Fantasy, Reality, & ‘Ism’s
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In the wake of the Fuck You Jim Butcher post a lot of the “It’s fantasy, don’t get offended” rhetoric is circulating again. Nothing new, but I’m a little perplexed by the argument that using real racial slurs (like Injun or Tar Baby) for fictional characters means that those real slurs are somehow neutered. That using real cities as backdrops and rewriting them to erase millions of people of color doesn’t mean anything…because it’s fiction. That including real sexist tropes & real rape culture is somehow a-okay because…it’s fiction. Fiction that is built on real racism, real sexism, & real classism is likely to be real offensive.
No one is saying that authors must write books that please everyone. That’s impossible. Fiction is supposed to be an escape for readers, (that is especially true of genre fiction) and when you use real social issues in your work you need to be aware of that fact. After all when your idea of an escape is a world where those social issues are present and often unaddressed or poorly handled? That says something about you. Don’t like what people think it says or that they’re angry when they discuss it? Might be time to examine your work and yourself a little more closely. Among other things, ask why your fiction needs to be rooted in real ‘isms. And just what are you & your readers trying to escape?