Sexual misconduct can occur everywhere, even in places one would least suspect, like the children’s book industry.
Perhaps because of the word ‘children,’ one would believe that the women and men in this field are safe from harassment. Unfortunately, harassment can occur anywhere and many allegations have surfaced this month concerning top players within the children’s book industry.
The spark to children’s publishing’s #MeToo movement began with a survey and a subsequent follow up blog post by author Anne Ursu. In December, she opened a survey about sexual harassment in children’s publishing, which received more than 90 responses. The survey asked participants to describe encounters in which they experienced harassment or abuse within the industry but did not ask for them to provide names. However, after the survey and blog post went viral, names began to surface.
Random House announced that it will not publish any books in the future by James Dashner, author of The Maze Runner. Jay Asher, author of Thirteen Reasons Why, is also under fire after allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior. The agents of both of these writers have dropped them.
However, Asher has not yet taken responsibility for his actions. He has said that none of the accusations against him involved harassment, even adding that some of the women involved pursued him.
These are just two men on a long list of prominent writers and editors who have exploited their power and position to make sexual advances towards women. Most of these writers have books that are listed as “recommended reading” at schools and libraries across the country, which is quite disturbing considering their alleged actions.
“Think about all of the books that haven’t been created by the women who have been driven away, or silenced, or just reduced in spirit,” said author Martha Brockenbrough. “It takes a lot of courage, focus and discipline to write a book, so when you’re feeling uncomfortable, it’s harder to create.”
Though Riordan was “not surprised these things happen in the children’s publishing industry,” the allegations left him feeling “angry and disgusted.”
Everyone, no matter in what industry, should know the boundaries between professional and personal. Inappropriate comments and come-ons should not be overlooked, and many male writers have commented on the fact that they “daidn’t realize” that they were being inappropriate.
“My stomach went into knots, thinking about who else felt this way, and that I had clearly been doing this all this time thinking it was O.K.,” he wrote.
Unfortunately, this appears to only be the beginning of the allegations within this industry, but the victims should know that they are not alone in their experiences and that help and support is always available.
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