pointed out Kamila Shamsi's Guardian article
suggesting we only publish books by women for a year. I'm not certain how bad the comments are as I didn't get past the first half-dozen (you can probably imagine), but I did put up a reply of my own, about what I think is a risk in this proposal, and in Tempest Bradford's thematically similar proposal to only read books by women for a year. I'm trying to knock any inadvertent privilege out of this argument, with thoughts of it feeding into a wider piece on disability in SFF, or at least using it to develop my thinking, so I'm copying it in below and, please, point out any equality fails in my thinking (It's specifically framed as a response to the Guardian piece at the moment, I'd rewrite it before trying to use it independently of that):
"I'm the proverbial straight, cis, white male. I'm also diverse, a member of a discriminated against minority group. No, not straight, cis, white males, I'm fully aware of my privilege there and have nothing but contempt for the men's rights movement, but I am disabled, and I wish the failure of publishing to reflect my personal diverse group got a fraction of the attention failures to adequately reflect ethnicity and gender do.
I'm going to take a stance against this proposal, but probably a different one to most. I'm going to object because I don't think this serves diversity.
I've been an active voice in supporting We Need Diverse Books for as long as I've been aware of it. There's a selfish motive buried in there, I'm a disabled writer talking about disability in a genre (SFF) which has historically handled it appallingly, but it also ties into my activism both about disability and beyond. As I said above, I'm also the proverbial straight cis, white male, and I couldn't help noticing that the only SFF book I read last year that did a decent job of portraying disability (and disability discriminaton especially, which is so, so rarely written about) was also written by a straight, cis, white male, and a non-disabled one at that (John Scalzi and Lock-In if anyone's interested)*. Is that lack of diverse voices healthy? Of course not, but compounding that lack with a lack of authors willing to approach diverse topics, even if non-diverse themselves, would be even worse.
In reading articles talking about We Need Diverse Books over the last year (and specifically excluding WNDB themselves as they've always been explicit about no diversity left behind), I so often see people framing WNDB, and the wider issues in publishing which it challenges, as solely about ethnicity, or solely about gender, LGBT issues show up significantly less frequently, disability rarely, and other diversities almost never (this isn't simply a statistical fluke from a limited sample, I'd guess I've read well past a hundred articles on WNDB in the last year - I started searching them out when I realised this was a problem). We have a problem in that even people actively campaigning for diversity in publishing, but especially those who are on the periphery of the campaign, often have a limited view of what 'diversity' means. And the danger we face is making progress in limited areas, and then having people say 'but we've already done diversity,' excluding all those forms of diversity that never got attention, because they actually face even more complete exclusion. Initiatives that frame the issues solely around a single diversity, such as this one, or Tempest Bradford's challenge to only read female authors for a year, risk reinforcing that limited view of diversity, and leaving those most poorly served by the publishing industry even worse off than before.
And yet it's simple to reframe this challenge as an inclusive one by changing it to say: 'Lets only publish books by diverse authors, or which feature diverse topics, for a year.' That way we aren't solely addressing one form of diversity fail, we aren't reinforcing misconceptions about the extent of diversity fail in publishing, we're challenging them all. "
*I realised after posting at the Guardian that I should have specified novel length, there were several good disability related shorts in Kaleidoscope. There were probably others out there, but Lock In was the one I saw, and I was so hoping it would make the Hugo shortlist (bloody Puppies!)