Good 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.
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