Open Thread: Writing about oppression
21 June 2015 4 Comments
So after working on my responses to some of the comments in my “Kingdom” post, I once again stumbled upon a Tumblr post which I feel is relevant to the discussion of Gargoyles and its issues with representation.
From the tumblr more of a lark than a dove (I believe):
i really like the advice “write marginalized characters but don’t write about marginalization unless you experience it”
absolutely i think cis people should expand their horizons and write trans characters, but they shouldn’t write stories about being trans. likewise i think allistic / NT authors should write about autistic characters! but not stories about being autistic.
represent us. absolutely. but don’t tell our stories. let us do that.
Now, I’m fairly certain I disagree, largely because it feels fundamentally at odds with what fiction is supposed to be. Secondly, it opens the question of where exactly works like Gargoyles and the X-Men lie, particularly since these sorts of works tend to be most effective precisely when they most mirror the experiences of real peoples and groups.
On the other hand, when I read about how Sense8, a series ostensibly about people from all over the world, cannot achieve its global vision as long as the creative forces driving it are exclusively white, exclusively western and almost exclusively male, I can’t help but nod. I look at episodes like “Heritage” and its complete failure to tell a story about the Haida people, and I start thinking it’s not such bad advice at all. And so, therefore, I’m left pondering, and then pondering some more.
What do y’all think?
P.S.: Watch Sense8.