‘Unspeakable Things’- The Predictable Sexist Troll Backlash

Well, it’s been quite a weekend. In the past 24 hours, I have been subjected to a stream of vile sexist and anti-semitic abuse on Twitter and elsewhere. This has become a normal part of my life as a person who dares to write in public whilst being both female and left-wing, but this weekend it’s been particularly full on. Rape fantasies and pictures of dead children were coming faster than I could block individual users. In the end I had to step away from the internet, which was a pain because I need the internet to work.

Today, they moved in on my book, ‘Unspeakable Things’, which was released two weeks ago. On the 20th July, a racist, misogynist Twitter account going by the moniker ‘@TurboHolborn’ posted a link to the customer review page of ‘Unspeakable Things,’ with the instruction ‘let the trolling commence’. Subsequently, over 20 one-star reviews full of vile sexist and scatological language were posted on the UK page of ‘Unspeakable Things’, almost all of them from users who had reviewed nothing else. I’ve taken screenshots. Amazon ratings really do matter to the publishing industry, and this is an obvious attempt at sabotage. Clearly, this book, and the fact that I’ve written it, is making some bedroom misogynists incredibly angry. Somewhat ironic, given that there’s a whole chapter in the book about how structural sexism works online.

I am sick of this bullshit. Criticism is one thing – and the book has received its fair share of that from writers who think it’s too personal, too politically strident, too left-wing, too queer or too dark, as well as rave reviews from critics who love it for precisely the same reasons. But this is not fair criticism, any more than the men who’ve been sending me death threats for years are merely expressing their opinions.

I am not going to lie back and take this. Here’s how you can help.

-Firstly, you could buy the book! Or pre-order it, if you’re in the USA. I wouldn’t normally ask this so directly, but it’d be fantastic to see this latest bit of sexist sabotage massively backfire. If you’d prefer not to use Amazon, you can support your local independent bookshop here.
[ETA: Only if you can afford it! I’ve just had someone tell me they’ve ordered it despite not being paid till next week, and that is extremely kind but not necessary. You could…I don’t know…borrow a copy and then post a review. Thanks. ILU.]

-If you’ve read and enjoyed the book, please post a good review – every little helps.
-If you haven’t, you can downvote the poor comments – or you can share this post. It’d be useful for the publishing industry to understand exactly what women writers are up against right now.