The H word

Another man sighs wearily as he opens the laptop to explain why Elena Ferrante has no right to anonymity or privacy, this time in Prospect.

The hysterical reaction in some quarters to Ferrante’s so-called “doxxing” is producing more heat than light. Books are largely read by a culturally elite group, the same people who commission think pieces, invest their cultural capital with importance. Journalists writing about this phenomenon fuel it, and to be honest, as we condemn the article that caused this mess, we are also profiting from it.

The “hysterical” reaction. Wouldn’t you think men who write words as a profession could learn to stop calling women “hysterical”? Ok he’s calling the reaction “hysterical,” not Ferrante herself…but that’s on the literal level, and in fact he’s associating her with “hysteria” and that’s what readers will get from his use of the word. It’s a casual, deniable sexist slur, right at the beginning of his piece dismissing Ferrante’s stated wishes. I’m getting tired of men dismissing women’s stated wishes.

Ferrante has a right to privacy, as enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights. There is no doubt that Claudio Gatti’s article was an intrusion, but other articles have strayed into similar territory. Ferrante, we now strongly suspect, is a public figure making millions from marketing an invented identity, and it is naive to think she would escape scrutiny.

That’s a really extraordinarily entitled thing to say. It’s a sublimated “you can grab her pussy.” Her books have sold well, and he calls that “making millions from marketing an invented identity.” She made whatever money she made from writing novels! How is it his business to claim she made it from “marketing an invented identity” and that that justifies trying to expose her identity without her consent?

Rob Sharp wrote this article for Prospect. Does that mean we all get to break down his door and camp out in his living room?

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