The UK Guardian’s covered the recent accusations against Warren Ellis, and all the women now speaking out about how they feel he used them by leading multiple affairs almost all at the same time, which is honestly different from the days when rock star groupies of the 60s-80s wouldn’t have had a problem with this. Apparently, that he wouldn’t mentor some of the women is why some of them feel exploited now:
In June this year, as scores of young women began to publicly make allegations about the behaviour of men in senior positions in comics and science fiction writing, several women began to speak about their relationships with Ellis, some dating back to the early 2000s.
Now, more than 60 women have come together to launch the website So Many of Us, to document their concurrent relationships with Ellis and encourage others to come forward. They allege that Ellis has pursued sexual relationships with a staggering number of his female fans, all the while deceiving them about the number of relationships he was in; based on the account of these women, it appears he was maintaining at least 19 relationships simultaneously at one point in 2009.
Jhayne Holmes, a writer and photographer whose relationship with Ellis lasted eight years, initially set up a server for women to talk to each other. She says that roughly 100 women have come forward, while 33 of them have composed written statements, supported by emails and text messages, which have been seen by the Guardian. In individual interviews, several of the women allege that Ellis was sending identical text and photo messages to them at the same time. He would tell them they were “bewitching” or “hypnotising” and extend his friendship, sometimes offering mentoring and advice. Eventually, he would ask them to send him sexually explicit photos. Some of them did. In some instances, if they said no, he’d stop talking to them.
Many of the women were in their late teens and early 20s when their contact with Ellis began. Sometimes they initiated the conversation, sometimes he did. Some of these relationships were conducted entirely online, while others were physical. Some of the women work in the comic-book industry, while others are artists, writers, photographers and alternative models. Many of them say Ellis gave them career boosts, using his newsletters, blogs and influential forums to draw attention to their work. But as they hear their own stories coming from other women, many say they feel used in what they consistently describe as a pattern of friendship, then escalating sexual contact, then exclusively sexual contact – and silence if they refused, or stopped.
The part that troubles me is if any of his one-night-stands were possibly underage, and sadly, there’s every chance some of them were. Asking the women for nude pictures was also decidedly inappropriate of him (and it wouldn’t be right for a woman to ask the same of a man either). I checked the website opened by Holmes, read some of the testimonials posted there, and the following allegation came up, which is alarming:
There was this sense, especially amid the VIPs I knew, of “if nothing he’s doing is illegal, it’s not worth getting involved”. Never mind the underage girl who allegedly sent him nudes on MySpace. Forget the contended grooming of teenage fans who he eventually drew into sexualized transactions. Once again, I was just some attention-starved hysteric. Same as I’d been as a child, pleading to be rescued from violation at the hands of reputable adults. Same as I’d been in New York City, struggling, and failing, to find the language to explain how much more damaging the psychological abuse, and general apathy of others concerning that abuse, has been than even the worst physical assaults I’ve endured. (If only the concept of “gaslighting” had been popularized sooner.)
This allegation, if true, was angering. I remember back in the day, MySpace had a notorious reputation for being poisoned with cyberstalkers, and if Ellis was involved in the kind of offensive activity cited above, he was doing something seriously lawbreaking. Ditto if any of the teen groupies he had sexual transactions with were underage. There may be need for a legal investigation into Ellis’ past conduct. And here’s another testimonial telling something just as repellent:
It definitely wasn’t a healthy relationship. Our specific pattern was that I would send photographs and emails that he claimed hypnotized him and forced him to lose control, and then he would be aggressive and demanding while fantasizing about hurting and raping me. Then he would tell me that I made it happen, and it was my fault for making him lose control. He would me make me tell him exactly that, after playing out rape fantasies. He claimed no agency and genuinely had me believing that I was in control, an instigator, and that he was just giving me what I needed. He said that often – “you need this.”
This allegation, if true, was enough to hit the roof. That’s extraordinarily abusive language for a man to use, right down to the victim-blaming part. No doubt, it’s a form of body-shaming and exactly what makes women lose confidence in themselves.
While some of these testimonials are certainly disturbing, I should still note that the website describes some of its contributors as “non-binary”, and at least one plaintiff seems to believe in “white male supremacy”. In other words, some are leftists who stick by the PC notion that a non-white can do no wrong, and possibly the notion that the only legitimate type of white male is one who’s homosexual. I’m guessing that some women who start calling themselves “non-binary” were mentally abused so badly, they thought pretending to be of no gender would actually help them. But it doesn’t. It only demonstrates how far society’s fallen. Worst, the abusers are bound to be delighted they pushed the victims into degrading themselves.
While we’re on the subject, the Daily Beast published a whole article about these recent scandals in comicdom. It’s nothing I haven’t already written about myself, but what’s particularly amazing is that it was penned by Asher Elbein, one of the faux-reporters who wrote hit pieces about Comicsgate a few years back. To discover somebody that mendacious attacking the “outside” previously, now suddenly seeming to care about what takes place “inside” is certainly amazing in a sense, even though this article too has its most unfortunate biases, and Elbein doesn’t seem to have any regrets about attacking a movement that could’ve been just as concerned about the Latours and Allies of comicdom before he supposedly was. And if the article does need to be examined for fishy elements, well, I figure the following would have to be it:
…Several cisgender male creators have issued a well-intentioned public pronouncement, the #ComicsPledge, encouraging men in comics to pledge to hold themselves accountable, and to “never abuse, harass, [or] groom women and all people of marginalized sexes.”
That this is sexualized along largely patriarchal lines is no surprise: cis men still occupy most positions of power in the comics industry, while women and those seen as women are consistently marginalized. But women are equally capable of taking advantage of this as well. Suggested reforms—such as establishing actual HR departments at comics companies that don’t already have them (a worrying amount) or hiring a more diverse senior staff—can only go so far. HR departments exist to reduce liability to the company, not to protect workers: they have a long and ugly history of protecting problem supervisors at the expense of victims. And while hiring a more racially and sexually diverse staff is paramount and can certainly help create safer spaces for marginalized creators, doing so isn’t a panacea. One has only to glance over at the media and tech world to see that companies where women hold senior positions, in the absence of actual democratization of power, can end up reiterating the same cruelties.
Granted, he may acknowledge a woman can commit offenses too, but why must he resort to the pathetic propaganda of calling biological men who don’t identify as transgenderists “cis”? Do I get the vibe he’s trying to make it sound like transgenders are incapable of wrongdoing? Does he also believe POC are equally incapable of the same? If he really believes that, such a mindset is probably why Bill Cosby was able to get away with his crimes for years before he was finally brought down 6 years prior, and since incarcerated.
The DB article continues with:
Sexual harassment is a labor rights issue, and comics has historically been uninterested in addressing labor rights issues. To seriously challenge institutionalized abuse, you have to challenge what makes it flourish, and those are the same problems that are fundamental to comics business practices. Transparency over corporate initiatives to bring more women and marginalized into the industry would necessarily involve tackling stagnation and disparities in page rates, staff pay, and equities. It would open the door to conversations about how comics companies treat Black talent—very badly—a topic that even many open critics of sexual harassment have not been eager to address. It also would prompt discussions of how the industry offloads its moral responsibilities to its creators onto the Hero Initiative, a worthy organization that provides a private safety net for comics creators in need of health care or financial aid.
So he’s saying a medium that does have its share of black/Asian/Latino contributors (i.e-Christopher Priest) abuses POC all the time, non-stop? In that case, he’s not only living in a bubble, he’s practically obscuring all the diversity-SJW hires over the past decade or so, which not only weren’t based on merit and capability of research, they also involved celebrity status, like Ta-Nehisi Coates and Reginald Hudlin. Even Kevin Smith and J. Michael Stracynski count as such, if it matters. I’m sorry, but diversity hires alone would not an improved landscape make. In fact, chances are that for many years to come, even some such people would end up consumed by corruption and get away with it for many years to come, for the same reasons the white crooks did – the media would protect them, much as it did Harvey Weinstein. If that’s what they have in mind, they’re not being altruistic, just trying to force a new “morality”. If they really want to challenge what makes abuse flourish, they might want to consider the lack of decent religion and too much atheism in modern entertainment.
All that is left now are questions which have, thus far, gone conspicuously unanswered. How will people who clawed their way up the chain on the backs of people they drove out make material restitution to them? Will companies fire senior staff who took no action against predators? Will senior editors not only thank people that speak out, but hire them in positions of authority? Will companies make a public accounting of the myriad ways in which they have failed to keep staff and freelancers safe? Will they offer more security and greater benefits? Will they support union efforts, or attempts by freelancers to organize more democratic workplaces? Will they submit themselves to outside scrutiny, and stop leveraging access as a way to crush and starve out a genuinely independent comics press?
All this from SJWs who’ve gone to such lengths to claw their way up and drive out not just conservatives, but also anybody on the left they don’t agree with. The article is very superficial in its research, because Dan DiDio is left out, and he was a leading reason Eddie Berganza was able to get away with his offenses for nearly 2 decades, not just simply Bob Harras. Indeed, why is DiDio being shielded here as well? Oh, and I notice Mr. Elbein fell back on allusions to Comicsgate with that external link, suggesting he still believes the “outside” is more a problem, and not just the “inside”. That aside, unions are vulnerable to corruption, and setting up unions won’t solve anything so easily. Not even the lack of artistic merit so common in modern showbiz.
It’s also worth reminding that Elbein once served as an apologist for Chuck Wendig, who’s more recently been accused of sexual misconduct himself, and it’s said he’s one of various leftists claiming to be male feminists. Some of these particular allegations were made by Jaym Gates, who claimed to be the architect of a campaign against the late Mike Resnick for a column he co-wrote in the Sci-Fi Bulletin around 2013 which she hated because it slighted her SJW mindset. That aside, whatever Wendig’s being accused of now, seems to have been conveniently ignored by Elbein, his slapdash item about the industry proper notwithstanding. So, I don’t think too much value should be put on what he writes, even though there are valid issues to raise about the showbiz world mixed up in all his drivel. Besides, it’s pretty clear he has no intention of acknowledging it’s wrong to discriminate against conservatives in comicdom, and that includes women who could support right-wing politics. Based on that, it’d be a lot better if Elbein would kindly leave comicdom behind, and focus more on the book writing he may specialize in.
Originally published here.