All Art Is Political

I came across this tweet yesterday:

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Text: "Writers should stay out of politics!"

Bruh, Dante wrote epic fanfic in which politicians he hated got slapped around by snakes and centaurs and shit.

Under that tweet, some people were saying how much they appreciate when writers don’t make things political since politics is everywhere these days; reading is a nice escape to get away from it.

Wait, WHAT?

I don’t know what these people are reading, but I can pretty much guarantee that there is politics in it.

I retweeted the original with this:

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Text: I think it’s virtually impossible for art to be apolitical.

Isn’t the whole point of art to use a medium to reflect and speak to a moment in time? There is a reason why writers tell stories – it’s taking what they know, transposing it to a different time or place or circumstance, and indicating what’s important to them.

Sometimes that’s overtly political, like Dante calling out real people and damning them to various circles of hell (do NOT piss writers off because this is what happens); sometimes it’s a bit subtler, like a veiled allegory (Animal Farm comes to mind) – the literary equivalent of a gossip blind item. But even the most apolitical-seeming piece of art has some kind of worldview that it espouses. If a writer creates a world in which no gay people seem to exist, or everyone is white, or there are no women in power – without giving an explanation as to why this is so – it’s putting forth a pretty conservative politics, whether they realize it or not. How a writer world builds or how the story sanctions or punishes action or how it values certain traits over others are all political choices. And this makes politics unavoidable in writing.

Romance is a genre that doesn't shy away from its politics. At its core, romance is feminist in that it believes that women’s thoughts, actions, and desires have value. (There is still a long way to go to make feminism in romance fully inclusive, but that shift is starting to happen, I think.) Women are front and centre in romance novels and have power and agency in the story. Because romance always ends in a happily-ever-after, the story validates and rewards what women do to create this HEA. In the current political climate especially, writing romance, as many people have noted, becomes an act of resistance and of reclaiming power for women. 

As a writer, you can’t help but be political, whether you do it subtly or overtly. You have the opportunity to speak your politics through your work - so use your voice wisely.


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