Let’s Read That Daily Telegraph Article

You may have seen a certain Daily Telegraph article doing the rounds over the last few days. If you haven’t read it go do so now, but the basic summary is that a dude discovered people on the internet calling on readers to diversify their reading habits, and that blew his tiny little mind.

How did it blow his tiny little mind? Let us count the ways.

Imagine, if you can, the unholy furore that would erupt if a white male author penned an article where he implored his readers to put a complete ban on buying books by black, Jewish, gay or even female authors.

Martin Daubney’s main fallacy in this article is one a lot of you will undoubtedly be familiar with: equating criticism (in this case not even that) with censorship.

After introducing KT Bradford’s post I Challenge You to Stop Reading White, Straight, Cis Male Authors for One Year Daubney casts aspersions on her motives:

a little-known New York feminist writer hoping – and succeeding – to cause a stink (and no doubt get publicity for her own work)

and then proceeds to accurately summarize her views and goals, under the apparent belief that this will cause his readers to recoil in shock.

She said most books were “skewed heavily toward privileged voices” and some even made her “ragequit” reading them.

These are both objectively true statements.

Perhaps predictably, Tempest’s message went down badly in certain quarters, drawing such scathing abuse that she compiled a blog featuring the most offensive tweets. She was called a “black supremacist” who was “intolerant, censorious, and an obstruction of the free exchange of ideas that is essential to freedom itself.” One simply read, “I challenge you to throw yourself in a wood chipper”.

Tellingly, there was no such outrage from the white male authors singled out for censorship by Tempest.

Obviously we should give these white male authors a medal for not telling a blogger to throw herself into a wood-chipper.

Top of Tempest’s hit-list was British-born sci-fi author Neil Gaiman, a New York Times number one bestseller. He graciously tweeted a link of Tempest’s blog to his 2.19 million followers, saying it was “great” and that he didn’t “mind being the posterbook” for her contempt. He cleverly realised there was far more merit in allowing Tempest to dig her own grave than dignify her outpourings with a rebuttal.

Dig her own grave how? What would his rebuttal be? What would he be rebutting? All she did was correctly point out that the work of white men is given greater prominence in our culture and implore her readers to deliberately break out of that mindset. Daubney takes it as a given that there is something inherently offensive about this, but he never gets around to explaining what.

Yet Tempest isn’t alone in suggesting we should eschew white male writers. Days before her outburst, Sunili Govinnage wrote in The Guardian of her own experience of reading 25 books in 2014, all of which were by authors of colour. This was a reaction to a perceived “inherent bias” in publishing.

Putting something in scare quotes to imply it’s not accurate without actually giving any proof? Top-level journalist technique.

Next up, in a blog entitled “The Great Internet Debate On Not Reading White Men” fantasy author Saladin Ahmed claimed: “The market itself is racist and sexist in all sorts of unseen ways” and then offered a helpful link to his own books for sale.

Translation: they’re just doing it to pump up their own sales figures.

And you know what, even if they were, so what? They’re right, the market does privilege white men. Some of these people are trying to make a career out of their writing; correcting that bias is absolutely in their best interest monetarily.

Daubney then has a paragraph on the We Need Diverse Books Campaign, again simply summarizing its viewpoint as if it’s self-evidently nonsensical or reprehensible.

Of course, you could just say to these critics, who are hell-bent on having us stop reading books by white men: “Stop, already: we’re all free to buy the books we want”.

Daubney pretty much deflates his own point here, but he doesn’t seem to realize it. Yes, we are all free to buy the books we want, hence why bloggers asking people to read different books is not actually the censorship he seems to think it is.

If Ms Tempest et al want to buy books by transgender authors, let them crack on, as long as they’re aware that many of the rest of us don’t share their tastes.

I find the wording of this extremely weird. Why does it require any particular “taste” to read trans authors? Does Daubney think “written by trans authors” is a genre with particularly restrictive conventions?

But the big question is: do such outspoken attacks on white men (for the record, Tempest is a woman of colour) constitute some form of sexism – or even racism?

No.

But something odd is happening, and it has the beginnings of something altogether more sinister: white men are increasingly being singled out for abuse, especially on social media, precisely because they are white and male.

Yes, white men are the number one victims of abuse on social media. Like all those male gamergate victims, and the white men who for years were targeted by many of the same people with no media attention or support at all. That is totally what’s happening here.

This bizarre trend even has a name: “punching up”, where it is OK to prejudice against white people (mainly men) – and because we’ve had it so good, for so long, we have absolutely no right to answer back.

Except that’s not actually what punching up is. Punching up means you don’t aim your anger or your ridicule at people who have less privilege than you do, and it comes with the realization that there are people below you punching up at you just as you punch up at people who are more privileged than you are. The fact that white men have no one to punch up at isn’t a reason to stop trying to end the cultural dominance of white men, it’s precisely the reason to keep doing it.

What’s even more curious is that, often, the white bashers are white themselves – and in a further bizarre twist, often it is liberal, middle-class white males doing the knocking. Are they consumed by a “white guilt” that fills them with a need to self-flagellate for the sins of their forefathers on Twitter, while approving feminists applaud?

Does anyone want to bet that Daubney thinks most criticism of white men comes from other white men because the only people he ever listens to are white men?

Is it just a timely revenge for generations of “privilege” that all white men have enjoyed, presumably even those millions killed in wars or rotting in prisons, or sleeping rough tonight.

Guess who doesn’t understand what privilege is?

Put in that context, does any of this petty, white man-bashing matter? Like anybody who still mindlessly attacks other people for having differently coloured skin or gender, should we just put it down to where it comes from: ignorance and stupidity?

I would like to remind you all that this was prompted by a handful of bloggers asking people to read more books by women and people of colour.

Perhaps I’d better read up about it – so long as the book isn’t written by a white man, naturally.

Well yes, actually, if you want to understand racism and sexism and privilege you probably shouldn’t be reading the opinions of white men. But since you’re a smug asshole I doubt you actually care about learning.

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37 thoughts on “Let’s Read That Daily Telegraph Article

  1. Fibinachi

    Actually, hang on.

    … Isn’t a concern about the sales figures for “non-white” books kind of exactly the point? That angle genuinely baffles me. It’s like the conversation goes:

    “It seems to me most people might accidentally not read very much by anyone outside this small group – most information we have says the sales of books not written by this group is pretty low”
    “YOU JUST WANT THOSE BOOKS TO SELL MORE!”
    “… yes? It seems odd they don’t. Maybe it’s a bias of some kind. It’s worth investigating”
    “That’s clearly racist because white men and also you’re just trying to prop up your own sales numbers and harangue people”
    “Didn’t I just say that? Yes. Apparently most people don’t read books by non-white authors because the ones that are sold the most, given the most pr backing and tops best-seller lists are from this small group of people. I am, in point actual fact, stating that maybe people should try to buy and read books from other perspectives than the norm”
    So you are trying to prop up Salman Rushdie’s sales numbers! CHECKMATE, FEMINISTS”

    An increase in the sales figures for non-white authors would be, well, the point of reading more diverse books? It’s not an aspersion as to the terrible heresy of my motives if your main complaint is exactly the thing I’m trying to achieve.

    Reply
    1. Mr Elbows

      But don’t you see it’s very very terribly Capital B Bad that there’s someone out there who wants you to read these other books? It’s totally different from reading only White Men, which is unbiased and Wholesome! You hypocrite!

      Reply
  2. Aaron Adamec-Ostlund (@AaronAO)

    Daubney’s argument reminds me of Gamergaters’. You can’t trust what these non white-cis-het-males say because they stand to make money off of encouraging more diverse authors/videogame developers so they are motivated solely by self interest and can’t possibly have any sort of legitimate points. And of course the ultimate goal of these SJWs is to destroy the works of white men and replace them with their own, which is just a different form of discrimination and so we should just stick with the discrimination we already have. And once again white men are the real victims and something really should be done about all the discrimination we have to suffer through.

    Reply
  3. Stephen

    The reason clueless privilieged white dudes get their dander up over this kind of thing is because they’ve been dutifully trained to recognize one kind of racsim — compartmentalization based explicitly on race — and completely ignore all others. Racists learned (in the US at least) as early as 1866 that as long as you don’t mention the word “black” or use any perjoratives, you can be held entirely unaccountable for actual racism. This is what led to the success of things like racist policies like literacy tests or poll taxes that were racist, but didn’t explicitly single blacks out.

    Privileged white people think that so long as you don’t talk about any term of race, there’s no way that you can be doing something racist. This is in part a defense mechanism, because as long as no one is talking about race, they can pretend that their success is *entirely* due to their own merit, and the overwhelming mountain of evidence of racism still present in our culture nothing more than an illusion, a spectre created by the liberal elite to take away your guns, or taxes, or welfare queens or whatever.

    So whenever any kind of affirmative action policy comes up, like this campaign, they understandably get upset, because now you’re engaging in reverse racism! How dare you explicitly mention race? You’ve broken the rules! All the while not realizing that it’s the bottom line that matters. “Why do you bring up race??” they ask, not understanding that the answer is “because society has decided it matters.”

    Reply
  4. lampwick

    This is obviously a very minor point compared to the huge pile of stupidity that is the Daily Telegraph article, but why does he constantly refer to Bradford by her first name? It’s very patronizing.

    Reply
  5. Signatus

    If I’ve gotten this correctly, we’re seeing an example of a white hetero male from a possibly middle to high middle class economy complaining about being discriminated? Really, fuck you. Sorry I don’t have anything more intelligent or compelling to say about this topic but I’m quiet sick of listening to heteronormative males complaining about how they feel discriminated somehow, in a culture that is still primarily phalocentric. In my country, until very recently, females were still subjected to males to the point you HAD to ask permission to your owner (father, brother, husband…) to get something as simple as a contraceptive pill. Lets not talk about having a bank account, your own business or a driving license. We grew out of that, fortunately, but females all around the world are still subjected, and lets not talk about minorities.

    Reply
  6. braak

    I like this part:

    “He cleverly realised there was far more merit in allowing Tempest to dig her own grave than dignify her outpourings with a rebuttal.”

    Not even a moment’s worth of consideration that he might agree with the point?

    But of course a guy like this assume that anyone talking about a principle is secretly only concerned about his own book sales.

    Reply
  7. TheUncreativeMe

    *I meant to say that eliminatijg this distorted view is the goal of the article to which he is responding.

    Reply
  8. TheUncreativeMe

    I disagree with this blogger bloke, but it does seem a bit odd to try to *not* read books by a specific group of people. I think it is better to to read more books by minorities as opposed to eliminating your reading of books by other authors.

    If you only read books by a certain kind of person, you will only get one side of the picture, which is, I think, the goal of the article to which he was responding. But ~completely eliminating~ an aspect of your reading doesn’t seem to help that goal much, and lumping in all white cis male authors into a “avoid this” group seems somewhat discriminatory in itself, though certainly well-intentioned.

    Reply
    1. ronanwills Post author

      But as far as I can make out, none of the bloggers criticised in this article asked people to literally never read another book by a white author- the most fervent among them called on people to do so only for a year, as an exercise in stepping outside one’s comfort zone.

      Reply
      1. TheUncreativeMe

        @ronanwills That’s a fair proposition. I try to respect others’ perspectives, even idiot bloggers like that guy, as much as I can.

        Reply
    2. andrea harris

      You either misunderstand or are ignoring what this particular issue is about. I’m going to go with “ignoring” because I refuse to believe someone who can log onto a computer and type words into it doesn’t understand the very simple concept of this reading challenge and has to OVERCOMPLICATE everything and dribble WHITE TEARS everywhere and MANSPLAIN what discrimination “really means” because you can’t STAND the idea that someone you DON’T EVEN KNOW is not centering people who look like you every minute of every day. And frankly, I am sick and tired of having to explain very simple things to very dense people, who will reject my explanations anyway because they don’t want their preconceived comfy notions disturbed.

      Reply
      1. TheUncreativeMe

        Wow.

        -I am a Chinese female. Please stop assuming things about me.
        -What makes you think I am crying?
        -I try to respect everyone and try to understand their position even if I think they are stupid. (You could try this as well.)
        -I don’t know why you think I don’t understand anything.
        -I understand that structural racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and ingrained prejudice in general, or privilege, is difficult to eliminate and often requires real effort to eliminate.
        -I am sorry if I have triggered you in any way and I hope you feel better tomorrow. 🙂

        Reply
      2. andrea harris

        I stand corrected, you are a Chinese female, which I should have been able to somehow tell, even though your comment was a standard one I have seen coming from mostly white males complaining about Bradford’s reading challenge, and I only have a person’s words to go on when communicating over the internet.

        Let’s look at those words. First you said:

        …it does seem a bit odd to try to *not* read books by a specific group of people. I think it is better to to read more books by minorities as opposed to eliminating your reading of books by other authors.

        And you followed that up with:

        If you only read books by a certain kind of person, you will only get one side of the picture[…]But ~completely eliminating~ an aspect of your reading doesn’t seem to help that goal much, and lumping in all white cis male authors into a “avoid this” group seems somewhat discriminatory in itself

        This is a derailing tactic I don’t think we talk about enough: the one where a project or argument is questioned by asking “isn’t this just another version of what you’re trying to avoid?” It’s part of the “aren’t you as bad as your opponent” logical fallacy that has been used to stop change dead in its tracks and reassert the status quo time and time again.

        First of all, the first quote of yours is just you re-stating the original premise of the challenge (read books by minorities) and then destroying its very reason for existence (also read books by white males!). While on the surface it sounds reasonable, it is actually nonsense. The challenge is to read minorities exclusively. It’s a plan with a specific goal. Look, it’s like this: you’ve been eating too much pasta and it’s made you gain weight and feel kind of crappy, so you decide to cut that out of your diet and eat salad instead for a month, in order to lose weight and improve your health. How would you feel if someone told you that it was “weird” to stop eating pasta and instead of not eating it, to eat it AND salad too? How would you feel about them completely discounting your own health goals? And it’s not that pasta is BAD for you, it’s just that too much of it to the exclusion of other foods is not a good thing. Do you understand?

        And then there the second bit of yours that I quoted. I can’t tell you how nonsensical that reads to me. It’s bad to read just one kind of person, because you only get one side of the story. But not reading that kind of person’s books in favor of reading another kind of person’s books is bad because… what? It’s discriminatory? What?

        For one thing, “discrimination” is simply the act of choosing. We do that every day. We decide to have pancakes instead of eggs for breakfast. We choose what we see on tv. We choose what we read. People are not just trash cans that anything should be thrown into. Discrimination is not bad in itself. And Bradford’s reading challenge is not a “bad” type of discrimination because she is concentrating on authors who have different perspectives because they come from different places and viewpoints. She’s eating a salad of many different, tasty ingredients instead of a wad of pale pasta. Why you don’t want her to do this–why you and so many other people are in some sort of panic to put a stop to the very idea of people reading whatever the hell they want (and your passive-aggressive “aren’t you really being the prejudiced one” guilt-tripping is meant to stop people), I just don’t get. White male authors aren’t going to starve and die if a few people read other people for a while. Civilization won’t crumble if a reader lays aside a Neil Gaiman book for one by N.K. Jemison. If you have a problem with that I can’t help you. I’ve already wasted enough words and time explaining this.

        Reply
      3. Fibinachi

        Hey, Andrea Harris?

        Don’t be a dick. There’s nothing objectionable about the statement that reading exclusively from any group is perhaps a way to accidentally blind yourself to perspectives from that group. It’s kind of the point of the campaign in the first place.

        Nothing objectionable at all. So your frankly disproportionate display of caps locks, aspersions of motivation, references to non-existent traits, assumptions of malice, hostility, anger, ignorance, stupdity, misogyny and foolishness is a little extreme.

        I like pasta as much as the next stranger on the internet, and I’m also fond of salad. Sometimes I even have potatoes. Things have been super-civil on here for ages, and I’d like for that to continue, so can I kindly ask you to tone down your rage-saurus and perhaps focus it on people who actually say objectionable things; like the fine lad who write the article in the Daily?

        Reply
      4. TheUncreativeMe

        All right then.

        >> I stand corrected, you are a Chinese female, which I should have been able to somehow tell, even though your comment was a standard one I have seen coming from mostly white males complaining about Bradford’s reading challenge, and I only have a person’s words to go on when communicating over the internet. <<

        I don't expect you to know anything about me. I do, however, expect you to not make massive assumptions about me upon which you will base much of you argument.

        <>
        Which fallacy is this? I have never heard this argument.

        Can you demonstrate in a general sense why this is a fallacy? To me, in a general sense, it is not in fact a fallacy.
        X says: We should solve A by replacing it with B.
        Y says: A is exactly the same thing as B. Hence, B is not a valid solution.

        Well, Y is correct and not at all fallacious!

        What you should be arguing is that B != A. And I think that this is actually what you will go on to argue.

        (Digression: Also. I wasn’t going to say anything more about this, but you bringing up logical fallacies to me is rather ironic. In your last post to me you extensively and almost exclusively used ad hominem and strawman. Ad hominem is basically:
        X: A because B.
        Y (fallaciously): X is [negative attribute]. Therefore, A is wrong.
        As seen in:
        <>
        <>

        Well, even if I am stupidly, densely dribbling white man tears everywhere and stagnating in my preconceptions, what’s it got to do with what I’m actually saying?
        Thank you for avoiding this logical fallacy later on, however.

        Strawman is:
        X: A because B.
        Y: C is wrong, therefore A is wrong.
        As seen in:
        <>
        Which is a crazy opinion I never expressed and bears no relation to my argument at all!
        Sadly, you have continued to err with this fallacy.

        You should look up what a logical fallacy is before you try to accuse me of making one. ^.^)

        <>

        What? Its very reason for existence is to broaden one’s view of literature. I don’t understand what you are saying here.

        <>
        I don’t like metaphors. I’d rather argue about the topic at hand. But I understand your intention with the metaphor here, and will try to address it later.

        I am challenging one of the premises of this exercise. I will define the premises as I think they are – and I am not trying to create a strawman here; I genuinely believe that these are the goals:
        The proposed exercise assumes:
        1) Reading differing views is desirable.
        2) There is an inherent bias favoring white cisgendered males in the publishing industry.
        3) To change 2 and achieve 1, conscious attention to reading choices is necessary.
        4) In order to fulfill 3, one should read more literature by people who are not white and cisgendered, and male. (This means reading literature by a white cisgendered female, for example, is still encouraged, as long as not all of the conditions are fulfilled.)
        5) In order to fulfill 3, one should exclude the literature of white cisgendered males for a “training period”.
        6) After #5, one will be be adept at integrating one’s library, and the limitations of 5 will no longer apply.

        I agree with 1, 2, 3, and 4. I cannot emphasize this enough.
        I also have absolutely no problem with 5, if the point is to have a kind of “National Diverse Reading Month” or something. It sounds like kind of a cool thing to do as a temporary challenge.

        The place where I’m skeptical of these premises would be if you are, as you imply, trying to create permanent change in a person’s reading habits. (And frankly, it’s a bit useless if it’s not supposed to create real change.)
        I contend that 5 will be ineffectual in creating real change and will not create the conditions for 6. This is because:
        A) If I usually read literature by white, cisgendered males, I will find it annoying and unusual to limit my reading as 5 promotes. (Akin to how I will feel annoyed at being forced to only eat salad.)
        B) In the “training period”, I am teaching myself to avoid literature by white, cisgendered males.
        C) Because of A, I will associate reading nonmale noncisgendered nonwhite literature with something outside of what I usually practice: excluding all male cisgendered literature.
        D) Either a or b:
        a) Because of C, I will not want to continue to read nonmale noncisgendered nonwhite literature in my everyday life.
        b) Because of B, I will continue to exclude literature by white, cisgendered males in my daily life, eventually leading to me only reading writing from a limited perspective.
        Neither of these are as good as if I train myself to read, say, one of the encouraged books for every one of the nonencouraged books. Because this approach is more integrated with my general lifestyle and is more comfortable for me, I am more likely to continue to practice this.

        This fits well with the diet metaphor. If I usually eat carrots, but commit to only eating lettuce for a month, once the month is over, well, it’s carrot time! I’m tired of eating lettuce for every meal and associate it with refraining from eating one of my enjoyed foods, carrots. Or alternatively, I’ve become a lettuce junkie, accustomed to eating lettuce and only lettuce. Neither of these are very good options compared to just incorporating lettuce into your carrots.

        Besides, if the goal is to add lettuce to my meal, it’s quite counterproductive to try to eliminate carrots from my diet. Likewise, if the goal is to read more literature by nonwhite people, trying to read less literature by white people is somewhat beside the point. By eating more lettuce, sure, I might end up eating less carrots if I find I do in fact enjoy lettuce, but that’s just a side effect. By trying to not eat carrots, I’m aiming to recreate the side effect of eating lettuce in order to force myself to eat more lettuce, rather than taking on the actual issue: the fact that I don’t eat lettuce.

        Example:
        Joe: I want to read more of Harry Potter. I think I’d like it. I’ll just ban myself from reading everything except Harry Potter for a year or so.
        vs.
        Elaine: I want to read more Harry Potter. I think I’d like it. I’ll just try reading a Harry Potter book at lunch today.

        I understand that nonwhite nonmale noncisgender writing isn’t a monolith like Harry Potter is, but that’s hardly the point. The point is that if you are trying to read more of something, reading less of something else shouldn’t really be your main goal.

        <>
        See above. Feelings have nothing to do with it.

        <>
        This is covered under premise 1 of the exercise, which I agreed with. You don’t need to convince me of this. Assuming I disagree or did not understand this is incorrect at best or a strawman at worst.

        <>
        Yes. Let me state this with an example:
        X: I only read A. I don’t read B. Therefore, I emphasize with only A’s opinion.
        Y: I only read B. I don’t read A. Therefore, I emphasize with only B’s opinion.
        How exactly is Y better than X?
        Compare to Z:
        Z: I read A. I read B. Therefore, I emphasize with A’s opinion and B’s opinion.

        Before reading this quote of yours, I thought that you mostly agreed with Mr. Wills’s version of the exercise as expressed here:
        <>
        In essence, Mr. Wills says that this exercise was intended as an temporary introduction to non-white non-cisgendered non-male literature that you might otherwise not have read.
        You, however, said that my arguments often impede “change”, so I assume you see this as one of the steps towards more diverse literature. You have also not sketched out an opinion counter to Mr. Wills’ stated one, so I assumed it was akin to his.
        But with this quote, I am not sure this is the case. You seem confused by the idea that, just in general, not reading books written by A in favor of reading only books written by B, could be “bad”. Was this your intention in writing this? Or did you mean to say something like, “not reading A in favor of B for a specified amount of time is not bad”? Because never reading books by A is pretty much a bad thing, both for A and for your depth and breadth of opinion and knowledge.
        I am going to go with the latter, because the former is inconsistent with your previous quote and with premise 1.

        <>
        I will concede that discrimination is not bad in itself.

        However, where this policy errs is where it disposes of a necessary piece of one’s literary diet. By only eating salad, Bradford is limiting herself; ultimately, her salad would benefit from adding a small amount of spaghetti. Rather than directing your efforts towards not reading a certain view, you should teach yourself to read every side. (See above.)

        Choosing between either” pasta “or” salad? This is a false dichotomy, and it will not lead to permanent change. (See above.) After her time ends, Bradford will either continue reading exclusively one thing, as she has taught herself habit, or she will rebound to reading mostly male cisgendered white literature as she stops paying attention.

        I can see where you and Bradford are coming from. In our society, the white cisgendered male opinion is so often heard that purposefully including that view is beside the point. However, in order to begin real change, you need to create habits you can stick to and which you enjoy. Does this make sense?

        At some point you will have to read some book written by a white, cisgendered man, and it might well be a very good book. It is better if this is worked into the system you created and practiced, rather than being a violation or an “opposite” of that system.

        <>
        This is the strawmanning I’m talking about. For instance, you claim that I am “in some sort of panic”, but really I am in no sort of panic at all. :p More to the point, you claim that I am opposed to “the very idea of people reading whatever the hell they want”. I am not. I never said that I thought that people should be prevented from reading certain books. What you might have meant by this statement is that I am opposed to the very idea of making an effort to expand one’s reading to books other than those of white cisgendered men. I am not. (See premises 1-4 and my agreement thereof.)
        You also claim that I said, “aren’t you really being the prejudiced one” in order to stop people through guilt-tripping. I did say that I didn’t like the idea of arranging and practicing discrimination in your reading habits, but I never implied that this was the result of prejudice. I said that it was “certainly well-intentioned”, but not a positive strategy for reasons I have explained above. I also did not intend to make you feel guilty for not reading books written by white men. I didn’t say something like, “Do you know how many white, cisgendered, men are going to starve to death because you’re not reading their books? ~MILLIONS~”. Instead, I expressed disagreement with the strategies because they would end up working counter to premise 1 in the long term or would simply not be effectual at all. I also am not trying to stop you from reading some nonwhite noncisgendered nonmale authors. Although I am warning people off from using this particular strategy to integrate their reading permanently, I am not using guilt or ad hominem attacks such as allegations of prejudice to do so, nor do I disagree with premise 1.

        <>
        It’s a good thing I didn’t say this, isn’t it, then?

        <>
        Again, it’s a good thing I never mentioned the crumbling of civilization, isn’t it? And it’s a good thing I’ve never read either of those people- er, maybe it’s not, but the point is, this is not relevant. (And if you ask me, I think I should try to read both, because both are probably good authors.)

        <>
        If I have a problem with what? I have a problem with the idea of trying to permanently change your reading habits with all-or-nothing habit-forming strategies. I do not have a problem with someone choosing to try this challenge on a lark, but I think it will be less effectual than if they tried a less drastic method. I also do not have a problem with reading the work of noncisgendered nonwhite nonmen, and have not expressed an opinion otherwise to my knowledge despite your belief to the contrary.

        However, thank you for responding more politely and eloquently to me. I appreciate the effort you put into this and I hope this argument makes sense to you.

        Reply
      5. TheUncreativeMe

        Eh, sorry. I’m not used to the formatting here, so things got a bit screwy. Oh well, I hope you can understand me anyway.

        Reply
      6. Number27

        TheUncreativeMe: What you are missing here is context. I don’t know where you are in the world but, speaking as someone living in the US, when I contemplate how I would go about eliminating the white/cis/het/male perspective from my reading/ watching/ etc… I don’t have the first clue.

        It is essentially impossible. I could stop reading anything put out by WCHM for pleasure (if I was willing to do much more research and pay much more for my reading material) but do I stop following the news? Watching TV with friends/ family? Ever going on the internet? If not, then I am exposed everyday to the WCHM perspective whether I choose to be or not.

        This, IMO, is a big part of the point of articles like KT Bradford’s.

        Reply
      7. andrea harris

        Anyway, excuse me, Uncreative Me, I’m just going to focus on this statement of yours: “I am challenging one of the premises of this exercise.”. Yes, I realize that. And I pointed out that your objections completely miss the point. No one is saying “never read white males.” No one is saying “restrict your viewpoint.” The reading exercise is for the purposes of expanding the viewpoints of people who have been reading mostly white male authors because those are the authors that are promoted most in this part of the world. Considering that white males are not a majority of the population on Earth, where there are slightly more females than males, and most of those males are not white, I think that putting the dominant white male minority aside for a while in order to focus on the whole rest of the world is the opposite of “restricting”. But what do I know, right?

        Reply
      8. Fibinachi

        That’s not what a tone argument is, Andrea Harris.

        If you have to consistently accuse others of fallacious argumentation, at least please use the right terms. What is a tone argument though is claiming you’re civil merely because you haven’t said some specific “rude” words. Content, not form. I was and am objecting to the content of your posts, not merely the tone.

        So I repeat: you’re being a dick. Stop, maybe consider apologizing, restating your main complaint and going from there.

        Since anything else is re-threading ground, I’m going to let that be that.

        Reply
      9. andrea harris

        Fibinachi:

        I don’t know who you think you are, but I have had enough of your behavior towards me, and I’ll thank you to never address me anywhere, on any website, under any identity, ever again.

        Ronan:

        I apologize for taking up your comment threads with this nonsense.

        Reply
      10. ronanwills Post author

        Okay guys, things are getting a bit too heated here for my liking. I don’t mind debate of any kind in the comments, but if you have a beef with a particular commentator please take it to another venue, as I’m not interested in the blog turning into a platform for personal arguments.

        Not pointing fingers at anyone specifically, but if things continue on this course I’m going to start deleting comments.

        Reply
      11. TheUncreativeMe

        Andrea, or whichever term you prefer to be called, please reread my post, as I am reasonably sure that I already countered the points you make.

        Your first point is that this exercise is not intended to narrow minds. Your second point is that it is intended to expose people to more diverse literature.

        Am I correct in thinking this? I don’t want to get your argument incorrect, and I feel that either or both of us don’t understand what the other is trying to say.

        I agree with the intentions of this exercise. I find the material suggestions somewhat ineffective. I am hypothesizing that if one begins their introduction to more diverse literature in this manner, they will end up giving up integrating their reading at all, or will, by habit, end up avoiding a certain perspective even if that wasn’t their original goal.

        Numbers- and then there’s that. You’re completely right about the media- I live in the US as well- and I appreciate that you seem to understand my intention. It’s not so much, however, that the white male cisgendered perspective is underrepresented, as that trying to teach yourself to not read nondiverse books in order to force yourself to read more diverse books doesn’t address the real problem: the lack of diverse books in one’s library. (Wow, that was a long sentence. If that made no sense, please assume the best. :p) I think it would be better to try to meet quotas for more diverse books or something, so the committment is less focused on restriction and more on growth. In effect, it’s more of a perception thing than anything, but personal change is often reliant on perception.

        (And I am not really in a position to offer you sound advice, nor did you ask for any, but probably someone or other has compiled a list of good books by transgender or black or female people, so you could just order some of those. I particularly recommend the Book of Light by Lucille Clifton if you want poetry and if it is the nonwhite literature you are concerned with. If you want magic realism and India read Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children- it’s easier to get into than Satanic Verses. You could try Mark Oshiro’s chapter by chapter online reviews of Twilight or anything else (buy the book versions of them if this isn’t literary enough for you :p) – he’s nonwhite and perhaps of Hispanic descent, and often addresses LGBT issues (he’s gay, but for some reason this isn’t included in the challenge). To me, the female part is kind of the odd one out because there are dozens upon dozens of excellent famous opinionated female voices out there, but if you are genuinely at a loss for this and don’t mind fantasy try Tamora Pierce, or Madeleine L’Engle, or any YA dystopian novel of the month – they aren’t great but most of them are written by women. Unfortunately, I haven’t purposefully read any transgender authors, so both you and I could work on that. :))

        @RonanWills- I hope I am not being insulting/rude/disrespectful. If I am please tell me and I will desist from this behavior.

        Reply
    3. braak

      Yeah, but a person can only read a finite number of books a year. If you’ve got time to read 100 books in 2015, and 90% of them are by white men, trying to read more books by minorities necessarily means you’re going to read fewer books by white men. I guess it’s fine to say it differently if you’re worried about hurting people’s feelings or something, but I’m not sure what other value there is in beating around the bush.

      Reply
      1. Mr Elbows

        Like, I can’t take this challenge simply because I already have to read a boatload of Required Reading books for uni, and those are pretty much 110% by white men.

        Reply
      2. andrea harris

        Mr. Elbows:

        So don’t do it.

        Seriously. What is so hard about this concept? I’m not going to do it either because I have a load of books I bought that I want to finish and a few are by white males. Do you see me grousing about what other people are doing?

        Reply
    4. andrea harris

      Uncreative Me: this is the last time I am commenting on this site. I just want to clear up a couple of things.

      –. No, you were not rude.
      — Yes, you have understood my argument.
      — You don’t have to participate in this or any other reading challenge, exercise, or contest that someone comes up with if you don’t want to.
      — I am not participating in this one.
      — My problem is not with people who don’t want to participate (how could it be) but with the spurious and unnecessary objections to something that is entirely benign and voluntary.
      — I understand and am sympathetic to the difficulty of actually acquiring diverse books, or books of any kind. We have more access to books than we did when trade barriers were higher, when there was no internet, and so on, but peoples’ time and budget are not limitless. This is and will always be a problem in some way, because we don’t live in a perfect world.
      — I frankly admit I don’t understand your problem with this exercise, and I don’t think I ever will. I can only again point out that you don’t have to do this. No one has to do this. You can do something else, or do whatever works for you. Just because someone suggested you do something in a magazine article is no reason to feel the least bit obligated to do it.

      This is the problem I have. That something someone suggested people might do is being treated as some sort of commandment. It’s not. Chill.

      Reply
  9. Reveen

    Congratulations Martin Daubney, you win the award for the most passive-agression ever produced by one human being in history. “Nobody” else has your raw “talent” for “using” “air quotes” like they “mean” “something”.

    What’s with this line?

    Is it just a timely revenge for generations of “privilege” that all white men have enjoyed, presumably even those millions killed in wars or rotting in prisons, or sleeping rough tonight.

    What millions killed in wars? Like, in the last thirty years? My thought is that he was referring to the wars in the Balkans, but then I realized he probably didn’t even think that far.

    Reply
  10. andrea harris

    The dude’s some kind of “lad” magazine writer. His twitter avatar is some dude (him I guess) holding a baby (which I have no idea if it is his or was rented for the photo shoot) because chicks dig dudes holding babies, amirite?

    Reply

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