Hedgehogery and the fights about diversity in fiction

Recent posts

Hedgehogery and the fights about diversity in fiction

24.02.2015

Disclaimer: everything I say here are my own opinions, I'm not trying to speak for anyone else. This also applies to everything else I post... just sayin'


It's a topic that grew to be more interesting, important, and controversial to me over time. I guess, this post's coming was unavoidable. Sooner or later.

Few years ago, those issues weren't even poking my radar, nowadays, it feel like they're everywhere. I've been observing, reading, sometimes debating things related to equality and diversity for a longer while now, and what I've observed is a process that goes like: there's an issue, people debate to prove the issue exists, then they debate to end it, then, for those that can be convinced without issue, the issue ends, and then the first debaters keep debating, and pushing to convince everyone else. That in turn, becomes too much for some of those that were happily convinced at first.

And so the pendulum swings, the spring springs, and the hedgehogs are born.

Me? A while ago I could feel the spikes growing. Every now and then, I read something that gives me that hedgehogy itch. And I find myself having to reason with myself to get rid of it.

What issues bring it out? Anything really. Some pertain to me, some don't. Some are important, some aren't. But what gets me is that at some point in those debates the fighting side (side A, let's say, starting from the underprivileged position) seems to lose the perspective. And they begin to deny other people (side B, 'the primary opressors') the right to their opinion, they refuse to listen, and refuse to communicate. It stops being a discussion with a good goal in mind, and it turns into some sort of vendetta, pushing more, and more, until things stop making sense, or get side B to feel bullied/discriminated against in return.

And no, the past doesn't justify it. Why? Because most of the side B that gets convinced, and is actually honestly supportive towards side A, has never done side A any harm. Punishing people for what their gender/race/orientation/religion/anythingelse did in the past/does nowadays (as in - some people with the side B trait living today), just because they belong to it, is no better than the original discrimination.

I hate the term 'mansplaining'. I hate the term 'whitesplaining'. Just as I hate any sort of derogatory slur directed at another person (but not used in a discussion about the slur, articles, or comedy). Yes, it's not entirely politically correct, because I think no word should be banned from the dictionary. While I believe political correctness a great concept in general, I also believe that recently it likes to cross boundaries of common sense here and there. Terms like mansplaining used in a discussion with another person ARE offensive. They reek of complete disregard and disrespect. I'm sure there are people who deserve to have their arguments summed up this way, but what I'm noticing lately is that people in cultural, respectful discussions get slapped in the face with them too. I could count at least five places/discussions where I've seen it happen in the past few months. And I don't spend that much time browsing the web.

As a woman, I support the efforts for actual, real equality. I am grateful to women who fought for our rights in the past, I'm grateful to those, who still fight the injustice, unequal pay, right to decide about our bodies, fight the harassment, and other important issues. Those women are wonderful people, and I've nothing but respect towards them. As I do for the men, who join those causes and help these brave women. Thank you, guys, sincerely :)

But then there are those women, who go too far. Fight the way in-game characters are clothed, fight for every piece of fiction to contain a strong woman or else, start actions about reading books only written by women, boycott men in discussions, and generally start to disregard every male just because of their gender. They get offended, because they're not privileged. That's not what the others are fighting for, is it? Privilege does not equal equality. And you can't get respect without giving it in return.

And that, I see all over, is causing hedgehogery as well. In men. Instead of equality and respect, some guys, who normally wouldn't mind equality at all, begin to bristle up, because frankly, they feel attacked and disregarded. And nobody likes to feel that way, it causes instant hostility, or at least leaves people disgruntled and non sympathetic.

Before I read (I usually just lurk, as I grew out of loving conflict :P) a few discussions pushing things too far, I had no negative feelings towards any sort of minority. None, zero, nada. I viewed everyone for who they were, and I was happy with it. Then, the internet released the Hedgehog. Yes, even against women. And I am one, so go figure.

Luckily, there are many people in the minorities/underprivileged groups fighting for equality that are level-headed, open-minded, and not offended by things not meant to be offensive. I thank those people and their replies/comments in all of those places for dehedgehoging me. It makes me remember that majority of people in the Side B is not out there to make war and to make the Side A feel irrelevant in the two-way issue/debate. And that makes me feel good. About humanity, and about my writing.

I know that there's already a bunch of Diversity Hedgehogs out there bristling at the inclusion of minorities into a lot of mainstream works, and they ask "Again? What for? Why?". The answer, to me, is "Why not?".

I like diversity, I have plenty of it in my novel, and not because I feel obligated to have it by the trends or whatever else, but because I want to, because it's more fun to write, because the world is diverse, because the plot doesn't suffer from it (quite the contrary), because it may make someone happy to see characters like themselves in a novel. I don't stick anything in where it doesn't fit, but who knew? Albinos are actually common in a race I made up. My protagonist is from a race I can't really identify in earthly terms, cause it's irrelevant in the world, and I just go by a picture I drew. One of the major characters turned out to be wheelchair-bound. It came from her story (the past, and the role in the plot as it develops), not an idea like: "A-HA! I got to have a disabled character... who could it be... oh yea! Check." Nothing like that. And damn, did it flesh her out in my mind.

I'm very much against shoehorning anything where it doesn't belong. If there were no women on ships, don't put a female sailor in that historically accurate story. A story with all-men can be superb. Don't demand racial diversity in a setting that historically had none just for the sake of political correctness. Those are some of the things that go too far, and they're the hedgehog-baits.

I hope that once everything settles down, all sorts of hedgehogs will be placated. Right now, it all feels like a conflict where one side says OMG WHY MUST IT BE ABOUT CIS GENDERED STRAIGHT WHITE MALE AGAIN I BOYCOTT THIS BIGOTED MISOGYNISTIC CRAP, where the other will go OMG WHY MUST THEY PUT EVERY MINORITY IN EVERYTHING NOWADAYS I DEMAND A HALF-ASIAN HALF-BLACK HALF-CHEROKEE HALF-GAY HALF-FEMALE HALF-ALIEN REPRESENTATION RIGHT NOW.

So I hide my spikes and remember that all in all, I love good and nice people. I do. I'd love good and nice Martians if I met any too. And I say suck it, overactive warriors, from any conflict, either side. And suck it, hedgehogs. Write what you love, read/watch/play what you love. Go for crazy diversity if it pleases you, or go for none, if that's what your setting/idea calls for. It's nice to make people feel good, but once there's a diversity in diversity in all the works, there won't be a need or pressure to do so, because nobody will feel generally left out/made into a token. Or so I choose to believe.

All in all, make love not war.

Or at least cuddle.

LonelyPhilosopher
03-07-2015
This was eloquent :D And an interesting read. I've gone on too many rants about the subject myself... or at least a large number - I'm not sure if there can be too many. ^_^
reply
Echo
27-02-2015
I'd still risk it. Just look at those snouts. Totally worth a nick or two.
reply
Maelon
25-02-2015
I don't think hedgehog cuddles are comfortable at all... :S
Altough i wouldn't know, i'm no hedgehog.
reply