I know I’m going to get flack for this, should the very men I am writing this to avoid find it. But I am no longer interested in accepting books written by men for review. I am literally changing my book review policies to bar men.
I understand fully that it’s not all men, and the very men who are going to show up in my comments claiming to be victimized and oppressed by my personal decision to avoid them are the very same men I’m hoping to avoid interacting with. Those that are tolerable will kindly leave me alone as asked. There is no winning in this situation.
I’ve been following the Matt Shaw drama online. He’s an extreme horror author who has gone after a reviewer for a poor review. (No, I’m not linking him.) He apparently wrote a whole book that he nastily dedicated to her. I’ve not read it. I’m not going to read it. But the screenshots that I have read scream misogyny made deniable because it’s packaged as ‘art.’ Therefore, anyone who criticizes it (i.e., women) must not be smart or cultured enough to understand it. *Insert eye-roll at the most trite, over-used strategy imaginable, again, being passed off as intellectually top-tier.* Men and their delusions of grandeur are so exhausting.
As if art can’t be (and often is) author-self-insert abusive fantasy. In fact, it so often is that it’s a large part of why women say men can’t write women well. Too many can’t keep their rape fantasies out of sex scenes or their dehumanizing ideation of women out of the most basic character descriptors. Hell, a certain portion can’t keep their rape fantasies out of the most basic character descriptors or their dehumanizing ideation of women out of sex scenes. It’s exhausting, and I long ago limited how many male authors I trusted because of it.
Here’s the cliff-notes version of the Matt Shaw situation if you want to catch up:
Thread ???? about Author Matt Shaw disturbing behavior towards a negative reviewer. (Women) in the extreme Horror community.
In late Dec 22- Jan 2023, Hailey a YouTuber, posted a video with the worst books she has read, one of them being Matt Shaw’s book. 1/ https://t.co/qpPaFa0zka
— Discover Latinx Lit ???????????? (@exclusivePBL) August 21, 2023
I’ve not had a male author write a gross dedication to me, let alone one in an extreme horror book whose introduction includes a dead mother and multi-generational incest (possibly rape, depending on how young the sister is meant to be). But I have had an author write a rape scene so graphic that when he told his writers’ group it was based on punishing a reviewer who gave him a bad review, one of the members felt compelled to warn me about it. (This is another common male tactic, the use of rape as punishment and fantasies about it to soothe their bruised ego.) So, I 100% understand why this reviewer feels threatened by this behavior. (If I have to explain to you why Shaw or Mann’s actions are a problem, then you are part of the problem, and I do not intend to waste my time with you.)
I’ve also had far more male authors than female ones aggressively tell me my review is wrong or mansplain my own opinion to me. And when it comes to book-review requests, more male authors than females ignore my stated genre preferences and waste my time requesting a review for a book (or entire back catalogs) that my policies tell them I’m not interested in (and not infrequently try to convince me to change my mind once I’ve politely declined). I received a request today, for example, to review a coming-of-age crime thriller, when my policies state that I’m only open to non-YA “Monster and Why Choose Romances of the fantasy/paranormal/sci-fi (etc.) variety.” *big exhausted sigh*
Men also frequently have a perplexing habit of sending me book review requests that include no actual request but rather an assumption that I’ll read their book. The palatable sense of entitlement is often astounding. None of this even touches on how often men just think they are smarter and all around better than everyone else, in general. *Again, men are exhausting.*
And, men, if you are tired of hearing how exhausting you are, then maybe do something about not being so exhausting. If you’re not one of these men doing gross, threatening, or entitled things, it’s time to step up and start talking to those who are. Because until you do, you are complicit and also exhausting, just in a different manner. Thus, you are still part of the problem and exhausting.
You can now thank that same lack of action for the loss of a review resource. I feel no need to continue to function within a space where I have to navigate such behavior. Seeing the Matt Shaw scenario play out is just my personal last straw. I’m out. I will no longer accept review requests from men, regardless of the genre, plot, praise, or circumstances under which I’m asked. The answer is and will be no.
It’s not that I’ve never had good interactions with male authors or given any of their books five stars. But as is always the counter to the tired ‘it’s not all men’ mantra, maybe not, but women can’t know which men. So, I’m choosing to simply avoid you all. Thank your toxic bros for that. That’s where the blame lies—not with me, not with feminism, and not with women in general. But with you and your brethren.