It's only been a few months since influential book blogger Ed Champion's 11,000-word essay railing against Emily Gould in magnificent misogynistic fashion drew ire from the literary Internet, but Champion is now back at it. This time, instead of publishing a lengthy personal attack, Champion has gone after female author Porochista Khakpour on Twitter, using alleged nude photos to blackmail her. It was enough to get him suspended from Twitter, as well it should have been.
According to Khakpour, the situation started when Khakpour deleted a comment Champion had made on Khakpour's Facebook page about another author. Champion himself never specified exactly what Khakpour did that made him so upset, only making vague references to "lies." Whatever the initial incident might have been, Champion quickly began harassing Khakpour on Twitter, a move that surprised many. Over the summer, during the fall-out from Champion's essay on Gould, Khakpour was one of his few online supporters, encouraging people to ease up on Champion, especially after he began threatening suicide on social media. Yet it seemingly took very little for Champion to turn on her.
On Thursday night, supposedly in response to the deleted Facebook comment, he tweeted at Khakpour demanding an apology and threatening to release the name of a man who had taken nude photos of her if she did not comply.
Khakpour, panicked, tried to convince Champion to back down, and asked for help from her twitter followers.
However, she was understandably not very interested in apologizing to a man who was threatening her.
When Champion's clock ran out without the apology he wanted, he reportedly did make good on his threat to tweet the name, but according to people who saw it, deleted it immediately — hopefully before it was seen by most people. Whatever Khakpour's relationship to this man was or is should be completely her business, for one thing. For another, recent nude photo leaks by hackers who digitally steal such images, including the massive post of celebrity photos just a few weeks ago, means that circulating such a name can have very negative consequences for the photo subjects whose images might be targeted.
Champion's Twitter account was suspended as a result of the threats, but the question as to what to do about him and his online abuse still remains in literary circles. And as Champion has shown over and over again, he may be prone to misogyny and abusive behavior, but he also has staying power.
Some on Twitter have suggested simply ignoring Champion, saying authors should refuse interviews with him and readers should avoid his blog. However, Champion has built up quite a bit of clout in the industry, partly as the result of his long-time partner Sarah Weinman, the lead editor for Publishers Marketplace (though Champion implied in a Facebook post that night that the two of them may have separated). His influence has made many afraid to speak out against him. However, it seems clear by now that the literary world needs to take a stand here.
We've seen before that there are plenty of issues in the book publishing world when it comes to treating people equally. Whether it's the lack of diversity in publishing or sexist cover designs, the world of book publishing is not immune to broader social problems, including the fact that female authors are especially vulnerable to attacks. And the first step in addressing that would have to be cutting off men in the industry who harass and threaten women.
So far, the fact that big-name authors, including Jennifer Weiner and YA teen writer Maureen Johnson, have taken a stand against Champion is a good sign his abuse will not be allowed to continue.
Hopefully Ed Champion gets help the help he needs for whatever personal mental health issues he may be grappling with in light of his prior threats of self-harm, but after his repeated attacks on women in the industry, he really shouldn't be welcome there anymore.
Image: Block Bot