Historical and Contemporary Romance Author

It’s Not a “Woman” Thing

I get the joke. No, I really do.

It goes like this: There’s this video of a chimp raping a frog. It’s had over 11 million hits on YouTube. So Joe Konrath and Barry Eisler riffed on this viral video when they put out a free book called “Be the Monkey,” subtitled “A Conversation about the New World of Publishing.”

So yeah, I get it. The book is purporting to help authors avoid getting screwed. And given some of my experiences in the wild, crazy world of publishing, I have occasionally felt like I got bent over a barrel, metaphorically speaking.

The problem is that, even though I get the joke, I don’t find it very funny. But the reason I don’t find it funny ISN’T because I’m interpreting this as some kind of slur against women. I certainly don’t think Konrath and Eisler are advocating rape. I don’t think when they say “Be the Monkey,” they are addressing men and suggesting said men go out and rape women.

But Konrath apparently thinks that’s what I think, as his tweet to me suggests: “@jackiebarbosa “Be the Monkey” DOES NOT EQUAL “Rape women.” Shame on you for saying it is the same. Shame, shame, shame.”

So, here it is, in black-and-white and for the record:

Women aren’t the only ones who get raped. Men get raped, too. So do children (hello, Jerry Sandusky, in case we’ve already forgotten). Rape isn’t about gender. It’s not a women’s issue. It’s EVERYONE’S issue.

And the reason the “Be the Monkey” joke just isn’t funny (to me, anyway) is that there’s a big difference between not making yourself an easy target for victimization (i.e., doing smart things that help keep you safe) and actively victimizing other people. Even if the metaphor is supposed to be “take control and have power over your publishing career,” that’s a far cry from the actual message, which is “don’t just avoid getting screwed over, screw people over yourself.” I’m sorry, but it’s just not amusing to me, even outside the context of the actual, real-life problem of rape.

It’s also not true. You don’t have to actively harm others to succeed in publishing. Whatever route you take.

So please, let’s not advocate doing so, even as a metaphor. Or a joke.


  • Jody W. November 9, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    I think I’ll be the human being, thanks.

  • B.E Sanderson November 10, 2011 at 8:57 am

    First off, I’m grossed out that a video like that even went viral. Ugh, how far will this culture sink before it heads back in a rational direction?

    Second, I haven’t read what the others said but it seems to me that suggesting ‘be the monkey’ – whatever their meaning really was – is a short-sighted, irresponsible and depressingly cynical view of life.

  • Keri Ford November 10, 2011 at 9:59 am

    I love this: “You don’t have to actively harm others to succeed in publishing.”

  • Bridget McKenna November 11, 2011 at 11:17 am

    It is a metaphor, and it is a joke. It may offend you, and that’s your business, but if you’ve read the material, you know that the authors do not condone rape nor “screwing” in any way I understand the term.

    Yes, anyone can be raped. A frog can also be used as a sex toy by a horny monkey, and people can choose to find it amusing or not, but please don’t make it mean that either author condones the sort of behavior you’re suggesting they do.

    Read the book (which I believe is still free on both their websites) and decide for yourselves.

    • Jackie Barbosa November 11, 2011 at 11:51 am

      Bridget, I’m really curious if you actually read my post. I think I made it quite clear that what I object to is not the rape metaphor in and of itself, but the notion that your only choices in publishing are to either be a victim or an abuser. I reject that. If the monkey was hitting ithe frog over the head with a baseball bat, I would find the injunction to “Be the Monkey” just as unfunny and inapt.

  • Jill Sorenson November 12, 2011 at 9:20 pm

    Yes! I totally agree. I never thought these guys were advocating actual rape or even disrespect towards women. Now that I’ve seen the way they respond to criticism *from women*, I wonder about the second point.

    Shame on YOU? OMG. *gag*


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.