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Children’s Book Industry Has Its #MeToo Moment

18 February 2018

From The New York Times:

 The week began with the world of children’s and young adult literature celebrating its most prestigious awards, the industry’s version of the Oscars. It ended with surprise and confusion as trade groups, literary agents and a publisher broke with several best-selling authors over allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior.

The loudest boom landed Thursday afternoon when Random House said it would not publish any future books by James Dashner, the author of “The Maze Runner,” a top-selling dystopian science fiction series that was turned into a film trilogy.

. . . .

The industry’s sudden reckoning with the #MeToo movement primarily involved complaints that a long list of prominent writers and editors exploited their power and position at keystone industry events to make sexual advances, particularly toward female authors hoping to further their careers.

. . . .

 Some of the accused included well-known writers whose books are found on recommended reading lists at school and library shelves across the country. Among them were Mr. Dashner and Jay Asher, the author of “Thirteen Reasons Why,” which was recently made into a Netflix series.

. . . .

Mr. Dashner’s agent, Michael W. Bourret, parted ways with him on Monday. So did Mr. Asher’s literary agency, Andrea Brown, writing on Twitter that it had “counseled Jay to take a step back from the industry” and was no longer working with him.

Then, on Thursday, Mr. Dashner posted a long statement on Twitter that said he was shocked by the allegations against him. But after a few days of intensive soul-searching and discussions about harassment in the publishing industry, he concluded that he had been part of the problem.

“I didn’t honor and fully understand boundaries and power dynamics,” he said, and offered an apology and pledged to amend his behavior.

. . . .

 “Think about all of the books that haven’t been created by the women who have been driven away, or silenced, or just reduced in spirit,” she said. “It takes a lot of courage, focus and discipline to write a book, so when you’re feeling uncomfortable, it’s harder to create.”

. . . .

Women dominate the publishing industry. But its roughly 80 percent female work force has not protected members — or those who aspire to join their ranks — from lewd comments, unwanted and aggressive sexual advances, and groping.

The flood of allegations was “an eye opener, especially for men in the community who were not aware this was happening,” said Gwenda Bond, a writer.

. . . .

 Industry heavyweights offered support. Rick Riordan, whose “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” series was adapted to film, wrote in a “soul-searching” blog post on Sunday that, while he was “not surprised these things happen in the children’s publishing industry,” the allegations left him feeling “angry and disgusted.”

Link to the rest at The New York Times and thanks to Jan for the tip.

PG notes yet another benefit of self-publishing and staying away from the low-lifes in New York publishing.

Big Publishing

8 Comments to “Children’s Book Industry Has Its #MeToo Moment”

  1. Wow and I was a fan of Dashner. Yes I am glad I have chosen the self publishing route.

  2. Hey guys: You ever feel like you’re the only dude in the world who isn’t in a position of power to harass women? Let’s keep those dreams alive. Maybe we’ll get there someday too.

    • Good news is you can be the poorest, most powerless jerk in the world and still be able to harass women.

    • I was actually hanging on Twitter following the sexual harassment and Weinstein hashtags the day #metoo began to explode. I added my own #metoo story (and my sis’s). It was really interesting to see this go madly explosively viral.

      Made me extra proud of hubby, who is the most non-harasser male I have ever known. I’ve met some of his subordinates over the years, and sometimes he was the only software guy with women on his team: the only one. One gal, actually quite physically attractive developer, said to me years ago at a wedding reception, that it was refreshing to have a boss who was fair and respectful. It made me wonder what she had to put up with being a pretty woman with brains in a male-dominated field.

      I’ve been harassed (a VP at my first job). I’ve been groped. My sister was harassed and, in one really ugly case, almost raped by a co-worker who offered her a drive home: she literally had to flee from his car in the dark of night in an unfamiliar part of town (NYC). Fortunately, she met a Good Samaritan who helped her get a taxi and pay its fare (not cheap for a poor working gal). God’s blessing be upon him and his descendants.

      #Metoo has led many men to stop and ponder how they may have bought into some of this SH behavior as “normal” and been offenders themselves. To apologize. To reconsider. That’s a good thing. We shouldn’t take for granted oppressive or threatening or unwelcome sexual acts, excusing them as “just how guys are” or as just “boy talk.” Sexual talk in a workplace can make it feel very hostile, particularly if it’s chronic.

      One me-too-er that I recall posted about how she thought she had never been harassed so #metoo had nothing to do with her, but in discussing it with her husband, realized she actually HAD been, but had just brushed it off with “it’s just how things are in the workplace.”

      We get so used to bad behavior, we just put up with it. #Metoo says we ought not and we will not. 🙂

      Glad Maze Runner guy has pondered and owned up. Truth is, he probably doesn’t need that agent/agency. He has a name and can self-publish. Perhaps he will.

  3. The #TenFootRule is beginning to trend.

  4. I hardly think these are situations where the poor, poor men were just utterly confused and didn’t know that promising to trade sex for a possible “publishing deal” was bad. Seriously? They knew better. They just didn’t care. They didn’t have to. They were famous and powerful and respected and did whatever they wanted.

    Dashner’s written apology was extremely well crafted, but after spending time in the trenches reading the accounts of what occurred with the women he and others like him harassed, I’m all out of sympathy.

    • My problem withthe me too movement from the very beginning has been that it lumps together different kinds of sexual assault, for example, someone who touches another persons hair without their consent garners as much out rage as someone who sexually assaulted another person.
      This, plus the ever expanding definition of sexual assault such that sneezing in the general direction of a woman might soon be considered assault.

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