So, ladies, I have some news that might surprise you. Apparently #MisandryInPublishing is a thing. Forget that women have had to publish their work under male pseudonyms for centuries in order to sell books, and forget that one woman's unchanged manuscript became eight times more attractive to agents when she submitted it with a man's named attached. Forget that the book world's gatekeepers create new fiction classifications like "chick lit" and "women's fiction" to keep from granting the "literary fiction" designator to books written by and about women, and forget that they have the audacity to suggest that women cannot tell whether they enjoy the books they read. #MisandryInPublishing is a thing, y'all, and it's apparently responsible for the global recession in 2008.
Back in late March and early April, women writers and readers on Twitter started to describe themselves as male writers would — spoiler alert, it's all about the boobs, folks — shedding light on the problem of men whose portrayals of their female characters make you wonder if they have ever even spoken to a woman. At the center of this fun-poking Twitter party was a tweet from YA author Gwen C. Katz, who shared an excerpt from an unnamed male writer's book, written from the perspective of his supposedly "authentic" female character, which included this gem of a descriptor: "I'm hard to miss, I'd like to think — a little tall (but not too tall), a nice set of curves if I do say so myself, pants so impossibly tight that if I had had a credit card in my back pocket you could read the expiration date."
One male author apparently took so much offense at the women's criticism of male writers' inauthentic depictions that he created a whole hashtag to fight back with a 37-part Twitter thread. Tagging each post #MisandryInPublishing, he launched into a tirade, describing how female agents and publishers rejected his historical novel simply because a man wrote it.
(Or maybe it's because, in spite of purporting to be about Belle Bilton, a sex worker who beat 19th-century Great Britain's class system to earn a title, the novel instead centers on the perspective of a man in her life.)
And lest you think that this book, which remains unagented and unpublished as of this writing, is somehow an original novel, or an untold story, here's a hot tip: Irish writer Nuala O'Connor has a book about Bilton, titled Becoming Belle, hitting store shelves in August from Penguin Random House.
Somewhere in his lengthy rant about #MisandryInPublishing, this writer arrives at the conclusion that books for boys don't exist — sorry, Marley Dias, I guess all your work was for nothing — and that those boys who didn't ever learn to read in school — because all books are for girls, keep up — signed a bunch of contracts they couldn't understand, which led to the housing bubble and global recession of 2008.
Thankfully, books Twitter wasn't about to sleep on this. Here are some of the best, sassiest clapbacks to #MisandryInPublishing, collected here for your enjoyment:
One last time for the people in the back: Misandry in any field isn't a thing. Women are afraid men will kill them; men are afraid women will hurt their feelings. White supremacy, toxic masculinity, and the patriarchy all deserve dismantling. There is no such thing as ethical consumption under capitalism unless you're eating the rich.