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I know I sound a bit Hermione Granger, but it's fascinating studying ones culture from another perspective. Mind you, considering the range of the culture, that doesn't really need to be said.

[Igbo] Culture and Socialization

General info about the Igbo people

I am so glad we're going back home to Nigeria this summer, if only because there are a tonne of books I have to read including this one, titled 'Igbo Philosophy of Law'. The only bad thing is that we're spending a world record of five weeks (as opposed to the usual month and a half) this time, which isn't long enough. Oh, the irony that when I've finally got something I really need to go home to do, I'll be spending the shortest time there.

Still, I'm sure there'll be lots of stuff in the University library if this is anything to go by. I know practically nothing about traditional Igbo poetry, so this is an intriguing first step in curing this particular area of ignorance.

On another note, it's times like this I realise I need to get into reading more fantasy/sci-fi because every time 'Racefail insert-date-suffix-here' or 'Cultural Imbroglio' or even (thank you [personal profile] keeva) 'Mammoth Fail' come around, it always seems to involve writers that I haven't read (or in the case of Bear, some of whose work looks genuinely interesting, heard of).

The thing that strikes me about these debates is that they are not so much the race issues, the institutionalised racism, the stereotyping etc etc, but about how writers respond to criticism wrt these things. It's the adolescent defensiveness that riles, defensiveness that has no place to be there.

I've heard it said before that context is everything, and I wish some writers/readers could really appreciate this. Considering the sort of people who tend to read a genre like SF/F, considering the past trends of the genre, the attitudes, the commentaries, the quirks of who we might consider the giants of the genre, considering EVERYTHING... if SF/F fans are getting angry about something you've written and saying so, perhaps it would be best to check why you are getting defensive. Is it mostly because ones work is akin to ones child and we don't really like it when strangers poke holes with it? That's fine, but in which case, there are certain responses you "shouldn't" make (by that I mean, if you do, don't get annoyed when people call you out on them), because they aren't particularly objective - they are just the natural responses of an artist who has spent time and effort and love into finishing a piece of art. One has every right to be hurt, but it's not the hurt that you can expect others to respect, especially when you use said hurt to villify and silence others (like that of a child who didn't come first in a race, despite running as hard as they could, and ends up making a scene).

But sometimes I think people are getting defensive because they don't like what is being said in criticism. More than that, actually - it's that they don't like the criticism being right (and I've been there, though not on the subject of the big Issues in SF/F, granted!). They say that people are reading the books incorrectly (in which case, the onus is on you to define what you think it means to read one of your books correctly), they say people are constricting the imagination, limiting creativity, even (and I think we should have a Godwin's law on this) taking the slippery slope to... censorship!.

And I say, if the problem is with such a comparatively small group of readers (apprently...), then why are you being so defensive?

Now, obviously I'm biased. I have a greater (unfoundedly so) respect for people who just take criticism with a nod and a smile and move on, either learning from it, or ignoring it as the case may be. Perhaps that's why I can't fathom the defensiveness of experienced writers, especially wrt to criticism concerning the portrayal of race in their work (I mean, doesn't anyone look at themselves and sometimes think, 'you know the lady that doth protest too much? Maybe I'm being that lady...').

It seems to me, if anti-racists are being silly, it would be best to ignore them. The fact that you aren't, actually justifies their position. The fact that you are justifying their position, should be a call for silence, if not a pause for thought, rather than just ever more digging of the racefail hole.
Mood:: 'curious' curious
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