosen one? Oh, well alright. (Hey you steampunk novelist. Don’t walk away. I noticed you were writing about a young boy who wants to be an airship mechanic. It’s okay, just keep following along.) There’s a great big evil he must defeat in order to save his town, village, country, or the world? Well yes, there does need to be some antagonism in this story, so I’ll let that go, and of course your big evil needs monster or henchmen or something, and yes, this kid really does need a wiser, more experienced person to hel-he’s a man too?
Well you know it wasn’t uncommon for older men and younger male warriors in training to carry on relationships in certain societ- hmm? Oh they’re not gay? Are you sure?
I suppose. If you really feel that way. I just thought it would be interesting and realistic is all, but let’s get back to your story. So he needs a mentor, because he’s only a farmboy, and this older man actually knows what’s going on, but he can’t explain because…well you can think of why later.
What’s that? Oh! There’s a girl character? Lovely! What’s she like? I’m sure the hero here needs a friend, perhaps, or maybe a sister, or another advisor, and maybe just maybe- oh.
She’s the love interest?
Are you sure?
She’s particularly beautiful. Sweet, giving, and has been eying the hero now that he’s gone through some warrior training, and of course she’s graceful. (Is she an elf?) Oh, you gave her a sword. Well that’s a relief, those monsters/henchmen we tossed out into your world are crawling all over the place and so it’s a good thing to keep- she can’t wield it, can she?
No, no, you gave her a broadsword. Her fingers are soft and smooth like silk, you just described this two pages ago. A swords woman has callouses. And even if you lie about that, or gloss over it, you just gave a petite blonde a broadsword. (Do you know what a broadsword is? Have you ever tried lifting one, and then swinging it around for a half hour? Nevermind, don’t do that. You’ll hurt yourself trying.) She just lost the fight. So the hero could save her.
Let’s do this over again.
Particularly beautiful, blahblahblah, no broadsword. Okay. Good. She can’t fight? Well no, she couldn’t fight, she was trying to wield a broadsword on foot. That’s just not practical. What, you mean she really cannot fight? Well that seems stupid, she needs to do something-embroidery?
She’s going to embroider things? And do what, make the perfect cross stitch?
It’s because she’s a woman?
She’s a woman so she can’t fight, but she likes to embroider-
STOP. STOP STOP STOP STOP!
We’ve gone too far! This is absurd. She lives in a world where danger is at every turn, and the worst she can do is bat her eyelashes and faint? Nevermind her craftiness, it’s not like she gets to use it to stitch wounds on the battlefield.
What do you mean it’s realistic?
This isn’t realistic! How is she alive when you’ve painted a big red target on her back that says “Beautiful noble thing the hero cares about - steal me, I’m helpless to stopping you!”? Well but she’s a woman, and women were supposed to be cooking and cleaning and having children in this time. What time? Whatever do you mean, dear novelist? It’s unrealistic to have her be powerful, she’s a girl!
But this is a fantasy novel! There’s no such thing as having to stick to one time period, and remember, we were so excited to do whatever we wanted to in the world because of this being a fantasy novel and all! But this is like Europe! It was a misogynistic society! There was patriarchy! I am trying to be accurate in my portrayals!
THIS IS “EUROPE” WITH MAGIC AND THE UNDEAD. OR STEAMSHIPS. AND FIRE BREATHING CREATURES. THERE ARE DARK FORCES INVOLVED. THIS ISN’T GOING TO BE ACCURATE.
Fine, you know what? You want accuracy. That’s cool. It’s okay to base your world off of stuff in the real world. So that’s why she can’t fight! Why are you arguing with me on this?
Well because maybe it’s why she can’t fight! But maybe it’s not. Let’s just FORGET Europe. Look at Japan - women in Samurai families could train with weapons in order to defend their homes! that was a patriarchal society, and they still trained those women to fight. Or how about Mongolia? Not only were women in charge of the supplies, home tents, and animals, but they could choose to marry and were supposed to initiate sex. And they could fight or be a battle strategist too! And hey, Genghis Khan actually made selling, kidnapping, and raping women illegal under his rule! Maybe we can avoid implying that all brown people have mandatory rape festivals!
Get this, she doesn’t even have to fight to be powerful! [ableist slur redacted], huh? A woman wrote the first modern novel, remember? Maybe she’s a novelist, and wrote the equivalent of the Tales of Genji. Maybe she’s a diplomat, some of the Mongolian women acted like that. Or maybe she’s an adviser - a political adviser. Maybe she’s the Queen! She’s not the Queen? Well, maybe she’s running the show behind the scenes. Or she’s a spy.
Want to hear something even [ableist slur redacted]? Not all societies function/ed under the western notion of what equality should be! Sometimes being the woman of the house means a whole hell of a lot because you run the place where people eat, sleep, and live. And the men have a totally different separate function in society that is not greater or lesser in standing. You remember seeing all those reblogs on why its not okay for white girls to run around in Native American war bonnets, right? They’re worn by men who have earned that right in battle, and women generally don’t wear them. They had their own regalia. A lot of non-western/white cultures don’t have the same norms, traditions, domains split between men and women but that doesn’t make it misogynistic or even unequal. Try looking up stuff like dual-sex/dual-gendered systems, female husbands, and matriarchies and patriarchies existing in the same culture or society. Not all cultures function the same way white Europeans do! Remember that when world building.
So your girl could totally be in charge of the household and not be a simpering helpless blonde. That household may put her equal to her husband or the hero who goes out and fights without a domain.
Remember that hero we had at the beginning? He’s now without supplies, transportation, food, a place to live, or any money or support. All he has are weapons. Because the women of your world are in control of the households. Men are warriors. Whoops. He’s not going to get very far without supplies. Now he has to learn to deal in this society by protecting the female domains who keep him supplied and clothed. Maybe he has to take up quests in order to afford the way to defeating the bad guy.
You want to write women who do stuff besides have babies? Awesome.
You still want her to be good at embroidery?
Fine by me. Just fine by me.
What do you do with that farm boy now? Don’t ask me, I don’t have the damnedest idea.
Reblog — reblog — a thousand times reblog!
There’s female vikings and shieldmaidens, Queen Boudica, pirate women, just to stick with warriors. There’s women who worked as field nurses in just about every single war ever, and if you think that’s not a skill worth writing about I’m not sure I want to read your books. And who do you think runs everything while your farmboy hero empties out towns of able bodied men to fight in his adventure war? Embroidery? Who the hell has time for that when there’s a farm to run, a mill to keep working, the town’s law to uphold and it’s defenses to coordinate. If your farmboy takes all the men into his army, someone is going to have to run the smithy and keep the horses shod. Someone is going to have to work in the factories making sure that the army has ammunition. Oh hey, and speaking of WWII: FEMALE PILOTS.
I do embroidery for fun. I knit. I weave. I can do pottery. I’m not bad with power tools. I’m a bit rusty but I know how to shoot a bow. If push comes to shove I can pick up most any blunt object and put a real beat down on someone, even though I haven’t had a lot of self defense training. I know two ways to kill someone with my bare hands. This is just me, Jane Q. Boring and if I’m more interesting than the female companion/love interest of Farmboy: The Chosen, that says a lot about how much you don’t think women are capable of, and your inability as a writer to make something that’s relatable and real. Get your nose out of Tolkien’s rear end and actually talk to some women, find out what the average woman is capable of.
Stuff like this is why my activism is all mixed up in my writing. Representation and normalization of minorities and oppressed groups and people outside the dominant Western narrative. The stories you tell are powerful.
Hey, there’s a reason my blog is called The Pen and the Sword.
WOAH i didn’t know all this stuff about women in history. this was informative.
All thins kind of reminds me of David Eddings series The Belgariad and The Malorean.
In some ways it very much follows the fantasy tropes (farmboy, chosen one, etc) but he has two main mentors. One is Garion’s grandfather and the other is his aunt. How is very much the HBIC. And kicks so much ass and has never settled down with a man because she’s never wanted to and has been too busy kicking ass and taking names.
Garion’s love interest is a girl named Ce’Nedra who is small, slender and can’t fight. She’s part dryad. She’s useless and whiny. And blah blah blah they start out hating each other but eventually fall for one another and yadda yadda and they get married.
Once married Ce’Nedra cranks out a kid who is kidnapped. Garion goes after said kid. What does Ce’Nedra do? Sit around weeping and wringing her hands? She can’t fight after all. But she is exceptionally good at getting her way. So she goes out and raises up this enormous army to help Garion in his search and kicks some butt and takes names that way.
my hair is brown.
my eyes are brown.
my skin is a wheatish brown.
i was born brown.
does this make my soul
are the rights i have brown?
is the voice emanating out of my
lined with brown?
i am a coloured person.
my essence is fleeting
i can’t be thrown into
i am not to be measured
in nanometers and wavelengths
i am a woman, a sister, an aunt, someone’s lover.
not just brown
Gee, I don’t know how to research writing Characters of Color tastefully:
- So You Want to Write a Fantasy: Writing Female Characters
- So You want to Write a Fantasy: Culture
- SYWTWAF: Writing What you Don’t know
- A list of adjectives to describe physical attributes, Or, As it turns out, I could go to Starbucks with half this list
- Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack
- Some primers
- More Primers
- RaceFail ‘09: Or where Deepad’s I didn’t dream of Dragons comes from, and why.
- Writing characters of Color
- Writing Outside your experience
- Media Representations Wiki - stereotypes/tropes/culture/etc
- On A:TLA’s whitewashing - All The World’s White, the Rest of Us merely live in it
- The Face of the Other: Do Manga & Anime characters look “white”?
- Describing Characters of Color pt 1 & Describing Characters of Color (pt 2)
- I Didn’t Dream of Dragons
- So You Want to: Avoid Unfortunate Implications
- Transracial Writing for the Sincere
- Why Writing Colorblind is Writing White
- What a Girl Wants: Representation
- An Equal Place at the Table
- Avoiding LGBTQ Stereotypes
- The Problem With Colorblindness (and the Rest of Racebending.com)
- Making Movies for White People: A Tongue in Cheek critique of Minority Representation in the Media, or lack thereof
- From Margin to Center: Writing Characters of Color via Racialicious
- Writing Characters of Color - a helpful community!
- Why my Protagonists aren’t white (even though I am.)
- The Dangers of Telling a Single Story (a helpful Video)
- The Lack of People of Color in Historical Fictions
- How to Read and Respond to Literature of Color
- The Advantages of being a White Writer (in getting published)
- Writing Characters of Colour (Now With 10% Less White Liberal Anxiety!)
- Fic and Skin Tone (discusses Nyota Uhura, otherwise relevant)
- On Problematic Writing
- Writing Race in YA fiction: Debunking Myths
- Diversity Writers: How to Write People of Color
- The Importance of Inclusionary Writing
- Overcoming the Noble Savage and the Sexy Squaw: Native Steampunk
- The Intersection of Race and Steampunk: Colonialism’s After-Effects & Other Stories, from a Steampunk of Colour’s Perspective
- Beyond Victoriana: For EVERYTHING Steampunk/1800s/Industrial Revolution that isn’t just Victorian England and the archives Tales of the Urban Adventurer
- Can I just watch A Game of Thrones in Peace? (A brown feminist fan rant).
- Fantasy and Sci-Fi race Bingo
- Invoking Strangely Colored people
- Many Voices
- AfroFuturism, SciFi, and the History of the Future
- Some Open Thoughts on Race & Dsyutopia
- When Will White People Stop Making Movies like Avatar?
- Portraying POC in YA Fantasy: Are we There Yet?
- Debunking White Fantasy
- Racism in Fantasy
- Magical Realism is Fantasy written in Spanish.
1.) It’s not hard to figure out what to do, there are plenty of resources.
People say you have to get it right, do your research, but … what else are you supposed to research? It’s not like people with more pigment in their skin have completely different personalities than those with less, any more than any individual. It’s frustrating when I can’t even figure out what the heck people are talking about.
Bam. Research step one done for you.
2.) Writing characters of color/minorities is a good thing.
I don’t like the notion that fantasy authors are under some kind of obligation to present ethnically diverse worlds. I’m English, and a fair sized part of English history consists of unwashed beardy white people in mead halls. If I’m inspired by my own history and cultural heritage, then that’s what I’m damn well going to write about. I’m not writing about some other culture just to appease the people who think there aren’t enough black characters in fantasy, or whatever. You want it, you write it. Nothing to do with me.
3.) Your all White Fantasy Land Didn’t Exist in Real Life:
…the rather medieval one has more diversity than real medieval Germany probably had […] In a world with medieval means of transport, it just doesn’t seem natural to me to mix dark-skinned people with blue-eyed blondes in one setting. I just try to give the people a colour that fits the place where they live.
You mean like the people from Africa and the Middle east who began to take over Southern Spain, as well as the Jews who were pretty well spread out throughout Europe, the Middle Easterners they would have met on the Crusades, and the incoming Mongol Hordes who spread to the very edges of Eastern Europe before the empire finally collapsed? Don’t forget that Turkey is right there, and the silk road would have gone from Song Dynasty China, through India, and ended in Turkey before moving further westwards into places like Germany. Also the attempts at the Franco-Mongol alliance would have been pretty interesting. (That’s about the 13th century - arguably smack dab in Middle Ages Europe and definite contact between France/Christian Europe and the Mongolian Empire.)
Unless you’re writing everything in the far reaches of Denmark or something, historically speaking, I call bullshit on people who have societies that are only all white ever, because it’s just inaccurate. Consider the relative closeness of Northern Africa to Spain, or Turkey to the rest of Europe, the conquests of Alexander the Great, the Crusades, Slavery existing in Europe, including England, the slave trade, imperialism, Pax Mongolica, The Silk Road, Jewish Diaspora, the Islamic Empire vs The Holy Roman Empire, Egypt, Algeria, China’s sailing across the world, The Maruyan/Gupta Empires of India, tea trades, Columbus sailing in hopes of finding China, etc, etc, etc.
4.) I mean I just don’t believe you anymore. It’s unrealistic. Seriously guys.
You’d think I’d just denied the holocaust or something. Get a grip. All I said was that I’m going to write about my own cultural experience and anyone who thinks I should do otherwise for the sake of political correctness can bugger off.
This isn’t even about being PC this is just not being wrong about everything.
This is a terrific set of resources. If I ever do manage to write that book I intend to, these will come in very handy. And to add to the research bits. It’s not actually that hard to find information online.
Warning: info-dump coming up.
I just want to add a bit of historical knowledge about the “far reaches of Denmark”, some of which is my own background knowledge, some of which is stuff I’ve found with a few quick google searches.
As far back as the Stone Age - which is considerable BEFORE the middle ages or medieval times as you might call it - the Danes traded with people from the Mediterranean lands. How do we know this? Because stone was moved between those places. Danish flint has been found in Norway (and that, too, is a long way away - if Denmark are “the far reaches” what the hell is Norway?), and Danish amber has been found around the Mediterranean. In the Bronze Age metal was imported from the South into these far reaches of Denmark.
And now we reach the Middle Ages. Digs at Haithabu, Ribe and other Viking Age and Medieval towns show that the Danes at this time traded not just with what is now Germany, Sweden and Norway, the Danes sailed to the British Isles and traded there. They sailed the Baltic Sea and up the rivers of Russia. They traded with most of Europe. How do we know this? Because some of the coins found in the dig sites I mentioned up above are Arabic and Roman in origin.
Sure, the population density when it comes to people of colour will definitely have been less in the Scandinavian countries in those days, but to pretend that nobody even knew of the existence of people of colour is disingenuous.
If I recall correctly the first Christian missionaries started doing their thing in the North somewhere around 6-700 AD. The most famous of them in Denmark was Ansgar in the 800s. This is not even the late Middle Ages. It’s the early Middle Ages. And Christianity came from a place largely populated with people of colour. It has since been white-washed to a ridiculous degree, but you can bet your arses that people knew of non-white people up here back then.
Oh, did I mention how the politics in Northern Europe in the later Middle Ages were actually quite aware of how things were going around the Mediterranean? How people from up here did actually also join the Crusades and go to Jerusalem? How people up here joined holy orders of one kind or the other and went on pilgrimages? How they brought back knowledge and new friends? How they sometimes also brought slaves back with them? Yes, this goes far back.
So anyway, yes, if you want to write something that’s 100% white you need to not only set it in Scandinavia, the history of which most of the English-speaking world is surprisingly ignorant about considering the fetishism of our Mythologies that’s going around (Thor, anyone?), you also need to actively ignore the history of the Scandinavian countries. Not that that should be difficult, considering aforementioned ignorance.
So anyway, I realize that the “far reaches of Denmark” was a quip about how far you’d need to go to have a realistic all-white ‘world’. The thing is, on this planet I can’t actually think of a place that’d be far enough away from everything else to justify it at all. Not even Denmark in the Bronze Age.
And if you go further North into Sweden, Norway and Finland you’ll end up bumping into the Nomadic peoples of the North, who had/have connections Eastwards into Sibiria and have never been considered white by white supremacists. Heading to the islands of Iceland and Greenland? Don’t make me laugh. Though Greenland is still part of the Danish monarchy, let’s not pretend that its people are considered white Danes by any means. The racism that Inuit peoples are met with here in Denmark, which ought to count as their own country, makes it not their own country at all. And guess how long the people of Iceland and Greenland have been known to the Danes due to sea travel? That’s right. Since the Viking Age/early Middle Ages.
There’s no way to use History as an argument against inclusion of people of colour. Not even in the stereotypically white-washed and white-fetishized Scandinavia.
(Source: , via theirriandjhiquishow-deactivate)
Dear (allegedly non-racist) Skinheads,
Ya’ll fucked up.
Instead of owning the fuck up to the rampant and often violent and militant racism and white supremacy in your scene, the rampant and often violent and militant racism that you, an allegedly anti-racist skinhead, allow, you decide to shout down the black girl, one that grew up in the punk scene for her lived experiences with skins.
You’re beyond ignorant.
I know of SHARPs. One of my favorite people up on here is a SHARP. I know of the black roots of the skin subculture. I know about the black skinheads and the black roots of English punk. I dig the roots of the subculture, music, and the style a lot actually, and am interested in it.
But, more importantly, I know of the racist appropriation of that culture, both by raving supremacist racists AND by allegedly non-racist white folks who felt it was totally within their right to steal from black culture and even at times dare to claim it was some sort of homage to blackness when we never saw the profits or the visibility for ourselves. That’s right, you’re all inherently racist because you’re fucking jockin’ shit that doesn’t belong to you. I know about my experienced with low-class angry white power thugs and brats whose shaved head and ample usage of the confederate flag didn’t make me think “how dare they wrongly appropriate the skinhead culture” but “oh shit, I need to take care of myself before I possibly get bashed”. I go to shows, I don’t ponder and consider whether the guy in the doc martens and thin black suspenders might be a SHARP or might wanna stomp my face in, I just assume the latter and move the fuck on. Yeah, I care about myself and my safety first! Wow! That’s a funny thing about this whole anti-racism, pro-POC position that you don’t understand-you listen, advocate and care for us, our decisions, our lived experiences, our narratives over anything else, especially over silly, condescending, nitpicking, whitesplaining subcultural misnomers or misunderstandings. But as always, whiteness is first and foremost concerned with whiteness. I shouldn’t be surprised.
What I don’t stand for is you daring to claim the anti-racist tagline for yourself. Don’t you fucking dare. You’re just as racist as your white supremacist breathern, if not more. At least they’re not cowards hiding as alleged allies, undermining POC secretly, prioritizing themselves over us in their acclaimed egalitarian political beliefs.
Also, you’re stupid basic assholes for still summing up all of racism and all racial prejudice and white privilege to Nazism. What the fuck is that? You lack nuance.
Fuck you, tired assholes
PS-Just because you have that Dead Kennedys patch with the swastika crossed out DOESN’T automatically make you anti-racist. It just makes you a basic punk like the rest of them.
I still reserve the right - for the sake of my own safety and the safety of others I love - to assume that if you’re white you are racist in some way(s) unless you prove otherwise. And that goes triple for if you’re a white skinhead. This shit is called survival. And you are a racist if you can’t respect that. Cry your river elsewhere.
[Joss Whedon stands in a black, leather jacket, grey t-shirt, and jeans. TOP TEXT: “Why do you write strong female characters?” BOTTOM TEXT: “Because you’re still asking me that question.” Joseph “Joss” Whedon]