I love the diversity movements going on in the literary world. It's made me reflect on diversity, and what I consider "diversity" to mean. If you take the definition from the Merriam-Webster dictionary, you get:
di·ver·si·ty noun \də-ˈvər-sə-tē, dī-\: the quality or state of having many different forms, types, ideas, etc.
: the state of having people who are different races or who have different cultures in a group or organization
Which nails it on the head, right? I think there's a part of this definition, though, that impacts the publishing world just as much as the other.
Diversity, to me, means so much. Yes, it means diverse racial and ethnic groups. It means diverse socio-economic groups. It means varying religious groups. It starts at a very basic level: race. Now, race isn't basic, that's not what I'm saying. But when you think diversity, more often than not, you think race and ethnicity first, and/or sexuality.
And literature needs this.
But diversity doesn't just end there. I want literature to tackle this, and more.
What are some things that relate to diversity and literature?
-Culture (may tie into race and heritage, may not)
I know, what's up with this stories? Isn't that what lit is? Yes, but I'm talking diversity in the stories themselves. I think we see this a lot when something takes off and creates a trend. Different character names, but same story.
Fiction is powerful. It often reflects our society (often in a non-diverse way), and I believe that fiction can impact our society on a huge level. That's part of why we want diversity, right? To reflect our real society? Yes. I also want diversity because I think that if we diversify our fiction, we can help how our society deals with diversity.
For the remainder of this post, I'm going to focus on the culture our society has with women.
I'm going to touch on a pretty common romance trope. Please, please note that I am not insulting any story line. I appreciate them all--I'm just using this as an example, as it is pretty common and resonates greatly with me.
There's a lot of broken girl meets boy and gets fixed. Or broken girl meets broken boy and they fix each other. Often there is a violent history. Which is fine, but a) there are many ways to do that and all of those things mentioned in the brief diversity list up top will impact how this happens and b) there are other relationships than just those and c) The rest of this blog post.
Maybe it's just me, but I don't like this idea of expecting someone to "fix" someone. The idea that someone is broken is a different topic entirely.
I used to think I had to be saved. I've read since I can remember, and that's how so many of the stories go. I also used to think I could fix someone.
That combination: thinking you have to be saved and thinking you can and need to fix someone is a bad one.
I don't want my sisters thinking they need to be saved, or that they can save someone else when it isn't healthy.
I want stories that don't make someone someone else's responsibility. I want stories that show that others can help someone, but are't the sole help. I want stories that show we can lean on others and others can positively influence us, but that we as individuals are strong enough to "save" ourselves.
I want us to stop labeling domestic violence victims and sexual assault victims as "broken".
I want us to stop saying "a man did this to this girl and now she's ruined and now a different man has to fix her".
I want us to say "this happened, and now she's figuring out how to be strong on her own two feet."
I want stories that make my sisters think "I can do this. I don't need someone to fix me, because I'm not broken. I don't need to wait around to be saved. I can do this."
Yes, people influence us and help us. Significant others can be our rocks and can be what helps us move forward through obstacles that make us feel broken. But they aren't the only thing at play.
There are so many ways we can do this in fiction, and I hope to see it happen.
What are your thoughts? What other story lines do you want to see diversify?