Think Out Loud

Portland Author Chelsea Cain Speaks About Twitter Outrage And Misogyny

By Dave Blanchard (OPB) and Henry Leasia (OPB)
Nov. 3, 2016 9:46 p.m.
Chelsea Cain, Portland author of the popular comic book series Mockingbird.

Chelsea Cain, Portland author of the popular comic book series Mockingbird.

Since becoming the author of the "Mockingbird" comic book series, Chelsea Cain says she is used to receiving unkind and misogynistic tweets on Twitter. She blocks people who share sentiments like, "Thanks for ruining my favorite character with all of your feminist crap."

Last Wednesday night, however, Cain decided she'd had enough. She had planned to watch "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" with her family, but she first had to respond to a number of critical tweets she had received. She told her family to watch without her, and she went upstairs to her computer to deal with the situation. At that point, she felt exasperated with social media.

"I was like, 'God, what am I doing up here dealing with these strangers when the people I love are downstairs?'" she said.

She tweeted that she was done with Twitter and went back downstairs. The next morning she deactivated her account. She did not think much of it, and took a break from social media for a few days.

Cain was surprised when people started texting and calling to see what had happened because she did not think it was such a big deal.


"I quit Twitter," she said. "I don't have cancer. I haven't been arrested."

Soon after, a media storm ensued. She said news sources such as the BBC and CNN started to get in touch with her, and at one point a cameraman and a newswoman showed up on her porch. Cain said she has been frustrated by all of the misinformation perpetuated by the media.

"The media were all just reporting on each other's stories, and it was a game of telephone," she said.

The narratives all followed a storyline media are used to telling, she observed, but one that wasn't very reflective of her experience.

"A woman is targeted by 4chan or Reddit and people just come to take her down, like to end her," she said.

Cain is nevertheless touched by the support she's received. She recently logged on to her Facebook account, where she discovered that her "friend request inbox" was full of messages of support from strangers.

"It was message after message from people all over every area of the comic book industry. People who own little comic book stores all over the country, readers and people who never read a comic in their life and never wanted to, but who wanted me to know that they had my back," Cain said. "It was just a personal communication, and it made me remember how important those are, and I was very grateful for them."

Try as they might to discourage her, Cain said Twitter critics will not stop her from writing the "Mockingbird" series.

"Writing a comic book for Marvel has taught me that I need to be a better feminist, and it's taught me the work that we have to do still in the dark corners of that particular type of fandom," Cain said. "The world needs more feminist comics, and I'm going to keep writing them."