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Joyce Carol Oates sparks rage with street harassment tweets

At this point, we expect nothing less.


Miles Klee


Posted on Oct 30, 2014   Updated on May 30, 2021, 7:29 am CDT

Joyce Carol Oates, inventor of oatmeal and arguably the most despised O. Henry Award-winning author on Twitter, is back with another blistering #hottake. It comes in response to a recent video documenting the verbal harassment experienced by a woman walking around the streets of New York City, which has come under fire for its racialized message.

Isn’t harassment of women walking alone in urban areas–(as men do freely & without incident)–a matter of neighborhoods? In NYC, certainly.

— Joyce Carol Oates (@JoyceCarolOates) October 30, 2014

Would be very surprised if women walking alone were harassed in affluent midtown NYC (Fifth Ave., Park Ave.), Washington Square Park etc.

— Joyce Carol Oates (@JoyceCarolOates) October 30, 2014

In other words: “Don’t lay your Brown People problems at my doorstep, you impoverished, oversexed animals.” In what’s become a collective reflex of disgust, readers took Oates to task for being the racist, out-of-touch old white lady her tweets make her seem to be.

@JoyceCarolOates The harassment takes a different form. A suited broker type followed a friend of mine and grabbed her ass near Wall St.

— Thomas Wolfman Pluck (@thomaspluck) October 30, 2014

@JoyceCarolOates @TedGrunewald Is this a parody account?

— Annia Ciezadlo (@annia) October 30, 2014

I watched the catcall video. I’ll say this: In my 15 yrs in NYC, the worst harassment I’ve experienced came from rich white men on the UES.

— Liliana Segura (@LilianaSegura) October 29, 2014

I’m harassed in Washington Square Park *constantly*. And you’re racist. @JoyceCarolOates

— Gory ‘n’ Horrible (@LoriAdorable) October 30, 2014

@JoyceCarolOates rich white men prefer to harass women in other ways (ie: voting down equal pay acts),but they still go old school sometimes

— Jaclyn Renee (@dubnoxious) October 30, 2014

.@JoyceCarolOates ughhhhhh why are you acting brand new ✋

— Deaux (@dstfelix) October 30, 2014

Shorter @JoyceCarolOates: “Only the lower classes, the plebes if you will, do this kind of stuff.”

— RB (@RBPundit) October 30, 2014


— trash baby (@2HOLT2HANDLE) October 30, 2014

.@JoyceCarolOates You ruined Halloween. Also I couldn’t finish We Were the Mulvaneys.

— Adam (@MassageByTed) October 30, 2014

Oates became minorly defensive, then vaguely referred to a work of fiction by a dead woman.

@JoyceCarolOates Thanks for your comments! Since I was teaching at NYU & living in that area, I never witnessed any public harassment, but..

— Joyce Carol Oates (@JoyceCarolOates) October 30, 2014

@JoyceCarolOates And when she wore a gray wig, no one noticed her.

— Joyce Carol Oates (@JoyceCarolOates) October 30, 2014

Shocker: It really didn’t help her case.

@JoyceCarolOates Clue: FICTION

— Claire (@DougalMurphy) October 30, 2014

@joycecaroloates oh, so maybe we should all just wear gray wigs? what even?

— Amalia Viti (@amaliaviti) October 30, 2014

Go home @JoyceCarolOates you’re drunk & delusional.

— Yesha (@YeshaCallahan) October 30, 2014

Oates’s observations continue a long series of hideous public statements, including The Time She Blamed Rape Culture on Islam, The Time She Joked That Chinese People Eat Cats, and The Time She Equated The Novel Lolita With Actual Pedophilia. Quite an archive she’s got going!

Photo by SpokaneFocus/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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*First Published: Oct 30, 2014, 4:11 pm CDT