May 7, 2013


I wrote this post a month ago, but I decided to wait to post it to see if just writing it would be enough for venting purposes.  And it was...I'm not upset anymore...but I decided to share it today because I think it says something about perceptions about male and female writers, or maybe just something about men and women and the crap women are still forced to deal with.  (Or maybe it doesn't say anything about any of that at all...maybe it's just a reminder that some people are not very nice.) 
So last weekend I posted the Quill & Quire photo on Facebook, and lots of kind friends and acquaintances liked and commented on it. I was really happy that so many people shared my excitement because, let’s face it, if you’re a writer, being on the cover of a magazine is pretty much a once-in-a-lifetime event. Then, a day or two after I posted it, a prominent Canadian novelist I’m not acquainted with sent me a request to tag the photo of my face “Yux.” 


I know, I know --- cruel, misspelled comments are practically what the internet was built on, but I didn’t expect it to be coming from someone with whom I have 30+ friends in common, who was perfectly willing to attach his name. (Interestingly, this is also someone who is was Facebook friends with my husband…who apparently doesn’t know him in real life either.) I can (can I??) understand a completely random dislike accruing for somebody you don’t know, based on what you know about their work or their public image (I would be very surprised if this person knew anything about my work, but then again, all of this is surprising to me). But I really can’t understand taking that action on that dislike and doing something hurtful enough to ensure that that person knows that you hate them..?! Apart from the sheer meanness involved in such an action, it just seems….imprudent. Why make enemies when you don’t have to? The literary world in Canada is pretty small, after all. 

And what if I had approved it and it went out into everybody’s news feed? Was he counting on it just being an instance of private taunting? It feels like a completely unprovoked schoolyard bully attack, and I’m surprised to find it coming from a writer who is so well-established, with multiple books and a regular teaching gig. I know that writers aren’t always model human beings, but most writers I’ve met are pretty empathetic people. And even if he has somehow has read and disliked something by me, telling me he finds my face unattractive is kind of beside the point. But I guess he’s the kind of guy who thinks women should always be judged by their looks?


Stephanie said...

I'm sorry this happened. There are some jerks in the writing world, unfortunately. You're very attractive so his comment doesn't even make sense.

Alice Zorn said...

Wow, Saleema, wow. And yes, you're right. Is this a judgment based on looks and personal taste? How shallow. Was his FB account hacked? But then, who hacked it? All very odd.

Rebecca Rosenblum said...

Oh, wow, really sorry to hear this, Saleema. I know it's cliched, but try not to think about it. The thing about horribly mean stuff like that is that the doer *never* thinks about it--he was probably drunk and would insist it was just a "joke." Anyone who had an issue with your work would have used, you know, actual words. That dude, whoever he is, is not interested in literary criticism.

saleema said...

@Stephanie Aw, thank you! Yes, I guess there are jerks everywhere and there's no reason to be surprised.

@Alice I was intrigued by that notion of his account being hacked, but he appears to be the father of small children (rather than teens or pre-teens), so it's doubtful...

@Rebecca I think you are so right. Somebody on FB suggested I just write back and ask him, but I think what I initially concluded was it was only likely to elicit something pretty much like this...a lame excuse for a joke.