I am a woman. I am a very staunch feminist. I do not like the Fifty Shades of Abuse series. I really, really don't. Okay, so that's not the actual title of the series, but you all know what I'm talking about. I find the whole thing a glorification of abuse (and I'm not talking about the B.D.S.M. - though that was also poorly researched and very badly portrayed. I have nothing against B.D.S.M. I do have something against portraying manipulative douchecanoes inflicting emotional and physical trauma on someone and having that labelled as 'romance'), and I'm not a particular fan of the style of writing, either.
Yesterday, there was a Twitter event that went horribly, horribly wrong for E.L. James. The event was #AskELJames.
Look, unless you've been living under a rock, you're probably well aware of the controversy surrounding the now infamous trilogy of books. You've probably heard the cries of: "This is abuse? Why are you glorifying abuse?"
There is no way that #AshELJames was a good idea.
The publicity team needs to be fired. Like, right now.
And the tweets honestly were exactly as I expected them to be. Some of them were genuinely trying to begin a discussion.
Look, guys, I'm a little sensitive about meanness, alright? I lived with it for a long time. I was badly bullied. A lot. While I agree with all the points here (seriously, I do), I think there was probably a better way to go about it. I appreciate a lot of those Tweeters who were trying to begin a serious discussion. This needs to be brought to light and discussed.
However, attacking someone just for the momentary internet thrill of attacking someone is uncalled for. The sheer volume of this stuff was overwhelming yesterday. It was so overwhelming that feminist ally and pretty good human being Chuck Wendig weighed in. The piece he wrote was, to my feminist mind, fair-minded and humble; merely a call for civility in the face of an overwhelming tide of hostility. You can read it yourself HERE if you'd like to see whether or not you agree with me.
Then, to my surprise, he posted THIS, a mea culpa regarding his previous post. I was confused. Apparently, someone told him that a call for civility was the wrong thing to do? I don't know. By his own admission, Mr. Wendig is in a position of privilege. What I admire so much about the man is that he is aware of it, and tries to use it to make the world better for the rest of us. I guess someone though he should shut his lilly white mouth because... we don't need friends in high places...? Or something...?
A reader questioned Mr. Wendig's motives:
"Be honest, did you jump in because a woman was being attacked or because you saw an author and her work being harshly criticized and you, as an author, just couldn’t take it? Because there’s a huge difference, and my impression of you and a lot of other authors who get defensive over criticism is that you pretend to care about intelligent, “civil” discourse but what you really care about is shutting down people who might hate your work."
"That’s certainly not my intention, no — I don’t like to shut down criticism. I think the criticism is healthy and necessary. Of her work, of my work, of every author’s work. But what happens online sometimes feels, to me, less like criticism and more like something else. It feels like people duct tape their “criticism” around the blade of a knife before they stick it in."
Guys, being an arsehole is not cool. Even if you're right, behaving like an arsehole just makes you an arsehole. Do you know how you'll be remembered? Not the person with a valid point. No. You'll be remembered as "that arsehole."
And how, how, HOW can anyone claim to be the better person by heaping abuse on someone who is accused of glorifying abuse? How is that better than what they've done? How is that more righteous?
Short answer: It's not.
It's not better. And they're not better. In fact, they're worse, because they are maliciously aiming to hurt the person at the other end of their vitriol. They're trying to draw tears and inflict pain.
That's fucking awful.
This kind of internet pig-pile has me more than afraid. What if (in the unlikely event) I get really famous for a book I've written. What if some people really hate my style of writing, or take offence with my portrayal of a person/event/scenery? This disaster has shown me that people really do think online abuse is okay if a person is hated enough for whatever reason. That abuse would honestly crush me.
I'm not asking people to stop being critical. Critical thinking is absolutely vital - to art and to life. I'm not asking people to be syrupy sweet online either. I'm just saying that it is possible to be critical without being an utter arsehole.
As of this morning, I'm not the only one.
I'm off. Dw i'n dysgu Cymraeg.