Sunday, September 29, 2013

Dear Ben Aaronovitch and other creators

I’ve never read any of Ben Aarononwitch’s work, I intended to, but now I highly doubt I will after all the drama he caused last week. Let me quickly run down what went down: Ben commented on The Book Smuggler’s review of his Peter Grant series. I would like to point out that in this review she says that she loves these books. However, the criticism she gives about the book is the treatment of women. Personally, the quotes she, Ana the reviewer, cited make me as a women really uncomfortable. Ben comes in and goes “You’re totally misinterpreting what I wrote!” He doesn’t address the comments about sexism, other than saying a rather rude and untrue comment about how strong women wouldn’t put up with unwanted sexually advances. He bashes the reviewer for assuming the two main characters have feelings for each other when he admitted that he added “a few lines” that shows that they do. He tells us to look passed the meta. He then stays and argues with the reviewer.

Now, this happens a lot but there’s an added bonus to this story! The whole ordeal sparked a really awesome post from Strange Horizons about fan spaces and creator spaces. It’s something you should DEFINITELY read because it’s about fandom and can be related to booktube. It basically talks about how creators are entering fandom and how that isn’t necessarily a good thing. Fans should be able to discuss things, especially the social impact of the thing, without the creator coming in and saying “NO THIS IS JUST A THING DON’T LOOK AT IT CLOSER!” Fans should be able to have headcanons and ships and so forth without the creators coming in and saying “THAT’S NOT CANON! STOP IT!”

However, Ben Aaronovitch disagreed. How surprising. He showed up in the comments AGAIN. Ben says he “loves throwing his canonical weight around” and that he’s “ more than happy to provide a NO WRITERS icon if you need one.” He literally called someone an idiot in the comments. It felt a bit like Amy’s Baking Company, to be honest.

Ben, no. Shhh. Stop talking. I don’t care about your canon. Once I read a book, that book is mine to think whatever I want about. I’m going to ship Rachel Berry and Quinn Fabray no matter what canon says. I don’t give a shit about what you intended, because I took it a different way. I hate quoting John Green, but seriously books “belong to their readers now, which is a great thing–because the books are more powerful in the hands of readers.” As an author, your job is done once a reader reads a book. It is not your job to force people to read your book a certain way.

You are do not belong on You do not belong on Tumblr searching the tags of ships. You do not belong on Goodreads arguing with everyday readers. You do not belong on any book reviews you don’t agree with. Feel free to read everything, I don’t care. But expect to be bitched out if you enter a space not made for you, a space we as fans think it a save space to discuss our favorite works in painstaking detail.These spaces are ours, for the readers to tell other people who are thinking about reading the books what we thought about it. We don’t need a “NO WRITER’S” icon because you shouldn’t be so insecure that you need to argue the fact that you're a good author. We don’t need a “NO WRITER’S” icon because it’s common sense. It’s not up to us to protect your ego. Go to your own website and talk about what you meant when you wrote something. Talk to fans on Twitter if they tweet at you. Go somewhere you’re invited to go. Blogger’s always like inviting authors to guest blog about their work. I get that talking about writing is fun, but we didn’t ask you to come correct us about your sexist writing or about the relationships we choose to root for. Our reviews, at least FAN reviews, are not for you. They are for people thinking about reading the book. They are for people who read the book and want to discuss it with other people who read the book. As a reviewer myself, I don’t want you on my review telling me I’m wrong because my reviews are my honest thoughts about the book. A “thank you for reviewing my book and giving it more publicity” will suffice if you're going to comment.

And lastly, if If a woman says she thought your book is sexist, it’s sexist, okay? You as a man can not tell a women that she is reading your sexist bullshit “the wrong way.” This applies to a POC telling you your book is racist, or displays their race in a bad or incorrect light. I could explain why, but jesus christ just have some compassion and some common sense and just accept that’s the way it is.