Yesterday I read this article titled “Are you reading too many books by straight white men?” by Martin Daubney on The Telegraph’s website – I think it misses the point a bit. It talks about a feminist writer who has challenged herself and other people to stop reading books by “straight white cisgendered male authors for a year” and then goes onto question “do such outspoken attacks on white men constitute some form of sexism – or even racism?” The answer to that is no – you can’t be racist to a white person because racism is based on those with privilege and power oppressing others – white people have the power so can’t be oppressed. And the same goes with sexism, men have the majority of power so cannot be oppressed.
Yes I believe we should all be free to choose what books we read and many people read the blurb and choose a book based on that, not based on whether the author is a man or a woman, white or black.
But the problem is that publishing, like many media industries, is biased to white people and to men. It’s not by chance as to which books are put on the stands near the door of Waterstones so you see them as soon as you walk into the shop. It’s not luck as to which books are on the tables in the middle of the room, or placed at eye-level on the shelves instead of close to the floor where it’s a bit more awkward and inconvenient for someone browsing to see.