Today in Rape Culture

[Trigger warning.]

Smack in the middle of a new profile of Neil Gaiman in The New Yorker:
He was one of the first writers to have a blog—he started it in 2001, and had, at last count, some 1.4 million readers—and he often posts to his Twitter feed a dozen or more times a day. He attributes his recent No. 1 débuts to his ability to communicate directly with his fans: he tells them to buy a book on a certain day, and they do. "It means I'm nobody's bitch," he told me.
The hat tip goes to Latoya, who notes in her piece that Gaiman's success is largely attributable to "his wide appeal to female readers," which makes his use of misogynist slurs all the more tragic.

But let us be honest: The use of "bitch" here is not merely a misogynist slur. To be someone's "bitch" is to be sexually subservient to hir, and the phrase is typically associated with nonconsensual sexual subservience, i.e. rape. (Specifically, it originates with prison rape.)

I understand, quite keenly, the value of being a writer who is able to communicate directly with hir readership. That is a priceless freedom.


Mr. Gaiman, I have been a writer beholden to other people with agendas, constrained in my work by forces I could not control. I have also been someone's "bitch." And they are not the same thing.

Not at all.


Commenting Note: This thread is not a referendum on Gaiman's work or popularity, and comments dismissing him on the basis of his talent—"I always thought he was a shitty writer, anyway."—or on the basis that he's not famous enough—"Who?"—as well as comments defending him on the basis of his talent or popularity—"But he's a brilliant artist!" or "He's famous! Who the fuck are you?"—are irrelevant, unhelpful, and will be considered off-topic. Comments about being a disappointed fan, based on the content of his work, or quoting text, interviews, etc. that make this surprising or unsurprising for you, are on-topic.

[Related Reading: On "Bitch" and Other Misogynist Language; Rape Culture 101.]

Shakesville is run as a safe space. First-time commenters: Please read Shakesville's Commenting Policy and Feminism 101 Section before commenting. We also do lots of in-thread moderation, so we ask that everyone read the entirety of any thread before commenting, to ensure compliance with any in-thread moderation. Thank you.

blog comments powered by Disqus