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Thread: Sensitivity Readers

  1. #11
    Member Guard Dog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin View Post
    ...underrepresented.
    I'd ask someone to give me a definition for this word, but I'm pretty sure I already know what I'd get.

    Instead, I'll ask this:

    If a person is a member of a minority... one that say, makes up 12 or 13 percent of a population, but is seen in current media productions 20 percent of the time or more... are they underrepresented?

    What if that person is in a group that makes up 1 percent of the population, but is seen 5 to 10 percent of the time? Same thing?

    Because most of the groups that are claiming to be "underrepresented", I have seen on TV and in movies far more than their actual numbers, population-wise, would lead a person to believe was accurate for area whatever production was supposed to take place in. And I'm speaking of the past 50 years or more, not just right now today.

    So, I'll repeat what I said earlier; "PC" and 'Sensitivity" are not about accuracy, it's about what the particular group wants.

    And I'll add this to the statement; the day their wants quit being useful to certain people in power, or who are after power of some kind, their wants will stop being of much importance to anyone but them, and all of this 'Politically Correct' nonsense will cease.



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  2. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Guard Dog View Post
    Do we?

    I see sensitivity readers as being people that are more concerned with someone not getting their feelings hurt, due to some commonly-held belief ( right or wrong ) being included in a writing.

    I also think that if you get a member of some group or the other that is actually not a typical example of that particular group, that they may not actually be as capable in that capacity as the writer might want, either due to them not being sensitive to some of the things most other members would be, or due to them not agreeing with the more vocal members of that community.

    After all, being 'Politically Correct' isn't necessarily about being accurate to to the behavior or characteristics of any particular person or group of people, it's about what they want.

    The job of a Tech Advisor though, is to ensure accuracy... whether it's concerning a particular culture - and that includes anything from your Sikh example, to the crew of a nuclear submarine - or how closed-door legal proceedings are conducted, without regard for anone's feelings on the subject.

    Let me ask you this: which would you rather have as an advisor concerning a story of a Japanese-American that was held in a concentration camp during WW II, someone who wanted to express a personal view of the experience, or someone who wanted to give a detailed account of what it was actually like from a technical perspective, leaving you the writer to construct both the story and the character's opinion and beliefs concerning the experience?

    A Sensitivity Reader is likely to give you the first, with only their personal perspective of things, where a Technical Advisor is much more likely to give you the second, along with several examples or accounts of how various people handled the situation.

    And my thinking is, due to you saying you valued accuracy over any concerns of offending anyone, that you'd prefer the latter.


    G.D.
    I don't accept the distinction you're making between Sensitivity Readers and Technical Advisers.

    In the case of Interred Japanese Americans in WW 2, I'd want my story read by someone who'd been an interred Japanese American in WW 2. I wouldn't want that person to give me a personal view of the experience (I can read that in lots of places) OR a detailed account from a technical perspective (which I can also read in a lot of places). I'd want someone to read MY story and point out areas that didn't read true to them.

    I think it comes back to the don't-know-what-you-don't-know issue. I can do loads of research, but it's still quite possible that something will slip through because it doesn't even occur to me as an area that I need to look at. This could be something factual or it could be something more nebulous.

    For a factual example... I remember reading a book with a contemporary African American heroine a few years ago and I was totally distracted by how much time she spent thinking about and dealing with her hair. I'm white, my hair is naturally pretty straight, and I'd just never really realized how much damn effort goes into hair straightening for a lot of black women. If I'd been writing a book about a black woman with straightened hair, I could have done some research and gotten the facts, but reading the fictional account from a black perspective made me get a better understanding of the day-to-day details. And I might never even have bothered to do the research, because before I'd read this book it really hadn't occurred to me that black women's hair care was THAT different from my experience. If I'd written a black woman who had a quick shower and blow-dried her hair straight, I'd really like to think SOMEONE would catch that for me.

    I'm not too worried about the semantics of what the person is called, but I want someone from that culture to read my MS and point things out to me.

  3. #13
    Member Guard Dog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bayview View Post
    I don't accept the distinction you're making between Sensitivity Readers and Technical Advisers.
    It's honestly nothing more than the difference between emotional and factual/logical/accurate.

    With one, the story 'feels right' and is comfortable, with the other, they may tell you that it's uncomfortable and unpleasant as a thing can get, but it is accurate and factual.



    G.D.
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    Soon enough, nations will play second fiddle to corporations.

    "The world is not what we wish it to be; it is what it is."
    "Freedom is the value, not protection."

  4. #14
    I think we might be losing sight of the fact that 'sensitivity readers' do actually exist and serve a pretty defined purpose. They aren't 'technical advisers' and they don't exist simply to keep the writing from being offensive. Their job is to help the writer be culturally accurate, not politically correct. A sensitivity reader for a story about the Plains Indians, might not be able to tell you that you got the process for chipping an arrowhead out of flint wrong, but she might be able to tell you that you missed the fact that the Lakota had two languages, one for each gender and your protagonist was speaking in the wrong voice. Some sensitivity readers might serve both functions, but not necessarily. The desire to be accurate isn't the same as the desire not to offend.
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  5. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Guard Dog View Post
    It's honestly nothing more than the difference between emotional and factual/logical/accurate.

    With one, the story 'feels right' and is comfortable, with the other, they may tell you that it's uncomfortable and unpleasant as a thing can get, but it is accurate and factual.
    I don't think there's the same dichotomy between the two that you seem to sense. I think it's totally possible for a story to feel right and be unpleasant.

    I read somewhere that "sensitivity" is a trigger word for people who don't like the idea of trigger words. I feel like that may be what's going on, here... you just don't like the word?

    I don't care what we call these people, but if I write about a character from a subculture I don't belong to or don't have a lot of intimate experience with, then I want someone from that subculture to read my work and share his or her impressions. And I'm willing to pay people for the work if I have to.

  6. #16
    Member Guard Dog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bayview View Post
    ... you just don't like the word?
    Nah, I just don't care for the context it's usually used in these days. Words don't bother me at all. The thought(s) behind them can really get on my last nerve though.

    ...especially when that word is being used to camouflage the thought to some degree or the other.
    ( Which is exactly what terms like 'Politically Correct' do. And far too often, the thought behind something like 'You're insensitive' is just someone's way of saying 'How dare you not think the way I want you to!")

    Anyway, enough of this. You see things from your perspective, I see 'em from mine.

    No harm done so long as it's just a discussion, and nobody is trying to force anybody else to their way of thinking, or their particular opinion.


    G.D.
    Leave it be and it won't bother you.
    Screw with it, and it'll eat you alive.

    Soon enough, nations will play second fiddle to corporations.

    "The world is not what we wish it to be; it is what it is."
    "Freedom is the value, not protection."

  7. #17
    I think Leec is a good example of someone looking for those sort of readers. He writes for a general audience and wants to include native americans as a culture in his novel. He has submitted his work to a some of these "sensitivity readers." I do think it is a good practice to do for writing novels.
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  8. #18
    Mentor Dluuni's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Guard Dog View Post
    If a person is a member of a minority... one that say, makes up 12 or 13 percent of a population, but is seen in current media productions 20 percent of the time or more... are they underrepresented?

    What if that person is in a group that makes up 1 percent of the population, but is seen 5 to 10 percent of the time? Same thing?
    What groups are you talking about, here? I just pulled down the GLAAD annual Where We Are report ( https://www.glaad.org/whereweareontv18 ). Black is at about 20%.That's underrepresented if the representation in that 20% is BAD. I can't speak to that. That would be a reason for the readers. A notable portion of the 20% is the rise of shows with all ethnic casts, so it isn't distributed evenly.

    1%? Transgender people are 0.6%, asexuals are 1.0%.out of all recurring characters on TV, including streaming, in 2018 there were 27 trans characters, 17 of which were women to five men - those numbers should be even. I don't know if the five NB characters is proportional, since they often have their own communities that may or may not cross over.
    There were exactly two asexual characters. In total.
    There are a LOT of recurring characters in "all TV programs on all networks", even limited to 2018 production, as serials tend to be ensemble stories. Those form a very low percentage as a result.

    So, I'll repeat what I said earlier; "PC" and 'Sensitivity" are not about accuracy, it's about what the particular group wants.
    Well, the entire thing is about politeness. If I mirror some of the things people find it socially acceptable to say to and about me in public - exact same statement, but switching the nouns around to refer to the people saying the original statement - I get banned and treated like a dangerous radical. Nowadays it is acceptable for people to say things like "Wait, what do you mean by that?" or "That's pretty mean to say", which is quite a ways short of being able to respond in the same ways as they were being subject to, but it's something.
    People who haven't been on the receiving end think they can pop off with statements like, well, let's mirror here, "Most gun owners are into children and blood relatives" and think that won't be seen as rude or inappropriate when they market in Texas. It just doesn't occur to them that maybe their cishet allo white NT uncle is maybe not a good source of information about say, hijabi TGPOC women. So it's important to have someone to check for that kind of thing.

    And I'll add this to the statement; the day their wants quit being useful to certain people in power, or who are after power of some kind, their wants will stop being of much importance to anyone but them, and all of this 'Politically Correct' nonsense will cease.
    Are you TRYING to sound like a villain making a vague ominous threat here? Because you're a bit late, I already have to help fight against attempts to do that as it is.
    Last edited by Dluuni; January 12th, 2019 at 11:38 PM. Reason: Missed a bracket

  9. #19
    Member MzSnowleopard's Avatar
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    Wow, not sure what I was expected in responses but they have been interesting. I've just got a few snip remarks to make.

    If this were about being sensitive to readers. We wouldn't see so many 'F-bombs' in novels. I can't read Tom Clancy's Bear and the Dragon because I find the extreme over use of this word unacceptable. And yet, culturally, we use it like we use If And Or, and But. A well placed F can do wonders in a book, even if it's the only one used. However, an over abundance of use in them, well, that's just tacky and insensitive.

    I had an experience once on the bus. These two kids sat behind me and the boy was talking. Every third or forth word was an F-bomb. I finally had it and turned to snap "You talk to your mother with that mouth?" He looked at me with a smile and said "yes ma'am." Like he was proud of it. The girl just rolled her eyes.

    When we talk about culture, I hear people saying how certain things should be or need to be phrased in specific ways. And we should glorify writers for being insensitive or racist.

    I can get behind this to some degree. I will give respect to my characters who non-white, but I draw the line and writing or calling someone Insert Nation-American. These terms are political correctness. Why do I say this? Because of this:

    when blacks tell me "I'm African American."
    I tell them "Then I'm European American."
    They look at me and laugh like I've said something absurd then they say "You're white."

    Who's being insensitive now?

    The point of my comment is to show just how absurd these labels are.

    Another issue I have is, a few months back I read an article on how the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award was being renamed because she was racist. Why was she viewed as this? In her books, she uses terms like 'darky' to refer to black. This was the language of her time.

    Also, growing up, a number of books like Tom Sawyer were bad because of the languages used. Again, the writer used the language of the times.

    This kind of reference would never fly today, even if someone was writing a book set in their times.

    It's my opinion that people are mislabeling these issues saying "it's the writer" when in truth, it's our ways that have evolved, changed. The writer was simply using the words, the vocabulary of their times. They're not insensitive, it's what they knew.

    And the first piece of advice that I received in being a writer was "Write what you know."
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  10. #20
    Mentor Dluuni's Avatar
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    If I pick up a book written in 1985 and it has an insensitive description in it, okay, I can see that.

    If I pick up a new, 2019 release and it has me portrayed horribly, somebody is getting a one way ticket to one star review forest and probably bashed on a large medium. The bar has been raised.

    And I'm sorry if I am a bit grumpy, but somebody decided to suggest that people like me and my husband should be rounded up and killed by being force marched in chains to sweep for land mines a few hours ago on a reputable newspaper site, with two people chiming in to "agree 100%", and it just sits there for hours and hours. Because that kind of thing is apparently okay to say, and if I complain, I'm just being overly PC and sensitive. I see that kind of thing every few days, but today it's just a bit more exhausting than usual.

    I mean, I guess it's my fault for wanting to read a newspaper article that was relevant to me.

    I don't want to have to deal with awful stuff like that in books of fiction that I paid for. So I am happy that there are more people being paid to check for that stuff as part of the editing process.

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