Sunday 11 February 2018


In Light of the Recent Articles on Sexual Harassment in the Children's Book Industry, How We Readers React Now is Important

This past Wednesday, Children's Author Anne Ursu published Sexual Harassment in the Children's Book Industry on Medium, an article she put together after holding an anonymous survey for people who have experienced sexual harassment in children's book industry. I implore you to read it. It highlights clearly just how big the problem is. There are anonymous stories in the article that made me feel sick. There have been threads from various people within the book industry on Twitter discussing the post, and it's clear this isn't really anything new, but with the #TimesUp and #MeToo campaigns, people are starting to listen. People speaking out in support of those anonymous survivors, and criticising the industry that puts male authors on pedestals, values their voices over women's - an industry that is inherently sexist, and so allows for an environment in which sexual harassment happens.Check out threads from Christine Lynn Herman, Mackenzi Lee, Patrice Caldwell, Shannon Hale, Heidi Schulz, Gwenda Bond, Ally Condie, Laurel Syder, Heidi HeiligMelanie Conklin, and Jessica Day George - though I'm sure there are more I haven't come across.

I really think this is something we book bloggers, book tubers, and readers in general need to really think about. We need to read what everyone is saying, and really think about. A lot of what is being mentioned is that some of the sexual harassers - people who have harassed multiple times - are male authors who are very popular, bestsellers. People whose names we're going to know. People whose books we've probably read and enjoy. I think we have to really think about what that means - that our favourite authors, our so-called "rock stars", are sexual harassers who have hurt women and non-binary people. Names were not named in Anne Ursu's article, and those who have been harassed are under no obligation to say who has harassed them - especially when their safety is at risk when doing so.

Along similar lines as Heidi, read L.L. McKinney's thread.

On 3rd of January, an article, Children's Publishing Reckons with Sexual Harassment in it's Ranks, was published on School Library Journal, and today, this post has been making the rounds again. It talks about specific people who have either lost their jobs or resigned following sexual harassment allegations. In the comments, people have been criticised those mentioned, and others have, disgustingly, defended them. In a show of immeasurable courage and strength, people have anonymously come forward to share in the comments those who harassed them - both those mentioned in Anne Ursu's article, and others who weren't.  Read the article, read the comments. Read those names. Take a note of those names. Those authors whose books you may have read. Those authors you may be a fan of. But you know, those mentioned probably aren't the only sexual harassers in our industry.

There isn't anything us readers can do to create much change (if I'm wrong, please do let me know). But what we can do is choose how we will respond and react to this news. To these names. It's hard to accept that someone you admire, who's work you enjoy or even love, is the scum of the Earth. One of the names mentioned at the time of writing this is someone who's work I was a huge fan of, who I would highly recommend, so I get it. But there is nothing for these people to gain by speaking up. Nothing. So it's important, now, to think about how you're going to react, what you're going to say, if anything. I ask you to read this tweet from Ashley Herring Blake, this comment from Martha Brockenbrough screencapped by Molly Ker Hawn, this tweet from Molly Ker Hawn, and this tweet from Marjorie Ingall, and probably many others you can find on Twitter. These tweets mainly focus of other people in the children's book industry, but think of how it would feel to those survivors to see readers, who's money is used to buy books, is supporting sexual harassers. Yes, authors we love may have been accused, but it's now time to listen to the survivors of sexual harassment.

And if any of those survivors are reading: I believe you, I support you, and I stand with you.

1 comment:

  1. Like some others have mentioned during the year of the #MeToo Movement, Hollywood is very affected by public perception of the accused where many non-famous scum are not affected by that perception. I wonder if the sexual harassment in the Children's Book industry is similar in that respect. Maybe publicity of such an event won't stop that perpetrator. I don't know what we can really do to create change beyond being willing to listen to survivors and believe them.