Post-It Representation

Today, I want to welcome Tiffany Rose to Read Diverse Books. Her debut novel, Hello World, will officially release February 21st, 2017. That’s tomorrow! 

If you haven’t heard about Hello World, this post will introduce you not only to the book, but also to the author and her thoughts on in-text representation of marginalized identities. 

Enjoy the guest post, add Hello World on Goodreads, and if you like what you see be sure to pre-order the book!


Post-It Representation 

by Tiffany Rose


I don’t know how many times I’ve told someone about a character and they were equal parts surprised and delighted about the label. Often there is a follow up question. “So, wait, are they confirmed canon, with words, or just, you know, commonly accepted as such.”

Fandoms and queer theory both breed very thoughtful interpretations of diversity that is missing from media on a whole. Most head canons are not fans running amok, they are people who see themselves in how things are written.

Word of God confirmations stand in direct conflict with the theory of Death of the Author, and both show the complicated dynamic of things that are not explicitly stated. But there’s a grey area of that I don’t think gets enough thought. I call it Post-It Representation.

I define it as the following: Representation that is loosely tacked onto a character and therefore doesn’t have enough sticking power without members of the fandom telling others about the confirmed label.

With the various attempts, pushes for diversity, and campaigns over recent years I’ve seen a lot of characters fall into this category.

JK Rowling says Dumbledore is gay in a random interview?  Post-It Representation
Cassandra Clare tweets that Raphael Santiago is aro ace? Post-It Representation
Jughead is aro ace in the comics, but not in Riverdale?

(Please be this type of harmless vandal when you see problematic media. #AroAceJugheadOrBust)

I could go on listing more examples as a consumer of media, but also being an author gives me another point of view on the matter. My debut novel Hello World, has a bi ace protagonist, but the story isn’t about asexuality at all. For a good while I debated how I wanted to go about saying that. Or if I wanted to at all. Authors are told to show and not tell. So how could I even go about showing, when there’s people who don’t even understand there is a word for that identity in the first place?

That’s when I decided I’d be selling myself short if I went around re-sticking the label on my character after the fact. There are plenty of words in a novel, surely one of them could be asexual. Not only for myself, but for anyone who didn’t even know that was a word a person could have.

But the question of how authors should go about labeling is beyond just me and my stories. If a character is labeled in a tweet and no one sees was representation given? Does it do a community good if they must search to prove such things? Do the makers of content have a responsibility to the very real people who could get hurt in fights over what little ends up being ambiguously given.

The answers likely range from character to character and fandom to fandom, but it definitely does not raise awareness much, if at all, if it’s not in text or on screen. Writers are literally capable of creating universes, and I believe that comes with a responsibility. Post-It style representation turns identity into an Easter egg only for the devout fan. We mustn’t treat diversity as a reward, when it’s reality. I believe there is moral imperative for authors to not only include, but to label with a lasting power.


About Hello World

Scott’s skills as a surveillance expert come in pretty handy when he’s breaking down firewalls. But hacktivism isn’t enough; he’s going after the holy grail—UltSyn’s Human Information Drives, human assets implanted with cerebral microchips. While plenty of hackers are trying to save the world these days, all Scott wants is to find his sister.

 

After following the clues to London, he makes a plan to kidnap the technical marvel heading into town. When this Human Information Drive turns out to be someone unexpected his nerve waivers. The HID, who calls herself Sonia, would be priceless on the market, but born out of joint self-preservation the two team up.

 

With her contacts, they travel across Europe in the search of personal secrets and leave a trail of industrial espionage all for the sake of misdirection. As the unlikely pair digs deeper into restricted databases, Scott discovers that those who enlist with UltSyn get far more than they bargained for. Not only is this secret HID program is much bigger than he had imagined, students are lining up for a future they only think this biotech wonder company can provide. Even worse, these leads are getting him nowhere closer to his own goals.

 

Plunged into a world of human trafficking, Scott is determined to find his sister no matter the cost, which tests Sonia’s fragile friendship with him. But when the information reveals the people closest to Scott have been working for UltSyn all along, he has to find them—before UltSyn finds him.

 You can pre-order the ebook now, or wait until February 21st to get the paperback! 

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About the authors:

Tiffany Rose is still waiting for her Starfleet uniform to arrive, but isn’t so picky about color. Until then she spends her time writing about magical girls, the morally grey, and articles that would warrant the title of cyberpunk beatnik since the themes are unabashedly focused on queer theory in the information age. Any extra time would ideally be spent looking out for plot bunnies and serendipity, but in reality, likely used on refreshing twitter.

For more check out her twitter, goodreads, or her book blog Art Over Chaos!

 

Alexandra Tauber spends much of her time cuddling her cat and putting off any adult responsibilities. Love of science fiction, comic books, and video games fed into her creativity since her youth and drove her to take part in many online roleplaying communities, and formed her aspirations to write novels. Her point of focus is inclusive writing that honors the struggles of more than the carbon copy white knight figure.

For more check out her twitter, or facebook

 


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17 thoughts on “Post-It Representation

  1. It’s too bad the term is needed, but since it is, you’ve come up with a good one and explained it clearly, even to those of us who aren’t involved in fandoms and up on all the names of tropes. Favorite line: “There are plenty of words in a novel, surely one of them could be asexual.” Thank you for sharing your thoughts, and Naz, thank you for hosting this interesting post!

    1. And thank you for reading, Wendy! 😀
      I do agree that for marginalized identities that are severely under-represented (such as asexual and aromantic) it is important that they be explicitly stated in the text. Doing so would only be a benefit!

  2. That’s an interesting perspective: takes a lot of work to shift from binary thinking, from the tendency to compartmentalize in tidy boxes!

  3. I am so glad to hear someone addressing this directly– thank you, Tiffany Rose, for giving words to something I constantly saw but was unable to articulate.

    I think that what you struggled with for your protagonist is something many authors struggle with. In a world where we don’t understand all the labels/identifications for self and diversity it can be challenging to help your audience see what you know. I think it will probably take a whole generation to pass before we can get to books where the reader can be shown instead of told for many of these labels. That said, I feel like post-it representation (I love that) shouldn’t be shunned. What matters is that we are making the attempt. For now, they are baby steps, but if we keep taking them we will get there. Eventually. But I agree, I’d rather hear it from the author in the novel than on social media or whatnot. This is a great post. Thank you!

    Naz– as always, thank *you* for giving voice to such things on your blog! You are doing great things for our community. <3

  4. I don’t read a lot of YA where I think this topic is mostly front-and-centre but must a label be explicitly mentioned, instead of just describing or showing it on the book as the story rolls along? Or is it too difficult and too vague, which can leave room for misinterpretation (and something the author doesn’t want, I’m sure)?

  5. I think it should definitely be clearly stated. I like the term “Post-It Representation” (even though it’s unfortunate there needs to be a term), it really makes sense. And the Riverdale thing is such a good example. I haven’t read the comics or watched the show, but so many people are talking about it. I think it’s cheap for an author or show creator to just say “oh well this character IS *this* even if its not specifically stated”. Well, that’s fine and dandy that that character is like that in YOUR head, but what about your readers/viewers minds? Why is it so wrong you can’t just have it in the book/show/movie ? Now I’m just rambling haha

    Great post!

    Molly @ Molly’s Book Nook

    1. Thanks for reading, Molly!
      I still have a hard time believing JK Rowling’s announcement that Dumbledore was gay and that she always envisioned him that way. It may be true, but I won’t accept it until it’s confirmed in a main book or movie. If we see more of Dumbledore’s past in the Fantastic Beasts movies, then I will finally be happy. lol 🙂

  6. Love the term post-it representation! And I really agree with Tiffany on it being important to just write it into the story rather than just state it after the fact- both for representation and for the sake of literary interpretation.

  7. I am definitely adopting post-it representation as a term. It is such a lazy way to claim that a book is diverse, and it also excuses lazy writing, in my opinion.

    Can’t wait to read Hello World!

  8. *Immediately adds book to tbr list*. An ace bi character, could this book be anymore perfect and me? I think not. It sounds 100% to be the thing I need to read. As an ace bi person it’s definitely a part of who I am and if I was writing a story about me it’d be woven in their. Plus the very act of writing that word on a page means so much to so many, I have no doubt Tiffany has incorporated sensitively and beautifully and not in a way that gives the sense that she just wants someone to hand her a diversity cookie because at the end of the day being ace is her lived experience too. Plus there is nothing worse than an author labelling a character as queer after the fact, its a total cop out. Its more an insult to the community than anything else.

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