Lit Ignorance is Bias: The Diversity Manifesto

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

  1. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

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    Mar 4, 2011
    star 7
    I don't know that it's necessary to be honest. Men pee in urinals, women (and some men) go into stalls to pee, and the problem is...what exactly?

    I recognize that a lot of people are far more squeamish than I am but it's a societal constrict, not a biological necessity.

    No.

    The only concern there is pregnancy, and if we had real access to birth control and withdrew the taboo on discussing sex in this country, that probably wouldn't be an issue.

    Yes, absolutely.

    Right. Because men and women can't be in the same social setting without someone making unwelcome sexual advances.

    You do know that that argument has been used to justify sexism?
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  2. JediFreac Force Ghost

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    Mar 7, 2002
    star 4
    Me, too. Because that is a form of escapism, too-- to read about a galaxy where you aren't judged by your gender or your race or who you love. But not enough is being done by Star Wars/Lucasbooks to preach this in good faith. Too much is being done to reinforce real world -isms in Star Wars.
    Last edited by JediFreac, Jan 16, 2013
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  3. instantdeath Force Ghost

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    star 5
    It's a tradition thing, not at all a practical one. For whatever reason, some insignificant traditions are really hard to let go of; I could easily see there being a large outcry if bathroom segregation was done away with, and the only reasoning for it would essentially be, "just cuz".

    Of course, if that was done, every place would suddenly find it has two bathrooms...
  4. GrandAdmiralJello Community and Lit moderator person

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    The Pentagon has four bathrooms at each apex of every level because the place used to be segregated. It's not like excess bathrooms haven't been an issue before.
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  5. instantdeath Force Ghost

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    Jul 22, 2010
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    Sure, but a dingy little convenient store doesn't exactly compare. Even so, I don't claim to have any idea on the relative cost of maintaining and cleaning an extra bathroom that doesn't have any practical use. Might be insignificant, might add up. But, since pretty much every business has two bathrooms (or three, I see plenty of "family bathrooms"), I imagine it wouldn't be an issue.

    That said, it strikes me as one of those things I simply don't care whether or not changes. Might be a good gesture for equality, but it's certainly not top priority.
    Last edited by instantdeath, Jan 16, 2013
  6. JediFreac Force Ghost

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    Mar 7, 2002
    star 4
    Right, which is why I argue that an important distinction needs to be made between racism/colorism and sexism.

    The Star Wars universe argues that sexism is something that exists, something that that must be overcome by characters such as Daala. Sexism is a barrier, but not one that stops women from becoming leaders outright.

    The Star Wars universe doesn't argue that colorism is a barrier, but it is extremely like it is there, since despite existing in a sexist society, there have been no men of color in these roles. It seems like having dark skin makes it even less unlikely you will become this leader than even sexism would. And it must be even harder if you are a woman with dark skin.

    Don't want your universe to be like this, writers? Then start actually writing a universe that isn't like this. Prove my hypothesis wrong.

    Note that I am specifically addressing human diversity. The presence of aliens does not negate the argument that there appears to be colorism among humans in Star Sars,

    Fey'lya, Ackbar, and Gavrisom are not human. This means that light skinned humans and nonhumans, played a greater role in leading these two theaters than dark skinned humans. Despite rampant speciesism, a nonhuman is still more likely to be a leader than a dark skinned human.

    The alien anthropologist making these observations wouldn't place a value judgment on it. They would observe "It's hard to be a light skinned woman in the Empire, only two known Moffs. It is even harder to be a dark skinned human male in the Empire, no known Moffs. There do not seem to have ever been dark skinned human females in the leadership of the Empire, the predominant galactic power structure." And perhaps this rigid societal structure reflect something about the greater galaxy, or there was a historical fall out from opportunities not being afforded to certain groups, etc.

    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?[/quote]

    No, we are not supposed to agree with Gunray, but we are supposed to observe that there is something pejorative to be gained by Gunray in pointing out Amidala's gender, or mentioning her gender would have been meaningless.
    Last edited by JediFreac, Jan 16, 2013
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  7. JediFreac Force Ghost

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    Mar 7, 2002
    star 4
    This reminds me of the conversation I had with Shelley Shapiro at ComicCon a few years ago when I asked where the people of color were in Star Wars. She told me it was up to me and up to other readers to "imagine them" in the background as I read. I don't have to conjure up white characters or straight characters in the foreground in my imagination when I read Star Wars but I do have to conjure up people of color and gay characters in the background when I read in order to be there at all? Star Wars is colorblind, the writers don't have to do any work to prove it to me otherwise, I just haven't "imagined" that it is yet? The inclusion of WHMs is a given, everything else is up to our imaginations?

    There are more aliens played by actors of color in Star Wars than humans played by actors of color. As far as I can tell, nearly every actress of color in the Star Wars films portrays an alien (only exception I can think of is Depa.)

    I mean, we could theorize that light skinned humans or w/e are only a fraction of he galaxy and that there are thousands and thousands of heroic humans with dark skin who are kicking ass and taking names and they aren't marginalized at all--we just don't hear their stories (which is uh, marginalizing.[/quote]
    Last edited by JediFreac, Jan 16, 2013
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  8. instantdeath Force Ghost

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    Jul 22, 2010
    star 5
    I personally have no problem with sexism or racism being portrayed heavily in fiction, since it can be difficult to highlight what's wrong with those practices if they aren't shown for what they are. I do agree, however, that in Star Wars, racism by basis of skin color seems to exist... but is never, ever addressed. Racism in general is, of course, through aliens. Color is of course implied to not matter, though, through characters like Mace Windu and Lando. My knowledge of various fleet officers, captains and admirals is eclipsed by most of the regulars of this thread, but it does seem like there's a strange lack of non-white officers. Though if memory serves, we at least have a black Grand Admiral.

    So, I have no problem with racism existing in Star Wars, because I don't believe it's possible to totally eliminate people who fear those different from them. But it can't exist in a vacuum. But if you're going to portray it, have the courage to explore it. Creating a universe without racism is great for escapist fiction- and at the end of the day, that is what Star Wars fiction is- but it does feel like skirting the issue a bit. Then again, Star Wars isn't exactly politically charged (various accusations of the PT notwithstanding)

    EDIT: Doh, read your post wrong. Feel free to disregard.
    Last edited by instantdeath, Jan 16, 2013
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  9. Mechalich Force Ghost

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    Feb 2, 2010
    star 4
    There's a few more than that. Chancellor Valorum's aide Sei Taria, Ban Breemu (though she was admittedly cut), Bultar Swan, and probably a few others in minor roles such as the Jedi strike team or people in the Outlander club. As far as major roles in the films go then yes, there aren't really any women of color. Though, there really aren't many women at all in major roles (Shmi Skywalker, Padme, Leia, and...I think that might be it).

    The PT actually might almost be considered to overrepresent aliens generally though - presumably because Lucas could spend disgusting amounts of money on the makeup budget and there was no one to say no. Anakin, the Fetts, Obi-Wan, Palpatine and Padme all had to be human, as dictated by the story, and the other major human characters were played by major stars - Mace Windu, Qui-Gon Jinn, Count Dooku. For the rest, with the exception of the Naboo hierarchy, the major groups were alien dominated: the podracers, the Jedi Council, the Senate, the Separatist council, the Jedi strike team. Not sure exactly what can really be read into that, out-of-universe or in-universe, except that when Palpatine purges aliens, he purges better than everybody else.
  10. Kyris Cavisek Jedi Grand Master

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    Nov 12, 2012
    star 4
    There is one scene during the Strike team with all human Jedi charging then cuts back to the battle and I was like where are all the aliens... It is just an odd cut
  11. CooperTFN TFN EU Staff Emeritus

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    I think it's very clear what we can read into that: in Lucas' mind, humans in the GFFA are drastically outnumbered by other species, and the more creative freedom he has, the more blatantly he can show that.
    Last edited by CooperTFN, Jan 16, 2013
  12. cthugha Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 24, 2010
    star 3
    A story of someone heroically overcoming colorist bias against them in some awesome way would read like pretty good escapism to me.

    Also, I don't see how claiming that a society isn't colorist when it obviously is should equal preaching something good.
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  13. Jedifirefly5 Jedi Master

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    Sep 5, 2012
    star 2
    Well Anakin is my favorite mentally person in SW.......
  14. Skaddix Jedi Grand Master

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    Feb 3, 2012
    star 4
    well Lucas is the one who should count the most. PT is way more what I expect to see. The EU authors and editorial just don't give a frak for the most part.
  15. Kyris Cavisek Jedi Grand Master

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    Nov 12, 2012
    star 4
    See I read it as during the Republic Era, the galaxy was diverse politically as well as genetically. However once the Empire takes over, the specie-ism sets in and some species may even be exterminated. Others go into hiding, ect... Which is why the OT is alot less diverse, except for bars and hideouts like the cantina and Jabba's Palace. So with the ST, I think we will see the return of alot of species but some may die off. I could see Dugs or something being killed off/endangered. So that is how I see it. It is also why Luke found so many human Jedi so easily, they were accepted by the empire into positions of power. With the power, they were in important roles, Stormtroopers, CorSec, ect... Which draws Luke's attention faster than walking into a cantina to find someone.
  16. Robimus Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 6, 2007
    star 5
    You were talking about having an alien anthropologist come in and scientifically prove your views. I'm saying there are a lot of unknowns you are convientently ignoring. Who says the breakdown of the galaxy is exactly the same as the breakdown of people on planet earth? Do you have a source that claims this?

    I would be more than willing to concede your fictional anthropologists view, despite those issues you ignore(like the make up of the Jedi Council in certain time frames), if there was someway to defintively prove what your saying. Is the galaxy 20% white? Is the galaxy 40% white? Is the galaxy 60% white? This would be a relevent question that needed to be asked, and answered, in order to prove your theory.

    All in all, Shelley Shapiro, has nothing to do with the question I asked though and the response, I was giving to your reply. Out of universe its clear the authors and artists have by and large failed at this. And they are always going to have failed. At this point its going to be impossible to go back to the 70's, 80's and 90's and hit a reset button that changes all the novels, comics, films and more that filled this galaxy.

    What the creators can effect is the future.
  17. CooperTFN TFN EU Staff Emeritus

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    I think it's possible that a lot of species became more reclusive during the Empire, and certainly they weren't as major galactic players in those days, but it would be a pretty big retcon to say that the Empire flat-out slaughtered so many alien species as to drastically affect the demography of the galaxy. If an all-human Republic had been Palpatine's main goal, then maybe, but the few occasions of entire species being targeted were more by-products of other political situations than deliberate genocide. Not that I'm defending that, of course, but explaining the demographic shift from PT to OT that way would be a pretty damn big pill to swallow. Plus, that even in ANH, with no money, Lucas made a point of putting in a scene like the cantina suggests to me that his view of galactic society has always looked like that, and we're just not always seeing the bigger picture.
  18. GrandAdmiralJello Community and Lit moderator person

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    Yeah remember that we were always either seeing Rimward stuff, Imperial fleets, or Rebel operations. And though we see slightly more alien involvement in ROTJ, the early Rebellion was basically a mostly-human operation. The EU fleshes that out a bit, but it doesn't fight that narrative: remember that part in Wedge's Gamble where Asyr and her crew are tut-tutting the Rebellion for being a humans-only club, and the Rogues (I forget who) say no wai, remember the Sullustans and the Calamari?

    So what we saw in the EU quite matches the perceptions that aliens had IU about the Rebellion. It wasn't really until the brutal and savage occupation of the Core that the aliens emerged to join the Rebellion in large numbers, because even though the Core was human-dominated, it had still long been the galactic melting pot.
  19. AdmiralNick22 Fleet Admiral of Literature

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    As I have pointed out in this thread before, the fact the the Rebel briefing on Home One in ROTJ contains a much more diverse group than the Rebel briefing at Yavin Base can also be used as proof that Lucas has an image of a very diverse galaxy. Let's not forget that when doing the Special Edition of the OT that he came very close to adding Mon Cal and Sullustan pilots to the ANH's briefing scence to help diversify the look of the Rebellion.

    Lucas was constrained by budget and the fact the filming in England in the mid-1970's through mid-1980's meant that the predominate amount of extras or bit players were white males. People trash Lucas for alot of things, but I think his record on diversity is actually much better than folks give him credit for.

    --Adm. Nick
  20. GrandAdmiralJello Community and Lit moderator person

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    Yeah but you have to take the good with the bad. Lucas invented the idea of a diverse galaxy and he made Leia as a strong character, but then he (or his people) deliberately removed all the female pilots from ROTJ (and redubbed the only one to actually appear on screen).
  21. JediFreac Force Ghost

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  22. CooperTFN TFN EU Staff Emeritus

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  23. Skaddix Jedi Grand Master

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    Feb 3, 2012
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    Not to mention would still not explain the dominance of WHM in Luke's order.

    Also I just don't see Palp's as really carrying about focusing on an active genocide campaign against Aliens. He really does not care at all.

    I swear Jan and John are like the only ones who try in the EU.
    Last edited by Skaddix, Jan 17, 2013
  24. Kyris Cavisek Jedi Grand Master

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    Nov 12, 2012
    star 4
    I think Kemp has alot of potential. However the John/Jan team is one of the best. I will agree
  25. Mechalich Force Ghost

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    Feb 2, 2010
    star 4
    Shelley Shapiro's response here obviously leaves a lot, and I do mean a lot to be desired, but I think there is something buried in here that is revealing. With regard to the novels, and the novels specifically, I think it can be said that a great many characters, in both leading and supporting roles, are of completely unknown race, according solely to the written text they appear in.

    The ultimate reality is that many Star Wars novels have relatively little character description, and that due to a combination of the utterly ambiguous naming structure of the universe (hello, my name is Obi-Wan Kenobi, yes I'm played by a knighted Brit, you were expecting something else?) and the lack of any shorthand terminology to describe race - ie. you can't refer to Lando as a 'black male' the actual prose leaves many characters totally without racial identity. Therefore it is possible, at least in theory, for a reader to imagine a considerable number of characters without a specific racial cast. Many of CooperTFN's numeric breakdowns make note of this, with many significant characters in the universe not having a defined race.

    Of course the illustrations undercut this ambiguity. A good example can be taken from Scoundrels. Timothy Zahn uses little, if any character description in the entire novel, leaving the appearances of many characters, including those who play significant roles very vague on the page. Two prominent female roles: that of the Kitik twins and Rachele Ree, are almost completely without description. Yet Bink/Tavia is picture on the book jacket (and also in the Insider article for the short story Heist), while Rachele is not. As a result we can pin a 'race' to the twins, but we cannot do so for Rachele, and if the illustration on the cover didn't exist you couldn't do so for either. Going even further, a reader coming into the novel with no knowledge of Star Wars would have hardly any idea what anyone looked like (they'd also be hopelessly confused by the rather convoluted plot, but nevermind).

    So the prose in a vaccuum is at least hypothetically more diverse than the prose with images attached - and many of those images are presumably attached retroactively, though I suspect the author is generally consulted about what they had in mind. I think this contributes to why the novels in particular, out of the various media forms, seem rather retrograde on the demographics.