One reason this blogger gave for her experimental embargo was that she was finding that when reading popular science fiction and fantasy, many of the stories she came across were either bad or offensive, and she found that many were written by authors who fit within the category of cis-white-straight-male.
The argument is that the patriarchy has permeated our culture so deeply that it determines what is popular, and therefore what we read, leaving the unassuming reader with a stack of books written by authors who fall into that one category, with little diversity on the bookshelf. This is absolutely true; many of the works of fiction and non-fiction that the canon has determined as worthy are written by authors who fit this description.
The argument is that this makes it more difficult for authors of other identities to get a foothold in the literary market, but is also limits the perspectives being read, and thus identified with, by the masses.
While we think that it is wonderful that readers are looking to diversify their reading experience, and that it's even a great idea to set out challenges like reading only books written by “X” for a short period of time, we have some other problems with the framing for the experiment put forth by the blogger in question, and others with a similar outlook.
A founding notion of this particular cis-white-straight-male embargo seems to be that fiction written by authors who fit that identity is in some way inherently less valuable because of their identity. Or if not less valuable, then in some way necessarily offensive, or insensitive to other identities and voices.
This is problematic, because of the fact that these reading challenges are ostensibly fighting for equality and inclusivity. The act of essentializing and excluding based on gender and racial identity is the very thing that we should be working together to fight against.
Moreover, if we tell cis-white-straight-men that they are inherently incapable of writing inclusive literature, then maybe they will stop. If we don't have faith in them, will they have faith in themselves? Further, if we are not celebrating the authors who are writing inclusive literature, we limit the incentives for them to do so. Sadly, being a writer/author isn't all creating whatever you want; there are hard economic realities that need to be considered.
Essentially, we do not believe that we should tear others down – others who are doing their best to write engaging and fair fiction – instead of building authors from other identities up. To build a community of equality we cannot exclude people solely because of their identity – especially an identity that is not self-defined.
If an author identifies as a Sexist Nazi Pirate then we can totally get behind not reading them; this is a chosen or constructed identity, and one that I think we can all agree we are not comfortable with. If an author is racist or sexist or boarding passenger ships to loot and pillage, then let's do our best to not support the spreading of those ideas through popular fiction.
What we're trying to say is, let's try to include everyone doing good things. Yes, there should be space to celebrate authors who come from under-heard identities, but not at the expense of others. There is definitely value in supporting and expanding the range of authors at all levels of publication. Let's buy more of their work, but an embargo on people based solely on their background seems to far. If it were an embargo on a writer because of their political views, say for being against same-sex marriage, that makes sense. Refusing to read someone who is trying to improve inclusion simply because they don't fit into the right box seems like doing the wrong thing for the right reasons.
Instead of resisting reading the work of authors who write valuable, inclusive literature let's go after the publishers and magazines that continue to promote and encourage that work that is bigoted and offensive. We, the readers of the world, can work together to support authors of all identities who are trying to change the world for the better, and simply refuse to support those who do not.
One of our goals at Bushmead is to be a publisher that refuses to promote and publish fiction that is offensive. The original blogger was having trouble with speculative fiction in particular, which is entirely understanable as the genre has gotten a bad reputation for being particularly sexist and racist. Our hope is that through our work, and other great publishers out there doing similar, more writing will engage with issues of gender and sexuality in a speculative fiction setting in a way that is inclusive and sensitive. We want to be part of the positive change that comes not from excluding any group of people, but from building an inclusive, connected community of readers who want to make the world a better place for everyone to live in.