What I Think About Andrew Smith And What He Said
I think that what he said was honest.
I think that punishing him for honesty and a sincere effort to do better misses the mark.
I think that what he said wasn’t very smart.
I think there were better ways to say what he said, or what he (probably) meant.
I think I say a lot of things that aren’t very smart, and some of them are probably here in this post.
I think I probably shouldn’t even write this post, but here I am.
I think I am sexist sometimes and I don’t mean to be.
I think I’m going to get it wrong.
I think I’m scared of getting it wrong.
I think I don’t know what I’ll do when that happens, and I hope I’ll be good but maybe I won’t.
I think that one interview answer is not enough to judge the content of a person, nor is it enough evidence to apply a broad-sweeping label.
I think that sometimes writers are better left writing things down rather than speaking them aloud because you can’t go back, you can’t rethink, you can’t edit words that are spoken to, say, an interviewer in what once might’ve seemed an innocuous interview.
I think feminism is more than one thing, and I think sexism is more than one thing, too.
I think it’s important to look for patterns rather than aberrations.
I think we should view people as a spectrum, not as binary black and white.
I think it’s good we talk about these things.
I think it’s sad we tear people down because of these things.
I think it’s critical to recognize that what Smith said will earn him harsh words, but what women say earn them death threats or threats of rape.
I think good people can say the wrong things.
I think it’s important to acknowledge those wrong things.
I think it’s important to still acknowledge that people are bigger than the wrong things they sometimes might say and that we are more than the sum of a single mistake.
I think women are used to being erased and are justifiably angry about that.
I think that women are not aliens, nor mysterious beings, nor bizarre riddles.
I think men should learn to write fully-realized characters, regardless of gender and color.
I think we can all be scared though of getting that wrong and can be paralyzed by it.
I think his comments were an unintended symptom of a larger problem.
I think that criticism of what he said does not amount to bullying.
I think that criticism of who he is, does.
I think that social media can be a scary place sometimes.
I think mobs can form without us realizing it.
I think that shame is a bad way to get people to change and that encouraging them to take their medicine is a good way to get them to not want to take their medicine.
I think that conversation and dialogue is vital, and anger is often righteous.
I think snark is funny, but probably doesn’t help.
I think people can become mean even when they don’t intend to be, myself included.
I think that many snowflakes can fast become a blizzard or even an avalanche.
I think that outrage and anger is real and just because you don’t agree with it doesn’t mean you need to invalidate it.
I think that outrage is not automatically validated by its existence, either.
I think that sometimes the response to a thing can become bigger than the thing.
I don’t think women should be quiet.
I don’t think Andrew Smith should be quiet, either.
I think empathy is a powerful thing.
I think empathy and logic must work in concert.
I think that what I think probably doesn’t amount to much but I think it anyway.
I think Andrew Smith is an amazing writer, a bona fide talent, an irreplaceable voice.
I think he’s a good person who does good things and maybe that matters to you, maybe it doesn’t.
I think that we are the tally of the good and bad things we do and hopefully that balances out.
I think he had a hard life and dealt with abuse and maybe that matters to you, maybe it doesn’t.
I think that authors are not their characters, nor are they their books, but that authors have responsibility just the same — how far that responsibility goes or what it even is, I’m not sure.
I know that I will one day want my son to read Andrew Smith’s books.
I think we can all do better.
I think we all deserve better.
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For your reading: the original VICE interview.
A longer EW interview with him (noting abuse he endured from his parents).
Tessa Gratton’s Tumblr: “Andrew Smith and Sexism.”
Phoebe North’s perspective is here.
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Thank you for reading.