Lit Ignorance is Bias: The Diversity Manifesto

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

  1. cthugha Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 24, 2010
    star 3
    ...

    So according to you gays are like vampires, evil agents, genocidal aliens and murderers? :mad:




    Just kidding. :p

    Seriously tough, I can't see what issue anyone could have with "homosexual" relationships in such a profoundly desexualized franchise as the SWEU. Unless of course they object to the "sexual" part -- because obviously (and by name alone) homosexual relationships are about sex and not about love, right? :rolleyes:
  2. Zorrixor Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Sep 8, 2004
    star 6
    The nose is clearly a prosthetic designed to make them fit into the predominantly human society of the GFFA.

    Feel sorry for those Duros, they are the repressed minority of Star Wars, made to make themselves look more human.
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  3. cthugha Jedi Grand Master

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    Sep 24, 2010
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    Reading Scoundrels just reminded me that this is what seems to have happened to Falleen -- they're reptiles, but they seem to have co-evolved with humans in a predominantly human environment, so that it proved advantageous for them to be able to influence humans using their pheromones. Also, they seem to look comparatively attractive to humans (compared to other reptilian species, I mean).
    Does anybody know if that was actually mentioned somewhere? Because I don't think I made that one up.
  4. The Loyal Imperial Manager Emeritus

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    Nov 19, 2007
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    Welcome to the club. :p
    Fear of anything that's different or otherwise does not adhere to one's rigid standards for normality. It rarely occurs unaccompanied by some other form of discrimination.
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  5. cthugha Jedi Grand Master

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    I've talked to quite a lot of more-or-less homophobic people (all men, I should note) over time, trying to figure out what exactly they were so afraid of. Eventually the answers tended to fall into two categories (or more like two intensities, in fact):
    -- "I'm just trying to protect my physical integrity" (because obviously all homosexuals are rabidly sexual and always out to rape every male butt they see)
    -- "I don't want to be looked at that way" (because apparently most men seem to know deep down that the way they usually look at women is aggressive and unsettling, so they're understandably uneasy at the thought of having such a gaze turned on themselves.)

    And then of course there's the (still somewhat socially required) suppression of one's own nonstandard impulses... but try telling a homophobe that [face_beatup]

    EDIT: Note how when saying both "homophobic people" and "homosexuals" I was only talking about men, as if there were no homophobic women or lesbians. I just noticed after posting... and thought it was an interesting one-sided blindness. Why's that?
    Last edited by cthugha, Feb 10, 2013
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  6. Gorefiend Chosen One

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    It’s more likely a natural ability they use in their own mating rituals, with which they just happen to also be able to influence others. T'landa Til are somewhat similar here. Though what’s interesting in Scoundrels is that the male Falleen is able to influence a male human just as easily as other male Falleen have been show to influence female humans.

    Various places, amongst them a few of the sourcebooks were there are brothels staffed by Falleen. ;)
  7. Todd the Jedi Mod and Sitcom Dad of SWTV

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    Exactly. It's a big reason most racism exists.
    Last edited by Todd the Jedi, Feb 10, 2013
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  8. CooperTFN TFN EU Staff Emeritus

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    On the contrary, I'm happy to have you - I was talking to Jello about literal thread-killing.

    Also, guys - why to you keep waiting until I'm in bed to really get into things here? :p
    Last edited by CooperTFN, Feb 10, 2013
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  9. Mechalich Force Ghost

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    Feb 2, 2010
    star 4
    Through having read, and internalized, some quantity of the massive amount of public polling and research that exists for this issue, and just about any other issue on which members of the public have multiple opinions. Yes this thread discusses a series of issues and since I don't have the time or resources to produce some complicated meta-analysis to find hard data I'm doing a fiar amount of approximation, but since this is not something where high precision is required, that's only minimally relevant.

    It is not especially hard to chart the political spectrum on a variety of issues in this country, or to determine where one individual, such as myself, stands on a given issue.

    Here are two points of Coop's opening post:

    The first statement says that a publisher of a mass media enterprise is obligated to not simply avoid damaging prejudiced material at the expense of existing minority groups, but actually has a responsibility to present a diverse character slate. This is contientious, in multiple ways. First, the idea that a publisher of an entertainment product has any obligation to do anything whatsoever regarding character portrayal beyond avoid breaking the law is far from universally accepted. Generally it is considered that the onus is on the consumer of media to avoid material they find offensive, rather than the other way around. What exactly does LFL limited owe the fans with regard to diversity? The capitalist answer is absolutely nothing. They may chose to promote a diverse cast to make personal political statements or to potentially grow their fanbase, or not. They may even introduce deliberately regressive elements, such as Darth Talon, that counteract any pro-equality messaging to some degree, as a way of pandering to certain elements of their audience.

    Secondly, this statement is written with an unspoken agreement that both more diversity is good and that a certain portion of the fandom (ie. liberal persons liable to participate in this thread) have both the ability to properly judge what constitutes a appropriate treatment of diversity and what 'diverse' means in the first place. Beyond the rather elitist undertones of this statement this is also a way of saying that those who hold views not fitting a modern liberal consensus on race/gender/sexuality/etc. should take a hike (for the record I fully agree that they largely should). Now, I don't think CooperTFN was intending to cast judgment upon LFL or that most of the other posters are trying to do so, but there is fairly often a thrust of 'this is pathetic and it should be fixed right now' in this thread. I've done it myself on occassion, and I would broadly agree that the modern liberal consensus on this sort of issue is in the right place, but that consensus is at the very best, a slim majority in this country (and in other countries far less so, Japan, for example, is generally way more racist than the US).

    The second statement quoted above says that choosing to ignore the issue is an act of bias. This can be expressed (in a very uncharitable fashion I'm using deliberately for argumentative purposes only) as 'if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem.' This is almost certainly, when it comes to diversity issues, true. Unfortunately, the truth of the matter is not necessarily what counts. Making that statement presumes an obligation on the part of the creators, it says that you can't simply not want to address these issues in your storytelling, that just wanting to tell stories about laser swords and starships isn't enough, that this must be engaged with.

    Now given the way the universe is set up some level of demographic awareness when determing cast traits is important to maintain verisimilitude, completely without bringing diversity questions up at all, and that's one of the reasons why there is an opening to engage in this kind of discussion with Star Wars at all (as oppossed to something like, say, God of War), but one cannot expect the creative forces of the Star Wars universe to fight a pro-diversity battle, that isn't their job description. This is especially true when Star Wars has to appeal, as a mass market property, to astonishingly retrograde portions of the US (and international populace). Unfortunately, if the portion of the audience that prefers to not have, say, gay or lesbian characters depicted in Star Wars remains larger than the side strongly pushing for them to be there, then the former is liable to win out - this isn't about civil rights its about market forces.

    @CooperTFN and others: Much of the above response is written from a position that is at least partly devil's advocate, as it is designed to illuminate a specific question regarding where this thread stands (and to a lesser degree, why LFL is so willing to blow some of its members off when pushed). I have done this because I feel it is important to recognize where one stands on issues of importance vis a vis the people you are talking to, not because I disagree with that stance but because a failure to do so can provoke a counter-productive backlash. I feel this is particularly important in a closed environment, such as a single ongoing discussion on one portion of a single internet forum, where outside voices penetrate only rarely, particularly because of market forces. Shouting and shaming one's opponents into silence may help produce change in the political arena, but this is a realm of market forces, driving people out of this thread or off this board accomplishes nothing if they keep buying product, they must be gradually convinced to support at least some of this position in order to produce change.
  10. JediFreac Force Ghost

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    Mar 7, 2002
    star 4
    This is just really sad. I mean look, everyone has preferences and biases and things we want and don't want in the fictional universes that we enjoy. I found that I am willing to tolerate soulless evil Sith lords in my universe. I'm not so keen on tolerating chauvinistic or creepy rapist protagonists so I don't read Dresden or Thomas Covenant. For you, those things that put a gray cloud over "fictional universes you enjoy" might be different. If it's "gayness" or "blackness" or "woman-ness" I'd personally find that pretty repugnant since those are immutable traits people can't really help and not morally abhorrent decisions like youngling killing or Sun Crusher-ing Caridia. (That's my own prejudice and my own opinion about people like that.) But all of us here in fandom are entitled to our own prejudices. It is normal for a human being to have prejudices.

    Now, lucky for you, if you don't want gay characters in your beloved fictional universe, there are over 200+ adult Star Wars books (per the Tim Zahn signing I went to) and countless more children's books so let's ballpark that there are 300 books featuring the fictional universe you enjoy and only one of these 300+ books, Revelation (2009) by Karen Traviss contains characters that are gay. That's <1% (a third of one percent to be exact.) Which means that all you need to do to feel like your vision of Star Wars is represented is to avoid reading Revelation.

    For the fans who would like to see a modicum of representation of diversity, including diversity in gender identity and sexual orientation in Star Wars, there are no books out of 300+ with straight lead characters and hetero romances, with only one book that even has gay characters at all, a book that happens to depict them as a happy family with no blatant romantic overtures at all whatsoever. There is nothing other than this book in Star Wars that affirms this aspect of their life or even their actual existence.

    In fact, they have to endure putting up with folks like you who cry that the theoretical inclusion (not equality, simply inclusion, which has barely happened yet) is an imposition on your ability to enjoy Star Wars. They have to stay closeted in social settings and boards like TheForce.Net and find alternative communities to share fanfic and their lives and stories. They have to hear authors like Allston and KJA and Zahn talk about how the inclusion of just a single gay character among a flotilla of straight characters was considered "a direction" inappropriate to go in. They have to deal with game developers saying 'no homo' and buy an extra expansion pack just to get same-sex romance even as just an option in the TOR RPG even though the inclusion of same sex romances is typically an industry standard now in games where the sex of the PC is player selected. (eg. Fable, DragonAge, Mass Effect, WoW, Neverwinter Nights, Ultima, even KOTOR and so on and so forth.)

    Now, some may simply say, "Well, thems the breaks" for people who are queer in Star Wars fandom--and indeed that is nothing new for people from these communities in nearly any mainstream fandom, even if it isn't to the degree exclusion as seen in Star Wars. When you are not a straight white man and you are a fan of Star Wars, you learn to grow a thick skin. You learn to compartmentalize the parts of Star Wars that make you feel shitty, like the terribly weak depiction of Padme, Mara Jade's wardrobe containing 30 catsuits, or people not believing you're a real fan and that you're just accompanying a boyfriend to events. You try to celebrate characters like Goran and Medrit or the TOR expansion while ignoring the indignant homophobic outrage of your fellow fans or Fox News. You cheer for the inclusion of Lando and Satele and Bail Organa and try not to cringe too badly at the Luke NJO or hearing about the order to make the Galfridians white. You learn to be a fan of problematic things, you learn to enjoy things without feeling wholly comfortable, you learn to enjoy this fictional universe even if it is one where you are not completely included. Even if it is one where often times, you are deliberately excluded.

    Why? Because you are a fan, and because you are a geek. As Science Fiction Writers of American President author John Scalzi recently wrote:



    These fans are able to relate to and sympathize with and enjoy reading books about straight characters without it ruining their enjoyment of the fictional universe. They delight in sharing this world with other fans.

    I have no idea how you feel about all of this--your definition of geekdom may in fact be very different. But I will say this:

    If your ability to enjoy something, to enjoy Star Wars EU and to remain a fan, is so fragile that it can't be shaken by Jar Jar Binks, the entire Legacy of the Force series, Ewok Adventures, Trioculus, Mount Sorrow, or even Waru, but it can be shaken by the mere presence of gay characters? (Which at this point let's face it hasn't even happened yet and even if it did would likely be nowhere nearing proportional equality or quality of the representation of straight characters.) Then I'm not so much worried about whether or not you are "prejudiced" then what is so dysfunctional about your relationship with Star Wars that things so indicative of geekdom (like diversity and inclusion and sharing what we love) are so threatening towards your ability to enjoy Star Wars. Especially since you are not the first or only Star Wars fan to express this sentiment.

    That's why I say that this statement is really "sad." If there is a personal difficulty for you to be able to enjoy Star Wars if straight people are not represented 100% of the time, it would probably be a good idea to learn coping skills for that from people who are used to being represented 0% of the time when reading any given Star Wars book. I promise that you will still be able to enjoy Star Wars or any other fandom even if your sexual orientation (or the sexual orientation you personally prefer to read about) is not represented 100% of the time.

    So, other than simply not existing at all in your fictional world, what can we as a Star Wars fan community do to help reduce your distress tolerance around seeing people like us or our friends and loved ones in your universe?
    Last edited by JediFreac, Feb 10, 2013
  11. Mia Mesharad Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 2, 2012
    star 4

    Just for accuracy's sake, Goran Beviin first appears in Boba Fett: A Practical Man, wherein he first describes the character of "Medrit" as his spouse. He was also in Bloodlines, followed by Sacrifice, where we first meet Medrit in the flesh and learn that he is very much a man. So three novels and an e-novella. Still not great, but when we have so little on that front already, let's not discount what we do have.
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  12. JediFreac Force Ghost

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    Mar 7, 2002
    star 4
    My bad. My memory of LOTF is deliberately foggy. Let's say 1% then!
  13. Mechalich Force Ghost

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    Feb 2, 2010
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    Also in the interest of accuracy, the addition of Makeb to TOR will allow for same-sex flirting options. While the 'flirt' dialog choices do at times lead to (implied) sexual encounters, they are rather seperate from the 'romance' elements of the game which occur through the companion storyline. It is my hope that the companion romances will eventually be altered to allow for same-sex options in at least some of the cases (particularly Kaliyo Djannis, who is bisexual).
  14. Robimus Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 6, 2007
    star 5
    In my experience the issue is not one sided at all. I've known several women in my life who not approve of homosexual relationships. I'm not sure what conclusion you may being trying to draw there but this is certainly not a social discussion that involves only one sex.

    Just what I was saying a couple pages back. ;) In fact, as I have mentioned in this thread in the past, in A Practical Man, Goran Beviin is very much the mian character in my eyes. At worst he shares top billing with Fett & Anor.

    I guess it could be viewed in that way but I don't know if I would go quite that far.

    Myself, I'm not uncomfortable with homosexual relationships in anything but I freely admit I'm uncomfortable with veiwing moments of homosexual sensuality in whatever I may be reading or watching. I admit it is more the male on male stuff that bothers me and I imagine that is something I will never to make myself comfortable viewing in any detail.

    Yet if you were to go so far as to not read stories due to these inclusions your going to miss out on a ton of amazing story telling. For instance Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles is filled with, if not flat out sexual relations, male Vampires who lust after each other in a very sensual manner. I found those aspects of her books uncomfortable. That said everything else within the covers was amazing. The characters, the journey(s) through history, the examination of religion, the dialog and descritptions - all in all brilliant books imo.

    The other bit of fiction that I have watched recently and is relevent to this conversation is The Sopranos. Over the past few months I watched that entire series for the first time and was kinda blown away by the storyline surrounding Vito, a Captain in Tony Sopranos criminal organization, who gets outed as being gay and has to deal with the reprecussions that has on his life. Again I was uncormfortable with the scenes of Vito and his boyfriend sharing their more sensual moments, but the overall story being told, at times, was really well done. Vito's story gets played out as a major subplot over the course of Season 5 and Season 6 and I think it is the best dramatic story telling The Sopranos offered.

    In both of the above instances I feel like I would have really been missing out of amazing fiction if I skipped over them for whatever reason.
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  15. CooperTFN TFN EU Staff Emeritus

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    I think people are quick to forget that "prejudiced" isn't a modern PC invention but a real word with a real meaning*. Feeling that a group of people have some inherent quality that you find distasteful (or appealing, for that matter) is the definition of "prejudiced". What it doesn't mean is that you're automatically a bigot or a bad person--as even Freac points out, prejudice is a natural reaction that everyone experiences. But being realistic about it points you in a better direction than denying it or taking personal offense to it.

    *huge tangent, but the same goes for "retarded".
    Last edited by CooperTFN, Feb 11, 2013
  16. Ulicus Lit'ari

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    Bah, you people with your "divorced" parents.

    It disgusts me.

    Am I the only straight-up bastard here?
  17. GrandAdmiralJello Community and Lit moderator person

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    Uli, I always knew you were a bastard.
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  18. Ulicus Lit'ari

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    Well, you''ve known since I told you anyw-ooooh.

    I GET IT!
  19. MercenaryAce Force Ghost

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    Aug 10, 2005
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    Any comment on the Human-Abyssian marriage in the last episode of the clone wars?
  20. Gamiel Force Ghost

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    No
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  21. GrandAdmiralJello Community and Lit moderator person

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    Obviously only terrorists marry aliens.
  22. Gamiel Force Ghost

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    What's wrong with duros?
  23. Ulicus Lit'ari

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    Don't they contradict the EU
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  24. Gamiel Force Ghost

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    How?

    And if so does it really matter?
  25. instantdeath Force Ghost

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    Jul 22, 2010
    star 5