Thursday, February 15, 2018

Required Reading on Sexual Assault and Harassment in Children's Publishing

As the #MeToo movement has continued to gain steam within the publishing industry, I haven't known how to address it. Though I believe and support the victims, I've had nothing new to add or personal to say. I've never been sexually assaulted or even harassed. I consider myself extremely lucky. But I've wanted to say SOMETHING, so I thought I'd pull together a link list:

"Facing Sexual Harassment Charges, An Exec Art Director at Penguin Workshop Resigns" from Publishers Weekly: As far as I'm aware, Giuseppe Castellano's resignation was the first domino to fall. This article, posted on December 5, details the allegations as well as Penguin Young Readers Group's response.

"Children's Publishing Reckons with Sexual Harassment in Its Ranks" from the School Library Journal: The conversation heated up when this article was posted on January 3. It mentions Mr. Castellano's resignation and details David Diaz's resignation from the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators' board. The comments section quickly filled with other allegations about prominent male authors (see below).

"Ishta Mercurio Goes Public as David Diaz Accuser," again from the School Library Journal: Dated February 5, this article updates the SLJ's initial post with Mr. Diaz's accuser's name. Along with Charlyne Yi, Mr. Castellano's accuser, Ms. Mercurio becomes one of the first victims to publicly identify herself.

"Sexual Harassment in the Children's Book Industry" by Anne Ursu: This post, dated February 7, breaks down the results of an anonymous survey Ms. Ursu took back in December. It's a lengthy read, but it highlights the anecdotal evidence underlying the SLJ's post.

"#metoo #ustoo Change Starts Now: Stand Against Harassment in the YA/Kidlit Community" by Gwenda Bond: Dated February 9, this post includes a letter penned by Ms. Bond that encourages conferences, festivals, and publishers to adopt and enforce stricter zero-tolerance policies regarding sexual harassment. You can sign your name by posting a comment at the bottom.

"Maze Runner author James Dashner dropped by literary agent" from the Associated Press: This article, carried by every major news outlet on February 14, includes a quote from Mr. Dashner's former agent, Michael W. Bourret. It also mentions that Jay Asher was recently dropped by Andrea Brown Literary Agency. Note that Mr. Dashner's and Mr. Asher's names came up multiple times in the comments of the SLJ's post.

"Sexual Harassment" by Dan Wells: Another prominent male author whose name came up in the comments of the SLJ's post was Dan Wells. The anonymous commenter later took her comment back, but Mr. Wells responds to the apology and the allegation in this post, dated today.

I'm sure I missed something, so if you're aware of another major contribution to this ongoing conversation, feel free to add it in the comments.


Myrna Foster said...

I think it's important to note that Dan and Charlie both responded to their anonymous false accuser with belief and compassion. They both resolved to be more aware and expressed support for #metoo.

On the other hand, Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket) is ignoring Kate Messner and all of the other women (mostly librarians) who've been calling him out for bad behavior at conferences and other appearances (see the comments of the Gwenda Bond pledge).

This is a conversation that needs to be had. I'm hoping the industry can set up parameters that make conferences and the conversation safer for everyone.

JeffO said...

The scope and extent of sexual harassment in our culture, our whole world, is truly horrific. Thank you for sharing these articles, Krista.

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Great points, Myrna. I was impressed with the way they responded to their accuser, too.

So true, JeffO. And besides being a huge problem on its own, I think it's symptomatic of a host of other issues.