In Defense of Excluding White Male Authors

Update: A recommendation list of non-white and/or non-male authors.

I recently announced something I’d decided on ages ago: That I’d exclusively be reading non-male authors in 2015 and non-white authors in 2016.

The moment of resolution happened when my horrified eyes beheld my reading record on gender. Not only were my percentages far less than 50/50 (favoring male authors) but also most of the female authors on record for me reflected books that I’d read as a child and younger teen. From the time I started university until now, I’d mostly read white male authors.

Furthermore, the works by the relatively few authors of color I’d read were on racial issues and the non-male authors I’d read were writings on feminism.

How did this happen to a voracious reader who graduated with a double degree in the Humanities, an area of study widely reviled as diversity-obsessed? The short answer is that I paid no attention to gender or race in my reading, and not caring is a recipe for bias in a world riddled with inequality.

How It Happened

I majored in English and Philosophy at university. My priorities in school were, in this order, to take the best philosophy classes I could, to have time to work, to graduate early, and to have four-day weekends if I could (i.e. take Tuesday-Thursday courses only). Though a few of my English lit classes included many authors of color and female authors, I chose most of them based on perceived ease as well as scheduling fit, not horizon-broadening. As for the Philosophy courses, to call the better-loved of my two majors “an extensive overview of white male thought” would be rather generous towards it.

I also deconverted from Islam during the spring and summer of my first year as a college student. I read a lot of atheist-authored evolutionary biology and psychology, skepticism, science, and atheistic philosophy — as in Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, Dennett, Shermer, etc.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Jennifer Michael Hecht, and Meera Nanda made it in there, but not enough to balance things out.

Ignore It & It Will Go Away?

A common argument against discussing or taking conscious care when it comes to matters of race and gender is that calling attention to the issue will exacerbate matters. Why not focus on the common humanity we all share rather than our differences?

Unfortunately for the anti-victimhood brigade, that attitude does not accurately reflect the world in which we live. Seemingly “equal” and “unbiased” behavior doesn’t lead to equal and unbiased outcomes. Because of intrinsic biases, behaving as if equality were already acheived leads to the reinforcement of the status quo, which is certainly not equality for all.

Bias doesn’t magically correct itself when we ignore it in favor of pretending like all that matters is that we are human. If that were true, there would be a lot more balance in my reading history. If a voracious non-male reader of color like myself managed to read so few non-male and/or non-white authors, then active correction is the only solution.

Some Uncomfortable Ideas

Active correction does tend to make people uncomfortable. Just take a quick gander at the comments on another piece that makes the argument that I do. The idea of working proactively to correct an implicit bias stinks of “reverse discrimination” to most people. However, recognizing that biases can and often do exist without conscious motivation or realization is absolutely essential in working towards countering those biases.

In other words, I didn’t mean to discriminate in favor of white men, but that is what happened anyway, regardless of intent. If I’m going to be more egalitarian in my reading, I’ll have to counter my unthinking biases with thoughtful action.

Even More Uncomfortable Implications

As uncomfortable as it can be to admit you have biases and to actively work to correct them, the implications of letting the biases simply be are far more uncomfortable.

The issue, for me, is that non-men and non-white people are staggeringly underrepresented in my reading. I have spent over 20 years disregarding the gender or race of the people who authored my books and ended up reading mostly white male authors. That means either one of two things:

  1. That I have a bias in my reading and I’m interested in correcting it; or
  2. That there are few-to-no non-male and/or non-white authors worth reading.

Based on the reading I have done of authors who aren’t white men, I would say that the second notion is false. There are many non-male and/or non-white authors with fine books out there. It is on me to find them. If I don’t, I will continue in my implicit agreement with the second premise.

A Statistical View

Is it really so bad to take two short years to focus on perspectives other than the white male ones after focusing (unwittingly) on white male authors for so long? Given that I learned to read at age 3, and I’ll be 28 years old at the end of 2016, I will have spent 2 out of 25 reading years focusing on non-white and/or non-male authors. 8% of my active reading years is barely anything, let alone anything approximating equality.

 

Heck, even after entering the books that I already have that I will be reading for the next two years, I’ve yet to reach gender equality in my reading.

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In Defense of Excluding White Male Authors

155 thoughts on “In Defense of Excluding White Male Authors

    1. 1.1

      When I was in second grade I was taught that it was wrong to intentionally exclude someone because of their race or gender. Did you not finish grade school?

      Your logic is that you have read too much by white male authors and you want some more “diverse views.” Do you simply assume that all white men think alike?

      You have chosen for years to look at books that you thought were interesting without consideration of the author but most of the authors you read happened to be white men. This is not real bias. Let me try to explain this to you; choosing to read a book because of the subject is not discriminatory, choosing to read a book solely because of the authors race or gender is.

      It’s not yours or society’s fault that white men apparently write more stories that aren’t based on racial/women’s issues. You weren’t doing anything wrong. You wanted to read ideas, you wanted to read what you were interested in. What you are saying with this is that someone’s race and gender are more important than the ideas they present.

      1. It’s not yours or society’s fault that white men apparently write more stories that aren’t based on racial/women’s issues.

        No, there are plenty of female and/or authors or color who write about issues that aren’t race or gender. I intend on reading them.

        1. And yet you admit you couldn’t be bothered reading them before. So what changed? They writings themselves aren’t any more interesting now that they were when you were reading based on perceived quality. If race/gender were not an issue you’d still prefer to read other writings. But now you’re reading them, why? How is it not discriminatory to base your reading on race and sex?

          1. What changed? I started caring about reversing discrimination. Their writings are awesome, as I’m finding. The issue was a lack of favoritism in their direction, not a lack of awesome in their writing.

        1. You’re criticising him for “not evolving his views since grade school”. I assume therefore that you have evolved all your views since then? Nothing you believed in grade school you still believe?

          1. Um, what? He was the one who barged in and used grade school logic on me. I never said that no views from grade school are valid, just that grade school logic is not always the best argument.

        2. When you call someone’s reasoning “grade school” without actually criticising it, you’re being a mindless snippy propagandist. You’re presenting yourself as an intellectual not a 13 year old girl excluding someone from their clique, MAKE AN ARGUMENT.

          1. When did I “present myself as an intellectual”? Citation needed.

            If people resort to grade-school level reasoning, do I not have the right to respond in a fashion I expect them to respect, i.e. their own?

          2. “When did I “present myself as an intellectual”? Citation needed.”
            Isn’t that the whole point of this blog?

            “If people resort to grade-school level reasoning, do I not have the right to respond in a fashion I expect them to respect, i.e. their own?”
            He was taught in grade school that discrimination was wrong. That’s something he got in grade school that he should be proud of. Your reply was something your reply was something people in grade school should be ashamed of. That’s not surprising, you’re basically a clique-based person, but with a bigger clique. You can’t analyse intellectually, all you can do is repeat and amplify the prejudices of your clique.

    2. 1.2

      It’s called discrimination. There’s no ‘reverse’ about it.

      Here’s the thing, if she should have been reading more non-white, non-male authors* then WHICH authors should she have been reading? What person with no penis but lots of melanin could she have read that would have given her what the “Four Horsemen” did?

      Yeah it’s entirely possible there ARE fewer women authors worth reading. Women’s life goals differ from that of men. They might not be anywhere near as keen to produce the excellence that makes up a book you feel you have to read. Similarly non-whites might not create as much readable material as whites because their history and culture is not the same as whites. Get over it.

      * Didn’t say “female” because I wanted to include intersex and trans.

        1. So because I acknowledge that woman have different experiences and therefore might not have the same results, I’m sexist? Really? So your definition of “sexist” is someone who believes that women and men are exactly the same, despite being treated differently for all of recorded history. Thanks, it’s always nice when I can think myself smarter than someone with a double degree.

          In fact you’re doing more than that. You’re calling me sexist for saying that it MIGHT be true that women don’t write as much or as well, due to their different life experiences. So even CONSIDERING the idea that discrimination is not the reason for disparity is sexist. Really, take a look at yourself, you’ve taken a wrong turn somewhere.

        2. Notice how this reply doesn’t actually have an argument in it. That’s because you know I’m right. If you really thought that I was wrong you’ve have actually tried to find a flaw in the reasoning somewhere. Instead you do the evil thing, call names. This gives me an idea, is it possible that all evil is immaturity? Because you’ve been acting like a 13 year old girl trying to fit in with the cool kids. All evil seems to be like this, a refusal to acknowledge facts adults are obliged to acknowledge and the pursuit of approval and dominance that children should grow out of.

          1. Honestly, the way multiple comment of yours are going on about how awful I am, even “evil”, I can’t understand why you keep coming back for more from the allegedly vile entity that I am.

  1. 3

    Strangely enough, there was a woman in the Guardian who wrote about doing this just a couple of days ago. In case you’re interested in her choices, they’re here”

    I did pretty well on authors of colour last year, mainly because we have a brilliant local library. -Perhaps also because I have a thing for French language African literature? I also find that at least half of the white authors I read had an important protagonist or main character who wasn’t white. Maybe it depends what genre you like?

  2. 4

    I applaud your conviction. I couldn’t do it myself because Brandon Sanderson will release volume 3 of the Stormlight Archive later this year and I will have to drop everything I’m doing to read that. But projects like this do a great job of throwing into sharp relief how much of our canon across all fields and genre’s are dominated by white dudes. It’s something I’m actively trying to correct even if I admit that I won’t be perfect about it.

  3. 6

    Marketing also plays a role in the books we read. Without conscious effort, we will tend to gravitate toward the most visible books, and white men are over-represented in that group.

    1. 6.2

      That’s because white men write books people want to read, and marketers know that. There’s no reason why a black woman’s book would be harder to market than a white man’s unless it wasn’t as good a book.

  4. 7

    […] And I’m not the only one. I started doing this after reading an article (lost to the annals of my browser history) in which the author wrote about her realization that the vast majority of the books she had read in her high school English classes had been authored by white men. More recently, heinous Heina has decided to exclusidely read non-male authors in 2015 and non-white authors in 2016 (you can read her explanation of this choice here). […]

  5. 8

    The dichotomy you set up is false. It is not the case that you must either have a bias or there must not be non-white/male authors worth reading.

    The same systemic forces that produce all the bias in our culture generally will also operate on the process of people becoming writers and writing books. More white/men will have access to educational opportunities. More white/men will be encouraged and inspired to pursue those interests. More white/men will have the requisite education to be an expert on any particular topic. More white/men will have the opportunity to publish a book. Each of these factors increases the relevant proportion of white/men involved. Then statistics take over. The best book is likely to have been written by a white/man – not because of anything inherent about whiteness or maleness, but because the jar has already been stacked with white/male marbles when we reach inside.

    I’m pointing this out because people seem often to confuse systemic problems with individual problems, and that confusion has consequences. You’ve found for really no good reason a flaw with yourself. But maybe you just don’t have any of the relevant bias. Your project doesn’t become a bad one. It still has various benefits. I’m just saying that in this context you can’t really know whether you in particular are biased or not, because you’re just part of an already biased system.

    1. 8.1

      I’m less confused than you think. I am aware that systemic forces are at play as you say, yes, but I still think that there are non-white and/or non-male authors worth reading and supporting. I can help change systemic problems by acting as an individual and promoting my views. Putting my money and time towards reading and promoting and buying from non-white and/or non-male authors encourages publishers to publish them and other readers to read them.

      1. ” but I still think that there are non-white and/or non-male authors worth reading and supporting”
        Actually you don’t think that. Or rather you don’t think the first but you think the second. You don’t think they’re worth reading or you’d have read them before you decided to “support” them. You think they’re worth supporting for various reasons, at least some of which might be valid, but if you really thought that there were non-white and/or non-male authors out there worth reading you’d have read them before your revelation.

          1. “The reasons why I didn’t find them as easily as white male authors are not that they have nothing worthwhile to say. Mighty bigoted of you to assume that.”
            No it’s not bigoted of me at all. You’re a feminist, woman of colour. You write about social justice crap, so you . If anyone could find non-male, non-white authors it would be you. Yet before this much more than 50% of your reading was white males. So where is your evidence that there is enough and as good non-male, non-white writing? You have none. In fact your on testimony suggests the opposite.

            In fact you’re the bigoted one. You’re so bigoted that _even while you claim white males are privileged_ you deny that there is an imbalance of good writing by non-male/non-white authors. There are only two possible ways that could be true. White males could be the least naturally talented people on the planet, by a long margin. Or the alleged difficulties you say non-white/non-males have don’t actually have an effect on producing writing worth reading. So either you believe something bigoted or you believe something delusional. Which is it? Do you think that the claimed massive income, resource, educational and other disadvantages don’t affect the ability to produce good writing? Or are you just prejudiced against white males?

    2. 8.2

      ” More white/men will have access to educational opportunities. ”
      Like Mark Twain did?

      “More white/men will be encouraged and inspired to pursue those interests. ”
      Really? Who’s the majority of university students again?

      “More white/men will have the opportunity to publish a book. ”
      Why would women and non-whites have less opportunity to publish a book? Why would publishers care about your skin colour if you’re written the next “Harry Potter” or (god forbid) “Fifty Shades of Grey”.

      1. “Like Mark Twain did?”

        Tell me again, how much access to education did blacks have in Clemen’s day? How much access to higher education did white women have?

        “Who’s the majority of university students again?”

        After 5,000 years, (white) women achieve parity in undergraduate admissions, and we even (gasp!) surpass men. MRAs recite this fact everywhere, over and over again, as if it somehow magically erases all forms of discrimination, historical and contemporary.

        Everything’s fine here, folks! More women than men are enrolled in college these days! Sexism and racism are ended (except for sexism and racism against WHITE MEN, amirite?)

        Let’s all celebrate by reading Philip Roth.

        1. “How much access to higher education did white women have?”
          More than Clemens.

          “MRAs recite this fact everywhere, over and over again, as if it somehow magically erases all forms of discrimination, historical and contemporary.”
          Nobody is claiming that it erases all forms of discrimination, merely that it means that women can’t claim that the lack of female authors is due to lack of educational opportunities.

          “Everything’s fine here, folks! ”
          Never claimed that.

          “Sexism and racism are ended (except for sexism and racism against WHITE MEN, amirite?)”
          Again didn’t claim that. Why don’t you actually deal with my arguments rather than strawman me? Or is that the only way you know how to deal with arguments?

          I ask again:
          “Why would women and non-whites have less opportunity to publish a book? ”
          I assume you don’t know. You just assume that since women and blacks are doing something less often than white males that must mean the patriarchy or white supremacy is at work. Which really explains sentencing gaps, doesn’t it?

  6. 9

    That I’d exclusively be reading non-male authors in 2015 and non-white authors in 2016.

    Interesting idea. Can I suggest Sharon Mass, of Guyana (historical fiction, of the complicated multicultural kind), and Celia S. Friedman (SF, her Magister Trilogy and This Alien shore I can loan you).

    A couple of 1800s auto-bios: Mrs Fletcher (edited by her daughter) and Mary Somerfield

    I also have some memoirs of the 1800s Western USA written by Army wives and rancher’s wives.

  7. 10

    Define ‘white’ will Jews be excluded from your reading list? East European cultures are also marginalized in the western lexicon (other than Russia anyway, and even the literature is limited to Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky) How will you approach them? ‘White male authors’ sounds to me like a huge generalization.

    1. 10.1

      Getting translations is a massive problem. Actually books by authors of colour are often more accessible than books from some non-English speaking parts of the world. That’s partly because the history of colonialism means some authors will write in English, and partly because the English speaking countries of the world are quite multiracial. And we’re also missing out on literature from several far east countries, North Africa/Middle East, and s. America. BTW, I noticed when I was in China that they have massive access to translations of our most popular books. We’re lagging behind.

  8. 11

    governmentman says

    February 25, 2015 at 6:40 AM

    The dichotomy you set up is false. It is not the case that you must either have a bias or there must not be non-white/male authors worth reading.

    The same systemic forces that produce all the bias in our culture generally will also operate on the process of people becoming writers and writing books. More white/men will have access to educational opportunities. More white/men will be encouraged and inspired to pursue those interests. More white/men will have the requisite education to be an expert on any particular topic. More white/men will have the opportunity to publish a book. Each of these factors increases the relevant proportion of white/men involved. Then statistics take over. The best book is likely to have been written by a white/man – not because of anything inherent about whiteness or maleness, but because the jar has already been stacked with white/male marbles when we reach inside.

    Your post contains another inherent factor of bias, oddly enough. Western society, in general, is very focused on rankings and competition. There’s an unconscious assumption that, within any field, you can determine a hierarchy of merit that runs as a chain from best to worst. While there’s obviously going to be differences in quality, the simplistic ranking system tends to overlook that, past a certain point, ‘best’ is a matter of inherent, personal biases–it’s far more likely, overall, that there’s any number of equally capable individuals within a field.

    In authorship, then, one specific element that is going to come up when determining who is ‘best’ author is going to fall less into a matter of technical expertise and subject matter, or even rhetorical skill, but instead will focus on how well that author ‘speaks’ to you, personally. However, when dealing with choosing between new authors, you don’t actually have any empirical basis for that comparison. Heina’s experiment will deliberately counter the unconscious bias our society puts into us in making that final determination. She’s not going to be reading ‘non-best’ authors (I can’t imagine her wanting to waste her time on sub-excellent writing); she’s selecting from the broad ‘best writers’ category specific entries that meet her criteria.

    1. 11.1

      “While there’s obviously going to be differences in quality, the simplistic ranking system tends to overlook that, past a certain point, ‘best’ is a matter of inherent, personal biases–it’s far more likely, overall, that there’s any number of equally capable individuals within a field.”
      Then who are they? Who are the unfairly overlooked equals of Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris and Dennett for a start?

      1. The person you’re replying to just told you that it’s a matter of inherent, personal bias. You’re not being told that the objective rating system you depend on to tell you that Dawkins is the best* has given wrong (or incomplete) answers, but that its existence or importance needn’t be assumed.

        The sentiment you’re arguing so emotionally against is nothing more controversial than “The field of writers who are worth my time is broader than the field of the most popularly acclaimed writers.” Do you have an actual refutation for that? Why would you bother having one? What is so suspicious or objectionable about it?

        (The best at what, I wonder? Mistaking being passionately in favor of his own subjective biases for objectivity?)

        1. “The person you’re replying to just told you that it’s a matter of inherent, personal bias. ”
          How can he possibly know that? How does he know he doesn’t just have a personal bias and others actually see real quality? How does he know Dawkins isn’t the best person to read, given certain parameters?

          “The sentiment you’re arguing so emotionally against is nothing more controversial than “The field of writers who are worth my time is broader than the field of the most popularly acclaimed writers.”
          No, I’m not arguing against it at all. I’m arguing against the idea that quality is a myth. If it was then there should be plenty of people as worthy of being read as the “4 horsement”. Where are they?

          You claim it’s “far more likely there’s any number of equally capable individuals within a field.”. How many fields find with a number of equally capable individuals? How often did you find that there were a few far more capable individuals? Don’t just say it’s likely, do the maths or stop talking.

  9. 14

    Heina:
    Your explanation for why you’re making changes to your reading habits has offered some new insight to me. Specifically the whining from white men about being discriminated against. No, I don’t think for one minute that they are, but something about your reading history being heavily biased towards white male authors connected some dots in my head.

  10. 15

    I don’t think you’re particularly obligated to defend a decision like this–it’s up to you whether your reading had been tiled too much towards white males, and even if it weren’t it could be an informative project to limit authors for awhile.

    1. 15.1

      If you write an article describing what you’re doing, yes you have to defend it. If she had just sat at home and read whatever she wanted to read and not told us about it, that would be her business. I wouldn’t have approved of the decision if I learned of it, but my approval would be moot. However she went on the internet and said “This is what I’m doing, it’s a good thing” and implicitly more people should do it. So she has to defend her stance.

      1. Why?

        Please defend this stance. Explain your reasoning. Because I don’t see how the one thing follows the other. On a logical level… no, making a blog post saying “I am doing this thing and I hope more people do so” does not necessitate that the stance must be defended. She has made her case; it is up to you and I and everyone else who reads it to decide how to respond.

        Do you think she has a moral responsibility? Legal? Ethical? On what level is this her responsibility, and from what does it derive?

        1. “no, making a blog post saying “I am doing this thing and I hope more people do so” does not necessitate that the stance must be defended.”
          If you present an activity as something people ought to do, either morally or practically, then yes, you have to say WHY that’s the case. Otherwise you’re just wasting people’s time. “I’m eating more carrots, everyone else should too.”, Ok, fine, why?

          “She has made her case; ”
          Yes and that case was her defence of her actions and her statement that more people should act similarly. I didn’t say she didn’t defend her actions, just that she should have done so.

          “Do you think she has a moral responsibility?”
          Moral. If you’re claiming that an activity is beneficial and just leaving it at that you’re just being a propagandist. You’re degrading the conversation people are having about what to do by making unsupported assertions. That’s morally bad because a) it wastes people’s time who don’t accept unsupported assertions and b) it encourages people to take unsupported assertions as convincing.

    1. 16.2

      Just saying it’s the dumbest thing you’ve read in a while IS the dumbest thing I’ve read in a while. If you disagree say why, don’t just assume we’ll accept your opinions as valid. Because that assumption is a good reason to expect they’re not.

  11. 17

    Whether it’s PC to say it or not, discrimination is discrimination, period. Knowingly acting or speaking against a certain group (in this case, white male authors) simply because you’ve unknowingly been biased in favor of them in the past is basically a textbook definition of discrimination. Maybe you believe differently, but I have always been taught that two wrongs don’t make a right. If you had knowingly and consciously been making your previous choices as discriminatory, then I would applaud you for trying to change and broaden your horizons. Reading books on a reading list to fulfill assignments does not make you (or even the books) racist or sexist, however.
    One of my friends said it very eloquently, so I’m just going to quote him here: “Being a white male raised in (where whites are the minority) I have seen hatred towards white men my whole life. To be honest, for the longest time, I couldn’t understand why I could be hated so much because of the color of my skin. But then whenever I would talk about it, people would get really defensive and tell me that I don’t understand racism or sexism and I never will, because I’m a white male and I should stop “playing the victim”. Actually, people have told me this recently, so I don’t really talk about it a whole lot anymore. And that’s the society we live in. Hate crimes against whites (yes, I am a victim, though not extreme) is tolerated in this country because nobody believes the white man when he says that people are being racist towards him.”
    Secondly (and this applies in pretty much all aspects of anything anywhere), people and their works should be based off of achievement and value, not on any preconceived notions or judgements stemming from a fault of birth. The only thing I can tell you about most of the authors I enjoy reading are their names. Sometimes I can infer information from that, such as assuming that Suzanne Collins is female, or that Michael Crichton is male. I really don’t care, though; I read a book because I think it has potential to be good. It certainly is unfortunate that for so long women were oppressed and were unable to contribute to society in many ways… That is simple history. However, that means that there is a substantially larger sampling of writings and books from those who, at the time, were from the sole social class allowed to write books; white males. That doesn’t make The Lord of the Rings any less of a masterpiece, or The Count of Monte Cristo less of a classic. A good book is still a good book. I know you understand this based on your replies to previous comments; I’m not assuming I’m throwing any groundbreaking information at you. It is only included here to help fully explain my thought process.
    If I wished to broaden my horizons, and delve into the mind of (for example) a black woman, I would certainly look for books written by authors who fit that description; I have always believed the best way to learn anything is to go to the source. If that is your intention in diversifying your reading list, then I again say that I applaud those choices. It certainly appears that a substantial portion of your motivation comes from exactly that. Given that, as you mention, the majority of your reading material is non-fiction, I will also agree that it is especially important. Your article, though, seems to focus instead on excluding a certain type of author instead of including an additional variety. Therein lies my issue: I don’t have any problem with your reading choices; I have it with what strikes me as your pretending that what you’re choosing to do gives some sort of moral high ground. That may not be what you intended, but that’s what I understood from your post.
    Personally, I feel a more appropriate reaction would be to read books without knowing anything about the authors. A little tough to do, with how author’s names are plastered all over everything, but still. Force yourself to purchase & read books based solely on their content for a year, not on who wrote them. You may not achieve ‘equality’, but all books (like people) are not equal in merit (*cough*Twilight*cough*); they should just all be given equal opportunity (yes, that also applies to people). You would be supporting those books most worth supporting, instead of just authors for whatever they were born as. Encourage companies to support the publishing of good books and good authors, no matter their genetic makeup, instead of encouraging the publishing of mediocre writers simply in the name of diversity.
    TL;DR – I can appreciate your stance and wishing to broaden your horizons, but I feel your article comes off as misandry more than feminism. The right decision, when made for the wrong reasons, can turn out to be a wrong decision. Also, we should all (quite literally) not judge our books by their covers.

    1. 17.1

      If you want me to read your walls o’ text in future, use a paragraph break every once in a while. Space things out. Just FYI.

      Knowingly acting or speaking against a certain group (in this case, white male authors) simply because you’ve unknowingly been biased in favor of them in the past is basically a textbook definition of discrimination.

      So discrimination is a-okay as long as you don’t realize it, but actively working to combat past discriminatory behavior is discrimination? That’s ridiculous. How else are we going to fix unthinking bias except without conscious action? All your words have not managed to provide anything approximating a viable solution.

      If I wished to broaden my horizons, and delve into the mind of (for example) a black woman, I would certainly look for books written by authors who fit that description; I have always believed the best way to learn anything is to go to the source.

      So authors of color and/or female authors should only be given a chance if we’re looking to read on gender and race issues? They shouldn’t get the same chances of being published and read on issues that aren’t specifically race and gender as white male authors? That’s… an interesting perspective. Not one I share, though.

      I don’t have any problem with your reading choices; I have it with what strikes me as your pretending that what you’re choosing to do gives some sort of moral high ground.

      Um, what? I’m defending my choices against people like you who think it’s bigotry for me to dedicate 2 years to authors who are historically discriminated against and marginalized in the face of decades of reading almost all white male authors. There’s no “moral high ground” unless that’s your own guilt talking.

      Personally, I feel a more appropriate reaction would be to read books without knowing anything about the authors. A little tough to do, with how author’s names are plastered all over everything, but still. Force yourself to purchase & read books based solely on their content for a year, not on who wrote them.

      That’s what I did my whole life and I ended up with the inequality I’m trying to fix. Oops. This isn’t a solution. It’s reinforcing the implicit bias we already have.

      You may not achieve ‘equality’, but all books (like people) are not equal in merit (*cough*Twilight*cough*); they should just all be given equal opportunity (yes, that also applies to people). You would be supporting those books most worth supporting, instead of just authors for whatever they were born as. Encourage companies to support the publishing of good books and good authors, no matter their genetic makeup, instead of encouraging the publishing of mediocre writers simply in the name of diversity.

      Who said I’d be reading mediocre authors in the name of diversity? I plan on reading good books. For that matter, I’ve read plenty of white male mediocrity; why don’t non-male and/or non-white authors get the same chance to try and fail? Twilight may have been written by a woman but it’s hardly the only crappy teenage novel series out there.

      For all your accusations of “misandry” and “discrimination”, you’re the one who seems to think that the only reason someone who’s not a white male would get published would be to fulfill a quota and that the only reason to read non-male and/or non-white authors is to read something about gender and/or race. That’s pretty nakedly bigoted, in my view. I think all authors should get a chance based on merit, but since we live in a society with a lot of built-in discrimination, equality won’t happen by accident.

      1. You really don’t know enough about me to make most of the assumptions you seem to have done. I’m curious as to exactly who you think I am, honestly. Regardless, here are a couple of my counter points, with the requested paragraph breaks (I don’t know how to make my stuff look all fancy quoted out, sorry):

        1. “So discrimination is a-okay as long as you don’t realize it, but actively working to combat past discriminatory behavior is discrimination? That’s ridiculous. How else are we going to fix unthinking bias except without conscious action?”

        Actively working to combat past discriminatory behavior is excellent. Doing it by changing who you discriminate against is not combating it, it’s switching your target. You are still being discriminatory in what authors you choose to read, but are now doing it consciously. Discriminating against white males does not make you unbiased.

        2. “So authors of color and/or female authors should only be given a chance if we’re looking to read on gender and race issues? They shouldn’t get the same chances of being published and read on issues that aren’t specifically race and gender as white male authors? That’s… an interesting perspective. Not one I share, though.”

        I never said anything of the sort. You’re putting words in my mouth. As to what I actually said, “should only be given a chance” should be replaced here with “should be our first choice.” At least I informed you that when I was making assumptions based on your article, I was stating an opinion of what I perceived you to be saying. I was offering you a chance to further validate your choices, not to turn around and attack or discredit me. I believe I made it implicitly clear that everyone should have an equal opportunity, and we should judge them entirely on the merits of their work, not their backgrounds. Explain to me, please, how that isn’t equality.

        Look, it’s obvious I don’t just flat out agree with your views. Guilty. However, I believe the only way to expand my own views and grow as a person is to hold discussions with people I don’t agree with. I can’t grow as a person by preaching to people who parrot my own beliefs and basking in their encouragement. If I am doing anything wrong, how would I correct it without knowing anything else? I commented on your post from a sincere desire to further understand your point of view, and to allow you to correct any misconceptions I had from the imperfect media that is written word. Clearly, it is imperfect, as obviously neither of us could reach through our computer screen and read the mind of the other. We have both made assumptions about one another. I want to clear them up.

        I said multiple times that I can respect and applaud the idea of what you’re trying to do; I don’t agree with the what appear to be the motivations of it. I believe this is possibly because I don’t fully understand them, but the more I read from you, the less certain I am. For example, I stated that I feel we should (symbolically) remove the covers and only read books based on their merit instead of on who wrote them. Your reply was, “That’s what I did my whole life and I ended up with the inequality I’m trying to fix. Oops. This isn’t a solution. It’s reinforcing the implicit bias we already have.” True equality will come when we can remove all the labels, and judge people as people. Nothing more, nothing less. Why would you go out of your way to add more?

    2. 17.2

      Thank you, to my eyes it make much more sense to judge books by how well they address issues rather than the background of the author. Besides which, if one accepts the premise of deliberately going out of ones way to read books from marginalized authors than excluding everyone the category ‘white male’ is going to exclude a lot of marginalized authors. How about ‘white Jewish male?’ ‘White Slavic male?’ I suppose this isn’t such an issue for Heina, but here in the UK Polish people get a hell of a lot of racist abuse, a Polish author would still count as white. What about ‘White gay male?’ or ‘White autistic male?’ (disclosure of interest, I fall into the last category, and am in the middle of writing a novella) It would make much more sense to go out of one’s way to include marginalized groups rather than boycott the works of a segment of the population that happens to meet two criteria for being ‘dominant’.

      1. to my eyes it make much more sense to judge books by how well they address issues rather than the background of the author.

        That’s what I did for over twenty years and I ended up with the imbalance I’m trying to correct.

        It would make much more sense to go out of one’s way to include marginalized groups rather than boycott the works of a segment of the population that happens to meet two criteria for being ‘dominant’

        Seriously, y’all, I am not calling for an indefinite boycott, although I might as well be according to the backlash in some of these comments. Two years of focusing on authors marginalized in the US is no big deal in the grand scheme of things but will mean a lot for me to correct bias. This isn’t about who gets “racist abuse” in society, this is about groups that face systemic bias in the American publishing industry. I don’t have infinite reading time so going out of my way for a little bit will help, but even after the two years are up, my reading record will remain heavily biased in favor of white male authors.

        1. I got a somewhat similar backlash when I informed some fellow English majors that I was taking a couple elective classes which focused on literature of A) Indigenous American authors and B) Modern Women of Color before I took the requisite three years straight of Mostly White Dudes Literature. You’d think I had just announced I was never going to read a “classic” again. Two classes, seriously. Not years. Classes.

        2. “to my eyes it make much more sense to judge books by how well they address issues rather than the background of the author.

          That’s what I did for over twenty years and I ended up with the imbalance I’m trying to correct.”
          But it’s not actually a problem. There is no rule that you have to read a certain number or proportion of non-white or women authors. The “imbalance” isn’t a problem, the lack of material worth reading that comes from non-white or women is the problem. Why read a book when if not for this decision you’d have read another book instead? The other book is better, in your own estimation.

    3. 17.3

      “Knowingly acting or speaking against a certain group (in this case, white male authors) simply because you’ve unknowingly been biased in favor of them in the past is basically a textbook definition of discrimination.”

      When did heina speak against white male authors? When were white male authors slandered or or ridiculed or marginalized in this piece? All Heina said was that they have had a bias of reading white male authors thru out their life so they want to fix that by focusing on other authors for a while.

      I’m not reading the rest bc it’s tl;dr wall o’ text nonsense.

    4. 17.4

      2-1 != 1-2.

      Non white male authors are not equivalent to white male authors, so the same action has different results.

      Get it?

      It’s not about being always against discrimination – but against discrimination as a tool of systematic oppression.

      1. dirty nerdy: Please read the rest of my comments before asking questions I’ve already answered. By refusing to ‘read the rest’ yet still describing it as nonsense, you are basically declaring yourself willfully ignorant of the majority of the conversation, and any statements you make in regards to it lose all credibility.

        trinioler: Shockingly to some people who are commenting, I am completely against discrimination. I know it may not have been your intention, but your post’s wording reeks of it. Personally, I try to view everyone (including authors) as equal, and judge them based solely on their works and merit. I understand that minority authors (non-‘white males’) face an uphill struggle to get their works published and recognized. I am fine with going out of one’s way to include a more diverse reading selection. I have already stated on numerous occasions in these posts that I can applaud Heina for that aspect of her efforts. My argument is that intentionally excluding someone is not the same as intentionally including another. Look at the title, read the article (which I’m sure you already have), and tell me which one of those they focus on.

        And I disagree. If you’re against discrimination, you can’t discriminate in who can and can’t be discriminated against. That’s absolute hypocrisy.

  12. 18

    Why are you being racist and sexist? Why aren’t you devoting yourself to read more from non white/non male authors instead of excluding people based on gender and race? Also not caring is not a recipe for bias it is the cure for it. Not caring about the race,gender or status(you could add other things too) is what makes us only look at the qualities needed at the moment like if someone is a good author. Also you should’nt look for or want simmilar outcomes people have different goals and qualities it would be qruel to force them to be the same as everyone else. Also this balance isn’t there because there just are more famous white male authors it is indeed a consequence from the bias of the past but thats not a reason to ignore them. Fighting discrimination with discrimination indeed only enlarges the problem the only thing you can do is show people real discrimitation and why it is wrong. You will never reach equality in your reading because it is apparent that you have to many biases, you even look up what race and gender the author is, you care about qualities that don’t effect how good of an author you are. Please stop being racist and sexist we have enough of a problem with it already.

    1. 18.1

      Why aren’t you devoting yourself to read more from non white/non male authors instead of excluding people based on gender and race?

      Because I don’t have unlimited reading time.

      Also not caring is not a recipe for bias it is the cure for it. Not caring about the race,gender or status(you could add other things too) is what makes us only look at the qualities needed at the moment like if someone is a good author.

      As I said in the piece, I’ve spent over 20 years not caring and that’s meant a very strong bias towards and in favor of white male authors. Even after 2 years of reading only non-male and then only non-white authors, I will not have achieved anything close to balance and parity.

      Also this balance isn’t there because there just are more famous white male authors it is indeed a consequence from the bias of the past but thats not a reason to ignore them.

      I’m excluding, for two short years, the sort of author I’ve unwittingly focused on for over 20 years. What’s the big deal? It’s a relatively small amount of time.

      You will never reach equality in your reading because it is apparent that you have to many biases, you even look up what race and gender the author is, you care about qualities that don’t effect how good of an author you are.

      If only that were true. White male authors are given far more chances to succeed by publishers and readers than non-white and/or non-male ones. That’s a well-documented bias. We can’t solve unconscious bias without conscious action against it. You haven’t suggested a viable solution to this bias, only ranted against my solution. That’s completely unhelpful. Offer an alternative if you’re so hurt by the idea of me spending a few years corrected a decades-long bias.

      1. Where is this bias documented? I have never seen that white male authors are provided more chances. If you pick a book(as a reader) you are more likely to read the title and the cover(or you have read possitive reviews or something) and you don’t really look at the author, so I definitly do not think that if there is a bias it is on the reader’s side. (I am sorry if I made some mistakes English is not my primary language).

          1. I read the article in your second link and it’s remarkable bad as evidence for bias.

            “The problem in fact goes deeper: as I demonstrated last year, part of the reason books by women are being reviewed in lower numbers is that they are being published in lower numbers. “

            In fact the article they linked to said that “In fact, these numbers we found show that the magazines are reviewing female authors in something close to the proportion of books by women published each year. “. So it’s not just part of the reason, it’s most of it.

            “Regardless of where it begins—are manuscripts by women also submitted in smaller numbers?—it is clear from these statistics that the bias against women in publishing takes multiple forms. “

            So then it’s possible that there is absolutely no bias against women submitting books for publication. In fact it’s possible, on the basis of the numbers they have access to, that women are MORE likely to get their book published. So where is the evidence of discrimination? While it’s true that less women submitting books is evidence of sexual discrimination in society, it’s not evidence of it in the publishing industry. Nor is it conclusive evidence of sexism. In fact it’s not even evidence that any discrimination is against women at all. It’s entirely possible that harmful gender roles forced on men lead them to become authors more often. Being an author is hard work, the likelihood of rejection is great, the financial risks in terms of lost income are great, authors seem to take their own life more often than most professions*. Male disposability might lead men to accept the risks of the profession because they have internalised the view that harm to them is unimportant.

            The third link is even less indicative of bias.
            “Several panelists noted that the problem is not overt sexism but rather a tendency for men to overvalue their work and for women to undervalue theirs.”
            So if there is bias it’s OF women authors not against them.

            The first article is a criticism of a fairly inept criticism of a female author talking about the subject. It doesn’t really address evidence for the claimed bias.

            So it doesn’t seem like you can link to any actual evidence of bias at all. You’ve just claimed it based on an assumption that without bias there would be a 50/50 split. This is not a valid assumption, even if we lived in a totally discrimination free society (which we don’t, as you know).
            * Although I have no statistical evidence for this, we might just hear about their suicides more.

  13. 19

    Sorry to tell you that, but no one really cares about it.
    It’s your life, so do with it as you will.
    But most people think you are stupid.
    The thing is, you shown why mostly white men write the books that you read, because non-whites are writing about not being white and non-males are writing about not being male and you are on a path that has nothing to do with the authors identity but language, syntax, and so on. What you saw is that for one reason, it’s mostly whites and males that are willing to write about things that aren’t themselves. The problem is, by not reading them (or at least not taking as much effort as it’s needed to find this kind of literature written by your preferred type of author.) you will lose interest in those topics and miss the opportunity of being one non-male writer writing about things that aren’t yourself.
    Basically, you care about sex and gender, which makes you sexist and racist but only to the point free speech allows it, will be the undoing of your own career and you will help preserve the status quo.
    Nothing more. Not that I care. A shit ton of other women (many that I know at least) will take your place and write and read about things that aren’t themselves but are the language, its structures, and inner workings.
    So, when you get an universal translator and see a woman’s name on it, remember, it could be you.

    1. 19.2

      Women and PoC write about things beyond identity all the time, first off. Secondly the voices of women and PoC have a long history of being drowned out by white, cis, male voices and if Heina wants to press mute on that overrepressented voice then that’s their prerogative.

    1. 20.1

      “Sorry to tell you that, but no one really cares about it.
      It’s your life, so do with it as you will.
      But most people think you are stupid.”

      You cared enough to comment. And your ableism is noted.

      “What you saw is that for one reason, it’s mostly whites and males that are willing to write about things that aren’t themselves. The problem is, by not reading them (or at least not taking as much effort as it’s needed to find this kind of literature written by your preferred type of author.) you will lose interest in those topics and miss the opportunity of being one non-male writer writing about things that aren’t yourself.”

      You actually believe that non-white and non-male authors ONLY write about being non white and non male? You think white male authors are the only group of people who write about other topics?
      You are a shining example of the bias inherent in our publishing system and education system.

      Sorry to burst your bubble but white male authors write about themselves ALL THE TIME.

    2. 20.2

      Y’know, I don’t really agree with her… But at least she’s trying to better herself. This kind of crap is why having open and honest discussions is pretty much impossible these days.

  14. 21

    This isn’t about banning white male authors forevaar. It’s a corrective period to adjust against bias. Right now there is so much crap being published by white authors. Even great PoC authors don’t get the distribution to make it as easy to find them as it is to find horrible, badly written, misconceived trash by white people. If you want to read good stuff in this system, you have to force your behavior to go against the easiest option. But the goal is to get your hands on good and great stuff regardless of demographics.

  15. 22

    I’m so tired of white people thinking all our shit is great. We get our crappiest authors not only published, but they get best sellers and horrible movie adaptions. It’s embarassing. Any PoC author that I can find in my local bookstore is pretty much guaranteed to be at least twice as good as the average white author. And no, that is not about PoC authors being better than White authors. It’s about access. That PoC author in my local bookstore has to be great to get placed in my local bookstore. Most of the white authors are filler.

  16. AMM
    23

    Is there a bingo card for the responses to your resolution? Between the comments criticizing you here and the comments on John Scalzi’s post regarding a similar resolution by an SF author, it shouldn’t be hard.

    Some proposed squares:
    – Reverse discrimination
    – You’ll read inferior works.
    – Good White Male authors will starve to death.
    – Freeze peach!
    – You’re racist.

    There should be a free square for content-free comments like @13 and @16.

  17. 24

    Also, I’m really into Charles W. Mills right now. “Blackness visible : essays on philosophy and race” explores how traditional philosophical inquiry can be adapted to issues of race and racialized experience.

  18. 25

    I’m curious what timeframe or number of books would pass as not being reverse racism or misandry. Had Heina suggested that only her next book was going to be authored by a non-white, non-male author, would that have been an acceptable level of intentional inclusivity that didn’t cross that line into unacceptable? Next 5 books? Next 10 books? Tomorrow’s reading? All next week? All next month?

    I’m sincerely curious to understand a problem that those of you upset with Heina’s reading list clearly see, but I cannon see. Is there a population of authors I could focus on that would help me better grasp what is going on in this particular blind spot of mine?

    1. 25.1

      The problem as I see it, and have said elsewhere in the comments is not her intentional inclusivity (which is to be commended), but her intentional exclusivity. Yes, there is a difference. It may not be her intention, but it is certainly how it is presented.

  19. 26

    I’m curious. To all you people talking about merit: who are your favorite authors? How many women? How many POC? How many LGBT authors?

    The only way I was able to find my favorite writers was to purposefully manipulate my writing habits. Heina’s plan is fantastic and I salute them. And that’s coming from a white male who writes.

  20. 27

    Wow… I am completely willing to admit that I could not undertake the kind of project that Heina is attempting because Brandon Sanderson exists and I am weak. But the responses here are ridiculous.

    Kylo: First of all you used “misandry” in a sentence. Not only does that get you 50 points off for Slytherin, but it makes you sound a lot like the Mens Rights Activist shitweasels we get around these parts who barge into conversations with the full ill intent to taunt and infuriate the writers with obtuse and repetitive questioning. Don’t be a shitweasel Kylo.

    But to address the larger objections you appear to be making to Heina’s plan, that her form of discrimination against white male authors (and next year white authors completely) is somehow just as bad (the second wrong that does not make a right) is patently absurd. Not only are you being massively condescending in your little essay about the history of prejudicial discrimination in publishing against women and ethnic and sexual minorities in the English speaking world, you are flat out incorrect that this is somehow a part of ancient history when in fact it is a real and present problem at this very moment. Ask anyone who deals in writing or publishing. It is still an old white mans world out there. If Heina’s little reading project does anything to raise awareness of nonwhite/straight/male authors then we are all better off for it.

    As for this gem…

    Therein lies my issue: I don’t have any problem with your reading choices; I have it with what strikes me as your pretending that what you’re choosing to do gives some sort of moral high ground.

    Go… Fuck… Yourself. Seriously, the walls of text you are hiding behind don’t make you any better that obvious trolls like nonononono and gush above if you seriously believe that Heina, despite their clearly stated motivations, is actually doing this as some sort of moralistic stunt.

    1. 27.1

      You know, one day, I’d really like to be involved in one of these types of conversations wherein people actually try to discuss things with an open mind, instead of resorting to name calling and swearing. Last I checked, a little thing called civilization wasn’t part of ancient history, either. That’s cool, though. I guess if you’d rather do that than attempt to actually answer any of my concerns (which are valid to me, even if they aren’t to you), I guess I should stop wasting my time hoping for a respectable person to reply to me. So far, all you’ve really done is the exact thing you’re accusing me of, but you can’t see it because you’re looking through your own jaded perspective. I hope you have a nice life; I’ve had about all the “tolerance” and “equality” I can take for the time being.

      1. Let me try to be more clear. YOU are quite welcome to believe that your concerns are valid. I would find it ridiculous if you didn’t. We on the other hand are allowed to find them invalid. And in this case insultingly so. I’m fairly certain that Heina answered your concerns thoroughly and amicably, far more generously than I believe they deserved. If people are reacting to your questions with name calling and swearing then maybe you should consider what you may have said to make them angry. Or you can simply assume that it’s everyone else who is being irrational.

        1. What I find interesting is that I could echo the exact same sentiments about this post and the commentary directed at my own statements. Just as I would assume you would say, I’m not saying anything here to intentionally offend anyone. People, as far as I can tell, are reacting to my questions with name calling and swearing because my opinions differ. I would wager that if I went onto a website that posted an article supporting my point of view, I wouldn’t be subjected to this. Unfortunately, I would guess that if you or Heina posted on such an article, you would be treated the same as I am now by you, though I promise not by me.

          I would like to point out that I am here (and still commenting) BECAUSE I am trying to question why what I said makes you angry, and why you find your own opinions valid as opposed to what I was taught. I know people are all raised differently, and we have life experiences that differ from each other’s. Unfortunately, I can’t learn anything other than what I already know if I don’t seek for something new. In a way, I view what I’m doing as similar (though not exactly the same) to some of the Heina’s stated motivations, with one difference. I am looking for differing opinions than I already have been taught, as opposed to her insinuation that a more diverse genetic sampling would broaden horizons. I’m not trying to be rude, although rudeness is prone to happen rather accidentally sometimes when cultures clash. I am asking out of a genuine desire to have a rational discussion. While I can’t promise I would change, I would honestly like to know how and why you have come to these conclusions.

          While Heina was very polite in her response, it didn’t answer any questions, because it didn’t explain anything. She largely repeated what she had already stated, while the motivations, sentiments, and facts that drive her opinions and actions (which is what I truly question and don’t understand) are no less clear to me. Even if I don’t change, that understanding is the first step toward progress… Both personally and as a community/nation/world.

          1. There’s nothing to explain. She’s going to purposefully manipulate her reading habits to correct for a bias she has towards white male authors. That’s it.

          2. jen

            Kylo- I genuinely want to engage you in discussion. I agree with Heina and disagree with you, but I am hoping that you are sincere in your questioning. I too appreciate different perspectives from my own and I hope we can learn from each other.

            Reverse discrimination is not a concern in this particular instance because Heina is trying to correct a problem of systemic discrimination. (Not to mention the fact that the reading habits of one woman of color aren’t going to cause white male authors to starve.) Systemic racism is by definition not consciously perpetuated by individuals, therefore it takes conscious effort to overcome it.

            Your idea about being “color blind” is similar to how I was raised, but I now understand that it isn’t enough to correct the situation. Success begets more success, and wealth and privilege are inherited. The past systems that intentionally promoted white male success still have impacts today. Although theoretically anyone can succeed today, white men were able to build on their prior success, while women and POC had to start from not just square zero, but a negative position. Although there are successful POC and women authors, they are still under represented and under promoted- as a group they just can’t catch up from a position so far behind, no matter the merit of individual works. The past success of white male authors not only promotes their future success, but it has shaped the reading palate of the public- including those who believe themselves to be color blind. The voices of these minority groups sound uncomfortable and foreign. A different perspective, by definition, doesn’t follow the rules that were put in place by the majority. It is difficult to gain commercial success when that which makes your work unique and valuable is also what makes it unpalatable to the masses.

            Those of us (like you and me) who want to be color blind and unprejudiced cannot fight systemic racism by ignoring it. The facts on the ground are that the most successful, visible, and promoted authors are white male. Yes, many of these authors are excellent and worth reading. That is why Heina’s reading history (and most of our’s as well) is dominated by them. If you pick and choose entirely without regard for gender and race, you will wind up with a reading history like Heina’s and the rest of ours. One dominated by the majority voice- white men.

            You mentioned you would prefer that she define her reading choices by what she wanted to accent (women and POC) instead of what she wished to exclude (white men). That is a valid point- accenting the positive is better than focusing on the negative, but I don’t think it would be as effective. For one, we as humans tend to take the easy route. If she doesn’t purposefully exclude them, her reading lists are likely to again be dominated by white men. Her friends and the media are more likely to recommend books by them, and it is likely easier to find those works. If she doesn’t exclude them, they are likely to still dominate (as proven by her prior reading history).

            Also- people sharing your view in the comments have lamented the great works she may miss out on. First off- this is for two years and she is only 26. She isn’t saying she will never read a book by a white man again. If it is really a must read, she will get to it. Secondly- Every time we read one book over another we are potentially missing something else. Unless you believe that works by POC and women are more likely to be inferior, she has most likely explored the great works of white men more deeply than the great works of minority groups. Hasn’t she been missing great works by minorities for 25 years? Isn’t it worthwhile to explore their works too? She has stated several times that these two years won’t even bring her close to parity in numbers (25 years compared with 2), but it is enough time to focus on a different voice for a while.

            I look forward to reading your response.

          3. Reverse discrimination is not a concern in this particular instance because Heina is trying to correct a problem of systemic discrimination. (Not to mention the fact that the reading habits of one woman of color aren’t going to cause white male authors to starve.) Systemic racism is by definition not consciously perpetuated by individuals, therefore it takes conscious effort to overcome it.

            Personally if it was just Heina deciding to avoid reading white male authors for a year or so I wouldn’t be too bothered. But there was a guardian article a few days ago by a woman who did the precise same thing, and at least one other example cited in this blog, this looks like the beginning of a trend. As I said in my earlier posts, there are a lot of people who count as white males who belong to marginalized groups. (Gay, Autistic, East European etc) If avoiding reading white male authors becomes widespread amongst social justice activists, writers from the aforementioned groups are likely to find themselves discriminated against by the very people they should most expect to support from.

            Fundamentally I think the question is one of whether social justice should be a positive or negative movement, is it better to campaign for the marginalized or against the privileged? I favour the former.

          4. jen

            newenlightenment:

            Yes- intersectionality is an important thing, and you make a good point that discriminating against white males means discriminating against those that may be disadvantaged in other areas. You mentioned that you are an autistic white male earlier, so I can infer that although you benefit from white and male privilege, you experience societal disadvantage in the area of neurodiversity (and who knows what other areas that you haven’t shared.) Here’s some info on where I’m coming from: I’m visably white (although actually mixed race), a cis-gendered, heterosexual woman, and I am neurotypical. My son has autism, and several members of my family (both men and women) are also on the spectrum. I also have several family members with physical disabilities.

            I think it is short sighted to criticize an attempt such as Heina’s for not addressing every area of being marginalized. Although others have decided to make similar reading lists (and I’m sure they were inspired by each other, I don’t know which was the original), this type of exercise will likely also inspire others to make a different sort of reading list. I already started a reading list of authors with autism when my son was diagnosed a year ago. I don’t focus on it exclusively, but it has certainly expanded my world view. More importantly to me, it has helped me understand my son by giving me a peek into the many and varied experiences we each get from our unique brains.

            Although I won’t criticise Heina for her specific focus, I am happy that you point out other ways one may wish to diversify. I don’t know if Heina will decide to make a 3rd year where she focuses on neurodiversity, disability, sexuality, or even religion, but I am sure that others will be inspired to make their own lists which do focus on one or many of those areas. Can you imagine a year where you only read books written by someone with a completely foreign religious viewpoint? That would be fascinating to me, although I don’t have the discipline to ignore some of my favorite authors!

            Remember that when we expand our minds and see the humanity in those that we may have originally thought too different from ourselves, we also open our minds to the possibility of other differences. These ideas ripple out, like water rings in a pond. We are all made better when we advocate for one another’s humanity, even if as individuals we may focus more on one area than another.

            As a side note- you mentioned you are a writer working on a novella. I don’t know if you have any completed works, but if you do I would love it if you would post a link so I could check it out.

            Best of luck!

          5. Jen, thank you for your reply. Sorry it took so long for me to get back on here; I work two jobs, and my time is not always my own. Also, I apologize in advance for what I’m sure will be a lengthy reply.

            I have read your post and those that follow multiple times, and find that I honestly agree with a lot of what you’re saying. Diversifying is a good thing to do, expanding our horizons is commendable, and there is a history of systematic racism that must be overcome. You also managed to very eloquently explain a couple of these things in a way that made much more sense to me. Not that Heina isn’t capable of such writing (she seems well read, pun intended), but I tend to notice most articles are written for people who already share a certain viewpoint. She is simply writing to her audience, and doesn’t need to explain some things because they are already understood. It’s when the random divergent individual such as myself comes in that misunderstanding occurs, because I look at things so differently.

            “You mentioned you would prefer that she define her reading choices by what she wanted to accent (women and POC) instead of what she wished to exclude (white men). That is a valid point- accenting the positive is better than focusing on the negative, but I don’t think it would be as effective.”

            I think you hit the nail on the head here; this is my primary spot of contention with what Heina (and many others, as newenlightenment mentioned) are doing. I love that people are trying to read more and grow, I really do. People need to be educated before they can make educated decisions, and none of us knows everything. In my experience, the ends never justify the means. What Heina is doing is good, how she is portraying it sends the wrong message. It feels more like an attack on white males than supporting women or POC.

            When I went to Afghanistan, I learned a lot about warfare from first hand experience, and while there are no bullets being fired (knock on wood), there is a war on for equality. I promise it will be relevant. While deployed, my primary job was Civil Affairs, engaging the locals and trying to improve their quality of life so they no longer had the desire to fight against us. The Military calls it Counter Insurgency (COIN) warfare; convince the locals to side with you over the insurgents and they’ll help you find them and root them out. It is much slower than tactics used in more archaic times of war, but it provides far more lasting results.

            If we look at history, World War II’s causal roots can be tied to the end of World War I, when Germany was heavily punished for their involvement and role. They became oppressed, and when a new individual promised them a return to glory, they didn’t read between the lines. After WWII, instead of punishing Germany, they were rebuilt. Allied Forces revitalized Germany’s infrastructure, and helped fund their economy for years to get them back on their feet. Amazingly, Germany is now one of the West’s staunchest allies.

            I understand that’s a vast oversimplification, but that outcome is exactly what Coalition Forces hope for in Afghanistan; we want to build a country that will be a self sustaining force, one who does not feel the need to seek revenge or redress for what is undoubtedly a harrowing experience. With Germany, they were rebuilt after they were defeated. In Afghanistan, we are trying to avoid such wholesale destruction, and simply rebuild them first. It takes longer (we are focusing on the next generation, instead of demanding immediate change), but the idea is that once it is finally over, it will be a permanent change (as much as anything can be).

            Right now, white males are the dominant force in many aspects of culture, specifically because of the position history has given them. On this, I agree completely. Change is coming. Much of it is already here, but there is still much more that needs to happen. My background and training forces me to look at this from a tactical standpoint; if we want these changes to be permanent (which I certainly do, and would assume you feel the same), they must be made in the right way.

            If changes are made to feel like they are attacking the white male domination, then that domination will respond (likely unconsciously) and attempt to reassert control. By accenting the negative, we may try to bring changes about more quickly, but it causes a rift in understanding and we haven’t affected a true change. Instead, we have made an enemy who will fight against that change and the people who brought it about simply out of spite, to redress his (or her) imagined slights.

            Right now, I believe many of the tactics used by the minorities in the war on equality stem from the exact same source; an unconscious desire for vengeance and redress for centuries of wrong doing. I can’t say for sure what any one individual’s motivations are, as I am only me and not them… But I can tell you what my perception on another’s actions are. Unfortunately, our perceptions are what seem to matter in the end. Whether their feelings of being oppressed are justified or not is sadly irrelevant (unless directed at a specific individual with viable evidence), as the issues tend to be generalized past the guilty party. White males may have privileges through their own birth that others do not and have to contend with, but that is the white males’ fault as much as it is females or POC for being born. Their parents may have done something wrong to create this situation, but it is not the children’s fault, and blaming/attacking them for something outside their control is not okay.

            Basically, newenlightnement summed up my feelings perfectly by saying, “Fundamentally I think the question is one of whether social justice should be a positive or negative movement, is it better to campaign for the marginalized or against the privileged? I favour the former.”

          6. jen

            Kylo- Thank you for your thoughtful reply.

            I agree that ideally social justice movements would be 100% positive, but we aren’t in an ideal world. Social justice activists WITH privilege sometimes make the mistake of “tone policing” those WITHOUT it. I will try to explain some of this here, but if you are really interested in learning more I will add some links and key word searches at the bottom. If some of this is old information for you, I apologize. I am trying to give you a basis because you mentioned that you have a different perspective and that much of this may be new to you.

            1st off- Privilege isn’t about blame- it is about acknowledging a fact and attempt to correct it. Any single or group of white man/men isn’t responsible for systemic racism and sexism, but he/they benefit from it- even if he is marginalized in another way due to disability or sexuality, etc. That is an important distinction. You don’t have to be intentionally participating to benefit. In fact, it is so effective and insidious because most people aren’t aware of it. Now even if the current generation didn’t cause it, if we don’t address it and try to fix it, we are perpetuating it. Because it is entrenched in the current system, ignoring it can’t solve it. We have to actively fight it to get anywhere- which brings me to my second point.

            Addressing it and any solution to it is going to be uncomfortable. As I said, most people aren’t aware of the full extent of their own privilege. I am relatively well educated on the subject, and for that reason I know there are still blind spots that I have where I am unaware of my own privilege in a particular area, even if I am disadvantaged in others. When a person of a marginalized group points out that privilege, it makes us feel defensive. No matter how politely it is framed, it seems like they are attacking us or implying we are undeserving. I would argue that no matter how polite a marginalized group tries to present their grievances, they will still be accused of not being nice enough.

            This brings me to the explanation about tone policing. Members of the privileged group often complain about the “tone” of the marginalized group. This is in fact another example of privilege. They don’t live with the inconveniences, micro-aggressions, and systemic forces that the marginalized person does. They then accuse the marginalized person of being “angry” without trying to be empathetic about why that person may be angry. Systemic racism/sexism/ other isms are something that the privileged person has the ability to ignore if they choose. It doesn’t effect them so they don’t have to address it. The marginalized person, however, lives their life shaped and constrained by these forces. When they speak up about it, they are told to use the appropriate “tone”. Now not only are they living in an oppressive system, but the dominant power in that system is policing their expression of frustration in addition to everything else. A great analogy often used is if someone stepped on your toe and you yelled at them to get off it, and they then said – “Nah-uh, not until you ask nicely!” That would be infuriating! You were the one slighted, they are the ones who need to take corrective action, but somehow your the one not being nice!?!

            Again, I agree with you that we should all try to look for the best in each other, give each other the benefit of the doubt, and be kind to each other. However, are those ideals more important than social justice? Is is okay to keep a slave if I am kind to him? Is it more important that a woman be polite to her male coworkers than it is that she is paid equally so she can support her family? Is a black teenager being rude then cause to shoot him?

            I know you want to be an ally. I can tell social justice is important to you. I appreciate your analogies to WW1 &2 and your own experiences in Afghanistan. I have friends who were involved in similar work and they often had to hold their tongues at some offensive accusations from the tribal leaders for the sake of peace. They had to listen to the Afghans and were often surprised at their priorities, but effective diplomacy means giving them what they tell you they need, not what you think they need.

            Although I agree that social justice movements need to be cautious not to over correct (as your WWI analogy)- but we are NO WHERE NEAR that. In fact, accusations of over correction and retribution are hurled at the slightest bit of progress. Many white men feel they are being disenfranchised because there are more women and minorities in positions of power, yet we are no where near parity. Yes there have been improvements, but white male culture is still dominant by any standard. Now obviously there are individuals in the feminist and anti-racist movements who are extreme. They do want retribution and payment for sins of the past. But I would no more conflate that minority with the entire social justice movement, then I would the neo-nazis with white men in general. In fact one of the current concerns of feminism is how inequality harms men too. Many feminist mothers (including myself) want feminism to benefit our sons. My brother was deeply emotionally harmed because despite his great size (he’s 6’4″) he has a very gentle nature. His failure to live up to a masculine ideal was just as limiting and penalizing as the constraints on women.

            If you are interested in learning more about these ideas in social justice, here are some links. You have mentioned you have limited time, but I promise these are worth the read and may provide some insights on why you get so much negative feedback, even though you are trying to be an ally:

            This is a great analogy for systemic marginalization. It comes from women in the tech world, but it could apply to anything. It also explains how polite requests are ignored, then they build to anger and frustration. It also demonstrates how equality looks like either “dragging the dominant group down” or special treatment:

            https://medium.com/thoughts-on-society/why-do-women-try-to-get-ahead-by-pulling-men-down-a1345b36b91b

            This is a great primer on privilege and how most of it is stuff you don’t even see. There are problems with it, it was written by a relatively privileged white woman around 30 years ago and as such there are debates about how much of this is because of race or class, and some of it is less applicable now, but it is still good food for thought:

            https://www.isr.umich.edu/home/diversity/resources/white-privilege.pdf

            These are some links on tone policing:

            http://www.socialjusticeleague.net/2012/04/the-revolution-will-not-be-polite-the-issue-of-nice-versus-good/
            http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Tone_argument

            Here’s a great post about how to be a good ally to social justice causes:

            http://www.shakesville.com/2013/04/on-fixed-state-ally-model-vs-process.html

            Sorry my post was even longer(!) and I don’t expect you to read all the links (they are just suggestions if you are interested). If you have any other thoughts or questions I would love to hear them- even if your post is long.

          7. Jen: Just got an email saying you replied, and skimmed through it. I have work again soon, and don’t expect any significant free time for the next week or so. 🙁 Still, I will definitely read it thoroughly as soon as I can, and take a look at those links as well. You have given me a lot to think about already, so I look forward to doing so. Thank you so much for the discussion, and hopefully you’ll still be monitoring to continue if it comes down to it. 🙂

          8. Jen:

            Sorry this took so long. I actually got into a pretty bad accident; flipped an LMTV (one of the big Army trucks) when the air brakes malfunctioned and locked up the tires on the highway. Didn’t hit anyone else, thankfully, but I did break my leg bad enough to have to be knocked out on painkillers the last few weeks. 🙁 Still hurts a bit, and I move a bit slower, but I’m back! Hopefully, you’re still around.

            I haven’t had time to read through all of the articles that you posted (when I was in any way coherent, at least), but wanted to post a couple of thoughts I’ve had from your response so far.

            Picture this: you’re attempting to board a crowded subway car (standing room only), and you slowly push yourself with the rest of the throng onto the train. You grab the handrail and settle in for an uncomfortable ride. Now, answer honestly (to yourself, at least… you don’t need to post your reply to it here). Which situation are you more likely to respond positively to?
            A) A tap on the shoulder, followed by, “Excuse me ma’am, I think you’re standing on my foot! Would you mind moving just a bit?”
            B) A hard shove in the small of your back, followed by hysterical screams of “What the hell is your problem? That was my foot, you @$$hole!”

            I understand why it can seem like a huge request to be the polite one when you are a wronged party, but it doesn’t change the importance of doing so. I’ve been the wronged party (life in general, not just in race relation situations) often enough to have experienced the responses when I act out either of those (generic) reactions, just as I’ve been hit with both of those extremes when I’ve done something I shouldn’t.

            As you yourself mention, those with privilege often don’t know they have it. It is very subtle, pervasive, and rarely given through their own action. To rejoin the metaphor: if someone can’t see (or otherwise feel) they’re standing on your toe, of course they get defensive when you ask them to get off; they don’t know they’re doing anything wrong. It hurts (because they’re standing on your toe!), but if they don’t know what they’re doing is wrong, then all they understand is that they’re being yelled at for no apparent reason. This means they don’t know to be wary of stepping on other toes in the future, and they are left with a bad taste in the mouth for any person who talks about it. The next time someone cries about their stepped on toe, it sounds simply like the boy crying wolf. They still don’t see what they’re doing as wrong, because they don’t see what they’re doing at all. Hence, they feel like they’re being attacked.

            For example, look at our own conversation. From the look of it, my comments have been stepping on everyone’s metaphorical toes basically this entire thread. You are the first person who has been willing to police their tone in addressing my questions and concerns, instead of calling me a ‘shitweasel’. Not surprisingly, I am listening and learning quite a bit from our discussion. My blindness to the plight of others is disappearing, because someone was willing to temporarily ignore the fact that their toe hurt and explain to me what was wrong.

            Polite discussion will always win out against those who hold more power/privilege (intentionally or not). It may irk someone to have to speak nicely when their toe is being stepped on, but if you want to affect true and lasting change, it is 100 times more effective than an angry rant. I don’t believe people who are discriminated against should HAVE to tone-police their comments; I agree that it really is a further indication of systemic racism (or whatever other -ism would fit the case at hand). It hurts to let someone stay at that toe any longer than is necessary! Just because they shouldn’t have to, though, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t do it anyways… because while it hurts them a little to do it, it is the most effective tact a person can use when dealing with a someone who doesn’t know any better. It may not always work, but the exception doesn’t make the rule.

  21. 28

    Cool idea! I’ve seen a couple other people post things like this and I’ve already decided that next time I read fiction that isn’t a “Dresden Files” novel I want to try something by Octavia Butler. I’ve never avoided books written by women or non-white authors, but I’ve definitely missed out on some great books because some demographics are hyped more than others.

    Someone up above mentioned The Count of Monte Cristo, and how a reader might miss out on some great books if they avoided all white authors. While it is true that white authors have written some great books, The Count of Monte Cristo is not one of them (mostly). He was of mixed race, and according to wikipedia his father was the highest ranking person of color in European military history.

  22. 30

    You’re insane.

    “That I’d exclusively be reading non-female authors in 2015 and non-black authors in 2016.”
    Does that sound like racism and sexism to you?

    1. 30.1

      Please don’t use ableist insults in future comments. And you didn’t read the post, because if you did, you’d realize that I’m correcting past sexist and racist reading habits for the next two years.

      1. You’re still insane. Sorry, you’re offended? Too bad.

        “you’d realize that I’m correcting past sexist and racist reading habits for the next two years.”
        With more racism and sexism on your part. Hold on while I grab my sunglasses because I’m totally blinded by your logic.

        1. No, with corrective action to bring about equality. And ableism is against my commenting policy. I’m not “offended”but I don’t have to tolerate your flagrant lack of regard.

    2. 30.2

      If you read exclusively–or disproportionately–white male authors, is that you being racist and sexist?

      If I’m very well-read, have read a variety of authors, and find that by and large my favorite authors are women, and so choose to read them, am I being sexist?

      Think carefully before you answer. Show your work.

      1. If you’re choosing to read books by those authors because you find their work overall more engaging, fine. But if you’re doing it out of a misplaced sense of self-righteousness on the basis of, “There are too many of these people and I’m going to ignore them because they are of this race and sex”, yes, that is you being sexist and racist.

          1. You say,
            “The moment of resolution happened when my horrified eyes beheld my reading record on gender. Not only were my percentages far less than 50/50 (favoring male authors) but also most of the female authors on record for me reflected books that I’d read as a child and younger teen. From the time I started university until now, I’d mostly read white male authors.”

            That these authors exist at all and are having their worked published *is* equality. What else do you want? What you’re after is equality of outcome, a ludicrous concept and frankly, one that is impossible to achieve. “Gender equality in my reading”? What does that even mean? You read what you read based on what interests you. What difference does it make who the author happens to be?

          2. You said:

            That these authors exist at all and are having their worked published *is* equality.

            In response, presumably, to what you quoted from me about most of the female authors I’d read being children’s/YA authors. I can’t say I agree with that sentiment.

          3. Then you’re looking for something that isn’t there. If you’re looking in that section for books, well, you find whatever is there. But you still haven’t addressed my central question. Even if women are writing primarily books for children and young adults, why is that a bad thing? Why do we *need* more non-white/male authors in other areas? What difference does it make as long as the content is book-worthy?

          4. There are talented, intelligent, good writers in all races and gender categories. They don’t get enough exposure due to biases I have explained. I’m trying to focus on them to promote better balance and more equality. I don’t know why you’re so upset by that.

  23. 31

    Wow, Heina, you really got yourself a bunch here. All those hurt white man feelings and they all hand them to you.
    Did I miss it or has nobody linked to this? Straight white cis professional author dude weighs in.

    Looking over my reading list of last year, professional reading excluded, I mostly read non straight white cis male authors. There was this one trilogy at the start of the year (though I must say that I only assume he’s straight and cis) and a re-read of one of my most beloved books.
    This isn’t because I’m much better than the rest, I simply started that “challenge” earlier. I must say, the quality of my reading has not decreased at all. It became much more interesting and varied. I was seriously getting rather tired of “white farmboy saves the world and marries the princess” narratives*. So you start with one author and they lead you to the next and so on.
    Actually, looking at who is hated by the dudebros is generally a really good indicator of a worthwhile read. I found N.K. Jemisin after Vox Day went after her, Mary Robinette Kowal after the attacks on her, and so on.
    Nnedi Okorafor writes terrific Sci Fi fantasy. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has a pen as sharp as her tongue. Yet I guess that many people have never heard of them.
    Whoever thinks that writing, publishing and subsequent marketing are based on “merit” alone: I have a bridge to sell you. It’s pretty nice and hardly used. The troll underneath is fully house trained.

    *Yes, I love fantasy.

  24. 32

    “I recently announced something I’d decided on ages ago: That I’d exclusively be reading non-male authors in 2015 and non-white authors in 2016.”

    So after all these years you’ve been enjoying what you’ve read despite gender, ethnicity and now that has to stop? 2015- 2016 why the differences in dates?

    “The short answer is that I paid no attention to gender or race in my reading, and not caring is a recipe for bias in a world riddled with inequality.”

    Huh! Not caring is about as equal as anyone can get. You’re reading those works because of their content! Now I can imagine if these individuals were writing about themselves as minorities for example! But to go about in saying that now you are actively discriminating based on gender and ethnicity in the name of equality is absurd.

    “Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Jennifer Michael Hecht, and Meera Nanda made it in there, but not enough to balance things out.”

    What needs to be balance? Can I assume you personally believe that white males have this hive mind and that we all share the same experiences and beliefs? Because maybe you should have read more from white men, it’s true! There needs to be balance.

    “Why not focus on the common humanity we all share rather than our differences?”

    I feel the meaning of these words will be lost in translation!

    “Seemingly “equal” and “unbiased” behavior doesn’t lead to equal and unbiased outcomes..”

    Called it!

    SO basically writing good stuff is only half the equation! You have to have the right colour skin and gender to go with it? But in saying that! Am I talking about white guys or others? I can’t keep up with who we’re supposed to be ignoring again based on these criteria anymore.

    “Because of intrinsic biases, behaving as if equality were already acheived leads to the reinforcement of the status quo, which is certainly not equality for all.”

    I agree! I mean this guy has his books banned all over the world because of such bias! I wonder if it’s because he’s a white guy.

    http://www.amazon.com/Mein-Kampf-Deutsch-Sprache-ungek%C3%BCrzte/dp/1480191353

    “Bias doesn’t magically correct itself when we ignore it in favor of pretending like all that matters is that we are human.”

    Correct it’s just moves onto the next group! Like those white guys.

    “Active correction does tend to make people uncomfortable.”

    Not really! It’s the part where others start to instruct the masses on how to think and act! That makes people feel uncomfortable.

    “reverse discrimination”

    A rose by any other name……………. dam that was from a white guy! Sorry!

    I love this idea of a single ethnicity supposedly owning the rights to discrimination! So as to be in the reverse if another ethnicity decides to act thusly, it’s cute.

    “However, recognizing that biases can and often do exist without conscious motivation or realization is absolutely essential in working towards countering those biases.”

    Yes let’s end discrimination by being discriminate! Genius!

    “In other words, I didn’t mean to discriminate in favor of white men, but that is what happened anyway, regardless of intent.”

    Ah the irony! But it’s ok to discriminate against them? Well don’t worry you have some intent now.

    “I have spent over 20 years disregarding the gender or race of the people who authored my books and ended up reading mostly white male authors. That means either one of two things:”

    And what do you have to show for it? I don’t know, two degrees?

    To sum! I know you’ll most likely gloss over what I’ve said as white male garbage! So let me just pass on some last minute wisdom! Don’t punish yourself.

    1. 32.2

      This is some impressively bad logic.

      So because one man has his work banned and reviled the world over, bias towards men clearly doesn’t exist, right? The hundreds of studies showing how men get more pay, more raises, more promotions, more opportunities than women are invalidated by Hitler’s book being banned and reviled.

      Wow.

      No. It does not make even the slightest lick of sense. Did you really think this would be some piece de resistance of argument logic?

      Go away.

        1. Oh, dear. You don’t understand the meaning of the word “parody”.

          It’s usually “irony” that the Silly Sirs think means “something I said that was ridiculous but Imma pretend it was a clever joke of some kind.”

    2. 32.3

      “I agree! I mean this guy has his books banned all over the world because of such bias! I wonder if it’s because he’s a white guy.
      http://www.amazon.com/Mein-Kampf-Deutsch-Sprache-ungek%C3%BCrzte/dp/1480191353

      So because one white man has his book banned and criticized that must mean there is no bias in the publishing and advertising of books in favor of white men?

      Gee, according to you all it takes is committing genocide in order for a white man to be criticized and have his books banned.

        1. “Again as mention above”:

          “Parody” has a meaning. It is not a vague catchall term for “stupid shit I said that nobody’s buying so I’m going to pretend it was a joke.”

          1. Its OK to admit you didn’t understand the parody.

            But than again, I can understand why it may have been lost to you.

            Here I am trying to joke by insinuating that hitlers mein kampf has been banned all across the world simply because he’s a white guy! Based on ethnic bias (The obvious joke part) Despite the more then obvious reasons behind the bans, (cough cough ww2) and I’m expecting you to understand its a joke. While at the same time commenting on a blog page discussing the revelations of a women deciding to discriminate based of ethnicity and gender all because it will make her feel better about not discriminating on the basis of ethnicity and gender.

            How stupid of me.

          2. “Despite the more then obvious reasons behind the bans”

            *than

            Just in case the grammar Nazi’s get me!

            I would hate to think anyone would choose to ignore what I said in reference to some grammar, wink wink.

  25. CJ
    33

    1. Feminists believe that excluding people due to their gender is wrong.
    2. You are excluding male authors just because they are men.
    3. Therefore, your beliefs are not compatible with feminism.

    Congratulations! Contrary to what you believe, you are not actually a feminist!

      1. “Premise 1 is a vast oversimplification. ”
        You’re right, feminists believe that excluding WOMEN due to their gender is wrong. They’re always OK with excluding men, even from conversations about men.

  26. 34

    I refuse to read books by black people= racist
    I refuse to read books by women=sexist.
    we both agree on this right? okay
    I refuse to read books by white people=racist
    I refuse to read books by men=sexist.
    It’s the same logic every hate group in history has used “don’t worry there’s a JUSTIFICATION for us to do this. but it’s bad when everyone else does it to us.”
    Like when religions claim they’re being persecuted when they’re not allowed to be openly homophobic.

      1. …….no they’re not? I’m going to do the bad thing for only two years doesn’t correct shit!
        again: “don’t worry, i’m only going out of my way to refuse to acknowledge the work of a race of people for TWO years!” is still racist! like if I scream abuse at every Asian person I see for the next two years is it okay because I haven’t been racist for the last twenty one years of my life?
        I’ve never had a conversation with an out and out racist before. I mean I’ve engaged trolls who throw around racial slurs to piss people off, but they’re only saying it because they know it’ll get to people. You’re the first person who’s out and out “Guys all I said was that I judge people based on their gender and race without any regard for who they are as people. I don’t get why you’re all taking this badly! it’s so much more convenient to class an entire group of people as being exactly the same!” it’d be funny except it’s kinda scary.

        1. How my personally choosing to read books for two years that are authored by people underrepresented by my past reading history is anything like screaming abuse at anyone is beyond me.

        2. Oh, and I still acknowledge the works of white men. Here you go: White male authors still exist and are publishing books that I talk about despite my not reading them for two years. My “to read” bookshelf and Amazon wishlists are a testimony to their ability to survive and even thrive despite my ignoring them for a paltry two years.

          1. It was using exaggeration to try and make my point. I apologise if i made it seem like i view you as on the level of yelling abuse at anyone. In hindsight that was going too far.
            My point isn’t that you’re hurting anyone. Of cause you’re not.
            and seeing as you’re doing everything in your power to take things in such a light as you don’t actually have to give an answer, i’ll try once again:
            “it is wrong to refuse to read someone’s work because you have decided everyone with a characteristic they were born with, be that race, gender, sexuality or anything else, deserves to be discriminated against. and the reason it is wrong is that discrimination of any kind is wrong.”
            how’s that?

          2. I 100% agree that discrimination is wrong. That’s why I’m trying to correct the existing discrimination that’s evidenced by my reading record. If I didn’t, I’d continue to blatantly discriminate against authors who aren’t white and/or male.

            How else would I correct the bias that’s evidenced by my reading record? By continuing to disregard the race and gender of the authors I read? That would be a recipe for continuing the discrimination.

  27. 35

    you haven’t discriminated against anyone until you started doing this don’t you see? discrimination is something that can ONLY happen by choice. if you really didn’t knotice until it happened you were doing the exact opposite of discrimination. you were maturely looking at all these books and deciding on merit alone which appealed to you.
    Don’t let anything but how good a writer the author is enter your brain. that’s the only way discrimination can be destroyed. Because otherwise you end up with the exact problem you have now and by trying to correct it makes you discriminate in the opposite direction.
    your problem is you seem to think NOT being a white guy in any way matters. And it doesn’t. Being of any group doesn’t mean anything. because that’s what believing in equality is seeing everyone as individuals and not a part of whatever label they were born in.
    more then anything? it’s insulting to the author to say you only gave them the time of day so you can turn their life’s work into a percentage on a chart to make you feel better about yourself.

    1. 35.1

      Hm, I’ll have to disagree with you here. Discrimination is not limited to individual actions nor is it limited to conscious bias. It perpetuates itself across societies and institutions, often without malicious intent. The publishing industry is no exception to this.

      Viewing people as individuals is a noble idea, but unfortunately, the science is against you. If you’re curious, look up the information on Implicit Bias. We all discriminate whether we know it or not, and that discrimination causes harm. The discrimination is against people based on labels/groups/backgrounds. Pretending it doesn’t exist does nothing to fix it. You’re welcome to do so, but I choose differently.

      Have you thought about the implications of what you’re saying? If solely merit-based reading leads to an outcome of only reading white male authors, you’re saying that only white men are capable of producing good works. I somehow don’t think that’s the case (:

      By the way, I’ve found that there are excellent authors who aren’t white men out there. I’ve simply missed them. It wasn’t merit alone that led me to the reading habits that I had. It was also my schooling, my peers, and the society in which I live. No one is an island, isolated from the biases and discrimination built intp society, and therefore no one makes decisions on anything, including reading, solely based on merit.

      It’s been an absolute joy discovering new authors so far this year, and I look forward to next year as well. This isn’t about making myself feel better, but trying, in my own small way, as one reader, to level the playing field for talented authors who fall into demographics that the system doesn’t already favor.

      1. yeah actually that’s stuff I didn’t think about until you said it…. going to have to think this over. I still feel like it’s a terrible idea to cut out entire groups for any reason but yeah alright then I see where you’re coming from a lot better now

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