on the necessity of brutality: why i went there

Content warnings also apply to the Toy Soldier Saga. Keep in mind I consciously patterned it after elements of the Napoleonic Wars, World War II and the Vietnam War. I mention a very similar variety of horrors, all of which are based in real events I pulled from history. And I went there because I believe it’s important to tell these stories, as cautionary tales if nothing else, so we don’t repeat them – and the fantastic medium allows us to take politics out of it and look at it all with some perspective.

Rebecca F. Kuang

There’s an oft-made argument in genre fiction circles that sexual violence shouldn’t be used as a plot point. It’s regressive. It’s demeaning to women. It’s gratuitously violent, grotesque, and unnecessary because we don’t need to see violence against women to know that this was a historical truth, we know it well enough–

Except we don’t.

The Poppy War is centered around the 1937 Rape of Nanjing. This also happens to be what I wrote my thesis on. I have spent over a year reading personal accounts of the bystanders, victims, and perpetrators. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned after months of research, it is that the west frankly does not care.

The west has never done a good job of caring about sexual violence done to women who aren’t white.

I’m not interested in writing utopias. I don’t like writing the alternate histories where gender equality is taken for…

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