I’d like to talk about sensitivity.

We live in a ‘snowflake’-filled world, where anybody could be labelled a snowflake at any given moment. Right now, millennials and Piers Morgan are the most likely people to have this word used against them, and they might be right in a lot of ways. But what this word and the surrounding meanings do to society is incredibly toxic. I am going to explore this in terms of two different books, including the recently cancelled publication of Blood Heir.

What does it mean to be a snowflake?
Being a snowflake means that you are easily offended. This can include being offended by things which the minority group it should offend aren’t offended by. However, it often gets misused when there is a genuine issue which people are jumping on the back of just to rant and be offended.

Why is snowflake culture toxic?
Snowflake culture is toxic because many people are getting offended by things which really don’t affect them. Sometimes, this can help to raise awareness of the issue, but mostly it ends up with a lot of random people being offended by things which are not their problem, which leads to the issue being dismissed and the people offended being seen as stupid and labelled as snowflakes when addressing a genuine issue.

What is the problem surrounding Blood Heir?
Blood Heir is a book written by a Chinese author which depicts slavery within the narrative. I have not read this book, but according to advance copy reviews on GoodReads, there are a couple of insensitive scenes influenced by chattel slavery, which include racial stereotyping. Other people love the book and do not see the problem with the contents including the slavery elements. Unfortunately, due to haters getting the better, the author has decided to cancel the publication of this book which was supposed to be out in June 2019.

Why do I care?
This has raised a very important issue to me: the depiction of insensitive topics in literature. Many people have got defensive saying that they ‘shouldn’t be writing about serial killers’ since they’re not a serial killer, and suchlike, and these people are missing the point entirely. Nobody cares if you represent a murderer, or fantastical creature ‘wrongly’, but when you are depicting somebody else’s culture, past, or personal experiences, then you have got to be sensitive about it.

For example, in a novel published last year in which the main character is transgender, while the author is not, this character does some incredibly questionable things in the book. Many transgender people have hit out at the book for a particularly problematic scene which they believe goes against a lot of what they are about and how they wish to be represented. Once they have decided they are another gender, this is true inside and out, over and underneath clothes.

Put this into the perspective of Blood Heir and the question of the author’s depiction of slavery, and all that can be asked for is a more sensitive way of handling the topic and keeping it as realistic as possible. It does not matter that it is a fantasy novel; when an author draws on a real-life experience, they must stay true to the history behind those experiences and ensure that they are being sensitive to the matter at hand.

I personally do not think that she should have cancelled the publication of Blood Heir, but taken the comments on and made adjustments for the final edit of the book. If it was a large amount of work, they could have pushed publication back to accommodate for the edits to be made.

I will however say that I am absolutely appalled by the way so many people have bashed this author on Twitter. She tried something, it wasn’t as sensitive as it could have been, allow her to rectify that and please stop dragging her name through the dirt. Her cancelling the publication is based on the snowflakes; mainly white people who have jumped on the back of the issue of her portrayal of slavery just to have something to be offended by. These people have made legitimate criticisms from people of colour less valid.

What we should all take away from this is that while we are well within our rights to be offended by something personal to us, let’s not slate an individual for wrongfully depicting an issue not relevant to us. We can agree that it should be re-written more sensitively, but we needn’t call her racist and trash her so thoroughly when it is not even our fight. Let her make amends without your insincere ‘thank you, it was very brave of you to cancel it’ messages.

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