Posted in Discussions, Posts

Is bad representation better than no representation? #crityourfaves

The lovely Read at Midnight has set us a challenge – to criticise a wonderful in a book or series, and realise the flaws everything has. All throughout October these posts are happening, so make sure you check out her blog and see what other people are talking about! 

I got thinking about representation of minorities, and how so many people get furious about bad representation of whichever group they fit into. After reading (and enjoying) What We Left Behind, I skimmed through some of the reviews. People hated this book! Apparently, without my realising, the idea that was being portrayed of trans and genderqueer people was terrible, and completely inaccurate. If I hadn’t read the reviews, I would have just accepted the way the character acted in this book was completely normal. 
what-we-left-behind
Is it the end of the world that they weren’t represented that wonderfully, though? As a bi person, I get overly excited when I see a bi person on tv or in a book, especially if they actually say the word. A lot of these people just sleep around, or are dismissed as straight or gay depending on their current relationship, and as we all (hopefully) know, this isn’t accurate at all. Magnus Bane, for example; he seems to have sex with anything and everything, and is obviously pan. As soon as he falls for Alec, though, he starts having conversations with him about the struggle of being gay. They never name his sexuality, but he acts like a stereotypical gay for a lot of the series, despite talking about past relationships with so many other people. I try not to let it get to me, though. At least these characters exist, instead of being pushed out of fiction as they are most of the time! 

Then there’s the black criminal, the confused/closeted gay (Alec, Simon, other Simon, Baz, etc etc), the tumblr-angry-feminist trans person, the ditzy woman (like in this series), the

LGBT Fiction.jpg
Image from Sugarscape

aggressive man, etc etc. There are so many negative representations all over the place, in basically every book we read. It’s giving out this idea that everyone who fits into a particular label acts in this particular way, which is not true. For some of the more “obscure” ones, the people we don’t see in our everyday life, that the regular person might not know exists. We all know men and women exist, so there’s no excuse to have a bad representation. Trans or asexual or pansexual or anything like that are much more rare, and if you don’t live in a particular corner of the internet, you might have no idea they exist. So isn’t it good that these books are bringing them to our attention? 

 

I’m talking completely hypothetically, of course. For me, the answer to all of this is pretty easy. If you don’t understand a topic, don’t write about it. Let the trans author write the trans character, the bi write the bi, etc etc. If you haven’t experienced that situation, or haven’t asked someone about it (for example, I could unpick my brother’s brain about being a man), don’t write about. That way, we can ensure that the only representation that is going out there is the right representation. It might not be the same for everyone, but it’s a side to a story that us uneducated people can learn about. Bad representation is never better than no representation, and we need to stop letting our favourite books get away with promoting the wrong thing. 

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Author:

I was a book blogger for a while, and I now blog about every little thing in life I can think of. Bear with me while I try all these new posts out... I'm a New Zealand teen who gets angry about the world (but not angry enough for tumblr). I like to capture the world through photos and words, and read in all the moments in nz-squadbetween. I have an overwhelming desire to see every corner of the world I possibly can, and hug the people I love in all those corners. I can't do make up to save myself, and you're more likely to find me buying matching stationary than matching clothes. My nerd hobbies include a new found love of the Avengers, reading YA, watching Game of Thrones, How I Met Your Mother, and every vlogger I can find, and being the last person on the music bandwagons. I have big plans for the rest of my life, including university, teaching, travelling, and having an army of puppies. I plan to blog every second of it!

11 thoughts on “Is bad representation better than no representation? #crityourfaves

  1. I have to slightly disagree with you on Magnus Bane. In book five of the series (I think that’s the one) he says he is a freewheeling bisexual. In the TV series Harry Shum, Jr. has said the same about the character and that is how he is portraying him. But I do agree that bad representation is worse than no representation.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree. As a woman of color I’m tired of seeing horrible stereotypes repeated and supported over and over because people in the majority start to believe them and treat people of color like shit. Example: Donald Trump is under the false assumption that all African Americans live in inner cities, and are poor and uneducated and keeps repeating it in his speeches

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What makes me even more mad is that because I haven’t looked into anything I don’t know what’s true and what’s not! Trump is completely ridiculous though, he has no idea how the world works

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I really enjoyed this post and agree wholeheartedly! This is a topic I am very passionate about and plan to speak about on my own blog soon. I was wondering if you have a solution to the problem of bad representation.

    Obviously one can just abstain from reading/watching material with misrepresentation but how are we sure that will convince writers/publishers that the problem is the BAD representation and not just lack of interest in LGBTQ+ representation and stories as a whole? I’m really interested to hear your thoughts!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a really interesting question, and I don’t think I know the perfect answer! I think it’s really important for there to be a space for minority authors to be able to write, because obviously they’re the ones that are going to be able to give the best representation. Ideally, a combination of people reading things from them, and authors actually reading the reasons behind their negative reviews, something should eventually change?

      Liked by 1 person

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