So, I really like my old Top Ten Lists, many of which I originally posted a decade or so ago on LiveJournal. Most people have never seen them, and most of those who have don’t remember them. They do, however, need updating. Pop culture references don’t always remain relevant, my writing has (thankfully) improved over the years…
… and some of them are sexist.
And others racist, homophobic, transphobic, bigoted, and generally intolerant or hurtful.
Of course I never intended to be bigoted. And I never thought of them as sexist or otherwise when I wrote them. That’s the pervasive, insidious part of bigotry: it’s so common and ingrained in the fabric of the many things I absorb that building off what has come before often means repeating the form and function of bigotry I don’t see. Bigotry not pointed at me, and thus difficult for me to notice.
But in re-reading things I wrote purely for comedic effect many moons ago? I find assumptions about gender roles that aren’t balanced or healthy, casual reductions of women to objects to be won or earned rather than people, stereotypes needlessly repeated as shorthand for real description or development, and ignorant assumptions put forward as obvious truth.
This hit me hardest while updating Top Ten Signs You’ve Wandered Into an Adventure That’s Too High Level For You. If someone had sent that to me for feedback, I’d have been sure to let them know it was so filled with bigoted representations as to be inappropriate for publication.
I have, of my own free will and because creatively I feel it is the right thing to do, changed all of those issues (that I am aware of) in the revision. Not only do I not think a derivative and casual comedy post on my private blog isn’t worth hurting anyone over; not only do I never want to marginalize any part of my (tiny) audience with anything I write; I find the gag is (at least, to me) funnier without the baggage I didn’t even see the first time I wrote it.
I try to have standards. I AM willing to sacrifice quality to meet them. But, so far, I’ve never felt anything I produced was less interesting, less useful, or had its integrity weakened by asking “have I included bigotry I didn’t mean to? Will this cause harm in ways I haven’t considered?”
So, I want to both discuss this issue in case there are other folks who have looked back and cringed at what they wrote, AND to public apologize to those I have done wrong in my writing in the past.
Making mistakes is to be human. owning up to them and being better is to be a good human.