Wednesday, August 3, 2016

IWSG: Political Correctness in Our Time

Welcome to my Insecure Writers Support Group post. We post the first Wednesday of every month. Brought together by the wonderful Alex J. Cavanaugh, our purpose is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds! Sign up HERE and visit many other blogs to connect with other writers.

Political Correctness in our Time


So I was surfing Pinterest last week (one of my favorite past times) and I came across the article entitled something along the lines of "5 Signs Your Story is Sexist." I was intrigued so I clicked to read. My first eye-roll happened only the second paragraph. (I don't remember who wrote the article off the top of my head, or what blog it was on. I'm sure I could find it if I looked, but I'm not going to bc I really wasn't impressed with it.)

I won't go over every point the post's writer made, but let's just say there was no way to satisfy her where sexism is concerned. Basically, if you show a female character in any kind of negative light EVER, you're being a sexist. And on the flip side, if you have a male character in any traditional male gender role, EVER, you're being a sexist. 

Don't get me wrong. There were some interesting points that really made me think, but overall, how the hell do you write a story without showing SOMEone in a negative light? 

Answer: You can't.

And I suppose I just really started over-thinking this (I do that) and stressing out about it. Because anytime anyone puts a negative comment on...anything--blog post, FB post, book review, etc.--a host of other Negative Nancys are sure to follow. And it never ceases to amaze me how many people jump to "follow" in the political correctness arena. 

But we just have to remember that readers want compelling stories. And stories are neither compelling nor satisfying if there isn't a clear-cut villain, plenty of character flaws, and the villain doesn't experience poetic justice at some point. So the people who want to read our stories won't take this negative angle.

Then I realized something else about this particular article. It's common to have articles entitled this way aimed toward helping writers. (10 Ways to Make Your Villain More Believable, 5 Tips on World-Building, etc. I've written many such articles myself.) But this isn't a "write tip" article. "5 Signs Your Story is [Already] Sexist." Okay, I inserted the "already" for clarification, but this article was written to attack authors' already-published stories from a politically correct standpoint.

It fails to take into account the fact that these negative characters, be they men or women, eventually get their comeuppance. And THAT is where the true message the author is trying to send lies. Which means the article is missing the entire point of story-telling to begin with.

Always take a step back and ask yourself what an article's agenda is. If it's to help you as a writer--just offer friendly advice--then great. Take the advice. Learn from it. Incorporate it. But if the advice has a negative bent, don't let it stress you out. It's just another way for negative people to discourage you. Don't let them. 

As long as you're true to your characters and your story, and aren't actively TRYING to be bigoted (which almost none of us are) you'll find your audience. Writers, by their very nature, are better than most at seeing and presenting truth, especially that surrounding love, motivations, justice, and the character of a...character. Don't let anything get in the way of that. ;D

What are YOU insecure about this month?

10 comments :

  1. Well said. Besides, it would be really hard to write a story that was a hundred percent not sexist and politically correct. And if you did, it would be boring.

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    1. Agreed! Gotta have flaws or stories aren't worth reading. :D

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  2. S/he would be terribly upset reading my work. I do a mesh-mash of qualities and don't think about what sex they are. :-)

    Anna from elements of emaginette

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    1. Yeah, same. I'm sure she'd hate all mine too. :D

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  3. Sounds like she has the issues. I wonder if she lost readers or gain readers writing such a provocative article?

    Juneta @ Writer's Gambit

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    1. I don't know. Would be interesting to find out though, wouldn't it? :D

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  4. It can be VERY difficult! I write freelance full-time and learned that it's considered offensive to use he/she in an article. We're supposed to say "they" now to avoid excluding gender non-conforming people. I just can't bring myself to do it...so I rewrite the sentence to make it plural!

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    1. Yeah that sucks. I don't think I'd be able to do it either. I don't know why people are so weird about it. It takes so much energy to be so negative! ;D

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  5. Pretty sure every story I've ever written are sexist then because, you know, people have flaws. I genuinely wonder if they're able to point to a story that they don't consider sexist.

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    1. Yeah I agree. One of the examples of "sexist" writing used is one of my favorite fantasy series. There are way more powerful women in high up positions in that series than men. And apparently sexist. So I don't think there would be any satisfying this person. Thanks Aldrea. (Love your name, btw.)

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