Tag Archives: harassment

Response to Anne Ursu’s Piece on “Sexual Harassment in the Children’s Book Industry”

12 Feb

Last week, children and young adult author, Anne Ursu, published a piece on Sexual Harassment in the Children’s Book Industry and it’s had people talking all weekend long about what can be done, what should be done and a call to action from authors, illustrators, bloggers and librarians to make it known that this type of behavior is unwelcome, unwanted, and unequivocally wrong in our industry.

I’m not a confrontational blogger, for the most part, I try to promote the books I like and be respectful of books that weren’t my favorite or didn’t work for me. But, in the past year or so, I’ve been thinking more and more about the platform I have and where I stand. And although it’s never going to get crazy here, it is going to get real and my posts will reflect the world we live in today, whether that’s creating a booklist for kids who have immigrated to the U.S., a list of books that show diversity in its’ many forms, or standing up for what I believe in, while being conscientious and respectful.

After reading the piece, I have to say that it’s not surprising, which in and of itself is a sad statement – that I expected that this happened, and that I just didn’t know the details. But, what makes me more sad, angry, upset, and frustrated is for all the people who have been sexually harassed who feel helpless. What a horrible feeling to have and then realizing that even if you did say something, nothing might come of it.

So where do we, the children’s book industry, and we as a nation go from here? This behavior, sadly, is not going to change overnight and I think, as many have pointed out, that it is time for the innocent bystander to take a stand and become an ally – to speak up when a casually sexual comment is made and say outright, that the type of talk/behavior is not acceptable. If someone is doing or saying something that you don’t like or is unwanted attention, speak up – be straightforward and make sure the other person understands that “no means no.” We need conferences, workshops, and conventions to have a strict sexual harassment policy in place and that when a complaint is filed, it follows procedure every time – no matter who it’s against. People in power need to learn that this is not the way they stay in power, that this is far from unacceptable and that there will be consequences.

If you want to learn more about the conversation happening, check out Gwenda Bond‘s tweets as well as Shannon Hale‘s, among so many others ready to stand up for what is right and just and good. The children’s book industry, although we want to believe is all sunshines, rainbows, and unicorns, is just like other industries and I think it’s important to remember to be realistic, but to also be hopeful that we have the power to make a change.

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