Friday, October 12, 2012

Cassandra Clare Addresses her hiatus and hate blogs

Cassandra Clare posted a long heartfelt post on tumblr stating the way that she has been feeling.
Here are some quotes from Cassie's post: 
October is anti-Bullying month: on hiatuses and hate blogs
"When someone first told me there was a tumblr hate blog about me I didn’t think much of it. I find hate blogs disturbing but they seem to be an unavoidable facet of online life at this juncture. There’s one about pretty much every person and every website, given that they are in any way well known (and even sometimes when they’re not.)
I’ve spent most of my online life believing that you should not respond to hatred publicly. I’ve watched friends targeted by hate blogs do everything they could to appease the hatred, but I’ve never seen it work. I’ve never seen any form of engagement with faceless online hatred work, so I’ve always believed in not engaging. "
This really resonated with me, not just because saintly composure is difficult, but also because I think hate blogs have a tendency to behave as though the object of their hate isn’t a human being with friends, family and feelings. It concerned me that my not showing that I have them (feelings, friends and family) might just feed into that."
"It’s easy to see why this stuff chases people off the internet. The obsessive, daily attention to my appearance, my interaction with my friends, the very personal hatred and dehumanization of me as a person, is frightening. My friends come in for a battery of insults and abuse, simply for being my friends. The fact that I have decided to dye my hair an odd color of purple is apparently another sign that I am an awful person. (And we all know that criticizing other women’s appearances is a big part of girl-hating — slamming what women look like, and especially the choices they make about how they look. I think women should feel free to dye their hair whatever color they want to. When I am ninety, I intend to have hot pink hair.) The hate mail in my ask box. (Yes, I can block them, but they keep signing up new accounts, so that just works as a stopgap.) The fact that they send fake “fan mail” to my ask box, so I never know if I am writing back to an actual reader or a hate blogger impersonating one. It is tiring."
"The third was that I could tell the whole thing was very upsetting for my readers. (Once this post is up, the hate bloggers will say that I am upset because they think my books are bad. Believe me, I would be thrilled if it was a blog about how my books are bad. I try to write good books, to make them the best they can be, but (like almost all other writers I know) I am sure I suck a lot of the time.You write books, you put them out in the world, and the world forms opinions about them. We all have to remind ourselves that we are works in progress, our writing isn’t perfect, and there is something to be learned even from the harshest criticism. I don’t mind being called racist/sexist, either: I am sure that I am, in the sense that we are all products of our conditioning, and we are conditioned by a racist/sexist society that works on us from the day we’re born. I try to be aware, and fight that conditioning, to remember my privilege, to tell fair and truthful stories but that doesn’t mean I’m not a work in progress myself, that I’m not going to screw up.) "
"But the thing is, I am not my books. And it is not critical blogging about my books: it is hate blogging about me. My appearance, my hair, my friends, the way I talk, the way I behave with men. None of that has anything to do with the words contained within the pages of the books I’ve written: their quality, their messages, their originality, their anything, which is why none of this post addresses any commentary about my writing.
I get a huge amount of email from young girls and women, who make up the bulk of my readership, who are the target of a very specific kind of online cyberbullying. It is a bullying that crops up in the form of girls receiving messages, usually anonymous or pseudonymous, that tell them that they are ugly, that they are fat, that they are stupid, and that the things they like are stupid, that they are sluts, and that they should hurt or kill themselves.  And the hate bloggers use a lot of the hateful gendered attack language that I see so often terrorizing my readers, and I worried that my readers would see me not reacting to it, or seeming to not care, and think that there was something wrong with them for caring, for being hurt — that the fact that this language gets under their skin makes them, as the hate bloggers call me, “whiny little bitches.” "
"These sort of attacks are so shocking/upsetting because they break the social contract we have come to expect decent people to adhere to: that people don’t attack your personal relationships, that they don’t sneer not just at your friends but at the idea that you might have friends, that they don’t attack the way you look or your family or your ethnicity/religion. The thing is, to the hate bloggers, and to the kind of people who send anonymous hateful messages, the object of their hate isn’t a person. To them, I am not a human being. My family are not real people. They have spent a great deal of time trying to convince themselves and others that my friends are not my friends. That Maureen Johnson and Scott Westerfeld and Libba Bray and Sarah Rees Brennan, who came to my wedding, hate me. That Holly Black, who was my bridesmaid, hates me. That John Green, who I also have known for years and who, when my first book hit the New York Times Bestseller list, gave me a hug and said: “That’s how you show haters,” not only “is only polite to me at conventions because he has to be”, but would applaud one of their hate blogs, a blog that calls me “greedy little bitch” and urges people to burn my books. There is a lot of contention that my friends, specifically Maureen and Holly and Sarah, “have hitched their wagon to [me], most likely in hopes of more sales/exposure.” The problem with that is that I’ve known all those people since before I was published. When I met Holly, I was broke, and could not afford sheets, and she was a bestselling author with a movie coming out. To have befriended me in the hopes of PROFIT would make her … PSYCHIC. Also Sarah, who I met at a New Year’s Eve party in 2002, when she was nineteen, and neither of us were professional writers or even planning to be professional writers, apparently can see the future. As for Maureen, I met her before City of Bones ever came out, in Scott Westerfeld’s apartment at a party. How any of these people knew I would ever be a bestseller years before I had a book out is, I guess, one of those mysteries for the ages. (Also I should probably not have mentioned that I ever hugged John, since the hate bloggers likes to portray me as “overly handsy” with my guy friends and will probably find some entertaingly bezonkers way to spin that, but it boils down to calling me a slut, basically, which is pretty much the staple word in the vocabulary of gendered attack language.)"

"So. The hate bloggers love John Green. There we are in agreement. I also love John. He has hate blogs of his own. Perhaps our hate blogs will get together and go bowling. However, my hate bloggers have also spent a good amount of time talking about how I am arrogant and braggy because I have the words “New York Times Bestselling Series” on my twitter background and website. It’s true. I do. Because my twitter background is my website background, but also because a website is an advertisement for one’s work, and therefore you put on it things that you think will attract new readers. If your books have awards, if they have been bestsellers, you say that. It is pretty standard, and John has it on his tumblr background too. Why do I mention this? Because it is a huge part of the rhetoric of attack language against women, especially any woman who is perceived as successful, to talk about how they are insufficiently humble, insufficiently downgrading of their own achievements, how they need to be taken down a peg or taught a lesson. My readers get it in the form of cyberbullies telling them that “up themselves” they they need to be taught lessons, that they shouldn’t think they’re so great because they make fanart/gifs/cosplay/write book reviews/post pictures of themselves looking pretty."
"So why did I make this post? Because you *are* so great because you make fanart/gifs/cosplay/write book reviews/post pictures of yourselves looking pretty. Because it’s hard to put yourself out there, to put any creative work or any part of your personality out where it can be judged (and it will be!) Because it’s hard to tell people how you really feel. Because though I really do believe that cyberbullies strike out because they feel powerless, those faceless/nameless ask box comments telling you that you are ungrateful, should be punished, don’t deserve good things, are scary and awful. Because though it doesn’t mean you’re weak to feel hurt by this stuff, I want you to take away from this that sure, this hurts my feelings, but I’m okay. I’m fine. I have a great life. I have a great marriage (My husband’s comment my deciding to make this post was “I see you have decided to take on the most galactically awful people on the Internet, GOOD IDEA”) I have great friends (who are not actually using me for profit and gain, because that’s not actually how people act, and as I pointed out before, they’d have to be psychic) and I do exactly the job that I want to do: telling stories, and trying to make them good ones. And I have you guys. And I have my own voice, my chance to talk. If you take away one thing from this, it’s that when you are being cyberbullied or harassed, don’t feel that you need to stay silent out of shame or because trolls shouldn’t be fed. Talk about what’s happening to you. Expose what the bullies are saying, because when you write it down in the clear light of day, it looks just as revolting as it is (“Cassandra Clare acts like she can say anything because she’s Jewish” .) And take harassment to the proper authorities to deal with. Many, many people have told me that Tumblr is unresponsive to instances of harassment and threats, but try anyway: if you’re under 18, go to your parents, if you’re over 18, consider legal advice."
"Take a deep breath every time you think about engaging, and do something positive instead — post a gif, write about a book you like, reach out to someone who’s been bullied, post a picture of yourself looking pretty/fierce/badass/awesome. If you’re a TMI fan, have fun with the fact that we’re starting to get movie photos and reports, and then there’ll be a teaser, and then a trailer, and basically the next year should be a big jar of candy for Shadowhunters. :)
I have never talked to the hate bloggers, and have no plans to ever talk about the them again, but I refuse to be shamed or silenced by them. After taking a hiatus, I decided that I am going to go right on doing what I was doing before : interacting with you guys, posting snippets, and answering your questions.  I’ll be onset next week, so expect hands! :-)"

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