Essays, Poetry, Observations, Etc.

Thoughts on writing from a minority perspective

In writing on December 6, 2012 at 4:47 pm

I recently read a rant by a blogger on the Huffington Post site.  The blogger was distressed that someone had the temerity and gall to think they could write a work of fiction whose main character was not of the same minority background as the author of the fiction!  (BTW, the minority perspective the offending work portrayed was the same as the author of that blog post.)

As a writer I am amused by those who believe that to write from a “minority’s” perspective you must be of that minority.   The position is so ludicrous as to beggar the fertile imagination of any seasoned writer.  The offended one seems to forget that authors write fiction about murderers, space travelers, aliens, explorers, lawyers, doctors, Indian chiefs, etc. without actually being one.   Not only that, but within a book/work may be multiple characters of more than one gender, many races, ages, interests, etc, but they are all written by one author.

Or is it simply that the gender, race, religion of the main character should match the author? Because that’s the tenor of some of the comments in response to that blog entry.

Consider for a moment that a surprisingly large percentage of romance pulps written in the past 60 years were written by men for women readers.  And I know a woman who writes under a male pen name. She writes M/M fiction and she sells a lot of it. It’s well written and gay men gobble it up.

Simply put, a good writer can adopt a perspective, a point of view, much like an actor taking on a role.  After all, if a gay actor can play a straight role, why can’t a straight actor play a gay role? And, guess what, they do!

The function of a writer is to entertain. If you spend your time reading thinking about the sex/gender/nationality/race of the author, you’re reading distracted, you are not giving yourself over to the story.  So sit back and enjoy the read.  If you don’t like it, put it down, don’t read the author’s work. But don’t pontificate about whether someone has the ability or right to write about a viewpoint they may not have experienced personally. That’s just prejudice, plain and simple.

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