The Sexist Side of Reviewer Harassment

A creepy blog, devoted to spreading around names and information of a group of Goodreads reviewers, sprang up a couple of weeks ago. For a good overview and take on the situation, check out this post by Foz Meadows.

Personally attacking a reader for having an opinion you don't like is childish. Carrying that anger into real-life interaction (there's been at least one threatening phone call) is even more disturbing. But something that bothers me beyond just my empathy for the victims of this harassment is the sexist nature of the whole campaign.

The reviewers who have been the main targets of the site so far are all women. Along with context-free screenshots of posts, they're called bad mothers and mocked for tweeting about drinking. The comments ooze with the kind of bile that I can't imagine being directed at a man:

Somehow this woman looks and sounds like the kind of skank who goes on Jerry Springer to tell her husband she’s been cheating on him, shows no remorse, and tells him it’s all his own damn fault for not being good enough in bed anymore.
I am sure plenty of men around the internet are grateful that she is willing to speak so openly of her sexual preferences. If her husband isn’t taking note of such things mayhaps other men will.
Someone not only did this monster, but also is allowing her to raise children. And buys her booze.
What twenty-six year old has a wrinkly face like a trashbag...

The blog moderates comments, so clearly they're okay with having this type of discourse in their space.

They claim to go after bullies, but their specific complaints boil down to the fact that these women have written some harsh reviews and stood up for themselves when criticized for their tone.

I'm rarely interested in sarcasm-fueled book reviews, even when they pull a laugh out of me. I'm even less of a fan of the dated attitude that women should be nice or nothing, that we should hold our tongues unless we're expressing something polite to the point of blandness.

If a woman is loud, opinionated, or doesn't fit some amorphous notion of nice, there are always folks like these bloggers and commenters waiting to lash out at her. And they can never restrict themselves to reason-based arguments, because the substance of whatever she said doesn't justify that level of rage. They rush to petty, gendered insults, they snipe at her looks, her age, her love life, and her percieved fitness as a wife or mother.

It's sexist, it's bullshit, and it deserves to be called out that way.

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