Authors Answer 42 – To be PC or not to be PC

I suppose someone had to bring up the subject sometime. Political correctness. Always a touchy subject. For the record, the actual question is: Does political correctness have a place in your writing?

I’m going to give this a cautious no. Cautious, because I don’t go out of my way to insult people or groups of people. I just don’t actively try to avoid it either.

Let me start by saying I’m a little ambivalent towards PC-ness anyway. It’s one of these things where a lot of it is down to perception, and I certainly feel that some people are far too easily offended or insulted by something which in many cases was innocently meant. And yes, I know that a lot of casual racism comes out of the mouths of people who totally don’t realise that what they’re saying is wrong and offensive, but there are also people who take offense if you address a group of people as ‘guys’ when there are women in there. And when you get people saying that we shouldn’t use expressions like ‘grow some balls’ or ‘you hit like a girl’ then I just get downright uncomfortable. I mean, come on, to me that’s like saying I’m not allowed to say something like ‘Dear God make it stop’ just because I’m not religious.

Look, maybe I’m lucky in that I’ve never really been the subject of casual sexism. Or if I have, then I’ve been blissfully oblivious to it. Being white, I’ve also never been the subject of racism. Generally, this kind of stuff just doesn’t even occur to me.

So do I think about it? Sometimes. Do I let it affect my writing? Up to a point. The male protagonist in my second book pursues the heroine even though she has told him repeatedly she is not interested. I guess there are many people who might take issue with that, but I’ve done my utmost to make it clear that Sita definitely is interested, but just doesn’t want to admit to it. I’ve also made sure that Kai never touches or kisses her unless she has consented.

I suppose I mostly just avoid getting into that kind of tangle, though even that is not really intentional. Some people might feel that as a woman writer, I should ensure that all my female characters are strong and layered and good role models, and that I should probably give all my books female protagonists. Do I give a shit about that? No. The series I’m planning with my friend has a male protagonist, and while there will be a prominent female character, I want my main character to be a man. Why? I don’t know, do I have to have an answer to that? He just came to me like that. And yes, maybe that is decades of being indoctrinated by books with male protagonists, but I’m fucked if I care.

See what other people think in the original post on Jay Dee’s blog.

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