“There is nothing more you need to say on this topic except ‘I apologize and I won’t do it again.’”
— Ana’s reaction when a commenter critiques her argument that denying a bratty child the present they want is somehow abusive behavior
Ana Mardoll is a blogger and veteran of two notorious SJW communities. She was a frequent commenter at the Slacktiverse; when that site fell apart, she jumped ship to Shakesville. She also blogs at her own site, Ana Mardoll's Ramblings, where she chiefly “deconstructs” popular novels such as those in the the Twilight, Narnia, and Xanth series. In addition to blogging, she has written two novels (Pulchritude, a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, and Poison Kiss, a fantasy romance) and founded an unsuccessful small press (Acacia Moon Publishing, discussed below).
FFA has talked about Mardoll any number of times. Specific topics have included her frequent misinterpretations of the books she deconstructs, her inability to distinguish genuine social-justice issues from nonsense issues (such as whether the word “humane” is offensive to otherkin), her inability to accept even the mildest critique or disagreement, and herpretensions that her literary deconstructions are “activist discussions.”
Despite her protestations that she opposes abusive and offensive behavior, Ana Mardoll is an enthusiastic friend and ally ofWinterfox, a notorious troll infamous for advocating that people she disliked should be raped, mutilated, and murdered. In particular, she has argued that the Mixon report, which demonstrated Winterfox's patterns of abuse over the years, is indistinguishable from Eron Gjanj's blogpost about Zoe Quinn that kicked off Gamergate (twitter). Mardoll has gone so far as to contend that the act of documenting or 'compiling' evidence that a person is a serial harasser is inherently violent and unsafe (twitter).
- Jul. 5, 2012: Three years before noted activist Rachel Dolezal was outed as a white person pretending to be African American, a Tumblr blog with the user handle of “prince-koyangi” asserted that its owner was a “transethnic” person who identified as Korean even though both their parents were white. Eventually, the three teenagers behind “Prince Koyangi” admitted to having made the whole thing up, but not before Mardoll waffled as to whether “transethnicity” was a real thing or just white people appropriating other cultures. She ultimately argued that since transgender people were also accused of appropriation (by transphobic feminists), and those accusations were false, so must be the accusations against “transethnics,” and that therefore Mardoll would respect “transracial” identification. Drink the Shakesville Koolaid was not amused.
When I started Acacia Moon Publishing, my initial thought was to publish anything/everything submitted with no internal content checks, no screening, and no censorship. The idea was a “self-publishing” venture where authors published anything they desired, and we just supplied the ISBN and nothing else.
Things went wrong very quickly. Mardoll’s trademark application was denied because too many other publishing groups use “Acacia” in their names. Smashwords also began to sell indie books to libraries, which undercut Acacia Moon’s business model. Furthermore, Mardoll realized that her “no censorship” policy wouldn’t work once somebody submitted a book with a racial slur in the title, and she decided she didn’t have the resources to check all submissions for offensive content on her own due to time limitations and health concerns. Nor could she transfer the business to anyone else, because everything was in her name. As a result, Acacia Moon was shut down after about a week without having published a single book.
- Feb. 12, 2013: Meme discusses an overbearing “community note” written by Mardoll in which she chastises her commenters for not respecting her space or treating her analyses with the seriousness they (supposedly) deserve. The discussion covers the more ridiculous points of those analyses, including her argument that Death in Terry Pratchett’sHogfather is a bully for giving a bratty child a present he doesn't like, and her insistence that Bella Swan in Twilight is disabled because the text says she’s clumsy and that everyone else in the book is ableist by not accommodating her (e.g., she is not excused from gym class on account of being too clumsy to participate, which Mardoll found offensive).
- May 4, 2013: In a thread titled “What blogs do you hate read?”, a nonnie says, ”Ana Mardoll.” Other nonnies say they hate-read Mardoll as well, and the discussion mainly revolves around Mardoll’s “deconstructions” of Narnia. The subthread OP’s bone of contention is Mardoll’s interpretation of an offhand line about musicians standing on the riggings of a ship to play for Prince Caspian and the Pevensies: she declared that the musicians were cruelly being forced to risk their lives. The concept that the musicians may have been professionals with acrobatic abilities who voluntarily put that show on, or there may have been safety gear, seems to never have occurred to her.
- May 18, 2013: In a Shakesville post about Sleepy Hollow, Mardoll and McEwan joke that the TV show is trying to replicate Elementary in having a woman of color as a sidekick. Meme discussion begins here. Then a black woman in the SV comments states that this is a poor argument because the WoC characters from both shows have nothing in common, and women of color are not interchangeable. After talking down to her for a while, Mardoll and McEwanclose the thread in a huff, with the excuse that Joss Whedon has been mentioned and “they don’t have the mods to moderate a discussion about him. Okay!” It is mentioned in the thread that Mardoll and McEwan frequently criticize soi-disant “allies” for talking over the marginalized people they claim to be defending, but they have no compunction about doing it themselves.
- Jun. 5, 2013: In a comment to one of her Narnia “deconstructions,” Mardoll claims that the concept of human behaviors being “tied to our form” expressed by C.S. Lewis and others is “inherently hostile to a large number of trans* people, disabled people, otherkin people, and so forth. Not to mention the gender essentialism that frequently goes along with this theory.” Meme mocks this, with one nonny pointing out that brains and hormones are part of the human body and most definitely influence how we act.
- Feb. 18, 2014: In yet another Narnia post, Mardoll argues that the Dufflepuds, a race of silly creatures who act in comically goofy ways, are horribly oppressed. For example, she argues that because the Dufflepuds alternately treat their minder as dangerous and play tricks on him, they must be trying to get him to kill them to put them out of their misery. Needless to say, there is no support for the 'Dufflepuds are suicidal' theory in the text, but Ana nonetheless declares that she is so horrified and enraged for the poor Dufflepuds that she wants, "[...]to sob until I have no tears left and then pour all the tears on C.S. Lewis’ grave and then light them on fire. BECAUSE MY TEARS ARE FLAMMABLE.” Meme boggled at this inanity, one nonny channeling Paster Niemöller: “FIRST THEY CAME FOR THE DUFFLEPUDS, AND I SAID NOTHING BECAUSE I WAS NOT A DUFFLEPUD.”
- Jul. 28, 2014: At Shakesville, McEwan rants at length about Drink the Shakesville Koolaid, claiming that their criticism of her bullying behavior and horrible activism is itself bullying and horrible. Mardoll makes a similar post on her own site. Nonnies discuss how much of DTSK is actually abusive and how much is just people disagreeing with McEwan and Mardoll or noting how SV has hurt them in various ways. One nonny, quoting Mardoll’s claim that she feels “hurt” and “depressed and tired and in pain and stressed,” snarks, “And your posts on Shakesville as a moderator attacking random people for stupid shit like complaining about leaves or wishing that McEwan had a magic elf to do her chores or any number of asinine things you’ve taken part in don’t leave the people on the business end of your vitriol hurt, depressed, and stressed?"
- Jun. 21 and 24, 2015: At Shakesville, Mardoll reviews a tie-in comic to the newly released movie Mad Max: Fury Road, stating that it undercuts the movie’s feminism and indulges in bog-standard misogyny. Meme critiques her critique intwo threads. While many nonnies agree, as do other people in fandom, that the tie-in’s creator Mark Sexton is a dickbag who created a skeevy and misogynist piece of work, they find Mardoll’s analysis full of factual errors.One subthread on the earlier post revisits Mardoll’s “Prince Caspian abuses his musicians” argument and adds that she’s also complained about the Pevensies planting a short, rather than a tall, apple tree behind their castle because it would produce less fruit for feeding the populace of Narnia. Mardoll’s exact words:
They could have planted small apple trees, of course — pretty little decorative trees that grow less fruit but can be picked by hand whenever the desire arises. And knowing the Pevensies, they probably did. This orchard probably wasn’t put into Cair Paravel to protect the residents from starvation over a long siege. The orchard probably wasn’t put into Cair Paravel to feed the surrounding community and ensure they always had food stored up over the winter. It’s easy for me to imagine that the priorities of the Pevensie monarchs — who, let us not forget, spent their last days in Narnia hunting one of their subjects for sport — were beauty and pleasure over security and social welfare.
- Jul. 24 and 25, 2015: In a pair of threads, nonnies once again rip into Mardoll's greatest hits. Of note, one nonniepoints out that Mardoll really doesn't understand apple cultivation, despite her protests that the Pevensies are awful for planting the wrong kind of apple tree. Another notes that, as talking animals are kind of prominent in the world of Narnia, the musicians that Caspian ostensibly endangered by 'forcing' them to perform high up in a ship's rigging may well have been lemurs, birds, or other animals that are actually quite capable of handling heights.
- Aug. 22, 2015: Nonnies discuss the friendship between Mardoll and Winterfox. A couple nonnies noted that the friendship appeared one-sided, in that Winterfox was retweeting Mardoll but Mardoll wasn't really responding. However, that didn't last, and Mardoll subsequently began defending Winterfox from people who felt that her abusive behavior was worth mentioning and reporting on.
- Sep. 7 and 8, 2015: In a thread about ridiculous interpretations, nonnies note some more of Mardoll's inaccurate readings. These include the idea that C. S. Lewis was opposed to people reading non-fiction (in reality, he wrote many non-fiction works), and the idea that the Duffelpods can't fetch water due to religious beliefs (which is never stated or implied anywhere in the Narnia source material).
- Dec. 2, 2015: Some nonnies summarize Mardoll's greatest hits and mock a few of her more recent Narnia deconstructions.
- Jan. 8, 2016: After starting a 'deconstruction' of C. S. Lewis's novel "A Horse and His Boy," Ana wrote a post in which she complained that one character is insufficiently empathetic towards another character's desire for slaves. Nonniesdiscussed this and other problems with her post (including her strange assumption that the setting of the novel, a faux-Middle Eastern nation, should be similar to 14th century France) at length. Also of note is a discussiondownthread in which nonnies note that, despite Ana's pretensions to intersectionality, she completely fails to understand class-based dynamics and has persistently argued that various rich characters in fiction are somehow 'oppressed' for not getting everything they want, such as the rich boy who was denied a lizard-smasher in a Terry Pratchett book (which Mardoll argued was somehow offensive and oppressive towards that kid). This was also linkedto her continued support of the wealthy abuser Winterfox.
[T]he writing is just so bad. And I know that's taboo to say in Lewis circles but this writing is awful. I don't know why I didn't recognize it as much before--maybe the earlier books were better, maybe the experience I have under my belt as a writer is to blame--but here we are and every page, every paragraph, screams 'I had no real outline or plan for this and I disdained the concept of edits!'
One nonnie snarked that "The fact that the last third of her self-pubbed book is her explaining what she meant by the book is never going to stop being hilarious to me. Speaking of things you should edit out, Mardoll..."
- Jan. 27, 2016: In continuation of the previous day's thread, nonnies try to analyze exactly where Ana went wrong with her Narnia deconstructions, and compare Mardoll's deconstructions of Narnia with Fred Clark's posts on Left Behind. Several hypotheses are put forth, including:
- "[I]n order to make a good sporking subject, something has to be REALLY BAD. And there is no universe where CS Lewis, whatever you may think of his politics or his religion, was a BAD WRITER. So Mardoll, in order to try to keep her posts entertaining, has to make shit up to complain about."
- "I think it would be possible to do a good deconstruction on the Narnia books, but you'd have to really understand the context Lewis was working from well enough to be able to add interesting context for your readers, and you'd also have to be willing to point out when authors do things right and why."
- Another anon has a simpler theory: "The problem is that Ana Mardoll is so unbelievably stupid. I've met 4chan trolls who look like Einstein next to her. She really just doesn't have the capacity to do a decent deconstruction, it's beyond her limited faculty."
- Mar. 20, 2016: In a thread entitled Winterfox Strikes Again, one nonnie delivers this analysis of Mardoll's thought processes:
This whole thing also reminds me of some anon on meme who speculated a while back that her choice of characters to defend never makes any consistent sense, unless you start assuming that she will always side with the bully. (Like why, for instance, she sympathizes with Edmund and Eustace up until they stop acting like jerks, and why she's so hung up on that lizard-smashing kid from Discworld.) I wasn't 100% convinced at the time, but given her wholehearted embrace of WF, I'm starting to agree.
Elsewhere in that thread:
Hey Ana Mardoll: WINTERFOX FUCKING STALKED PEOPLE AND YOU ARE AN ABUSE APOLOGIST