Writing discrimination towards a fictional group? Anything to be aware of in regards to similarities to actual discrimination?

It’s not really censorship - at the end of the day, Autumn can write what they want to and take this advice or not! People are just offering advice for what they like, don’t like, and find in poor taste when it comes to writing about bigotry and discrimination since it’s a topic that affects a lot of people, and Autumn was thoughtful enough to ask.

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Uh… 1) I would say personally I wouldn’t like to see the option to make the MC bigoted because the thought of people getting attached to a character through which they act out, like, a racism fantasy or whatever makes me really uncomfortable LOL 2) Yeah as some people have said being able to play someone who doesn’t stand by when people are being treated badly because of Discrimination Reasons would be great! But the NPCs shouldn’t be, like… a creepy level of grateful where it seems like the MC is a “white saviour” (swooping in and helping people who can’t help themselves out of the kindness of their heart, Solving Bigotry for them, getting to speak for them, etc). Marginalised people can and do advocate for themselves, and often know much better than people who aren’t part of their class what is and is not good for them / a good idea for them to do. and 3) Keep in mind that marginalised people might react differently to their oppressors than to people like them! And that it’s… not the same as the other way around. Being wary of people who belong to your oppressor class makes sense; they’re probably bigoted even if they mean well, they definitely don’t understand your situation, and they’re often quite sensitive about it if it’s brought up. Even if it’s as small as “not immediately as open to a human MC as an alien MC” NPCs who are not human are likely to need a little persuading before they fully confide in a human MC (which doesn’t mean they can’t be friendly! But EG they might be nervous to talk about their experiences w/ discrimination at first)

Another really important aspect of this is how even when nobody in the room rabidly hates X Oppressed Group, they can still be bigoted, or behave in bigoted ways - and that can have far-reaching consequences. (like eg how the world IRL is built basically for people with full use of both legs, so a lot of it is inaccessible or accessible only with a lot of effort for people who use wheelchairs, or how medical research + education focuses on basically just white men which means women and people of colour get shafted because they and their doctors don’t know what to look for when it comes to diagnosing a lot of things. The classic examples are heart attacks in women and skin conditions/the way symptoms appear on darker skin) Obviously I’m not saying just copy-paste IRL discrimination onto your alien species but it’s worth thinking about? Like… the sort of thing the world won’t be equipped to handle / interested in accommodating.

(Actually if it helps there’s some really nice details in the Smoke & Velvet demo along these lines)

Sorry this got long huh :sob:

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I know, I just wanted to make sure I wasn’t drawing too close to any real life parallels, and if I were to draw close to certain real life events through the story, I just thought would that make people uncomfortable? I get the point you’re making though and I do agree, I was asking for a few pointers :blush:

@darling_stars
Thanks, but I do get the point @poison_mara was making, I don’t want to cause a division if I can avoid it haha. Don’t worry about the long post either, the more info the better really, I appreciate you taking the time to help out! :grin:

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I just want to make clear to people who are lurking around or with fear that If they will write something they will be accused or be racist or bigotry. That they can write fiction freely. Always they don’t put violence or illegal things as good. This type of threads tend to make people scare of writing

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Echoing a lot of what other people have said: if you avoid allegories and focus on how it would manifest in your world for your species rather than basing it off of a single manifestation of discrimination, you’re probably going to be fine!

I’m replying to some points below with more explicit explanations of why these specific practices are bad and get rightfully criticized:

Seconding this, but with more thoughts: There are going to be things in how the discrimination manifests that are going to be similar or informed by how real-world discrimination functions (like the things that @TSSL pointed out as being similar to how ableism manifests), because that is the nature of discrimination and how our brain understands concepts. By focusing on what features of discrimination are relevant for your species in your world and you will likely avoid avoid most of the pitfalls I am going to talk about below:

Part of the reason these allegories can come off as insensitive and bigoted is because they are usually done with non-human creatures being the marginalized people. When you make a 1:1 comparison between a human/non-human species and discrimination experienced by people of color or LGBT+ people, or disabled people, or neurodiversity people, etc. you are portraying these marginalized groups as…not being human.

Yes! This trope is bad for a couple of reasons:

  1. fundamentally conflates ‘discrimination’ with ‘consequences for doing bad things’ and ‘understandable mistrust’.

  2. because of how heavily saturated this is in modern media it perpetuates the idea that real-world discrimination has valid justifications. Oppressors like to come up with “reasons” why they don’t like xyz people but if there is a valid and justifiable reason…then it is not discrimination.

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ngl: i feel like,as a black person and trans person, its hard for writers to write fantasy discrimination in a way that doesnt suck. because more often than not,they’ll unintentionally give reasons for the group to be discriminated against,or take a rather middling role with the subject of discrimination,or have the discriminated group be genuinely dangerous which just reinforces discrimination, like for example the muggles in harry potter are just objectively worse than wizards. or they’ll where the people who are discriminated against literally are a different species than the normal majority race, which unintentionally calls back to actual justifications of irl discrimination that minorities are less than or not human. avoid that and maybe hire a writer of a minority group to do a sensitivity check if you can

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I disagree so much with this. Saying that is basically saying you can’t write about anything ever except ponies and Rainbows. Because absolutely anything else will cause someone somewhere to be angry.

The fact that for talking about aliens in a fictional universe I have to contact a sensitive reader… So I have to go to Area 51 to contact an Alien?

With that hard measure, absolutely no book would have been written in history at all.

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I’m dealing with a similar situation, the differences are that I’m writing a medium fantasy and the discrimination, while important plot issue, is not a driving one.
The words of advise that I can give you are:

  1. Don’t try parallelism with real life groups: fictional discriminations don’t work like the real life ones;

  2. You. Must. Avoid. this tropes: Double standard. Unintentionally sympathetic. Unintentionally unsympathetic. Broken Aesop;

  3. Remember discrimination and prejudices are never one sided: even the minorities have prejudices against the majority and prejudices against other minorities

  4. This one is hard to write: if you are writing a grey and grey morality setting try to write at least one good guy and one bad guy per group

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Even when we write about fictional scenarios and universes, our very real biases that come from very real issues can and often do seep into our writing. You have said a few times in the thread that things like this make people scared to write, but I would argue if that’s the case we need to normalize asking for sensitivity readers more then. Obviously the issue of prejudicial writing is still alive and well in fictional writing; as pointed out early, the movie “Bright” had this issue only but a few years ago.

All writers must go through the editing process. This would be just be part of it.

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Yeah, and How I will pay 2k or 3k per person or editors… For something that has ZERO to do with racism at all. In the end, all these sensitive readers is a business. I don’t understand why for talking about a fictional universe in a fictional setting about fictional characters I have to search sensitive readers except as pure censorship

Should I hire a mathematician a dressing edition, a composer…

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Obviously not, considering we are able to discuss this without cost in this thread. That’s how this thread started; a writer was asking for advice, and people offered it for free. Someone even linked a separate thread with a similar topic, once again with advice offered for free.

If you think it would improve your writing and make it more palatable for your readers, then yes.

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We can agree to disagree about what icensorship is and what trying to force writers to follow a different view. this is not the place for discussion this we can talk about it in private if you want.

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I would sugest
Present both sides of the tale. This can be done by having charactrs from. Both sides. The opressed and the opressors

Dont be afraid to make the opressor characters show their true feelings towards the oppressed. Do not sugarcoat these characters. Besides it will only further show the reader how vile discriminatory actions are. Towards any person.

Decide if this isue in your story is born out of moral grey or one of good/evil scenario. The former for example means the opressor discriminated an entire nation due to the bad actions of a few. While the later tends to lean more towards examples such as the opressor being flat out evil towards the discriminated for no other reason than Superiority.

Allow the player to respond to discrimination in different ways,have both good and bad actions
against the discrimination for choices to matter

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when writing about sensitive topics like discrimination,it’s best to get a person of color or an lgbt,someone who likely HAS experienced discrimination because they likely know more than you and can make sure you’re not walking into a landmine with that you’re writing. like for example,if the writers of zootopia had a poc sensitivity reader,they likely would’ve been told not to have the characters meant to represent racial minorities be specifically predator animals,which are actively genuinely dangerous to the majority characters who are prey animals,as it unintentionally justifies the fantasy-racism. it’s a nuanced topic that requires and outside perspective.

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You have just assumed my race and everything who are you to assume if I had experienced discrimination or not in my life?

@moderators

I won’t tolerate being targeted and assumed in a discrimination thread

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that’s not the point. The point is: hire a sensitivity reader to make sure you’re not accidentally writing something untoward,especially when you’re writing a sensitive topic like discrimination in a somewhat disconnected genre like fantasy.

Guys, take a break from the conversation.

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Little worried this might get out of hand guys, I don’t want the thread to get closed.

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Too late. This is what the ‘flag’ functionality is for, all.

After review, we have decided we will not be re-opening this thread.

Please take further (civil) discussion to:

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