NOTE: I am not perfect. I have done things to people that required major apologizing. I have stuck by friends and defended them only to find out I shouldn’t have. I have done the opposite. All of those times, I have had to apologize. Sometimes the apology was enough and sometimes I wasn’t forgiven. Sometimes the apology was really a non-apology just to get me out of a tight space and it wasn’t until later that I realized the apology had more to do with me than the person who deserved it. So all of the thoughts, opinions, and views below are MY OWN! You are free to disagree with me. As you will see below, I have already had many that did!
Unless you have been disconnected from the internet the past week (which if you have I am a tad bit jealous) then you have probably heard about why Phil Gigante is not narrating Karen Marie Moning’s newest Fever series book. I want to start there because when I heard there were new narrators, I was curious too. Then a friend of mine pointed to an article : Phil Gigante pleads guilty to accosting a child for immoral purposes, possession of child sexually abusive material. I was actually proud of Karen and her publishers for using someone else for the narration because honestly they could have:
- The investigation into Phil began in Jan 2015
- Phil was charged in July 2015
- Phil plead guilty in October 2015 (he was sentenced to 4 months in jail and 3 months home monitoring)
- Phil is a registered Tier 2 Sex Offender until October 2040
- Phil did not start his incarceration date until: 2016-01-13 (that is listed on on his sex offender registration)
So yep! I was PROUD of Ms. Moning. She and her publisher chose not to go with Phil before any of us had a clue about what was going on. Did she have too? NOPE! Could they have probably squeezed it in? YEP! I mean he didn’t even enter jail until last week–yeah he was probably busy with courts, family, and stuff but in my eyes they chose to do the right thing before we even knew.
That was until Jan 20th when she stood up for him, defending him, and actively silenced those who spoke out against him. Go look at the posts I have linked down below. I WAS FLOORED! Even her apology on the 22nd was lacking IMHO. Enough so that I did something I have only done a handful times (drama llama is not my thing)–I publicly got involved in a drama on the internet. The only other time I did this was during #GamerGate and for 2 months after that I got nasty email/FB Messages. So I knew what I was wading into and accept the consequences of it wholly (which so far has been 5 “other” messages in my FB box–so not that bad). I spent time (and so did my friends) trying to explain why we felt there needed to be more said (not about the case but specifically about the comments). I will get to that down below and why I decided to write a blog post–which likely means I will get far more than 5 FB other messages *sigh*….
Enough people have written on the bulk of what happened already and I think they did a WONDERFUL job:
- Trout Nation
- Defending the Indefensible: On Phil Gigante and Karen Marie Moning from Bibliodaze
- Red Hot Books: Where is the Feverborn Review
Many more have come forward too (I am super proud of them) with reasons not to Victim Blame and why they chose to speak out:
- Victim blaming and Phil Gigante
- KMM, Phil Gigante, & I Guess It’s Okay When It’s Not YOUR Daughter
- Why I Won’t Be Listening to Phil Gigante Anymore
- MLSimmons (I use her screenshot below)
I am here to write about what disturbed me about this whole mess!
Right or Wrong when you become of a public figure of any caliber, there is a certain amount of scrutiny that comes with that position. Anything you say, do, or even react too will probably be scrutinized by at least someone and more likely more than just one someone. Is it fair? Probably Not! However, unless you have been under a rock for the last 10 years while the internet and “as it happens news” has bloomed into the norm not the exception–you can’t really claim ignorance. If people want to speak out on something, they no longer have to organize a protest, write letters and send them through the mail, or make phone calls. They can immediately be heard! This is both good and bad. Information can change, more facts can be found, and things can change on a dime. That is why if you are in the public eye, you have to know your public statements will not only be seen but SCREENSHOTS, INTERNET HISTORY, and Copy/Paste live forever. I am not saying not to speak publicly about things you believe in BUT be sure that you are willing to suffer the fall out from it. Guarantee even if you are on the smallest side of being a public figure (aka 2 months of emails over #GamerGate) that you will have consequences (they can be good and bad).
In this particular case, there were two statements made by Moning. The first in support and the second withdrawing support. I actually really appreciated that she made a statement about not using Phil in future recordings of her series. If she would have stopped there, I might never have gotten upset to the point of speaking out. Sure there were comments, actions, and other deplorable things going on in the original post that made me mad. There was active hiding of disagreeing POVs, outright Victim Shaming (by fans not KMM), and insinuation by KMM that she knew more and her judgement should be trusted above the courts.
So after all of that I would have been OK (not happy) with: I am no longer going to use Phil as the narrator for my Fever Books. However she went on to add: “I did not have all of my facts straight and I apologize profusely for my post.” There are two things about that statement that disturb me:
- She was actively hiding/deleting facts from the original thread
- She said she knew more than was public knowledge–insinuating that she knew more than the articles people were referring to which were the facts that we all kept referencing.
Scroll back up to that timeline for a minute. Done? I don’t know about you but no new information came out in the 2 days between original and follow up sttaement except maybe this is a PR Nightmare (I am a cynic and it is the only thing I can see). So in this case less would have been more! So let’s get to where my real rub lies…
Using your Platform
Karen Marie Moning had an excellent opportunity during her second statement (and subsequent) posts to use her platform to address some things that were going on in the comment section of her very own page. Even owning up to that she may have instigated the flames by implying she knew more. She had a chance to simply state: In my original supporting of Phil, I may have inadvertently implied through statements that there was more to the case than public knowledge, that the child in this case was responsible. I did not mean to imply this (see I let her off the hook) and do not support Victim blaming/bashing. Look how simple that would have been and I guarantee the current comments in her apology thread would have been way easier to stomach. She didn’t use her platform for that, which is totally her choice but by not doing that she has allowed rampant Victim blaming/shaming to live in the comments section. Some comments by her fans have made my stomach roll. There was one victim in this case: a 14 year old girl. That should have never been brought into question. At the very least, after it was–that SHOULD HAVE BEEN CORRECTED.
So let’s get this straight: I don’t blame KMM for her support of her friend. I certainly don’t blame her for his actions (those are HIS TO OWN). The reason I will no longer read her books is simply based on her actions alone. As I said in my FB comment: When you know better, you do better. If you know that your statements (whether they were meant to imply the victim was to blame or not) made people blame the victim, then you needed to do better in stopping that. I don’t hold her responsible for her fans victim blaming but I feel she had a responsiblity to say that it IS NOT OK. If you were going to be active in that first thread, then you needed to be just as responsible in the 2nd thread. I am not claiming to know the intent behind her original statements but read through the apology thread and you will see the clear consequences of her original statement.
Finally, stepping away from this specific case (not entirely) but the most disturbing part of this for me (and many others) has been the outright Victim Blaming/Bashing/Questioning. It isn’t just in this case, we have seen it all over. Rapes on college campus: she was at the party, she drank, she put herself in that situation by walking alone at night. Young Women and Men (below the age of 18): they dress to sexy, they “entice” older adults, they “flaunt” their bodies.
When did we come to a place in the world where somehow the person doing the act became the victim. They just couldn’t help themselves! They only took what was asked for! He is only a man!
If I was a man, I would be insulted that you would think I am not responsible for my own actions.
As a woman, I am insulted that most of this seems to come from other women.
I don’t get that thinking at all. If you have been lucky to go through life never being a sexual victim, never knowing one, or never having to protect someone from being one–then you are lucky. You probably need to go out and watch the billion documentaries on Sexual Victims and the aftermath. However, for those that have either been a victim or close to someone who is–let me tell you frankly that it is NOT THEIR FAULT! It doesn’t matter what they were wearing, where they were, or previous things that they have done. The person who violated their body, mind, and soul is to blame. End of Story!
This is the longest post I have ever written. However, this was my problem with the whole mess and why I chose to speak out. I am quite OK with the consequences of using my platform for this. I survived 2 months of #gamergate fallout. I will survive some people thinking “I am beating a dead horse”. I returned my copy of Feverborn. I will not be posting a review here (I did on goodreads because I did read 150 pages before all this happened). I will never listen to another Phil Gigante audiobook. These are my choices and certainly not ones that I expect you to do. What you choose to watch, listen, and read is up to you. I am more disturbed by the continuing conversation around the Victim than the supporting of artist that disappoint us. I do feel that there is a lesson to be learned from all of this for all of us. It is just whether you choose to see it or not!
UPDATED BECAUSE I GOT 2 Emails that were wondering why I care –and don’t I realize this makes me target). I don’t like putting my life out there but in this case I am willing.
While this is addressing the KMM thing–I want to point out that it isn’t entirely about that. It is about responsibility too. I was a victim of date rape at one time so this whole thing is a trigger for me. I was told when I went in to report it that because I had slept with the man previously (we had broken up) and went to drinks with him and friends that night–there was no chance that it would go to court. There was no way to prove my side and that I would only be shamed in the process. I walked out without filing charges. I was younger, scared, and frankly pissed that I was stupid enough to trust him. I have other close relations that were victims of childhood sexual crimes. Since this is trigger inducing for many of us–it is why we can’t just “move on”.
Writing this post made me feel better and now I feel like I can just not engage anymore (oh I will engage on my own post but I have moved away from hers).
In the end, a beloved narrator is now a perpetrator of a heinous act against a child. I don’t care that they were just pictures. I don’t care that they were just messages. They were inappropriate and illegal. They were also a total slap in the face to his family, fans, and friends. There are lots of victims in this story: the 14 year old girl (first and foremost), his wife, their kids, and those surrounding both families that had no clue. Phil Gigante is NOT is a victim. He plead guilty (not no contest) and will be a registered Tier 2 sex offender until 2040. Implying that he is not responsible is a slap in the face to the victims of this crime.
So for those 2 that wanted to know “why I care” this is why! Go ahead make me a target. I have a thick skin and can handle it.