Is it time to stop reading books by white men? NO

As you may know, we had scheduled Heina Dadabhoy to join us this past week in our REASON discussion on feminism. Unfortunately, she had to cancel due to an illness. Since I was not too familiar with her work or opinions, I decided to take the opportunity to read her latest piece, “Is is time to stop reading books by white men?”, which you can find here. In it, she discusses the “No White Male Authors” challenge recently presented by science fiction author K.T. Bradford. She titled the presentation of her piece “When Discrimination Is Necessary to Achieve Equality”.

I disagree with this overall premise that discrimination is necessary. It seems ironic and hypocritical that one who is ostensibly advocating for equality and against discrimination based upon immutable traits would suggest that these very tactics be utilized to achieve that goal. Just as Heina came to the sobering realization that she was not doing much to support minority authors, imagine how sobering it would be for a white, male, cis-gendered author to have his livelihood threatened simply because of attributes which he was born with. This all smacks of “reverse racism” to me, to draw a parallel. There’s no “reverse discrimination”, there’s just discrimination, and it’s never proper. I’m seeing this type of ideology increasingly among modern feminists, and it greatly concerns me. I absolutely am on board with gender equality, I’m just not so keen on the “Affirmative Action” approach, where we take opportunities away from deserving people and give them to others simply on the basis of their skin color or what their second chromosome is.

Now, I can appreciate that Heina struggled with this, and that she admits that she can recognize the unfairness in this approach. Yet, in the end, she is still in support of it. I cannot accept that. I fully agree that people should be exposed to diverse opinions and perspectives, and that we should seek them out. However, this isn’t something that should be forced onto people or which should come at the expense of others through no fault of their own. I certainly don’t choose material to read based on the gender or race of the author, but rather if the subject matter and style appeal to me. In an ideal scenario, we’d be able to choose what to read without any information about who wrote it, and really, it’s what people say and do that is far more important than to which demographics they belong. Certainly a person’s background can be central to their perspective and add impact, but what we shouldn’t do is discount the perspective or opinions of people because of this. It seems both counter-productive and vindictive to an extent to suggest that we follow this course of action.

I intend on sharing this post with Heina, in hopes to start a dialogue. My fellow REASON member, ExemplaryChad, may also be offering up a different perspective on this, so stay tuned.

9 thoughts on “Is it time to stop reading books by white men? NO”

  1. It appears you are merely reacting to the title of the article rather than the content, which addresses the points you make here already. I am disappointed.

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    1. Hi Heina.

      No, I’m not simply reacting to the title. I read the entire article, as well as the one by K.T. Bradford. I certainly take issue with how you titled your blog post, but that was not the entirety of my commentary by any means.

      I think it is obvious that you didn’t address my concerns in the article, hence the response.

      For example, you said “In a world where people are reading more but there also are far more books being published overall, a purchase is both a direct way to profit authors and a vote in favor of future success for them. ”

      Yes, AT THE EXPENSE OF WHITE, MALE, CIS-GENDERED AUTHORS WHO HAVE DONE NOTHING BUT BEEN BORN WITH IMMUTABLE TRAITS THAT YOU THINK OFFERS THEM “PRIVILEGE”.

      We can lift up some without tearing down others. Why not ask for some white, male authors to collaborate with some minority authors, or otherwise advocate on their behalf, especially with publishers and others in the industry? It would look much better as a joint effort than as this discriminatory method you propose, which is unlikely to garner much support from the white, male authors whose livelihood you are affecting with your proposal. As I said in my response, this “reverse discrimination/racism/sexism” is no better than the discrimination against women and minorities that you speak out against, and has been seen with increasing regularity amongst feminist activists. You’re simply using the same tactics you claim to be against in order to advance your cause. Can you not see the hypocrisy in this?

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  2. Thanks, Heina. I appreciate your willingness to clarify and continue the discussion.

    I actually had less of a problem with the title of the article on the Daily Dot than I did with the title about discrimination that accompanied your blog post on FreeThought. Was that your choosing?

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  3. So it was your choice, then, to title your piece “When Discrimination is Necessary to Achieve Equality”. That you cannot pass off onto your editors. But no worries, you don’t have to read my blog any more because I’m just a white, male, cis-gendered individual full of privilege with nothing unique or original to say. We all just sound the same, anyways.

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  4. “you don’t have to read my blog any more because I’m just a white, male, cis-gendered individual full of privilege with nothing unique or original to say. We all just sound the same, anyways.”

    Wow. She said/implied nothing like that. How incredibly disingenuous of you.

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    1. How is it disingenuous? Sorry, is that not how it works? Or does this discrimination only apply to books? My problem with this approach is that it implies that all white, male authors are essentially the same, and that you can pick any at random and get the same perspective. It’s OK to just stop reading authors, even ones you’ve never heard of before, because they were born with pale skin and a penis. I have nothing against anyone wanting to broaden their worldview by diversifying the information they consume, but to do it in a way which is confrontational and discriminatory is wrong. Discrimination on the basis of immutable traits is never OK. And it’s unbelievably hypocritical when it is done by self-proclaimed social justice warriors obstensibly advocating for equality for ALL people. Attempting to achieve equality by not just lifting up the disadvantaged, but also tearing down the privileged, is unadvisable. This only serves to turn potential allies into foes and stoke class warfare.

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