It’s that time again: that time every week where I round up links to articles written by marginalized people pushing back against oppression in publishing. I’m aggregated as many marginalized voices as possible from as many vectors as possible, and the more intersectional the better. As always if you’ve read something I missed please link it in the comments.
Why would you consider such information? you might ask. VIDA has a history of advocating for women’s voices to be heard. An intersectional approach, such as looking at these demographic factors, is a natural development necessary to deepen the conversation. We want to take a closer look and identify what factors affect all women’s representation. This next step requires asking how those factors might affect certain populations of women writers when it comes to publication rates.
“This phenomenon of male writers being hailed as the ‘saviours’ of female-dominated genres can also be seen in the recent popularity of young adult author John Green, writer of The Fault in Our Stars. Young Adult fiction has been around since the 1980s, with females writing profusely in that genre for decades,” said Nudrat Kamal in her piece on sexism in literature for the Tribune, noting how many lady YA authors are “rankled” at the idea that it took a man writing YA to make YA a worthy career choice for a writer or a category of literature to consider seriously as a reader.
But I am not here to complain about misrepresentations of adaptive techniques or tired blindness stereotypes. I honestly don’t care if Marie-Laure counts her steps, reads braille with her thumbs, hears the ocean from her sixth-floor window, or can detect the scent of cedars from a quarter-mile away. The assault on the dignity of blind people is not that this character has strange adaptive techniques, or even that there are so many things she does not do for herself; it is that she is utterly without agency as a character.
It’s also important to consider that, instead of finding common limitations to the tools or treatments that exist in your world, you might not even need to. What if your character doesn’t use these options in the first place?
There are many reasons a workaround might not be accessible to your character. They might be incredibly expensive, or only available through specific providers. They might be rare, difficult to locate, or so brand-new it’s not even something they’ve considered. And on and on.
Think about reasons your character might choose not to adopt assistive tech, undergo a medical procedure, turn to magic as a cure, etc.
You fold your arms. “Let me guess,” you say, bitter, “it’s another queer tragedy. Because our suffering sells. Because that’s all you can see for us is coffins and mourning and broken hearts.”