On her blog, cartoonist Julia Wertz describes her interactions with a male fan that are pretty much textbook harassment. He ordered a book of Wertz's cartoons and included the instruction "I’d be enchanted if you rubbed your vagina on it.” Wertz refunded his money and refused the order, which then made the fan mad. He insisted that he wasn't harassing her — after all, he says, he framed the instruction as something that he almost wrote in an e-mail to her, it wasn't a real instruction. Wertz says he was proud of his commments, explaining on Twitter that "the vagina remark was meant to ‘enlighten’ me, and was not sexual, and saying I should have been flattered by the praise that preceded it." I've read the dude's Twitter feed, and I can tell you that she's not mischaracterizing him. I'm not going to link to it here, because he doesn't need any more attention and he would likely misinterpret it anyway.
The title of this Note was originally "Please stop harassing women artists," but that would be stupid, of course. Men need to stop harassing women, full stop. Still, we need to acknowledge that the internet has left women artists vulnerable in new ways; artists are expected to respond to their fans directly, they often sell and ship their own work themselves, and they're telling personal stories that clueless harassers can interpret as welcoming signals. I don't have any solutions. I'm in awe of women for dealing with this type of bullshit day in and day out. I wish I could do more to help.
But let's generate some positivity out of all this: if you don't know Julia Wertz's work, you should definitely acquaint yourself. Maybe buy one of her books directly from her. I've read all of them, and I can tell you that every one of Wertz's books is funny and crude and surprisingly poignant without any of the sentimentality that weigh down many autobiographical comics. Go take a look.
And if you harass women, please stop. Okay?