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A Question for The Extra Squeeze Team

April 21, 2017 by in category The Extra Squeeze tagged as , with 10 and 0
Home > Columns > The Extra Squeeze > A Question for The Extra Squeeze Team

The Extra Squeeze | A Slice of Orange

A few weeks ago, I read an article in the Chicago Tribune about publishers hiring sensitivity editors, especially for children’s books. From the title of the article, I assumed that a sensitivity editor would flag books and  require authors to include some sort of warning that the characters or situation depicted in that book might be upsetting to some readers–sort of like the nightly news caution before showing graphic images or The Myth Busters “Don’t Try This At Home.”

However, the article quickly set me straight. Sensitivity Editors are readers, hired by either the publishing house or the author, to examine a manuscript and point out unconscious bias. This seemed like a good idea to me. If I were writing a character or situation for which I had no direct knowledge, I would want someone who had that knowledge to read what I wrote and point out mistakes. Not fix the mistakes, but point them out.

Much to my surprise, not everyone agreed with me. Authors, editors and readers have had mixed reactions to the idea. Some see it as a good idea, research, and a way to ensure the characters or situations are well-rounded and realistic. Others see it as censorship and slippery slope leading to the banning of thoughts and ideas.

So my question for The Extra Squeeze Team: What do you think about Sensitivity Editors?

Come back to A Slice of Orange on April 30th to read what The Extra Squeeze Team thinks. 

10 Comments

  • Kas Sartori
    on April 21, 2017

    Sounds a bit like censorship to me. I don’t go along with the “banned book list” of literary works. But if it’s relegated to what small children will be reading I can understand the need for it.

    • Author
      marianne h donley
      on April 21, 2017

      Kas, there is nothing about “banned book list” of literary works in the article linked above.

  • vickicrum
    on April 21, 2017

    In my opinion, this is entirely censorship. The thought police are out in full force these days, and they can literally find bias in a glass of water. The whole issue of “unconscious bias” is like a lot like beauty–it’s solely in the eye of the beholder.

    • Author
      marianne h donley
      on April 21, 2017

      Vicki, did you read the linked article?

  • Linda McLaughlin
    on April 22, 2017

    I think it’s an intriguing idea. I know I shy away from writing ethnic characters for fear of offending, but I might try if I knew I had a sensitivity editor to let me know if I’ve gone astray. We all see the world through our own eyes, but our experience may not be expansive enough to relate an ethnic character with authenticity Something to think about.

    • Author
      marianne h donley
      on April 22, 2017

      That’s exactly what I thought. It’s something to think about.

  • Veronica Jorge
    on April 23, 2017

    It’s interesting to note how the definition of terms has changed over time. We’re all speaking the same language and using the same vocabulary, but the breadth of meanings and interpretations are vast. Words have been given a new range of nuances and underlying tones depending upon professions, cultural mores and political affiliations. Have we become that diversely separated? How do we all get back on the same page.

    • Author
      marianne h donley
      on April 23, 2017

      I’m not sure, Veronica.But it would be nice to be on the same page.

  • Geralyn Corcillo
    on April 25, 2017

    Marianne, You are a provocateur! You provoke thought and discussion and like the bad-ass teacher you are, you make people think 🙂

    • Author
      marianne h donley
      on April 25, 2017

      LOL! Ger, I don’t think anyone has ever called me a provocateur before. (I like it!) But more seriously, I do hope the question makes people stop and think.

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