In discussing how authors navigate politics in social media, an anonymous author chimed in about closed-minded he/she believes the online writing world to be to anything other than liberal perspectives.
Is the writing world closed off to opposing views? Have we created our own echo chamber?
I’d like to print that author’s comment (nearly) in full, and then respond to some of the points. Please leave your own thoughts in the comments section.
Nathan, I doubt this is news to you, but the writing community is largely liberal.
Somewhere along the way, we have decided that any view that differs from the liberal point of view is not only uneducated, but abhorrent. Whether intentional or not, we have effectively silenced all opposing points of view. And we now spend all of our time agreeing with each other and patting each other on the back for being so open minded and accepting. After all, there is no one left to really challenge us, no one left to “tone police” us.
Since you asked, these are some things off the top of my head that I’d like to challenge in the writing community, but cannot without risking my career and/or being verbally attacked with a gang-like mentality:
1) The validity of the “tone policing” argument
2) That discrimination against conservative views in the writer community is not only acceptable, but encouraged
3) The use of the acronym WHAM and what it means
4) The collective reaction to this election in the writing community, and the idea that this somehow proves what we’ve known all along: conservatives are racist/sexist/bigots/etc
5) That there are people in the writing community who we regularly silence through group intimidation
6) That we sometimes use labels like racist, sexist, bigot, etc irresponsibly, and that admitting this does not negate that racism, sexism, bigotry, etc exists
7) That we ignore all demographics that aren’t related to race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, and a few select religions
8) That when we talk about politics, it’s only in relation to social issues
9) How we refuse to accept that this election was about anything other than what we hold dear (social issues) when there were multiple important issues that we may have chosen to ignore
10) That whole safety pin thing and what it unintentionally symbolizes
11) That we are more focused on being right, and less focused on effecting change.
12) That we are frustrated, baffled, angry, scared, etc by the outcome of this election, but refuse to self-reflect on this, when we spent the last year weeding out any dissenting view or opinion in the writing community and surrounding ourselves with like-minded people who won’t challenge us on some of these positions
13) How insulting and painful this collective reaction must be to an entire demographic (you know, conservatives, who we pretend don’t exist in the writing community)
14) That we are starting to all sound the same, recycling the same thoughts and vocabulary, and our work will reflect this
I’ll stop there I guess.
You said in your post that there is an expectation that authors openly engage in advocacy. Advocacy for *what* exactly? Are saying there is an expectation that we all advocate for the same things? Because we all agree, right? Even Mary Kate said it. Now, if you don’t agree, you can’t even remain silent to avoid scorn. If you are on the “right side” and aren’t “brave” enough to speak out about it (amongst all of us safe, like-minded writers), you will be unfollowed. It’s a great way to weed out the undesirables. Speak up, or we can assume you don’t agree with us. Brave, indeed. (And maybe vaguely creepy, a la President Coin)
Some of my thoughts:
- When I said it felt like there was almost an expectation that authors would openly engage in advocacy, I didn’t mean simply liberal advocacy. More that it seems like authors are now encouraged to share their views, whatever they may be, and there is pressure against remaining silent.
- While I agree that the publishing world is liberal in the sense that if you examined the voting habits of authors and employees within the publishing world and the public pronouncements on social media they would skew liberal on the whole, I don’t know that the effect of that political liberalism necessarily translates into the way books are published and marketed. At the end of the day, the publishing world is way, way more capitalistic than it is political. You still see things like: 1) Contemporary YA books by male authors packaged and marketed differently than contemporary YA books by female authors; 2) Lack of racial diversity in the industry and in the books it publishes and especially how it markets, necessitating an entire movement to embrace and promote diversity in young adult literature, not even as a political end but simply so the diverse world our young people live in is accurately represented; 3) A self-perpetuating myth that “boys/minorities don’t read”; 4) There are plenty of politically liberal editors publishing books by the Ann Coulters of the world.
- While I don’t doubt that one risks a social media ****show espousing an unpopular view, I’d be surprised if an author had their book dropped simply because of their political views. I don’t want to name names, but I can think of several prominent YA authors off the top of my head alone whose views most liberals would consider abhorrent.
- You won’t hear any arguments from me about the ill effects of witch hunts, but at the same time, I’m also not in favor of totally consequence-free speech. If you say something publicly, you should be prepared to defend it or apologize for it.
- Um…. sorry but what does WHAM stand for? Someone help me out.