Not about reviews

16 Jul

In the wake of the latest online kerfuffle involving authors and readers, I have read way too many comments (here and here to name but two) that focus on how authors should a) avoid reviews, b) not comment on reviews, c) grow a thicker skin, d) realize reviews are for readers, e) vent in private, keep a professional façade in public, etc

All sound advice, to be sure, if this was simply one. more. instance. of appallingly unprofessional and thin skinned snowflakes putting books out there for people to read and react to, and then having kittens when people do read (and react to) what they put out.

It’s not.

These commenters (who are mostly women) are missing the point entirely.

The point is that these people (some of whom may also be women) are attacking these female reviewers with utter viciousness for behaviour that many other male reviewers engage in, often, and without noticeable consequences.

Seriously–go check the titles of Roger Ebert‘s books. Now tell me, how come no one ever attacks him this way. And if/when he is attacked for being a meanie, you won’t see his parenting or housekeeping abilities brought up.

So let’s stop hiding behind the “authors behaving badly” issue and address the real one.

This is not about the reviews/reviewers being mean, or snarky, or loud, or profane.

It is about the people behind Stop the GoodReads bullies not approving of women behaving this way.

Just like so many imbeciles people were upset at Anita Sarkeesian having the stones to ask for funding in order to analyze the portrayal of women in video games and then *outraged gasp* actually making videos of her findings.

Videos, for the love of harmless (female, of course) puppies! Videos that people (including young and impressionable females!!!) would see. The nerve!

This, exactly this, is what I see in the vicious postings at the StGRb site.

Misogyny, in short.

Ridley, one of the targets of breathtaking viciousness there, posted this at the SmartBitches:

What this actually is about is misogyny and patriarchy. This is less about our reviews and more about our willingness to speak up about issues and that we do so in ways that aren’t “nice.” We’re bad at being women, and they’re punishing us for it (or trying to, anyways. I find it kind of funny, actually, and they have my thanks for publishing a good photo of me.)

You see, while I haven’t been on Goodreads, I have been online. I’ve been my usual provocative self on Twitter and various blogs, calling the prats out on their BS. But there’s this lingering idea that women should be “nice,” and that “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” Since I’ve thumbed my nose at that nonsense, people want to teach me a lesson for getting all uppity and forgetting my place. They want to cow me into being a passive little woman, into fitting a very narrow mold of traditional femininity. (They also tut-tutted at what an ungracious, bitter cripple I was. So add “disabled person lacking deference” to my list of crimes.)

It’s not a coincidence that the GRBullies’ targets, Laci Green and Anita Sarkeesian are all female. Society doesn’t like confident women.

I believe she is absolutely right. This is about people–many of them men, and many of them women–being offended that women dare be loud and shrill and not conform to some imagined rules of behaviour for women.

Mind you, I often disagree with Ridley, just as I often find her voice too strident and shrill for my taste. Which means that I choose not to follow her around, hate-reading every single thing she puts out there.

But nothing–nothing–gives me the right to silence Ridley. She has as much right as I–or indeed as those assholes behing StGRb–to speak. And she has every right–again, just as I or the assholes–to find a forum that will allow her to indulge in her particular style of expression.¹

Ann Somerville, someone I particularly cannot interact with (talk about butthurt, shrill and abrassive) but who has the exact same rights to speak, said in the same comment thread,

The streisand (sic) effect only works if we know who’s behind this. We can suspect very strongly, but at the moment, the damage is being done to the victims of this crap, and possibly to the authors they recommend who *aren’t* badly behaving authors.

The best thing we can do is find out who’s behind this and *stop* them. There are too many morons who would love to hurt people like Ridley and Kat and will gladly scoop up any information about them with a spoon. I know – I’ve been on the wrong end of this.

I’ve made my strong suspicions clear on my blog. If anyone has any proof, they should make it known so this site can be removed. Obviously complaints to Godaddy and WordPress are having no effect.

I disagree with Ms Somerville.

I do not believe the site should be shut down and the people behind it run out of town on a rail.

Because they have the same right to speak as Ridley and Ms Somerville and I. And they have the right to be loud and profane and vicious and assholeish.

As Ken over at Popehat and others proved² at the time of the campaign to smear Marc Randazza’s Google results, the best defense from such speech is more speech. Or, to quote Mr Randazza himself,

Sunshine is the best disinfectant.

The cure for bad speech is more speech.

We, all who witness such unleashed misogyny, must pull up our pants and raise our voices. Not only to drown the voices endangering these women and to call attention (and hopefully also expose) the irresponsible fuckers behind the StGRb site, but also to make it clear that we will not be silenced. That we will not be next.

~~~ * ~~~

Updated to add: Lori Green doesn’t like Ridley any more than I do, yet she will defend Ridley’s right to speak.

~~~ * ~~~

¹ No one has the right to come to another person’s home, virtual or physical, and express him/herself in ways that offend the owner. Complaining about being escorted from the premises for doing so and calling it censorship is just stupid.

² Just scroll down to see the number of bloggers who participated in the Google bombing.

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7 Responses to “Not about reviews”

  1. twooldfartstalkingromanceLori 16/07/2012 at 12:28 PM #

    I agree that this is a blatant attempt to quiet a mouthy woman (or mouthy women, in this case). The misogyny of this is undeniable.

    Howevs, I disagree with you about closing their site down. I think the minute they chose to put personal info on their blog and “out” their victims, possibly putting them in harm’s way, the blog became dangerous and went far over the line.

    I might not like Ridley’s online persona but if anything happened to her, whether having her job jeopardized or eggs thrown at her house, and I didn’t try to help stop it, I’d feel like a hyprocrite in my own skin.

    One woman’s safety, in my opinion, is worth screaming for.

    • azteclady 17/07/2012 at 1:08 PM #

      If they have crossed a legal line, then yes, by all means, let’s shut the site down.

      But if they haven’t, then we have to thread carefully–we don’t want to be the ones shut down because someone screamed, “cyber harassment!”

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