the bookish community is considered golden in my eyes. it’s such a strong community that binds people of all race, sexuality, and gender through just books. and the bookish community is most definitely not afraid to voice out opinions on something problematic.
but i’m sure it has crossed all our minds once or twice, what makes a problematic book so problematic? whats the difference between books that are just bad, and books that should definitely be avoided? i had my fair share of books being problematic, especially concerning diversity. and since there was so much discussion about the realistic representation in books, of course problematic books were mentioned.
signs of a PB
- using a diverse character as a plot device – this is basically when a diverse character is just placed in the book too just further the plot. and not in a more impact/important way. it’s like they’re just there to provide help to a protagonist quest/journey. and they usually die early on. this is absolute BS because why make the diverse character seem so irrelevant, and unworthy. this can sort of be seen in most movies today using a black person as the one with sass, and attitude.
- cultural appropriation – the act of using one cultures, and representing it in a way that does not show or respect said culture in anyway. like say, a white girl with dreads, or having a character named Jin, but does not fit the charestics of a jin (*looks at Rebel of the Sands*)
- stereotypes – might be the easiest one to look for. a book that has stereotypes like “all Asians are smart”, and “all Asians have tiger-strict parents”, as well as “the gay best friend”. these irk me to no end, because they’re not true!! i think i’d prefer a non-diverse book than a book that has diverse characters, but representing them inaccurately.
- “____ is Asian” –
allow me to bring up a map of Asia.
how am i supposed to know how this character looks like if there are more than 40 countries in Asia. Are they Bengali, Indian, Korean, Japanese? most people typically believe that the largest continent is made up of THREE COUNTRIES.
- “____ is pretty for a ___” – what is that supposed to mean? they’re pretty regardless of their race/ethnic group. they are pretty PERIOD.
- using wrong pronouns – stop. when it comes to transgender, gender-fluid, or non-binary YOU MUST RESPECT THE PRONOUNS THEY ARE COMFORTABLE WITH. don’t simpily choose it based on the genitals they were born with. this is so, so, so important because of the lack of representation concerning LGBT community. if you haven’t already noticed the recurring theme in this post, it’s to REPRESENT ACCURATELY.
- degrading ethnic group/race/sexuality – big red alert here! this can be anything from the use of slurs (which should never be used), to using them as villains in a book (Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth)
- _______ is suffering from [insert disability] – i honestly never likes that term because of the word suffering. it makes it seem like disability is such a bad, and “weird” thing. authors should write other alternatives such as “______ has been diagnosed with [insert disability] when she was X years old”.
- adjectives such as “exotic” to describe people – an example of this is when people describe Asian woman exotic. factually, this is wrong considering, that Asia has 48 countries. there are more of Asians than white’s, so technically, white people are the exotic one. and also, why exotic?? we are not some rare fruit, or spice. we are people!!
- ” ______ is Desi” – it’s almost like point 4, but i just want to point out that Desi is a political term that not everyone from South Asia refers themselves to. Desi doesn’t mean South Asian, it’s not interchangeable and so people should say South Asian if that’s what they mean.
how to deal with it
Spread the word, but provide backup – first put you review up on twitter, or goodreads, and then add evidence of how this book was being problematic. you can add direct quotes from the book, and explain why that was so problematic. paste your review in almost every platform available. And do not recommend this book at all.
IF YOU ARE AN AUTHOR DO YOUR RESEARCH – there are plenty of resources available. the library, schools, other people! try not to spread messages of of sexism, racism etc…, and closely evaluate your work. this might be a taboo opinon, but i feel like if you’re (meaning the authors) not sure about your topic, and don’t feel like you have done adequate research, i don’t recommend to include it in your story. this is better than hurting, and misrepresenting other people. but as long as you have researched well enough, it’s okay!! *shields myself from rocks*
so that my frend is how you spot a PB book! what are some problematic books you have read in the past? what are some other sings you can spot in a problematic book? also what are some good dark fantasy reads, because i just finished the cruel prince, and it jUST SET ME IN A MOOD