My story includes racism, homophobia and sexism because it is based in the Victorian era where all those things where present. Is that okay with the episode guidelines if I add a mature content warning at the beginning of the story?
Sure, as long as you add a disclaimer that this is not you personal view
it is just dont glorify or justify it.
As long as you’re not actually supporting racism and sexism, that’s fine.
Always do research though, because microaggressions will slip if you’re unsure/too privileged for the topic itself. Listen to users, ask for advice from POC readers.
It’s a sensitive issue, but if done right, makes good for an Episode story where you have a public platform.
Also, racial and LGBTQA slurs aren’t allowed in stories, whether it is against racism/sexism/homophobia/transphobia or not. Not trying to say you would, but it’s sad how I have to mention this because I’ve seen stories having this lol
Absolutely! I think stories about racism, sexism and homophobia are really important. It’s probably to allow us some freedom on matters of this kind that Episode stresses that you can’t “promote” any of these things in their content guidelines. You’re allowed to portray them, but make sure that the person who is racist, sexist or homophobic person:
- Gets their comeuppance by the end of the story.
- Learns a valuable lesson about the people they originally didn’t understand.
- Is supposed to be hated by the audience and the characters alike.
One of those or a mixture of all of them is perfect. The problem is more how you portray something than what you portray.
Even though this is true, I’ve actually asked Episode about the villains using hate speech, and they said that it’s largely okay if it’s not excessive and if I go through a review to make sure that there’s no promotion of any kind.
On a different note, here are a few tips on how to make sure you’re being as non-offensive as possible when you write a story of this nature:
Make sure you write your own content warnings. Those topics can be pretty triggering for people who’ve had an issue in their past, so keep people in the loop if you’re going to include things which may upset your readers. At least then they’ll brace themselves. There are plenty of amazing authors in the community who would probably be more than happy to help you make a splash for this purpose, but even just a simple line from the narrator at the beginning of each chapter will help.
Make sure you consider how the racist, sexist homophobe is viewed as a character. What I mean by this is that it’s very easy to fall into the trap of condemning a character for certain actions, but then overall making them a nice, likeable person. That is how it often works in real life, after all! Not even bigots are defined solely by their bigotry. BUT be careful with this in a story. It may be realistic, but you don’t want people to get the wrong message about bigoted people. You don’t want to send out the message, for example, that it’s okay to befriend a KKK member if they’re a nice person in other aspects of their life – that it’s okay to be friends with them if you disagree with them. If this is the case, and you want to make characters who aren’t just defined by their prejudices, maybe have other characters say “you’re such a nice person when you’re not…” and then – this is the important part – distance themselves from the bigot until they grow as a person and change their ways.
Don’t make being a victim look cool. I’m from the end of the era of emo hair, rock music and a victim complex, so I understand how easy it is to fall into a trap. The most important thing to do in this case is to make sure you don’t make being a victim of prejudiced abuse look cool or romantic. Don’t praise people for taking verbal or physical abuse for their gender, sexuality or skin colour. Praise them for being a bigger person, rising above it and overcoming adversities. Praise them for any positive way that they deal with things. For example, don’t praise a character simply for having to take being attacked for being gay. Praise them for the fact that they started a charity to raise awareness for abuse of that kind. We don’t want to romanticise issues like this… otherwise it can seem like we’re promoting getting yourself in that kind of situation.
Remember that not all bigotry is open. One of the most interesting and realistic techniques you can use in a situation like that is tension. Not every sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic bigot is going to say what they’re actually thinking. In fact, a lot of bigots are cowardly bigots who just share hushed slurs with each other in private and only get brave on the internet. In that case, tension can be even more effective and realistic if done properly, and it will help you avoid having to use slurs in your story.
Don’t throw it in just because. It can seem like overcoming bigotry would be an interesting plot point for a character to deal with, but if there’s something I learnt from Philip Pullman, it’s that you should avoid invoking random images of other issues in your story just for the shock factor or to make the reader feel a certain way. If you have to add in racism to a romance story just to make your readers feel sorry for the main character, you probably need to re-assess your story and ask yourself what the problem is. I mean, your readers should identify with your protagonist whether or not they have to deal with an issue like that. If not, maybe you need to spend less time trying to add the shock factor in and more time assessing why your character isn’t likeable enough for people to feel sorry for them without having them in a bad situation like that.
Remember that POC, LGBTQ members, women and other minorities aren’t defined by that. No matter what some radical Tumblr users like to think, you aren’t defined by being part of a minority group of some kind. Yes, it can be an important part of your identity, but it isn’t your whole identity. If it is for a character of yours, it’s probably a pretty boring story. Therefore, while being a victim of some sort of hate can be debilitating, cause mental health issues and generally be awful to deal with, it shouldn’t be the only thing going on in someone’s life. A lot of women who experience regular sexism, for example, still have to worry about things like paying bills, going to school, getting a job, managing a relationship, etc. Don’t make their victimhood the only thing we know about them!
I hope that’s helped! And well done if you read all of it!