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Marvel comics writer Seanan McGuire recently set up an Instagram account and, in the process of figuring out how to limit who can send her messages, she received a DM accusing her of sleeping with “every editor I have ever spoken to at Marvel.”
She then created a tweet thread opening up a conversation about the misogyny women in the industry–and other industries like it–face.
I'm pretty new to Instagram, and still in the process of locking down who can send me messages. Which a charming person has taken advantage of, to send me a message outright stating that I have had sexual congress with every editor I have ever spoken to at Marvel.— Seanan McGuire (@seananmcguire) December 10, 2019
Even setting aside the logistical impossibility of it all--we only see each other at big cons like SDCC and NYCC, where trust me, no one has TIME for a career-advancing orgy--this sort of offensive bullshit is part and parcel of being a woman in a creative field.— Seanan McGuire (@seananmcguire) December 10, 2019
“Almost every woman I know, regardless of perceived attractiveness, has been accused of sleeping our way into success at least once. Because it’s not about sexual desirability. It’s about power,” McGuire wrote.
Even though comics can be known for its legions of women-hating fans, this is not a unique problem female comics creators face.
“Maybe, if it’s not about sex, if women have always been talented enough to do this work, maybe, just maybe, some of the people making hiring decisions–people who are personal heroes to some of us–were MISOGYNISTS,” McGuire continued.
If I got everything I have through being Best At Blowjobs, and not through any actual talent at all, then I'm not a threat. Eventually I'll stop putting out, and then all my opportunities will go away.— Seanan McGuire (@seananmcguire) December 10, 2019
Maybe, if it's not about sex, if women have always been talented enough to do this work, maybe, just maybe, some of the people making hiring decisions--people who are personal heroes to some of us--were MISOGYNISTS.— Seanan McGuire (@seananmcguire) December 10, 2019
McGuire pointed out that many believe women sleep their way to the top rather than believe they are purely talented. She reiterated that she worked her ass off to get to where she is.
“Sexual predators exist. Casting couches exist. I’m not denying that at all. But that isn’t the universal way the world works, and some of us are just out here busting our tails, WITHOUT fucking anybody,” she wrote.
Please believe me when I say that no one likes to be sexually objectified, but there have been things I really wanted in life that I didn't get, and if it had been as easy to go "suck your dick to get to write ____" as these people seem to think, I'd have used a lot of mouthwash.— Seanan McGuire (@seananmcguire) December 10, 2019
It is, and never has been, that easy. Sexual predators exist. Casting couches exist. I'm not denying that at all. But that isn't the universal way the world works, and some of us are just out here busting our tails, WITHOUT fucking anybody.— Seanan McGuire (@seananmcguire) December 10, 2019
She then addressed the “Instagram asshole” directly.
“You put way more thought into what sexual positions my Marvel editors favor than anyone who isn’t dating one of them should. Maybe get a better hobby,” McGuire wrote.
Also, if you're reading this, Instagram asshole, you put way more thought into what sexual positions my Marvel editors favor than anyone who isn't dating one of them should. Maybe get a better hobby.— Seanan McGuire (@seananmcguire) December 10, 2019
McGuire’s thread resonated with many, with them applauding her and doubling down on the points she made.
“It applies in all arenas of power, too—art, politics, business, higher ed… Like you said, it’s much more convenient to believe we’re a bunch of fakes with unfair advantages (sex, affirmative action, etc) than that we’ve been capable of excelling all along,” one wrote.
OH FFS— Shecky (@SheckyX) December 10, 2019
The contortions these assjacks go through to rationalize their brain-dead hatred would be impressive in literally anything else.
I had a long conversation about this with @ColleenDoran a few years ago. She got this constantly when she started out.— Greg Fahlgren (@gregfahlgren) December 10, 2019
I sometimes wonder, and it makes me sick to do so, that women like Marie Severin probably got the same accusations in their day.
👏👏👏 ^THIS. And it applies in all arenas of power, too—art, politics, business, higher ed... Like you said, it’s much more convenient to believe we’re a bunch of fakes with unfair advantages (sex, affirmative action, etc) than that we’ve been capable of excelling all along.— Rebecca Glazer (@glazerdonut) December 11, 2019
But many of your books are best-sellers and win awards. O.o Never mind editors, wouldn't they have to think you were so busy with your readers that you had no time to write (or sleep, or pet cats, or...)? O.o o.O— Laura (@kyrielle) December 10, 2019
Blimey, how do they think you have time to write as prolifically as you do?! Jealousy is a horrible thing, misogyny (sp?) even worse, what blinkered lives they must lead, to be so threatened by a talented woman.— TheWorldsGoneMad 🤦📚🐟⚫🇪🇺🇬🇧 (@NettleGoose) December 11, 2019
And then there were others who made jokes at the unnamed Instagram user’s expense.
“Can you imagine being an editor, getting a DM from a random person saying “I’ll fuck you if you let me write Batman” and not going ‘hey, do you know companies run on profits which come from sales of professional-grade products’ plus deleting it immediately?” Twitter user @AntDanceParty wrote.
If those editors were so motivated by sexual access to women, and so willing to let it determine their hiring decisions, then why would they ever bother to hire men for anything at all?— Erin Anderson (@cgsakurapink) December 11, 2019
Seanan is just so incredibly physically attractive that editors (and all their staff) lose all their abilities to edit and produce books. This explains why all the page numbers are in a non-sequential order and no one ever buys her books. 🤪— Raul Miller (@raudelmil) December 11, 2019
Can you imagine being an editor, getting a DM from a random person saying "I'll fuck you if you let me write Batman" and not going "hey, do you know companies run on profits which come from sales of professional-grade products" plus deleting it immediately?— Julia (@AntDanceParty) December 11, 2019
I kinda feel like the only good response to this would be “OMG, you mean to tell me I could have just had sex with everyone instead of working like a dog all these years???”— Claire Ryan (@aetherlev) December 10, 2019
Lean into the absurdity. It’s not funny otherwise 😛
Siobhan Ball is a historian, archivist, and journalist. She also writes for Autostraddle and bi.org