A Brisbane bookstore, Avid Reader, took heat from hundreds on Facebook, who believed that the bookstore was supporting a man hater. They attracted the negative attention after sharing a post by columnist and gender equality writer Clementine Ford. The post expressed their excitement over her upcoming book, Boys Will Be Boys, which analyzes the common practices which normalize behaviors that hurt both men and women, even though the practices may seem to benefit men.
Ford might be best known for her first book, Fight Like a Girl, which details the social conventions that hold back women and girls, citing her own experiences in the process. In the book, she gives permission for everyone to be angry about the injustice she sees, and to fight for the fairness they deserve.
Describing the inspiration for Boys Will be Boys on Facebook, Ford asserts that when men cause harm “they’re often coddled and excused by their families, their communities and a broader society that knows nothing about them except for the one thing that counts most: boys will be boys.” She added that the book “will examine toxic masculinity and the bonds of brotherhood that are used to codify male power, access and protection.”
The evening that Avid Reader shared their enthusiasm regarding Ford’s upcoming book, the bookstore’s social media manager, Chris Curie, noticed some particularly “nasty” comments, paired with one-star reviews. A men’s rights activist group had launched a campaign to ruin the bookstore’s social media standing because the bookstore was eager to welcome Ford’s book. All of sudden, a few negative comments turned into hundreds of bad reviews.
One commenter who seemingly believes that people don’t know what the word misandrist means wrote, “Since you promote misandrist Clementine Ford who hates men, I will never visit this bookshop/cafe ever again.” The bookstore responded, “Hooray!”
Former Avid Reader employee, and current television show creator, Benjamin Law, noticed that the bookstore’s Facebook page was under fire, and he asked for each of his followers to offer “a five-star review to counter trolls.” Curie believes Law’s message was largely responsible for what happened next. Fans of Law, Ford, and Avid Reader unleashed a counterattack of five-star reviews and wholehearted feedback. Hundreds of one-star ratings from trolls met thousands of five-star reviews from literature-loving supporters.
In an email to The Guardian Australia, Curie wrote, “The same ‘men’s rights’ swamp monsters emerged when Clementine’s first book Fight Like a Girl was released, and especially when we announced we were hosting an event (which sold out in record time, can I add!) to celebrate its publication [sic].” He added, “It certainly backfired on the trolls when people started to respond.”
Talking to The Sydney Morning Herald, Curie admits that the wave of support was a pleasant surprise. “I had expected a defense from our wonderful customers, but I started to see people from all over Australia (and indeed the world) writing the most wonderful things about our shop,” he said.
Avid Reader posted on Facebook, “Thank you all so much for your amazing outpouring of support last night. We will endeavor to read and respond to all your lovely reviews as soon as we can xxo.” Rest assured that Curie and his coworkers intend to reply to every review of the store, giving thanks for kind words and poking fun at trolls.
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