Okay, here’s the issue: a lot of media with problematic elements also has elements that help minority groups.
See, this isn’t an isolated thing. I have quite literally seen ownvoices books get called out for being discriminatory towards those groups while the author was in that group. One example is Dreadnought by April Daniels. I saw one reviewer call this premise “inherently transphobic”, despite this book being written… by a trans author. It’s totally valid to dislike or even think the book was transphobic, but disliking something is not the same as calling it trash. This is also a weird case because the author has at this point has said a couple of racist things on twitter and hasn’t really apologized But the point still stands: calling out ownvoices book you have not read, or indeed decrying any ownvoices book as “unreadable trash” because of its portrayal of that specific group is a bad move.
Of course, everyone is perfectly allowed to dislike an ownvoices book or point out issues with the rep; I’ve disliked plenty of books because I didn’t love their handling of things. But decrying books as trash because the representation is mixed, or one-starring ownvoices books without reading, has incredibly gross connotations. It is also absolutely okay to mention triggering or gross elements to any book. But saying ownvoices lgbtq+ books that get published are unreadable trash because they have homophobic elements means lgbtq+ kids get waaaaaaay less rep.
I know people know this, but it’s okay to like things with problematic elements. Most media has problematic elements! I have done problematic things! You have done problematic things! We can’t just decry any media with issues as trash that everyone unproblematic hates when it does have good sides. That’s… I mean, it’s not going to go good places. We live in a problematic society, and unfortunately, this is the result.
Saying that someone is trash for liking a book that contains a gross trope isn’t… right. Disagreeing with them, debating with them? Absolutely fine. Saying they’re automatically trash? Um, nope. They probably didn’t notice. Is that good? No, not really. Should we talk about it? Fuck yes. Does that make this person trash? Nah.
okay, what is she even saying anymore // tldr
Of course, that doesn’t mean we should ignore gross things. I think the main thing is that we need to stop saying a book is either fabulous or irredeemable trash that no one should read or they are trash. You can love a thing and think the thing has some great rep, but still acknowledge that many have problems with the thing. And you still shouldn’t ignore that some people believe your favorite things are problematic. At the very least, think through the complaints and discuss them in your review.
My point here is that we can recognize nuance in books that have issue and disagree with each other about them. That doesn’t mean we should ignore problematic tropes, but I feel like we, as a community, have to first acknowledge that something’s rep of a certain group can have both good and bad elements.
I am not saying “homophobic portrayals are fine because at least there’s added diversity!” But I am saying that to me, mixed rep is better than no rep.