Authors Should Not Profit From Their Own Shitty Behavior

There’s another story going around of an author behaving badly, and this time, it’s a doozy: the author in question confesses to having developed an unhealthy obsession with a reviewer who 1-starred her YA novel on Goodreads, and ultimately went so far as to show up on the reviewer’s doorstep. Her actual, physical doorstep.

This story is out in circulation because the author in question wrote an article about her experiences in stalking the reviewer, and a certain major online publication ran the article. The article itself is less a confessional of the author’s unwise choices, much less her learning from those choices, and more an attempt at analysis of the pathologies in online book-reviewing culture and investigation of whether the 1-star reviewer is who she says she is. The author admits that she was warned not to engage with the reviewer, and makes a show of declaring that she, the author, is not entirely stable and that her stalking the reviewer was an inappropriate thing to do, but the substance of her piece is more an argument that her writing was treated unfairly and that she had no other recourse than to engage with the reviewer. If we take her story at face-value, we might ultimately conclude that the reviewer is more of a problem than the author, and that the author’s obsession, while regrettable, was an understandable response to the reviewer’s apparent determination to ruin her career.

The response to this author’s story of diving too far down the rabbit hole has been less about sympathy with her insanity and more about raking her over the coals for losing her shit over a negative review. Which is fine. Given the author’s inability to walk away from a 1-star review (out of many 1-star reviews for her book, oddly enough), and her willingness to fall in with the crowd that characterizes negative reviewing as “bullying,” I don’t trust this author’s analysis of the supposed perfidies of the Goodreads community. I don’t even trust her version of events. Her article gestures at being self-critical, but it’s ultimately self-serving more than anything else, and for that reason, all her commentary on the alleged toxicity of book-reviewing culture is suspect.

You may have noticed that I’ve written all this blog entry so far without naming anyone or anything except Goodreads? If you haven’t seen the story already, I’ve probably given you enough information to find the author’s name through Google, but here’s what I realized in reading another analysis of this author’s behavior on another, very high-traffic site:

We’re giving her what she wants.

What a brand-new novelist needs more than anything else is to be talked about. She needs people to read her book, and pay for it, but if she gets enough people talking about her, even if the talk is overwhelmingly negative, the readers and paying customers will follow.

I never heard of this author until today. Without her getting her bad behavior attached to her name on major websites, I probably would have never heard of her.

As we speak, there are plenty of Goodreads members adding the author’s name to their Will Not Read No Not Ever lists, but I’m sure there are many more people looking up her name on Amazon just to see what all the fuss is about, and many of those people are paying for her novel.

She’s profiting from her bad behavior. She’s using her unhealthy response to criticism to build notoriety, and she’s able to do this because of the copious amounts of critical analysis of her reviewer-stalking with her name and face attached. The major online publication rewarded her bad behavior by running her article. “Some names have been changed,” it says at the bottom, but the author’s name is very much intact. All the other websites weighing in on the inappropriateness of her actions are also rewarding her, because they are very much using her name. That sends a bad message to other (unknown, ethics-impaired) authors, and it makes more reviewers unsafe.

I’ve written about other badly-behaved authors before, though none of them went as far as showing up on someone’s doorstep. I’m starting to think maybe I shouldn’t have used their names. I’m starting to think the most radical way we can handle stories like this one is to refuse to name the author. Don’t add to their Google results. Don’t help them build name recognition. Don’t send new readers their way.

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This is the stuff getting past the Spam filter these days.

WordPress thinks these are legit comments? Seriously?

Two of these comments are written in Asian alphabets which I cannot read and the other is word salad. You're not missing much.

Two of these comments are written in Asian alphabets which I cannot read and the other is word salad. You’re not missing much.

That spam filter needs to up its game.

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How does anyone think this is a good idea?

There’s this shit on Captain Awkward:

I have a 40-year-old friend who’s very open about his frustrations with internet dating in our geeky friend circle, and recently he went on a date with a 32-year-old woman who, during their date, said that she is looking to have a couple of kids in the future. She didn’t want them straight away, but she’s looking for a relationship that would ideally end up there.

One of the cool things about online dating is that you can state in your profile that you definitely do or do not want children, and you can see how other users answer the same question. If this woman didn’t put that info in her profile, then he’s fortunate she put it out in the open on their first date.

He was appalled by this, and says he feels a) like he was being assessed for fatherhood, and b) that it was unfair that because he doesn’t want to have kids ever, (and I’m sure for other reasons,) she wouldn’t have another date with him – he thinks they’re compatible in other areas, so could have a lot of fun.

Yeah. Um. “Compatible in other areas” doesn’t really add up when one of you wants children and the other one doesn’t.

Most of our friend-group seem to be commiserating with him, but I think he’s out of order. He’s saying that there’s time for her to have a fling with him,

NOPE NOPE NOPE.

It keeps getting better, folks.

I seem to be in an extreme minority – as a gay woman who’s 40, apparently I don’t understand these things. [...] But he’s being given sympathetic suggestions like he should have said he wasn’t sure about kids, and string her along for a bit, or do that AND try to persuade her she doesn’t want kids after all, which is despicable to me, or that this woman was some kind of crazy person who was only after his sperm and he had a lucky escape.

HOLY FUCK ALL THE NOPE I CAN’T EVEN.

Do you have any suggestions, or resources, to help geeky guys understand that for some (not all) women in their ‘30s, dating can be more serious than for the 40-year-old guys? I’m obviously not getting through – and given he only wants to date women in their early 30s (if a woman’s still single over 40, she’s got too much baggage, or something something? I KNOW! Why AM I friends with him?) this is unlikely to be the only time this will happen.

See what this dude’s doing here? See what his friends are encouraging him to do?

Guys, don’t do that.

Compared to a man of any age who definitely does not want children, ever, for a woman over 30, who definitely does want children, all other emotional factors being equal, dating is inherently a more serious endeavor. Why is this?

Do I really have to explain why? You know our fertility has a hard limit, right? You know there comes a time at which we can no longer conceive, at all, yes? And well before then, there comes a less certain time at which getting pregnant becomes very difficult and carrying to term gets especially dangerous? And you may have noticed there’s a lot of cultural/medical pressure on women to get our baby-having done before a certain age? Because if you haven’t noticed that pressure, trust me: it’s there. All women who want or might want kids, and have made it past 30 without having any, have noticed that pressure. Advanced maternal age becomes an issue starting at 35. If we finally start trying to conceive at 40, it’ll be really difficult-to-impossible, and that difficulty is all our fault for waiting too long. That’s the message behind the bulk of media attention to the prevalence of infertility: it’s OUR fault if we wait too long.

With that in mind, guys, lying your way into a “fling” with a 30something woman who wants to make babies is a really shitty thing to do.

You do not lie about what you want and string her along. You do not try to persuade her she doesn’t want kids after all. You definitely do not complain about sperm-jacking (which is hardly even a real thing), you do not entertain any suggestions that she might be trying to sperm-jack, if you’re trying to get her to ignore or postpone her plans for motherhood. What the woman is doing in this case is basically the very opposite of sperm-jacking, to the extent that it happens at all.

Think about this: if you’re a dude who thinks sperm-jacking is a thing that might happen to you doesn’t want to be a father, and you’re afraid some woman might disregard your choice in the matter, then…you want to keep your pants firmly on around any woman with a stated interest in procreation. Don’t complain that she won’t go for a second date.

I am telling you all this from the perspective of having been that 30something woman who wants babies and is trying to find a family-making partner. I’ve since changed my mind, and realized that I actually like my selfish, hedonistic existence and don’t want to fuck it up with any defenseless mini-humans, but still, I’ve been in that position of trying to find a partner of the “spouse and co-parent” level, and from that mentality, dating is very serious business. My last boyfriend might have eventually made a good co-parent—who knows, he might be on his way to becoming someone else’s co-parent now!—but our relationship simply wasn’t life-partnership material. I won’t go into detail about how I ultimately decided to break it off, but I will tell you this much: when I finally reached the point where I realized that our relationship just wasn’t serious, and he wasn’t interested in getting serious, then I found that I didn’t want him in my life even as a friend. I had just turned 33, he knew I wanted children (I did, at the time, and his dating profile said he wanted kids too), and he was happy to keep taking up my time indefinitely for a relationship that was going nowhere. Once I put that together, I didn’t feel very friendly to him, and in the months that have passed, my feelings toward my ex haven’t improved. (I didn’t quite see the heights of his disrespect for me until after I broke it off, but that’s another issue.)

It’s possible for two people who both want children to date for a while and still find that it’s not working out, and that’s fine. If they’re really making it work, it’s not necessarily going to reach the kid-having stage as quickly as either of them may have wanted, and that’s okay. The fact that most relationships don’t get that far, and those that do, generally need some time to get there, is why it is really, really unacceptable to say “she has time for a fling with me” when she’s 32 and knows she wants children. No. She has time to let a relationship develop. If she’s willing to say, in as many words during the first date, that she would like to have a couple of kids, then she does not have time for a fling.

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A Gentle Reminder That Writers Are Also Human

How  do I put this? The last few months have…sucked. I’m gonna take a little while here to piss and moan about how everything happened at once, how I’ve been working my ass off and been the last one to benefit from my labors, and how I have no support system. I remarked some days ago that I don’t remember how it feels not to be stressed. It’s right there in the subject line. The month of September is coming to an end, but I feel like it’s just barely the end of summer, because I’m thinking of the past several months as the Summer Of Having No Life. And that’s not a “have no life” in the fun sense of hanging around at home and blowing up Facebook in between watching movies and reading comic books. No, I don’t have the luxury of having that kind of “no life.” What has been keeping me from having a life?

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Frats are under seige by drunken women, warns overgrown, overtan frat man on Forbes.com

alysonmiers:

Here’s the thing, Bill Frezza: your precious frat bros WANT those drunken females around. They want those females to be present, and in many cases they actively pressure/manipulate/coerce those women to drink in excess. Don’t fucking expect us to believe those women were not enthusiastically invited into those frat houses, or that they deliberately get as hammered as possible over the brothers’ protests. Oh, and you’re an asshole in every possible way. People like you are the reason why fraternities have such a bad reputation. Go on, keep telling those poor misunderstood guys that the problem with encouraging excessive alcohol consumption is false rape allegations rather than alcohol poisoning or drunk driving.

Originally posted on we hunted the mammoth:

Frat boys know how to handle their liquor

Frat boys know how to handle their liquor

We learned earlier today that evil females are trying to destroy one of the few remaining safe spaces for men in our culture – professional football. Now we learn that evil drunk females have their blurry sights set on another man space: College fraternities.

The brave soul bringing this crucial information to the men of the world? The impressively tan frat man Bill Frezza, who presented his case in a post on Forbes.com with the subtle title

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I don’t remember how it feels not to be stressed.

The last few months of my offline life have been ridiculous and absurd for reasons that I can’t explain right now because I still don’t have the time to write that long a post. Don’t worry, I’m okay! Good things are happening! But those good things have kept me tied up in such a way that today, I felt like I had to apologize to my co-workers for having been unable to work more late nights in the past couple of weeks. Just think about that for a second. I don’t get paid for extra hours, most of my co-workers don’t work nearly as many late nights as I do every summer, and yet I felt like I’d done something wrong by working no more than 45 hours per week.

With that in mind, I’m still not quite ready to unclench enough to write an interesting blog post, so I’ll leave you with a little meme. I haven’t been good about writing lately. The preceding paragraph should give you some clue as to why that is, but I miss feeling safe and rested enough to lose myself in my fictional worlds.

dontalwayswrite

The Most Interesting Man is the only meme who really gets me.

Just a tiny bit of news before I go: I’m officially done with Richard Dawkins. Gone. Good-bye. Lifetime member of the Nope List. There are some lines you do not cross. His latest round of shit-spraying is one of those things I’d like to blog about if I could get a chance to write in detail about anything, but for now, I can assure you that I am no longer interested in anything he has to say.

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Well-Dressed Air Traveler, do you even hear yourself?

Slate allowed this to happen, and I’m just sitting here with my face contorted into this impenetrable mask of WTF. Someone named J. Bryan Lowder is trying to browbeat the rest of us into dressing a certain way when we travel by air because his eyeballs can’t take the assault of our grungy t-shirts and sweatpants all over the airport. I was going to do a translate job on his piece similar to how I did with Emily Yoffe’s rape apologist fuckery, but now that I’ve read it in full, I think my brain has been forced to put too many neurons in quarantine. Something about Lowder’s writing has inhibited my creative abilities.

Look at this shit here:

However, the primary reason I make the extra effort to plan my travel outfit is because, well, no one else does. Among the cavalcade of pajama pants, tracksuits, nightgowns, painting rags, and ill-fitting sweatshirts that one encounters in the world’s terminals and stations these days, the competently dressed individual stands apart as a beacon of civilized life, an island of class amid a swamp of schlumps. By dressing myself as a decent human being who is aware that he is in public, I like to think I am performing a small act of resistance against the increasingly slobbish status quo.

and this:

When we dress well for travel, we are not only making ourselves look good; we’re also signaling that we are invested in making this shared experience pleasant for everyone around us. Think of it as a kind of sartorial social contract: Honor it and your minor efforts make transit a more pleasing activity; break it, and reveal your misanthropic narcissism to, quite literally, the world. What else to call putting one’s own base comforts above the comfort of all?

And meanwhile he insists that he’s not elitist, no, not at all.

The difference between his position and mine ultimately comes down to a matter of priorities. Lowder feels good when he’s dressed nicely. I feel good when my clothes are as accommodating as possible to my body and the positions it might assume in the incredibly tedious, time-consuming, uncertain endeavor that is air travel. Lowder thinks I would feel better about traveling if I dressed better for the occasion. He is mistaken.

Aside from the inherent scarcity of the preferential treatment that airlines occasionally roll out to passengers who dress to advertise their inherent superiority from the swamp of schlumps, some of us simply aren’t interested in making friends that way. I have no intention of making a new pal on a flight, and I wouldn’t want to be friends with someone who doesn’t understand how I stay comfortable while packed into a coach seat. If everyone took the same care with their appearance as J. Bryan Lowder, then nobody would get a better seat on an airplane based on their presentation. For those who currently get that Sartorial Elite treatment, they can fucking keep their new Fashion Police BFFs and go sip their airline cocktails in some hoity-toity Beautiful People Club where the rest of us will not assault their poor beleaguered eyeballs.

When I travel by air (and it’s not something I do on a regular basis), my fellow airline passengers are almost uniformly people that I do not ever expect to see again, ever, in my life, and I have not the slightest reason to care what they think of how I’m dressed. This is something that makes me different from Lowder: I honestly don’t care how those other people in the airline feel about my clothes. Really don’t give a fuck. Can’t even bring myself to dredge up any sympathy for those who have an opinion of how I look when I get on an airplane. I do my best to smell decent when I’m jammed into a sardine can with a hundred other sardines, but those other sardines are not entitled to an opinion of how I look. Here’s another difference between me and Lowder: I do not make friends with people based on our ability to rise above the unwashed masses with our keen fashion sense. I bond with people based on shared experiences and affinity for creative insults.

I just can’t quite buy Lowder’s argument that dressing a certain way makes transit a “more pleasing activity,” because his use of phrases such as “civilized life,” “competently dressed,” and “shlumps” shows what his real attitude is. He wants everyone in the air terminal to have the same priorities as he does. He wants us to know that our dressing like slobs make air travel more uncomfortable for him, and that our failure to prioritize his sensibilities over our ability to sit in coach seats for 10 hours is a demonstration of “misanthropic narcissism.” If I decide that wearing a shapeless cotton dress with grungy sneakers is the best way to get through the hell that is a transcontinental flight, that’s what I’m gonna wear, and if that makes anybody else’s travelling experience less pleasant than airlines make it, they will find my apology buried twelve inches inside my big dimply ass. If I have to run the risk of spending the night in Athens airport, I have fewer than zero fucks to give about anyone’s Sartorial Social Contract.

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They still want us to cross the street.

PZ Myers picked up this…humorous…new meme, but I refuse to put another copy of the unaltered image into Google, so I’ve done my part with it:

Original meme shows compact car hitting female pedestrian on roadway. Text was: "FEMINIST LOGIC" "Don't tell me when to cross the street. Teach drivers not to hit people."  I have super-imposed new text: "ARE YOU FUCKING SHITTING ME? DO YOU THINK RAPE IS JUST LIKE AN ACCIDENTAL COLLISION? WHO ACTUALLY THINKS THIS WAY? WHO?"

Original meme shows compact car hitting female pedestrian on roadway. Text was: “FEMINIST LOGIC”
“Don’t tell me when to cross the street. Teach drivers not to hit people.”
I have super-imposed new text: “ARE YOU FUCKING SHITTING ME? DO YOU THINK RAPE IS JUST LIKE AN ACCIDENTAL COLLISION? WHO ACTUALLY THINKS THIS WAY? WHO?”

Short version: there is no universe in which this analogy is not completely fucking inappropriate in every possible way. This is another one of those analogies that say more about how anti-feminists think of men than about how feminists think of women.

As PZ points out right away, we actually DO have a system of education aimed at preventing motorists from running over pedestrians. Some countries might be more lax than others about enforcement, but here in the US, you need a license to drive. You can be criminally prosecuted for driving without a license. Part of the licensing process is demonstrating that you know how to watch out for pedestrians. Not everyone has the right to drive a car. Some people are not eligible for driver’s licensing because they do not meet the conditions for operating a motor vehicle without putting lives in danger.

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While we’re on the subject: they still want our nudie photos.

Like I said yesterday, all the “advice” aimed at women to keep ourselves “safe” isn’t really serious. Nobody genuinely, truly wants us to behave in such a way that we have no vulnerabilities for predatory people to exploit. Folks love to scold us not to drink so damn much, but they don’t actually want us to take it far enough that rapists and other abusers would be unable to attack us.

Right now the news of Women’s Personal Safety is about nude photos. Unless you live under a rock, in which case you probably aren’t reading my blog, you’ve heard about all the famous women whose intimate photos were stolen from their iCloud accounts and shared with the entire Internet. And I’m sure you’ve heard some of the commentary about what those women should have done so that they couldn’t be violated like this. “Don’t take nudie pictures with your phone!” “The Internet isn’t safe!” “Nothing you put online is ever really secure!” “Use stronger passwords!”

I’m somewhat more sympathetic to the people who now preach the gospel of Not Taking Pictures Of Yourself Naked, but that’s mostly because the Internet is a fairly recent invention, cellphones with cameras are even more recent, and yeah, okay, the advice is pretty straightforward. It’s a lot less socially revolutionary and personally restrictive to refrain from putting nekkid photos of yourself online than it is to avoid rape by eschewing alcohol.

Even so, it’s worth asking why these women took these photos and stored them in iCloud accounts. If we were to sit down with Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, Ariana Grande, etc. and ask sincerely, what were their reasons for taking and uploading those photos, their answers would probably all be variations on a particular theme: there were men who wanted to see them naked. They took those photos, and uploaded them, because some guys asked them nicely to do so.

This is different from revenge porn, in that the guys who asked for the photos to be taken do not appear to have been involved in stealing those photos and sharing them without the women’s consent. Both violations are similar in that they, admittedly, would not have been possible if those women had declined to take photos of themselves unclothed.

So, this is a question that I want feminist-allied, women-loving men to ask themselves: Do you really want nubile women to stop sharing nudie pics with their men? Do you want your next girlfriend to be afraid to give you a picture of her naked self?

Do you want to live in a world in which nudie pics are never taken and shared between intimate friends and partners, because there are too many people who fail to respect boundaries and privacy?

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What if we really DID stop getting so wasted?

Sometimes I like to think about what would happen if women (all people who are at risk of rape victimization, really, but the advice is primarily aimed at women) really followed all this “personal safety” advice ostensibly designed to prevent rape? Of course it’s really about making sure they rape someone else, but still: what would happen if we really did what the unending Greek chorus of comparing women’s bodies to unlocked cars were constantly shrieking at us to do?

“Don’t walk alone at night!” “Have a buddy with you at all times!” “Don’t stay out so late!” “Stop getting so wasted!”

“Guys like this don’t pick on the SOBER girls!”

I want to share another issue I have with all this finger-wagging at women to avoid rape by not getting drunk: this is not serious advice.

I’ve already said a lot about how inappropriate it is: rapists target their victims, and they make good and sure their targets drink too much. Drunk victims are seen as less sympathetic, while drunk rapists are seen as less culpable.

I’ve already gone on about how unproductive it is: if drunk girls aren’t available, rapists choose their victims based on other vulnerabilities.

But there’s something else that I don’t see in the discussion about the “personal safety” approach to rape prevention: all these people constantly scolding us not to drink so much, not to “let” rapists find us vulnerable, not to leave our proverbial cars unlocked in bad neighborhoods? They don’t mean it. Not really.

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