…while you’re waiting for me to climb down the mountain and write another post (oh, and comment about, but it might take a bit for me to moderate):
Have a listen to A Nerd of Advice‘s wonderful episode about mansplaining among the geeks. They have some particularly thoughtful things to say about enjoying media that takes the occasional sexist/racist/what-have-you turn as well as some useful links.
Now to steer the discussion away from the mansplaining part and towards the “dealing with literature etc. that sometimes makes you cringe but is otherwise good”…you may have noticed that I have a slight obsession with one H. P. Lovecraft. I started reading Lovecraft about a year ago, and basically devoured the complete works in a few months. There’s something compelling about the wordy prose balanced by the shying away from overt description of unimaginable horrors, the total ownership of the word “eldritch”, the idea that too much knowledge is deadly and/or maddening. But here’s the thing: Lovecraft was super racist. In more than a “well people were more racist/didn’t know better back then” sort of way. I get the impression that if Shakespeare had been born in the late twentieth century his more misogynist and xenophobic edges would have been blunted. But Lovecraft? He just seems to have genuinely hated black people, truly thought they’re inferior. In his prose, this comes across infrequently, but his poetry (on top of being uniformly bad) is disgustingly racist. I feel like I have to deal with it in a different way than I deal with, say, the misogyny in Heinlein, which is basically to say “damn I like this guy’s writing; too bad he’s backwards about women”. In truth I haven’t decided how to deal with it.
Here are some SFF authors’ thoughts on the matter, collected by Nnedi Okorafor—a woman of colour who has won “The Howard”, the World Fantasy Award, which comes with a creepy bust of Lovecraft’s head. (Who wouldn’t want that in their living room?) (P.S. Let me slap a trigger warning on that link, because it quotes in full Lovecraft’s most disturbingly racist poem.) In sum: many lean towards just making H. P. roll in his grave by their very existences as successful non-white/non-racist authors. Nnedi herself, more charitably, suggests that Lovecraft is now a being of pure spirit who, having had his mind opened to things beyond the realm of human conception after his death, realizes the error of his ways. Neither approach really helps me as a reader of Lovecraft’s work, though. I have concluded that all I can do is change my Time Travel Priorities such that I would go punch Lovecraft in the face before I went off to find me some dinosaurs. (In short, feeble fist-shake to the cosmos.)