You Can’t Read That: Sensitivity Readers, Beware

1487695088945-P26TP3GUYKM553IRLJFMGood article in Salon: “I Have No Particular Power”: Don’t Blame Sensitivity Readers for the Latest Censored Books.

In a recent banned book review, I poked fun at bluenoses trying to have a young adult novel removed from a high school library over the f-word. “Commissioner Gordon,” I wrote, “forget Batman, this is a job for the Church Lady!”

On Daily Kos, where I cross-posted the review, a sensitive reader took me to task: “One small quibble … there’s a bit of misogyny in your use of the phrase ‘Church Lady.’ It isn’t just the church ‘ladies’ or even primarily the church ‘ladies’ that are leading this.”

You know what I meant by Church Lady, right? So did several other readers at Daily Kos, who gently mansplained the reference to my easily-offended commenter.

Reader, I try hard to avoid racism and misogyny in my thoughts, actions, and words, Sometimes it creeps in, as in the time I called Sarah Palin a cunt (and lost a fan, a woman I know IRL and whose friendship I value). But Sarah Palin is a cunt, and would still be a cunt if she were a he. And I’m not going to bowdlerize posts I wrote in the heat of the moment.

Nor should publishers hire sensitivity readers to edit and rewrite books written in different eras, when racism and misogyny were the order of the day. Seeing the n-word in Huckleberry Finn, pre-teen me immediately grasped the point Mark Twain was trying to make by repeating it over and over. Reading Huckleberry Finn as it was written was an important part of my moral education, and if I had ever used the n-word before reading it, I never used it again afterward.

You Can’t Read That! is a periodic post about book banning. YCRT! features news and opinion roundups, commentary, history, and reviews.

One thought on “You Can’t Read That: Sensitivity Readers, Beware

  • The rules have changed for what is, and what is not allowed in writing today. Much of what Mark Twain wrote could not be written and published these days. I just finished rereading the fabulous The Great American Novel, the mordantly funny baseball novel set in the 1940s and written in the 1970s. It certainly could not be published today but positively and hilariously portrays the racism and misogyny of early baseball and that era. To bowdlerize Philip Roth would be like painting a mustache on Mona Lisa.
    It’s difficult to post anything on dailykos without getting scolded or banned by self-righteous snowflakes. I got banned for using the word ‘lebensraum’ in reference to Israel’s Sinai grab in 1967. I guess I could post comments there again by ‘acknowledging’ my ban, a form of apology I won’t ever do. I have not visited the site since my banning despise the good war coverage. Which, to be honest, was depressing me. Ban hammer me, would you? Go fuck off DK.
    ‘Cunt’ is a britishism I never quite understood as a pejorative, doesn’t everyone love vulvas and breasts? As a slur it is certainly sexist, yet the words ‘dick’, ‘prick’ and ‘tool’ are standard issue insults that nobody hesitates to drop routinely. Double standard much, ladies and bluenoses? So nobody loves a dick?
    Tod recently posted…Ghirardelli Chocolate Chip Weed Brownies In a Toaster OvenMy Profile

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