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Lit Ignorance is Bias: The Diversity Manifesto

Discussion in 'Literature' started by CooperTFN, Sep 2, 2012.

  1. TrakNar

    TrakNar Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Apr 4, 2011
    For the record, when I'd get pat down in airport security, the officer was often male. I also see a male doctor, though I am given the option of having a female nurse present when needed. Not really sure what point I was trying to make, as I'm tired and am preparing to head to bed soon, but there it is.
  2. instantdeath

    instantdeath Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Jul 22, 2010
    That Gand looks like he's about to crack someone over the head with whatever he's carrying. I'd watch out. You never know what those alien types are going to do.
    TrakNar likes this.
  3. GrandAdmiralJello

    GrandAdmiralJello Comms Admin ❉ Moderator Communitatis Litterarumque star 10 Staff Member Administrator

    Nov 28, 2000
    I. That's a great strawman.

    II. Just so you know, all of those things you listed above ARE discriminatory. They're allowed by our law because there's good reasons for that sort of disparate treatment, therefore they survive intermediate scrutiny (the scrutiny that the U.S. Constitution requires for laws burdening gender). However, take note that we do so not because men and women are biologically different but because we have SOCIALLY CONSTRUCTED policy reasons for not doing so.

    III. The challenge was to justify baseless sexism -- that is, glass ceilings, arguments that females cannot be heroes, etc etc. You claimed you would not justify it, but that it could be understood on the grounds of biological differences. Biological differences do not justify this sort of discrimination at all.

    IV. FYI, the whole bathroom thing is a favorite tactic of anti-feminists everywhere. It's not a good look.
  4. Robimus

    Robimus Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Jul 6, 2007
    Lets look at the actual numbers of Galactic Republic/Imperial Senators(Based Upon Wookieepedia):

    Confirmed White Male: 25
    Confirmed White Female:15
    Confirmed Non White Human Male: 6
    Confirmed Non White Human Female: 3
    Unknown Human Male: 34
    Unknown Human Female: 11
    Confirmed Aliens: 81

    Just at a glance I'd definitly have to agree about the military. While we would have a large amount of unknown characters, I would presume if it was broken down that most would be male. Of course I'd also note that the Grand Army of the Republic was comprised predominately of non white males(even though they may well have been slaves).

    As for the Jedi Order, we know the situation during Luke's era perhaps the best but I'd be interested to see it broken down in a way similar to what I've done with the Senators. While you can point towards Luke's Order as being white centric I can just as easily point towards The Yoda/Mace Windu Order that for an estimated two decades or so didn't have a single white human male in its ranks.

    I as well suspect that the breakdown of Knights might be white male heavy, the leadership itself was quite varied. Even from the KotOR era we see a lot of diversity amongst the various councils.

    White, Alien and Unknown would be the breakdown. I think it is worth noting that a decent amount of female humans, even though they are light skinned, do make the list. Leia, Mon Mothma, Daala & Fel coming to mind right away.

    Known Moff's I'd say. Of course the Empire was known for being human male centric. I bet this is another category where the unknown out number the known. It's also unfortunate that Revan has been caged in as a white male. I wasn't aware that he had been fleshed out beyond being a male human.

    As I noted above I agree completely that Luke's era hasn't been done well. But I will also repeat that this era does represent every era. When the Jedi Order prior to Luke's had a Jedi Council that contained only one white human male over a significant period of years, decades even

    An excellent point.

    I'd have to break this down further but you may be correct. Ackbar was decidely not white, neither was Feylya or Gavrisom

    We have had a lot of women in leadership roles. As for Grand Master of the Jedi Order, prior to Luke Skywalker, I don't know if there was a white male Grand Master. There was a white female Grand Master. I presume there must have been one. Perhaps someone else knows.

    Historically speaking I doubt this is true. I've already highlighed numerous examples that question the accuracy of this.

    And is this held up in universe as something that was right, or is it presented as a negative aspect of the Empire? Clearly the villians are going to do things we don't approve of.

    Yet she was a highly respected member of the galactic senate and a former elected leader of her people. This is a pretty minor charge. Again, as an audience, do we care what Nute Gunray thinks?

    Most Tholothains running around the galaxy are female, and all are Jedi. There are also a lot of non sexualized Twi'lek females as well though I admit what you say is common.

    Define group? Clone Troopers all but wiped out the Jedi Order. Do they count?

    Yes, we have had a lot of prominate white male lead characters. Would a historian view Zayne Carrick of the same importance as Mace Windu? I dunno. Certainly Luke & Anakin would be prominate historical figures.

    Yet there are a lot of unknowns. What percentage of the galaxy is white & human for instance? I'm not saying you are not correct, I just don't know that you could scientifically prove you are correct without a lot more information than we actually have.
  5. cthugha

    cthugha Jedi Master star 3

    Sep 24, 2010
    Sorry if I'm repeating things here, but... no.

    First, racism isn't based on "nothing". Most of it at least is based on physiological differences such as skin tones etc. The fact is that these differences don't mean anything. They don't tell you about what this person is able or unable to do, what he/she likes or doesn't like, whatever.

    And the same is true for sexism. Sexism is also based on physiological differences, as you've said again and again in this discussion. But here, again, these differences don't mean anything unless you make them mean something. This is why the second paragraph I quoted above is such complete and utter nonsense, because "rendering someone unable to recognize gender" would be nothing less than "rendering someone unable to recognize that one half of humanity behaves and functions differently than the other half". If anything, that's what gender is -- so all you're really saying is that if you render someone gender-blind they still would not be gender-blind. Which is a paradox at best.

    Also, it would be kind of nice if we could not conflate sex with gender all the time, at least in this thread.
  6. GrandAdmiralJello

    GrandAdmiralJello Comms Admin ❉ Moderator Communitatis Litterarumque star 10 Staff Member Administrator

    Nov 28, 2000
    Although to be fair, for the purposes of this discussion (discrimination on the basis of immutable biological characteristics) they can be used interchangeably (and indeed, are in the legislation and case law referring to such). Though they have different meanings in specialized contexts and different sorts of discrimination, that might not entirely come into play here where biological sex is socially assigned a gender role.
  7. Mechalich

    Mechalich Jedi Knight star 4

    Feb 2, 2010
    I was not, and never was talking about 'baseless' sexism, that was never the point I was making. The point I was initially making was about species differences - and how they are more similar to the difference between gender than the difference between race, because those differences are based on physiological factors that do have meaning that is not entirely socially constructed. If you wish to believe every single difference between populations with two x chromosomes and those with one y and one x is socially constructed, go ahead, but I don't agree. I think that, among other things, the fact that one half of the population can become pregnant and the other half can't does indeed mean something.

    If you wish to label all policies that address such issues as discriminatory that's fine too, it's technically correct I suppose. At the end of the day, no matter how you construct human society there will be treatment that ends up supported by sufficent reason to meet intermediate scrutiny or a similar standard. Short of a post-scarcity society in which the individuals have total body control and can change their biology, including sex, at will that's where we are stuck.

    Returning that to species differences, the fact that one species may be strictly carnivorous, or breath a different atmosphere, or have a different lifespan, or any of ten thousand other things, are all factors based in physiology that will require, in a mixed-species society discriminatory decisions that for good reason, passing legal scurtiny.

    I would submit that the social construct of the Star Wars galaxy regonizes this (precisely why is not clear) - we have clear in-universe examples of gender prejudice and species prejudice, but no in-universe examples of human-on-human prejudice based in race. Does it not just maybe make a bit of sense that, after tens of thousands of years of exposure to aliens, the human population has forgotten to assign meaning to 'racial' traits, or maybe exposure to such widely varied sentient species has actually shifted in-grouping sensitivity among the galaxy's space-faring citizenry that they no longer assign such things any importance? To me, this makes a great deal of logical sense, whether or not it is realistic. Plenty of people talk about post-racial or colorblind societies (again whether realistic or not), it's a pretty common trope in science fiction and fantasy both at times. Do we really see examples of post-gendered or post-species societies?

    That is how the universe is setup. There are plenty of out-of-universe factors that portray racially insensitive attitudes, yes, but there's no in-universe discrimination. So, if you want to make the universe more racially balanced you can add more non-white characters and place them into roles of greater prominence. what you cannot do is tell a story about such a character over-coming discrimination against them or pillory the in-universe hierarchy for being racist. You cannot do that for sexism or speciesism.
  8. JediFreac

    JediFreac Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Mar 7, 2002
    You're not actually understanding what people are saying. People aren't saying "every action that separates the genders in any way is discriminatory." They aren't saying "color conscious solutions treat different races with some form of accomodation."

    You argue that simply not recognizing race eliminates racism but this is patently untrue. Even in social systems where race is technically not supposed to matter there are still disproportionate imbalances that cannot be explained through statistical margins of error. And guess what--those same imbalances are clearly reflected in the fictionally constructed Star Wars universe as much as they are reflected in our socially constructed society.

    Based on your argument, it WOULD be possible to produce a gender blind society or a species blind one by simply creating a society that doesn't "recognize" differences in those specific physical traits.

    Please read that again. I wrote "every human that had held" office because it does seem to be an absolute trend. It seems that humans with dark skin are even less likely to hold this office than aliens. Yet, discrimination against aliens is a thing and tacit discrimination against dark skinned humans is not.

    Wait, you do know that bathrooms and patdown policies are gender segregated BECAUSE of sexism and not because of sex/gender itself, right? I mean, you even lampshade it by expressing concern about the increase in sexual assaults (oh scary.)

    We allow women the option of being searched by other women not because women are different but because society, which is male dominated, treats women differently and we acknowledge that there is the potential for male abuse of power in that situation (abuses of power that have and continue to happen throughout history.) Likewise, restrooms are separated in part to protect the safety and privacy of women's bodies that men for social or whatever reasons seem to violate and disrespect (eg. proportion of peeping toms in women's restrooms versus men's restrooms.) In the past, women were also segregated from other areas of society and life either under the guise of paternalized sexism; in more recent times, some systems are also in place to protect them from that sexism.

    There are a number of college campuses that are slowly desegregating dormitory bathrooms by gender. This is because setting up bathrooms separately by gender IS discriminatory (towards people who, for example, do not fit either gender.) Yet, people are not getting sexually assaulted in those gender neutral bathrooms simply because they are desegregated because there is an actual atmosphere of respect for people's bodies and personal space in those environments. Sure, the restrooms have different fixtures to accommodate different body types-- urinals, toilets, lowered sinks and some larger stalls with guard rails, showers, showers with guard rails and a tub-- but the need to actually segregate the bathrooms had more to do with sexism than it did with sex.
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  9. CT-867-5309

    CT-867-5309 Force Ghost star 6

    Jan 5, 2011
    I've always assumed it up to this point, but do you have any proof of this?
  10. JediFreac

    JediFreac Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Mar 7, 2002
    See, this would be a completely valid world-building argument, except this is exactly what the writers have failed to depict. This is not what is actually depicted in Star Wars. It may be what you and I--or even the authors--want Star Wars to depict, but the fact of the matter is this was not accomplished and it is an oversight that needs to be acknowledged.

    Isn't lack of racial balance and few humans of color in roles of prominence evidence of in-universe discrimination?

    In order to explain the lack of women in Star Wars, authors wisely decided to say "there is sexism" rather than "women just werent as good." In order to explain the subaltern position of aliens, the authors noted, "there is speciesism." Despite in-universe acknowledged sexism and speciesism, an alien woman sits on the NJO Jedi Council (yay). Meanwhile, while no notable humans of color exist at all in the New Jedi Order, this is not a sign of an in-universe -ism even though sexism and and speciesism were indicated in the same way?

    Most forms of "discrimination" in real life are discreet and not overtly stated. They are not observed through attitudes but through actions. Professing that there is no discrimination is not the same as demonstrating it.

    So...If an author chose to write a story about a Shamed One who experiences prejudice due to his physical appearance that would be valid. If an author chose to write a story about an imaginary species called the Ryn experiencing discrimination basically identical to real world racism towards a real world group that would be valid. If an author wrote a story about a Rutian twi'lek experiencing discrimination for having a different skin color that would be valid. Speciesism and sexism exist, but colorism among humans does not? If someone dares to suggest that Star Wars depicts a white human-dominated galaxy, that would not match the galaxy that we have been presented with?

    If Star Wars actually embodied "colorblindness" we wouldn't even need this conversation.
  11. cthugha

    cthugha Jedi Master star 3

    Sep 24, 2010
    So the entire basis for your argument is that nobody has ever said, in-universe, that there is discrimination against non-white humans in the GFFA? Even though all the circumstantial IU evidence (near-exclusive prevalence of white humans in positions of power etc) could best be explained by exactly that -- human colorism? And that is why you cannot tell a story about a non-white human character overcoming discrimination?

    I don't get it.

    Actually, all things considered, I'd say that a story like this would be exactly what is needed to address this glaring issue. And isn't that what the EU does best -- find inconsistencies in the existing canon and come up with plausible reasons to explain them?

    So, yes, please, give us a young Lando story or something that tackles the issue of human colorism. Too bold? I don't think so.
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  12. Mechalich

    Mechalich Jedi Knight star 4

    Feb 2, 2010
    I'm inclined to take the creators at their word. Yes their word may be bad, it may be illogical, it may be a reason not to like Star Wars, but world-building is arbritary, and creators can make arbitrary decisions because they want to, and for no other reason. Now that decision may in and of itself be discriminatory, but that is an out of universe issue, not an in-universe one.

    By the way, author 'failure' in this depiction is not spread equally. I do not see any distribution failures based on race in TOR. Yes there are a bunch of white characters in prominent roles, but there are non-white ones too. You can play the game for hundreds of hours and encounter numerous examples of species prejudice (if you play an alien imperial character it gets harped on constantly in the early game), but never once to encounter anyone even mentioning the existence of racial groups among humans. The novels are certainly worse, they also carry the greatest amount of temporal and authorial baggage - the movies themselves made a huge jump in diversity from the OT to the PT (yes there are still white actors in the top three roles, but the top ten is very diverse indeed), the novels haven't adjusted effectively.

    This is where we are - thirty-five years into a setup that is mostly based on how Billy Dee Williams chose to portray Lando. Star Wars may not perfectly practice what it preaches, but I can't see the solution being to change what it preaches, it is way to established by this point. Would some kind of out-of-universe acknowledgement by Lucasfilm help? Something like 'hey it was the seventies and we hired a bunch of white guy extras in the original movies because we were lazy.' The universe was built a certain way. If that process didn't go well, then it didn't go well, it's hardly the first time. There's a gap in verisimilitude over race in a number of Star Wars products. The answer is to make the setup feel closer to true (in this case by changing the demography), not to wreck the setup.
  13. krtmd

    krtmd Jedi Knight star 4

    Sep 5, 2012
    Did anyone see Fox News' piece on same gender relationships in TOR?
  14. Kyris Cavisek

    Kyris Cavisek Jedi Knight star 4

    Nov 12, 2012
    I doubt anyone is going to leave TOR over gay relationships... Oh Fox News...
  15. Esg

    Esg Jedi Knight star 4

    Sep 2, 2012
    This is the same game where I can electrocute people and knock boots with Twi'lek Pilgrim Matriarchs
  16. GrandAdmiralJello

    GrandAdmiralJello Comms Admin ❉ Moderator Communitatis Litterarumque star 10 Staff Member Administrator

    Nov 28, 2000
    You should see the comments in general chat about how it's "not Star Wars" and all that. Stupidity and intolerance can produce stunning results -- don't ever underestimate that.
    Contessa likes this.
  17. instantdeath

    instantdeath Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Jul 22, 2010
    I demand details. I'm assuming the "non-biased" network had nothing but negative things to say?

    Yeah, even though I really shouldn't be, I still die a bit inside whenever I run into an unabashed, open racist. They're much more common than I'd like them to be. Hell, I saw someone who had a Confederate flag in their front yard just a few miles from my home :rolleyes:
  18. anakinfansince1983

    anakinfansince1983 Nightsister of Four Realms star 9 Staff Member Manager

    Mar 4, 2011
    And if anyone does, the quality of the TOR fandom will only be better for it.
  19. cthugha

    cthugha Jedi Master star 3

    Sep 24, 2010
    I think I might have missed something there -- are you saying that it's actually explicitly said somewhere in the EU that there is no human colorism in the GFFA? Or is there an OOU source, GL or someone saying that people in the EU are color-blind? If so, I don't know it -- and would be very interested to hear more about that.
  20. krtmd

    krtmd Jedi Knight star 4

    Sep 5, 2012
    Even the title of the article sounded like a Fox news wish list for the real galaxy.:rolleyes:

  21. instantdeath

    instantdeath Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Jul 22, 2010
    The best part is I can almost guarantee they haven't done much research. Years later, I'm still annoyed at their piece of Mass Effect. The best part was when the one who was responsible for the loudest criticism admitted later that, upon actually seeing the scene she was so opposed to, it "was tamer than a James Bond movie". I'm not sure if she actually apologized for being so unfairly presumptuous, though.
  22. CooperTFN

    CooperTFN TFN EU Staff Emeritus star 6 VIP

    Jul 8, 1999
    For what it's worth, I agree with this.
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  23. Reveen

    Reveen Jedi Knight star 3

    Oct 4, 2012
    Things that belong in Star Wars:

    -Death by childbirth
    -War crimes
    -Child killing
    -Emotional manipulation
    -Burning flesh

    Things that don't belong in Star Wars:

    -Gay people

    It's like cognitive dissonance is a sport or something.
    Contessa, MarasFire, TrakNar and 5 others like this.
  24. Zorrixor

    Zorrixor Force Ghost star 6

    Sep 8, 2004
    I keep hoping they'll add Cartel Market options to alter things you've later realised you dislike about your player name or appearance (mostly legacy name, but height would be nice too).

    What does this have to do with this discussion?

    Simply that I'm now wondering what the reaction from the media would be if TOR added gender switching. :p
  25. instantdeath

    instantdeath Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Jul 22, 2010
    If I switch from a male to a female, can I keep my male voice?