There is a publisher currently looking for “sensitivity readers” to comb through their soon-to-be published manuscripts to ensure that there is nothing offensive present.
Yes, it’s a publisher of LGBT+ stories. How did you guess?
Riptide Publishing, whom I thought in the past was a pretty edgy and cutting-edge publisher (they did publish some cool gangster/assassin stuff after all)… then again, things hadn’t been the same since they changed guards at the top. Anyway, they are paying for “sensitivity readers”, especially if you are – and I quote:
- South Asian/Indian
- Trans man
I lifted a brow when I saw “anorexia” in the list, as I am from a medical background in which anorexia, bulimia, and other eating disorders are psychological disorders that should be treated. Not something to be proud of, not a “lifestyle”, and not a badge of snowflake honor. I wonder whether this means that they are going to publish pro-ana stories, as I can’t imagine other kinds of stories that won’t hurt the snowflake feels of the ana-mia crowds on Tumblr.
I’d like to think that this is a good idea, I really do, but at the same time, I wonder whether this is only going to remove all fangs from gay stories and glut the market with more checklist LGBT+ romances. You may have seen me rant about those stories in my reviews: checklist romances are such in which the snowflake characters are entirely defined by a laundry list of oppression and -ism, but devoid of any other traits that would make them resemble human beings. These characters speak in jargon which suggest that they have spent way too much time in the gender studies side of college, and they don’t talk as much as they preach heavily about first world problems. And more often than not, we have attractive, young, full-bodied gay men wailing that they are oppressed when, in truth, they are more fortunate than most people. Such stories are not fun to read because they are agendas and agendas are boring.
And having books that have been weeded out of any possible offending element seems like a surefire way to create the blandest, most boring checklist romances ever. Especially in a world of bizarre microaggressions and infantile inability to accept differing opinions or viewpoints (“Someone claimed to support Donald Trump – I FEEL VERY ATTACKED AND I FEAR FOR MY LIFE!”), a world where people come up with all kinds of things to be outraged (“I sneezed and he said GOD BLESS YOU which triggers me because I am an atheist and I think Christianity is synonymous with oppression and transphobia and whatever so I FEEL VERY ATTACKED AND I FEAR FOR MY LIFE!”).
Hope they prove me wrong… oh, who am I kidding, I have zero interest in buying books that I know have been deliberately sanitized for my own good. I’m only blogging about this because I think this is a pretty awful idea, but then again, I’m old school, don’t subscribe to outrage culture, and I like dark, disturbing stuff, so what do I know. I actually think this is a great way for the publisher to endear itself to the Social Justice Heifers crowd, but at the same time, I doubt those people read much in the first place.
But it’s a great way for you to make money! It’s very easy to get outraged over the smallest things if you think like them, so you can use the search function to comb through the manuscript and report objectionable content in, oh, 20 minutes tops? Here are some examples of “bad” words or situations:
- Crazy, mad, insane – ableist, discriminatory against any insane people who may be reading the book.
- Christian, God, deity – no-no, atheists reading the story may be triggered into trauma.
- Color – trigger word for people of color, so is bad.
- Slave – trigger word for readers whose great, great, great grandparents may be slaves once upon a time, so not good. Note that historical fiction is not exempted from this. Trigger is trigger, all is bad.
- Bless – see Christian, God, deity, etc. Religion is awful.
- Straight – trigger words for trans people, regardless of context. Report ASAP.
- White – the source of all evil. Delete.
- Sex (as in male/female) – any hint of binary in gender is triggering to readers who identify themselves as genderfluid, non-binary, dragonkin, whatever.
- He/his (or she/her) – OMG, WHAT ARE YOU DOING? Characters must respectfully ask the other person their preferred pronoun before using them. Readers who prefer pronouns like “xe/xis”, “pee/piss”, “twinkle/twinklis” will all get triggered, and that’s bad for business. REPORT, REPORT!
- Calling someone “man” or “woman” before asking the person to clarify first – so not good. What if the person is a dragon or tooth fairy trapped in a male body? So triggering.
- Sex without at least 15 pages of clear verbal, signed, and documented consent – everyone with a penis is born with an aggressive instinct to rape, so any spontaneous sex scene may trigger readers who are sensitive about these things.
- Cultural appropriation by white people – ultimate no-no. White people cannot eat sushi (appropriating Japanese culture), fried chicken (African-American culture), or pizza (Italian culture). They cannot wear clothes or sport hairstyles belonging to other races. Beyonce’s new album is not for them to buy or even listen to, as they are white and Beyonce is singing about strong POC women. So, report anything done, worn, or eaten by a white character that does not belong to his or culture (that’s like 90% of everything, because white people have no culture of their own).
- White characters. Don’t think, don’t pause – REPORT. So offensive. The only exceptions are white people who are trans-ethnic (they reject their race and identify themselves as other more noble races, like African-Americans and Japanese) or those who suffer and repent for being white, preferably converting to trans-ethnicism by the time the story ends.
See? It’s easy!