RARA-AVIS: Re: sexist and racist

From: Kevin Burton Smith ( kvnsmith@colba.net)
Date: 18 Jan 2001

Kent (allegedly at kentwestmoreland@hotmail.com) wrote:

>Is it just me or are Julie Smith's Skip Langdon novels racist and sexist?
>Her portrayals of white heterosexual males are generally that of criminals,
>abusers and molesters. Her portrayals of heterosexual black males aren't
>much better with the exception of one of her recurring characters. Women
>are always heroes or victims of heterosexual males.
>I wondered if it was just me, then I checked some reviews on amazon.com.
>One African-American woman was unhappy with Smith's characterizations of
>African-American was stereotypical, portraying them as motivated primarily
>by sex. I thought about this and had to agree. Another reviewer indicated
>that her gay males (who are good guys) have feminine characteristics and
>stereotypical hobbies. Once again I had to agree.

I haven't read any of these, but just because her white heterosexual males are bad guys, doesn't necessarily mean the books (or Smith, for that matter) are sexist or racist. That's a pretty big leap, just because every identifiable sub-group isn't represented by a character of shining virtue.

If she relies on stereotypes, that may just mean she's a lazy, or lousy writer. To claim she actually is racist or sexist --well, are there any real grounds for it, beyond selective demographic representation? And which bothers people more? That the straight white guys are bad, or that the gay guys are good?

As I said, I haven't read the books, but charges of sexism, racism, homophobia and blah blah blah have been levelled at almost every hard-boiled writer we've ever discussed, from Hammett and Chandler right up to Paretsky and even that Pelecanos guy. I'd be willing to give Smith the benefit of the doubt -- at least until I hear more evidence.

By the way, statistically, most molesters and abusers are in fact heterosexual. That may not make Smith a lousy or lazy writer at all
-- just an honest one.


Kevin Burton Smith The Thrilling Detective Web Site http://www.thrillingdetective.com
Now online: The 3rd Annual Cheap Thrill Awards. Christmas Gifts. New fiction by Laura Lippman, Scott Wolven and Anthony Rain. And the debut of Tim Broderick's ODD JOBS. -- # To unsubscribe from the regular list, say "unsubscribe rara-avis" to # majordomo@icomm.ca. This will not work for the digest version. # The web pages for the list are at http://www.miskatonic.org/rara-avis/ .

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