EDIT: I have come to the conclusion that I just can’t do anything right anymore. I’m actually a disrespectful, pampered little git, and I just haven’t noticed it before. I’ll just start working on my flaws. In the meanwhile, feel free to read my whiny post below.
Color me confused. So there we were, asking around for some tips and ideas on writing characters who are not Caucasian heterosexuals from a Scandinavian welfare country known for equality and individual freedom. The conversations were interesting, people exchanged ideas, opinions, and experiences. Smileys and thankyous galore. Plenty of food for thought.
Then bang! Out of nowhere a person equivalent to an internet deity turns up and shuts T. K. Trian up.
Stop satisfying your curiosity you manipulative assholes!
I’m staring blankly at the jumble of words that I’ve paraphrased above, wondering whether the ghost of Stalin is haunting the interwebz.
Is this a good or a bad thing, to satisfy my curiosity? In that part of the web, I suppose so, but what about elsewhere? I find it’s a good thing. I find I’m not a manipulative asshole, or even a particularly bad person, if I take a uni class on New Literature/Diaspora literature, if I read the memoirs of an African-American female prisoner, the experiences of a British man in modern war, or that of a Finnish man in the Foreign Legion, or pick a novel by Yvonne Vera. Here I thought I was trying to understand where other people than me are coming from. Here I thought I had the right to learn and understand, and portray other stories too than those of a white, young, heterosexual female (provided I remain respectful).
Apparently not. Apparently I’m a peeping tom. I’m satisfying my curiosity, my sick, sick curiosity, drawing some freakish, disgusting pleasure from the experiences of non-white, non-female, non-hetero people. Oh, I have no business there! “Stick to your own business,” say the other white people from democratic societies with good jobs and social standing, “You are bothering the Others!”
Funny, so far every person who is not me has been quite happy to tell me about their life experiences, their culture, their thoughts, their lives even when they know they’re talking to an aspiring writer. When the proverbial white police steps in and tells me to take my curiosity elsewhere, I can’t help but wonder does it smell like the white man’s burden here?
Or maybe I just can’t do anything right anymore. I’m actually a disrespectful, pampered little git, and I just haven’t noticed it before.
Maybe all I deserve is to live in my comfortable, homogenous, pale-as-pancake bubble, keep my trap shut, and turn my back to diversity. Maybe I should write stories where all the characters are me. Young, skinny, white, well-to-do females?
I just thought I owed it to those who are not me, that I strive to understand them if I’m planning to write something else than a bunch of me’s. I would appreciate that myself. I would love it if someone wrote a Finnish girl like me, and asked me what it’s like, showed a desire to understand. And even if they got it a little wrong, even if the Finnish girl made a few grammar mistakes, drank a lot of vodka, and rode reindeer around a village of igloos, I’d still be happy that someone told my story from another point-of-view than my own. But maybe… is it just me?