Are You Reading Too Many Books by Straight White Men?

Neil Gaiman

A growing online campaign aims to stop people reading books by white male authors. Martin Daubney believes it’s part of a worrying wider trend.

IMAGINE, if you can, the unholy furore that would erupt if a white male author penned an article where he implored his readers to put a complete ban on buying books by black, Jewish, gay or even female authors. (ILLUSTRATION: Neil Gaiman said he didn’t mind ‘being the posterbook’ for the campaign against books by straight white men.)

A lynch mob of social justice warriors would hound the author into obscurity, forever condemning him as a racist, homophobic, misogynistic pig who had no right to a public voice, let alone a publishing deal.

Yet the same thing is happening right now in reverse, as a growing online voice is imploring readers to stop buying books written by white, heterosexual men.

It reached critical mass on February 22, with a blog written by K Tempest Bradford, a little-known New York feminist writer hoping — and succeeding — to cause a stink (and no doubt get publicity for her own work), when she challenged readers to stop reading books by “straight white cisgendered male authors for a year”.

She said most books were “skewed heavily toward privileged voices” and some even made her “ragequit” reading them.

Perhaps predictably, Tempest’s message went down badly in certain quarters, drawing such scathing abuse that she compiled a blog featuring the most offensive tweets. She was called a “black supremacist” who was “intolerant, censorious, and an obstruction of the free exchange of ideas that is essential to freedom itself.” One simply read, “I challenge you to throw yourself in a wood chipper”.

Tellingly, there was no such outrage from the white male authors singled out for censorship by Tempest.

Top of Tempest’s hit-list was British-born sci-fi author Neil Gaiman, a New York Times number one bestseller. He graciously tweeted a link of Tempest’s blog to his 2.19 million followers, saying it was “great” and that he didn’t “mind being the posterbook” for her contempt. He cleverly realised there was far more merit in allowing Tempest to dig her own grave than dignify her outpourings with a rebuttal. [Or perhaps it’s because Gaiman is a Jew, and his tribe are not at all worried about — and in fact even encourage — such anti-White attitudes, which divide Whites and destroy the native White ruling/upper class which the Jews are supplanting. — Ed.]

Yet Tempest isn’t alone in suggesting we should eschew white male writers. Days before her outburst, Sunili Govinnage wrote in The Guardian of her own experience of reading 25 books in 2014, all of which were by authors of colour. This was a reaction to a perceived “inherent bias” in publishing.

Next up, in a blog entitled “The Great Internet Debate On Not Reading White Men” fantasy author Saladin Ahmed claimed: “The market itself is racist and sexist in all sorts of unseen ways” and then offered a helpful link to his own books for sale.

The We Need Diverse Books Tumblr
The We Need Diverse Books Tumblr

The We Need Diverse Books Campaign on Tumblr has taken things a stage further, supporting “diverse, non-majority narratives” in children’s books. It points out that children’s books have a lack of black, lesbian, gay and transgender role models. They also claim that sexism is rife in kid’s books, as while 57 per cent of kid’s books published each year have male protagonists, while only 31 per cent have female.

Of course, you could just say to these critics, who are hell-bent on having us stop reading books by white men: “Stop, already: we’re all free to buy the books we want”.

If Ms Tempest et al want to buy books by transgender authors, let them crack on, as long as they’re aware that many of the rest of us don’t share their tastes.

But the big question is: do such outspoken attacks on white men (for the record, Tempest is a woman of colour) constitute some form of sexism — or even racism?

Some of Tempest’s more vocal critics have cried precisely that. Many others have pointed out that racism against whites can’t ever exist, because we have privilege and power and white people aren’t even oppressed.

But something odd is happening, and it has the beginnings of something altogether more sinister: white men are increasingly being singled out for abuse, especially on social media, precisely because they are white and male.

This bizarre trend even has a name: “punching up”, where it is OK to prejudice against white people (mainly men) — and because we’ve had it so good, for so long, we have absolutely no right to answer back.

It was curious this week, for example, that much of the criticism of Jeremy Clarkson centred on his maleness, whiteness and “privilege” and not just the fact he’d been a bit of an arse over an absent steak.

What’s even more curious is that, often, the white bashers are white themselves — and in a further bizarre twist, often it is liberal, middle-class white males doing the knocking. Are they consumed by a “white guilt” that fills them with a need to self-flagellate for the sins of their forefathers on Twitter, while approving feminists applaud?

We appear to live in an age where it’s fashionable, encouraged almost, to knock white males. Are white men becoming the last group it’s safe to knock? Is it just a timely revenge for generations of “privilege” that all white men have enjoyed, presumably even those millions killed in wars or rotting in prisons, or sleeping rough tonight.

Not to mention those young men, many of them white, who are four times as likely to commit suicide as women, nor the white, working-class boys who are now Britain’s educational underclass.

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Read the full article: Daily Telegraph

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19 March, 2015 1:03 pm

There is comment not to the theme of white male authors , who have established themselves as white and male. This excludes of course Neil Gaiman , whose present social description male and white may change arbitrarily at any time. The comment refers to a neologism : cisgender. What is alarming is the destruction of the English language and the concomitant subversion of a moral reality , which may be the same thing. One should be aware of this spirit that invents evil things such as these new words. In Germany long ago a Fruchtbringende Gesellschaft sought to purge all alien words from the German language. Today the perverse and obdurate alien has prevailed and vindictively is corrupting the integrity of all languages. It was instilled in me by an… Read more »

Reply to  Heinemann
1 May, 2020 6:58 am

Extraordinary post.