Some things people should put in mind before flinging the “lack of diversity” and “stop appropriating culture” stuff around.
Cultural diversity is not a natural “it just springs up overnight” phenomenon.
You get a melding of cultures through several means that include conquest and trade route. People in a certain region, where mobility is restricted by geography – such as during the times before modern transportation or in fantasy worlds lacking the means for people to go all over the place easily – tend to share a similar culture. Therefore, we need to look at the context of the story. If the story is set in a deeply landlocked region in England during the medieval times, then yes, it is silly to ask where the Asians are.
Cultural diversity through trade always begins at the point of trade – usually ports if the primary means of cross-border transportation is by sea, such as in many fantasy setting. You know, merchants from other countries eventually settling down, marrying the locals, that kind of thing. If we are not talking about conquest such as the Romans steamrolling the regions we know today as Europe back in those days, then cultural diversity can arise if, say, a delegation from one country visit and settle in another country. Taking Malaysia as an example, diplomatic ties between Malacca and China back during the 16th century led to the Sultan marrying a Chinese princess, and this was followed by her entourage settling down in Malacca and eventually giving rise to the Babas – Chinese people that adopted much of the Malay customs and practices into their culture without necessarily converting to Islam.
And cultural diversity takes time to happen, usually over generations.
So, if we have a fantasy setting that does not have a robust trading point involving people from various nations, no diplomatic ties with people from culturally different country, or conquest by another nation of a different culture, then a lack of cultural diversity is to be expected, even logical.
In the modern day setting, there are many places in this world where a single race or a handful of races dominates. In Malaysia itself, there are plenty of places where you will find a population comprising a dominant number of people of a certain race, for instance. Is this a bad thing? No. People just like to live with other people who share and understand the same customs – it does not mean that there are no mingling of various races, or there is some kind of segregation taking place. It does not mean that everyone is a racist. It is only in cities that are “hot spots” for trade and commerce, such as the capital city, where you will find a true melting pot, as people from all races and cultures flock there to get a job and make a living.
Therefore, it is silly to read a story set in, say, a small town in Utah or Pahang and then complain that there are too many people of a certain race.
Racial/cultural diversity is good, but forced diversity is immersion-breaking.
As I’ve mentioned above, racial and cultural diversity are always good to have, but unrealistic portrayal of such can jar a reader out of the story. If you set a story in my neighborhood – say, Gebeng – and then have every race show up in equal numbers, I will snort, because clearly you have never been to this part of the world.
Sexual diversity needs to make sense.
Yes, there are 500 different flavors of sexuality these days, if you believe those SJWs, but statistically, the number of LGBT+ people in a population is small. Therefore, any story set in modern-day Earth with trans and gay people popping up at every corner stretches the sense of disbelief considerably. Unless we are talking about those snowflake SJWs that are actually straight but come up with made-up sexuality to feel special (“I am a woman trapped in a man’s body, even if I experience no gender dysphoria, and I must be a lesbian because I conveniently enough want to sleep with girls, so call me a lesbian trans woman and my preferred pronoun is dee/deeloo/delusional!”), I suppose, but come on, who wants to read a story about those dysfunctional attention-seeking crybabies?
In the fantasy genre, it is increasingly common to see settings where sexuality doesn’t matter (Bioware, Paizo) and everyone can sleep with everyone without other people batting an eye. Or, if you are Paizo, have characters with all kinds of sexuality, non-sexuality or multiple sexuality, and even have emo patron gods and demigods for each snowflakery. But all this also needs to make sense. For example, you have magical items or spells (wish, miracle, etc) in your setting that allow you to change from male to female (or vice versa), then gender dysphoria shouldn’t be suffered for long, and one only needs to save enough money to access such an item/spell – in other words, the only trans people around should be those who have yet to get that item/spell due to financial limitations or something like that. Unless, of course, those “trans” people are just claiming to be trans for the sake of being special, but like I’ve said, who has the time and inclination to read about these sad people. Oh, and if you’re Paizo, you really need to come up with a gender-neutral term for husband and wife if you want everyone to be able to marry everyone else. The words “husband” and “wife” are too closely associated with male and female respectively, so their usage in the context of non-straight marriages always seems awkward.
Oh, and if you are Marvel, surely there is a better way to introduce diversity than to turn characters who have long established to be straight suddenly gay just to meet a quota. Or, if you do that, try not to make it seem like the sudden appearance of gayness is due to mind rape by a powerful telekinetic. The unfortunate implication of such virtue signaling is… unfortunate, let’s just say.
Cultural appropriation is not necessarily a bad thing.
Our civilization today is the result of cultural blending and mingling, done either voluntarily or not. Many of our advances in medicines and other sciences are rooted in scholars of various cultures borrowing and stealing from one another, and the same applies for our food, inventions, and more. Segregation of culture is not good, because it leads to stagnation, and let’s face it, these days it is impossible not to be exposed, even subconsciously, to other cultures.
If we really are against cultural appropriation, then all those American SJWs sipping on Starbucks and claiming that they oppressed have best stop drinking beans from South America and grow their own beans. All those virtue-signaling white authors better stop putting characters of other races and cultures into their stories, and the historical romance genre will be dead overnight because American authors are no longer allowed to appropriated 19th century British culture into their stories anymore. Stop eating potatoes – they belong to the Irish, or perhaps the Spanish? Stop calling all those deep-fried stuff in America “Chinese food” – oh, and white people are not allowed to eat Chinese food anymore because cultural appropriation. Who invented trousers? The person’s home country can claim the right to them, as part of the culture in that place, so STOP WEARING TROUSERS. Stop making cartoons about Polynesian and Arabs, Disney! Stop appropriating Klingon culture! If you think I am exaggerating, well, think again. When Beyoncé released that album of hers recently, a slew of mostly white girls screech that white people should not listen to music made by a non-white person.
As you can see, the current state of “Don’t appropriate other people’s culture!” nonsense by the SJWs of the moment is a one-way ticket down the rabbit hole of madness, and it should also be obvious that this train runs counter to the other train of theirs that screech about how we need more diversity. How can there be more diversity if there can’t be any cross-cultural interactions?
This seems to be an American thing, weirdly enough, although I’ve seen it slowly seep into the UK and Canada. Over here, in the countries where the SJWs claim to champion, most of us love it if you come over and take part in our ceremonies. Wear a kimono, sari, cheongsam, whatever – we will tell you that you look gorgeous instead of ranting about you on Tumblr or Tweeter. Come enjoy our food and drinks! Buy a postcard! Wear our clothes for Halloween! Write stories about us! I don’t think most normal people here have an issue about this, unless it is done very inaccurately or with less than respectful intentions. The only people who are against this are the racists and the fundamentalists who want to keep their perceived superior race, culture, or religion free from “taint” – something that these so-called liberal SJWs should think about before they blindly denounce trivial fun things as cultural appropriation.
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