Why You Can’t Argue With Crazy (and should you?)

No, I didn’t forget Women in Horror Month. Yes, this isn’t technically posted in February, but I wanted to see the month out before I wrote my opus. I’m a woman who writes horror, and on my good days (when the writerimposteritis isn’t gnawing on my ankles) I think I write horror well. So when I hear of those who think women can’t or shouldn’t write in the genre I love, I get my back up. But what good does that do? Those who spout such nonsense want exactly that angry reaction. Most of the time they’re trolls, but every now and then you’ll find that misogynistic belief really is their truth and nothing and no one can dissuade them. You can’t argue with crazy.

Last year I wrote a piece on the best way I’ve found to handle any vitriol thrown my way regarding my choice and ability to write horror: Fuck the Naysayers and Make Good Art. I’ve heard all the arguments against female horror writers: we’re too soft, we’re nurturers, we don’t understand horror, we dilute it, we’re… (wait for it)… always putting romance in horror.

Like I said, you can’t argue with crazy.

can't argue with crazy

February 2014 was particularly nasty when it came to WiHM. Truly terrible and disgusting things were said. The first two weeks of this February, however, were fantastic. There were blissfully positive posts and interviews, the sharing of fellow authors’ work – a real sense of community and support. Then someone had to ruin it for everyone.

I’m not going to name names here but it spawned #horrorhags, and that should give you a pretty good idea of what was said about one female horror writer in particular before all were tarred with that same brush. It united horror writers and had, I’m guessing, the opposite effect the person intended. Or did it?  One has to wonder if the stupidity of comments such as these is nothing more than to raise someone’s profile, garner interest in their books, get the horror community talking about them et al. But really, who’d be that stupid? You’re insulting potential readers, you’re embarrassing your publisher, and the chances of you getting another publisher are now pretty damn slim. Authors remember. Editors remember. Publishers remember. The horror community remembers.

Thing is, you can’t control what people think, what people say, and how people act (especially on the Internet). You can only control what you think, what you say, and how you act. I’m not saying don’t take on the controversial issues, self-censorship isn’t the way to go either, but remember that trolls and those who forgot to activate their ‘don’t-be-a-douchewaffle’ button, are always going to be around, and they’re going to say and do things that will make you want to rage-quit humanity, but is that what they want from you? An escalated reaction? Notoriety? Do you want to feed that?

horror hag

WiHM seems to attract those who want to start a brouhaha (not a discussion) about exclusivity when it’s all about inclusivity. Why give the douchewaffles what they want? I’d never heard of the writer whose rant started the #horrorhag – now I do know their name. So was this ‘mission accomplished’ on the writer’s part? Tough call that. Yes, I know their name (some would say that’s marketing gone right), but it also went very, very wrong as a lot of publishers now have this person on a ‘blacklist’. They won’t publish them. Ever. I’d say that’s marketing gone wrong.

Writers are a passionate bunch, and as a whole a damn supportive one – woe betide anyone who messes with our community. And community it is. Writing is a mostly solitary profession, so when we find and meet like-minded folk, we celebrate the wonder and weirdness that is who we are and what we do. No one understands a writer like another writer. So when a scribe takes aim and fires those misogynistic bullets, they don’t just hit the female horror writers, they hit us all. I mean, dude, that shrapnel goes everywhere. And no one likes to be shot at; no one likes their friends and peers shot at, regardless of gender. But to do so during WiHM? That shit be crazy, and I do have to wonder at their motives.

It’s no secret that getting your work and your name out there and recognised isn’t getting easier – it’s simple mathematics (I can do it and I suck at math). The advent of self-publishing has increased the amount of books available to readers, which, as a reader myself, isn’t a bad thing; as a writer, you need to stand out in the crowd. (Hint: decrying female horror writers probably isn’t your best bet). So part of me wonders if this wholly uncalled for #horrorhag rant wasn’t a publicity stunt gone wrong. If so… bad call, dude. If not… well, you can’ t argue with crazy.

All I know is that I will continue to write the best horror I can, and I will continue to support WiHM until there’s no need for it, and I will continue to support my fellow horror writers regardless of what does or doesn’t swing between their legs.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go disembowel a despot…

WiHM 2015

 

 

28 thoughts on “Why You Can’t Argue With Crazy (and should you?)”

  1. The angst and hatred online is rife in the writing community. People seem to be constantly stomping on authors, editors and publishers. I for one am sick of it. Honestly if you don’t like something someone said or created I don’t think it’s necessary to trash it for everyone to see. You’re saying more about who you really are than you know.

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  2. Horror is for EVERYONE. Different people bring different ideas to the table, different perspectives. To think, or advocate, that a gender, or group of people, are incapable of contributing to horror as a genre is asinine. Who knows where horror would be without someone like Shirley Jackson, or Mary Shelley? Some people obviously are so insecure with themselves that they feel the need to lash out at others instead of working on bettering their craft. Hopefully we can get to the point where we can see horror authors as horror authors, no matter the gender, color, religion, or sexual preference. There’s plenty of room at the horror table for everyone!

    Great post, Amanda. Well said.

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  3. Media culture has changed tremendously since I was a teen. In the 80’s, it seemed rare for chicks to be into horror (and video games, and role playing, and comic books, and action movies, etc etc.). The guys who were passionate about such things wished there were women with whom they could share interest. Now, there are all sorts of chicks who love horror (and video games et al), and all these crappy little chumps are so threatened by it that they can’t see straight. While that’s def chuckleworthy, it sucks that their behavior throws so much shade on what could be a passionate exchange between like-minded people.

    Long live WiHM, and STFU to anyone with nothing better to do than hate on it. THIS horror hag isn’t going anywhere!

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  4. I know I’m late to this discussion, but I’ve just learned of this “scandal.” As I read through the various blogs and tweets posted in response to Mr. Labbe’s alleged opinion that women horror writers are generally inferior to men, my interest in reading his original comments on the matter grew more intense. Wow, I was certainly disappointed when I finally found them. But my disappointment is due to the misunderstanding of Labbe’s comments and the perpetuation of a straw-man argument by EVERYONE who had responded to Labbe’s comments. Yes, he bashed most contemporary horror writers and said that they often resort to dressing in ghoulish costumes to promote their works. He also went on to say that the writers that engage in promotional cosplay are often women, most of whom “look like hags;” however, he did not call a specific writer a hag, nor did he say that women cannot or should not write horror stories. It appears that people’s responses are incongruent to Labbe’s specific comments. They took his comments a bit out of context and broadened them too greatly, then responded with vitriole to the exaggerated notions that were their own making, not Labbe’s.

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    1. Thanks for reading the post and for your comment. What I find disappointing is that he did verbally bash most contemporary horror writers, singling out female horror writers in particular and calling them hags. That’s not taken out of context at all. He targeted a specific group, and one that’s often on the end of negative and vitriolic messages (of which he contributed). I’m not sure which blogs/tweets etc you read, but the one I read (which has since been removed) was accompanied by a photo of a female horror writer — so she was definitely targeted.

      I also don’t quite understand how Labbe’s comments are not offensive. Targeting a specific group because of the gender and the genre in which they choose to write is not cool by any stretch of the imagination. Should a horror writer (male or female) wish to dress in cosplay (or any other way they like) then they’re entitled to do so without being scorned. That he chose to make those comments during WiHM wasn’t the brightest thing he could do either. For me, it screamed more publicity stunt gone wrong than a general wish to engage in discourse.

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      1. No, Amanda, you’re very wrong. Your blog is a perfect example of making a mountain out of a molehill and jumping to conclusions. The “rant,” as people like yourself have named it, was on my private Facebook page–posted after a very unsettling discussion with the leader of the “Maine Horror Writer’s Association.” This individual is a self-published author, and he solicited me to join his group, since I was then Maine-based. We chatted amicably on the phone, but I realized his group could do little for me, publicity-wise. When I said we weren’t a good match–and believe me, I was diplomatic–he blew a fuse, hung up on me and blocked me from Facebook. Then I went to my page and wrote that essay. Never once did I name any single male or female horror writer–though I was shocked to learn that someone thought I was targeting her and proceeded to make herself look like a victim of bullying. My intent was to express my frustration at trying to make a go of pushing my book, when my fellow authors were busy going to ridiculous extremes to push theirs. Would I have to do the same? Would I have to dress like a motorcycle gang member, get tats, shave my head and profess an interest in devil-worshiping? Should I have pictures of myself glowering into the camera and scowling, because that’s the “image” of a horror writer today? I was very frustrated by the situation.

        What I didn’t realize is that there were forces gathering to discredit me, and they all originated from the Maine Horror Writer’s Association. My essay was taken from my Facebook page without my permission–and no, it was not a “publicity stunt.” Are you Facebook posts “stunts?” Come on. My essay was then distributed to bloggers everywhere. I suddenly started getting hate mail via the private messaging system on Facebook. Then there were the threats of violence, of MURDER, even. All because I “hated women.” My God, people said, are you that insensitive? Don’t you know this is “Women in Horror Month?” (no, I didn’t). Are you that much of a clod?” To prove their point, they dragged me through the mud, stole my photograph to illustrate the blogs, and then actually went to Amazon and posted negative one-star reviews of my book–though I doubt any of them had ever read it.

        Tell me, is that the kind of stuff you endorse? It’s amazing that one person has the balls to support me here, and you attempted to rip him a new one for having such audacity. I finally decided to fight back and had websites and blogs shut down and removed via legal threats. There is such a thing as libel, spreading untruths, and trying to ruin reputations, you know. Ask yourself, was your “rant” fair and balanced?

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      2. Thanks for the comment Rod, although I’m going to have respectfully disagree on a number of points. You take issue with the way other horror writers wish to push their books, calling it “ridiculous extremes” then proceed to lock said horror writers into a stereotypical, cliched list of what you believe horror writers are doing/being. Why does it matter how another promotes their book? How they dress? Who they are or what persona they wish to adopt? If it’s not something you want to do then don’t do it. Simple. Frustrated you may have been, but taking that frustration out on fellow authors doesn’t help anyone. You’ve placed those horror writers into a neat little box with labels you wrote yourself, some will take issue, surely you can understand that. I surely took issue with you using the word ‘hag’ as that’s directed at no one but women. I’m a woman. I’m a woman who writes horror.

        So it wasn’t a publicity stunt, thank you for answering that question. If you’ve read my post, then you’d understand I wasn’t entirely sure why you said what you did, especially during WiHM. Still doesn’t make sense to me, as being a creative, if people wish to adopt a particular persona, I’ve no problem with it. How does that effect me in any negative way? It doesn’t. Why would it? If you’re having issues promoting your work, try a different tack you’re comfortable with. No one is telling you to adopt self-imposed stereotypes.

        Now to your questions:

        Are my FB posts publicity stunts? I didn’t slam fellow horror writers for their choice of promotion, and say the women looked like hags during WiHM — you can see why I had to wonder at your timing.

        Do I endorse threats of violence? No, I’ve lived it, why would I foist it upon another? Why would you ask?

        Do I endorse murder? That kind of shit question doesn’t even fly, mate.

        Do I endorse people giving you one star reviews? I’ve never read your book, so couldn’t quantify any star rating of any kind. I’m honest in my reviews, but I can’t make other people be honest in theirs. I don’t have that power, you don’t have that power — no one does.

        As for the previous poster who supported you and where you say I “attempted to rip him a new one”… Really? I put forth my opinion in a calm and coherent way. Where’s the ‘ripping’? Where’s the anger? The craziness? I was well within my rights to not even approve the comment he made (and yours, by the way), but I did in the spirit of openness and transparency. So me ripping him a new one… that’s a stretch.

        As for attempting to shut down my blog via legal threats… is that a threat? I don’t take kindly to threats, Rod, not in any way shape or form. Passive-aggressive or otherwise.

        Was my “rant” fair and balanced? Yes, it was. Is your threat?

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  5. Rod, you can’t claim it’s all a conspiracy against you. Of course you will, but it ain’t true. And your passive-aggressive threats are laughable.
    Amanda didn’t even name you — I did. So suck it up, princess. You reap what you sow.

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    1. GNBraun, you’re missing the point: Rod never “targeted” women as horror writers, but merely mentioned that many of the writers that seem to rely on dressing in costumes to promote their writing may be doing so because their writing may be lacking in quality–a logical inference–and that, in his experience, they have often been women. The people that have pushed back against Rod Labbe have done so out of personal animosity and have not once produced a logical rebuttal to his argument. Whether you like him and what he has said or not, the fact remains that no one has actually refuted his claims, only his character–an error that you seem to have made as well…

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      1. How many profiles do you have, Rod?
        Or is this one of your Gamergate misogynist friends?
        I can’t see Rod selling books. I think his stupid comments came from sour grapes over his lack of sales versus his imagined superiority.
        Maybe he should try dressing up a bit.
        He couldn’t do any worse, could he? 😉

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      2. He said ‘most of them look like hags’, a gendered insult. I believe the term ‘bargain basement Stevie Nix’ was also used. Both refer only to women and are blatantly sexist and ridiculous. He did say he thought most horror writers were crap (assumably regardless of gender) but then went on to direct most of his vitriol against women.

        What are we actually meant to refute? Whether most female horror writers look like hags? Whether they can’t write? Are we supposed to gain stats on probability of dressing up vs. quality or writing? There is very little worth refuting logically as there was no logical argument in the first place.

        Of course Amanda wasn’t condoning sending him hate mail. She never even named him. And to be honest, going online to find articles about how terrible you are (if this is one, which I dispute) is pretty much just a taste of what it is like to be a woman on the internet. Maybe give that a bit of thought.

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  6. Rod Labbe continues to stalk and harass users this time on IMDB. He’s been doing it for a little over 2yrs that I know of, but according to some it has been at least 3yrs. He has a number of sock accounts and admits to that too. I met him 2yrs ago when I joined IMDB. I went and posted on the Annie forum just to comment how much my wife & I enjoyed the movie. I call my wife “my girl” or “my girlfriend” even after many years of marriage. It’s a pet name. So after another post about how my wife enjoyed it I found myself getting attacked and this user (Naterdawg) calling me by a female name. After a few days I saw this same user attacking another user, a female nonstop. One night I log on and see this Naterdawg post a “story” about this female user and said he forced alcohol down her throat and her & her kids were killed in a car accident. He quickly went beyond trolling to threatening this woman personally. I started standing up for her since no one else was doing anything. When ever Naterdawg would post so would another user and together they tormented this woman, myself and a few other users. He was soon banned and a few months later he surfaced on The Middle board on IMDB. He was quickly greeted by a sock account who let everyone know he use to be Naterdawg.

    Long story short he continued to stalk and harass me and others mainly female users. He calls many users Grace who he stalked on the Annie board. She at one point changed her user name, he discovered that and he made a deal about it. She told me she was leaving after that. But, basically every user who stands up to him is either me or this user Grace.

    He has some obsession about family tv shows it seems. He belittles women nonstop and I see that is a common trait of his. If you say you like a certain female character you are attacked nonstop. If you like an episode you are often attacked too. He likes to pick a user and follow them around IMDB replying to every thing they post.

    He recently sent this to another user who forwarded it to me.
    http://tinypic.com/m/jjxzwk/1 Gubbio is another sock account of his that he uses to stalk users and harass them. He is clearly trying to play some kind of game. He spends all day long on IMDB stalking and harassing users jumping from sock account to sock account.

    He has a sick obsession with little boys and their changing bodies. One of disturbing posts on the Annie board was about the little girl who played her, her hitting puberty and getting her period. He comes across as a pedo at times.

    My whole point of posting this is because Rod Labbe has gone mentally ill. He is declining and a few users on IMDB has made police reports against him for threats to themselves and their children. He also write disturbing posts about killing children such as this one on just one of his many sock accounts.
    http://tinypic.com/m/jiby9g/1

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  7. I think this guy is now targeting a local political party. I would love to know more about his previous tactics to see if he is up to the same tricks. Very mean spirited.

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  8. What does targeting a local political party have to do with horror hags? And what the heck does stuff on IMDB have to do with it? If you’re going to demonize this poor sap for what he stated–which was his opinion–at least have the decency not to drift off into lunacy. Susan K and Thunder are probably the same person, and even if they aren’t, their comments have nothing to do with what Labbe stated THREE years ago. Come on.

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  9. Okay, so after receiving the mother of all weird replies to my post, this will be the final word before I close down the comments. This is not a forum, but a blog. This post was written over two years ago, and people need to let this go. Seriously. Take a breath, go outside, look at a damn flower or something. Go on. *flaps hands at you all* Of you toddle.

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