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It's not just Emma Watson. Female novelists are getting sexual threats online too.

Ed Champion used his keyboard as a weapon against women
Ed Champion used his keyboard as a weapon against women
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Twitter can be a horrible place for a woman. Correction, the internet can be a horrible place for a woman. There are few protections from harassers and threats, and even fewer legal solutions to those problems.

Thursday night, followers watched novelist Porochista Khakpour's Twitter timeline in horror as Ed Champion, a writer and member of New York literary circles, proved what it is like to be a woman on the internet in 2014. This isn't Champion's first offense, and it probably won't be his last. Here's everything you need to know about what happened and why it matters.

1) Who is Ed Champion?

Ed Champion is a book critic and blogger who is an influential member of New York literary scene. He hosts a podcast called Bat Segundo where he interviews other influential members of the literary community like author Jesmyn Ward. The podcast has more than 550 episodes including one in which he interviewed Khakpour. He also writes a series of personal essays and thoughts on his website Ed Rants.  Among his peers, Champion was pretty well regarded until this summer.

2) Who is Porochista Khakpour?

Porochista Khakpour is a novelist and writer. Her first novel Sons and Other Flammable Objects was published in 2007. It earned Khakpour a National Endowment of the Arts fellowship and was named a New York Times Editors Choice. Her second novel The Last Illusion was published in May.

3) What happened between them Thursday night on Twitter?

Champion publicly threatened Khakpour with this Tweet, in which he threatened to name a photographer who took nude photos of her:

tweet 1

Khakpour blocked him immediately. Her response showed terror and frustration:

The threat was similar to one we've seen over and over and over again this month — using women's private photos to threaten or shame them.

4) Well, this is horrible. How did this start?

The Thursday night drama seems to have begun when Khakpour accused Champion of harassing her. It is unclear when or how the initial harassment took place. But, according to Khakpour, it was spurred by a comment Champion made about writer Dan Kois on her Facebook page.

In response to the Facebook-related insults, Khakpour took to Twitter Thursday to say that she had "joined the long list of people harassed, insulted, fucked w/ by Ed Champion." That's when things went downhill.

Ed Champion responded on Twitter, accusing Khakpour of publicly smearing him, and said she was unappreciative of the work that he did to help promote The Last Illusion.

champion response 2

5)  Has this happened before?

On June 26, 2014, Champion published a rambling 11,000-word article on his blog titled "Emily Gould, Narcissism, and the Meddling Millenials." In it, he blamed "white women who are almost totally in the dark about their privilege, many bolstering a blinkered neoliberal feminism" for ruining the future of literature. Emily Gould is a writer who started her career at Gawker.com before becoming a novelist and bookstore owner.

This article wasn't just evidence of a narrow mindset; it was a deeply problematic, misogynistic screed. At one point he wrote of Gould, "when a minx's head is so deeply deposited up her own slimy passage, it's often hard to see the sunshine." He also also critiques female writers Michele Filgate and Rachel Fershleiser in the piece. The article caused a firestorm on Twitter, culminating in Champion writing and then deleting what the Daily Dot called "a few self-pitying comments," followed by a vague threat to commit suicide.

6) How does he get away with this?

Several of his detractors have backed off when Champion alludes alluded to his fragile mental state. The Daily Dot traced the Twitter response of people who supported and tried to encourage him after the Gould scandal, and Khakpour was actually one of his defenders.

Friday morning on Facebook, Champion vaguely suggested again, vaguely that he was considering suicide, writing,  "This world is a horrid cancer that no decent soul should ever partake from. Get out of it while you still can. Goodbye." Some people on Twitter Thursday expressed resentment over this pattern.

7) Who is @sarahw? What does she have to do with any of this?

Sarah Weinman is Champion's longterm partner. During the incident she tweeted:

Weinman is a lead editor for Publisher's Marketplace, which is one of the most influential publications in the literary world. All of the women Champion has publicly critiqued or harassed have been making their way into the literary spotlight. Some people think that Weinman's connection to Champion makes people afraid to criticize him, even though Champion implied on Facebook Friday morning that she had left him.

8) Have there been any repercussions?

Ed Champion's Twitter account was suspended by Twitter after he was reported for harassment. (You can still view his feed here.) Professional or legal repercussions are yet to be seen. After his article about Gould, the only repercussion for Champion was a slight fall from favor within his community. Champion continued to attend literary events, and Gould expressed on Twitter that she experienced a form of post-traumatic stress disorder from the event:

9) I'm sad and overwhelmed. What can I do?

September 2014 began with a group of hackers stealing celebrity photos and posting them to the internet. Then there was Ray Rice video, and then the Emma Watson "hoax" and Gamergate.  It's been a harsh reminder of realities that women face both in the public eye and in private.

If you want to help, report every incident of harassment you see on Twitter whether or not you are being directly harassed. And if you feel so inclined, buy Porochista Khakpour's novel The Last Illusion and Emily Gould's Friendship.