The term “problematic” is used often in the bookish world, but what does it really mean? A problematic book is one that contains language, tropes, or stereotypes that are offensive, harmful, or inappropriate. This could include transphobic language, racism, cultural appropriation, and ableism.
Books can be problematic for a variety of reasons. For example, a book may contain language that is derogatory towards a certain group of people. This could be a racial slur, or it could be a stereotype that perpetuates a harmful image of a certain group. Similarly, a book may contain cultural appropriation, which is when a person or group takes elements of a culture that is not their own and uses it without permission or understanding. This can be seen in books that feature characters of a certain culture, but the author does not accurately represent that culture.
Ableism is another form of problematic language that can be found in books. This is when a person or group is discriminated against based on their physical or mental abilities. This could include language that implies that people with disabilities are inferior or less capable than those without disabilities.
Finally, books can be problematic for their use of tropes or stereotypes. Tropes are often used to make a story more interesting, but they can also be harmful if they perpetuate negative stereotypes about certain groups of people. For example, a book may feature a character that is a “magical Negro,” which is a trope that portrays people of color as having special powers or abilities that are used to help white characters.
Books can be problematic for a variety of reasons, and it is important to be aware of these issues when reading. If a book contains language, tropes, or stereotypes that are offensive, harmful, or inappropriate, it is important to recognize this and take steps to address it. By doing so, we can help create a more inclusive and respectful bookish world.