Whenever I end up discussing a book, especially if it pertains to LGBT+ or POC representation, I always have someone saying that, to be ‘historically accurate’, these type of people wouldn’t have been around for one reason or another.
Considering that the majority of the books I discuss are fantasy, I figured I would point how how ‘historical accuracy’ makes no sense for defending a books lack of diversity.
Historical accuracy is, of course, how close a book is to the actual world and its events.
Fantasy is, obviously, “the faculty or activity of imagining things, especially things that are impossible or improbable.” (Source).
Historical accuracy pertains to the real life and history. That, in essence, extends to contemporary, historical fiction, and any type of fiction that would take place in this current, real world. Horror, dystopian, sci-fi (sometimes), romance, etc.
But why not fantasy?
Because fantasy is completely the product of the author’s mind. They create the world, the characters, and the society. Adding in minorities such as POC, LGBT+, and disabled people are completely up to the author. That being said, it’s the author’s own homophobia, racism, ableism, etc, that would have stopped them from adding in minorities.
I recognize that some fantasies do lean on history quite a lot, but accuracy still isn’t to blame for missing these important people. They didn’t just pop into existence in the 21st century-no, they were alive, and they definitely existed.
I recognize that it’s extremely unlikely to eventually get all books to have some sort of representation, which is pretty sad. But having none, and using excuses, such as what I’ve been discussing, is extremely damaging. Including rep can also be hard, with all the research that it includes to not be offensive. But the fact that some people would write something, without researching anything is not a good way to be writing. Would you write an entire book about the Roman Empire, and not research it?
In a sense, it shows a lack of care. Mainly because ‘historical accuracy’ can’t work for excluding these minorities because they still existed. Having no representation is bad. Having inaccurate or offensive representation is even worse.
What I’ve been trying to say, at least, is that you can’t use excuses for your inner phobias and -isms. Because it’s your own fault for being a bad person. It’s your own fault for being homophobic, racist, sexist, ableist, and everything else that I undoubtedly missed.
I’ve been having plenty of rants and discussions about this, over the course of a few weeks. I had a twitter rant:
And the discussion post that I wrote for a book analysis blog for a certain series, that also sparked the response from the person who called me a troll:
(I guest wrote the post, under the name “aseikh”. @raanalysis is the blog, and had nothing to do with the discussion. The blacked out name is the person I was discussing with until they called me a troll in another post.)
And let’s not forget the person who called me a troll:
I’m not trying to throw this person under the bus or anything, mainly because it’s their own opinion and if they want to be rude is their own problem. I just wanted to point out how a certain book, made obvious above to be the Ranger’s Apprentice series by John Flanagan, had a distinct lack of representation and was actually quite sexist, and this person went on a rant of how it didn’t matter because the book in question was based off history in England.
So, all in all with what I was trying to convey with this post, is this: I understand not every book can or will ever have minority representation. But if someone points out that a book doesn’t, then you can’t have the excuse be ‘I was being historically accurate’.