A Note on #SoapDick

As someone who used to be very active in the SJM fandom, I know I still have followers who enjoy her work and might be aware of this. I’m not going to go through the trouble of linking all of the things because it’s very easy to find, but in short, the BookBoyfriend subscription box had an “Illyrian Wingspan” themed box that featured a smutty, personalized letter; a smutty self-insert fanfiction; and most notably, a bar of soap shaped like a detailed penis. Since I know I still have a lot of followers from the fandom, I feel responsible to break down the problems with this. 

Disclaimer: Yes, I used to write smutty fanfiction for the series, always tagged appropriately. I stopped doing so in May of 2017, shortly after ACOWAR. As I’ve grown as a reader and writer, my attitudes about smutty content in books have evolved. I don’t want anyone to think I’m being a hypocrite here, so I’m admitting up front that yes, I wrote smutty fic in the past, but I still have a problem with this whole fiasco. 


It does not matter that the creators of this box attempted to give credit to SJM and Bloomsbury on the cover of their little smut fic pamphlet. It is ILLEGAL to take the characters and world of a published author, write fic about it, and sell it for a profit. By including this in a subscription box, that’s exactly what these creators did. I will not be surprised if Bloomsbury slaps them with a Cease & Desist letter in the next 24 hours. 


I do not have a problem with this on principle. You do you. But using a book series that is still currently marketed to young adults and creating an explicit sex-themed crate to go with it is entirely inappropriate. Further, this particular subscription box has only produced crates based on YA books. Odds are, its client base is comprised of teenagers. They literally sent a soap penis to actual children. They had an “18+ warning” on the box, but when most of your clientele might not be that age, it’s incredibly irresponsible to suddenly expose young clientele to that. To my understanding, there was no information that the “special bath product” was shaped like a penis. There was no way for clients of any age to consent to this. 


On this note, you can see easy parallels with the ACO books themselves. Yes, they were originally marketed as New Adult, but that category has collapsed, and Bloomsbury has made the call to market them to young adults (teens). Both Bloomsbury and SJM have been very irresponsible in not tailoring their content accordingly. I am not saying that teens can’t handle sex, but the amount of and description of sex in the books is not appropriate for teens who might not be signing up for that content when they’re looking for a fantasy adventure. Most of that is a subject for another post and is also something I’ve discussed before, but it cannot be separated from this subscription box disaster.

In short, I’m sure Bloomsbury will be tackling the situation later. I believe SJM should also say something about it herself, because it was her work that led to this even if she didn’t sign off on this particular box. That said, I don’t think she will. I find this disappointing from a professional perspective, but I won’t go off on that here. 

I just put together this post so that my followers who might still be involved in the fandom in any capacity can be informed and understand why this is wrong. This post is not a sign that I am in any way returning to the fandom. I just felt that, due to my history in the fandom, I had a responsibility to say something. 


replied to your post “Top Five Wednesday”

Thanks for the suggestions! May I ask why you’re no longer a part of ACOTAR fandom? I’m about halfway through TOD & an struggling to finish it… Hopefully it wasn’t something negative/some kind of trigger warning for you. Have a great weekend!

Well, sadly I was pretty upset by the acephobia in ACOWAR, and overall I just felt like the book really didn’t live up to all it could. I don’t necessarily want to rehash it all, but if you want to investigate my tags ‘sarah is salty,’ ‘anti acowar,’ or ‘anti sjm’ (I tried to tag everything thoroughly so people could still enjoy the series without my feelings getting in their way). But I wrote 500,000 words of fanfiction for the SJM fandoms, so I feel like I made enough of a contribution and others can take it from here. 😉

Sarah that other anon was being ridiculous. You have every right to speak your mind and you are one of the kindest, most tolerant “antis” on here. I’m an sjm stan but I follow you as you’re nice and interesting and always respectful to others. You do in no way owe SJM or the fandom anything, your success is your own and you absolutely should not step on eggshells around us because you have the right to feel how you feel. I wish all stans and antis alike were as civil and considerate as you are

Thanks so much! This is a really kind note. I don’t even call myself an anti, not really, because I think such labels eliminate the potential for nuance and productive conversation. But I am definitely critical, more than I’ve been in the past, but I do try never to take it out on individuals (or even SJM herself). I’m glad my blog is a good place for both parties, though my opinions are my own in the end and they’ll probably always be somewhere in the middle. 

I’m experiencing a dilemma. I was wondering if you could help. I came across a wonderful art piece of Ianthe. However, someone added the comment “maas shouldn’t have turned her into a rapist so I ignore that.” I want to explain to that person why their comment is horrible and awful but I don’t know if it’s worth it. I don’t care who someone likes as a character, but you can’t just erase what they’ve done, especially something as serious as rape. We all like problematic characters but (1/2)

Something about that comment just rubs me the wrong way. I’m not saying you can’t like Ianthe’s character. Not at all. But to ignore and even defend what she did? I will submit a screen shot so you don’t have to wonder if I’m making it up but I don’t know that it should be posted for everyone to see since this website does have a lot of people who take things to far. This seems to be a problem present in the fandom for some time now and (okay this will be there asks, I’m sorry) (2/3)

As a rape survivor myself, I am becoming increasingly uncomfortable with this fandom. I’m not one easily offended or triggered by much due to where I’m at in my healing but for people to condone or even outright excuse rape, even fictional, bothers me. How do I handle comments such as described when I’m come across them. Talk to them, even if they are likely to ignore it. Or ignore which potentially leads to the idea that such a mindset is healthy and okay? Thank you for your time. (3/3)

Hey there! I’m sorry this comment troubled you (I received your submission but I won’t post it). In this case, I actually recommend DMing the person in question, because she’s very reasonable and I’m not sure she meant this the way you suspect. I’ve been following the person in question for a while now, so I’m reading it in context with other things she’s posted. Of course, that doesn’t mean you’re wrong for feeling upset, but I hope I can offer you reassurances by explaining that the poster in question is referring to S/JM’s tendency to villify every woman except her protagonists (Amarantha and Ianthe are the most notable examples, but there are more), specifically by making them sexually violent. So the OP isn’t saying that she likes Ianthe despite the raping, she’s saying that Ianthe could have been a great character that she’d appreciate even more if S/JM hadn’t made a sexual predator out of her. 

This is my outsider take, of course. Like I said, you shouldn’t have any trouble if you DM this person for clarification. And honestly, that’s generally my advice for situations like this: try to resolve it privately. Of course, try and take a look at that person’s interactions with others first to determine if it will be safe/worth the emotional investment, but that’s how I tend to approach these situations rather than arguing on a thread publicly. 

I’m sorry this comment hit you the wrong way, and I hope I was able to help! 

I don’t understand how you can shit on acotar in your thesis when 80% of the people who will read or even purchase your book are from the acotar fandom … you got your notoriety from acowas now you find it the worst series ?

1) It’s not my thesis.

2) I was critical of ACOTAR even when I was a fan, before ACOMAF came out, and before I even got a name in the fandom. (Exhibit A, dated March 2016.)

3) I exited the SJM fandom months ago, and my present feelings on her work should come as no surprise to anyone. I’ve been very transparent about my changed feelings.

4) Academic scholarship is not “shitting on” things. It’s critical analysis designed to uncover patterns in larger bodies of literature, societal movements, and analytical categories. I have been studying folklore and literature as academic fields for years longer than I’ve even known the name Sarah J. Maas. It’s how I make my living. I’m an academic first, a writer second, and a fan third. 

5) My proposal isn’t even complete in the screenshot, nor is it 100% critical, so calm down. I say outright it’s an “admirable attempt at a retelling.” And it is. Otherwise I would have never joined the fandom in the first place. 

6) The paper isn’t even written, I’ve blacked out my real name, and I didn’t even say which conference it’s for. Odds are you will never see the outcome of this proposal. This is for my academic, real-life career. 

7) ACOWAS was absolutely a wonderful experience and I am so grateful for all of it and all of the followers and friends that came along the way. But as a writer, I cannot in good conscience just allow myself to ride SJM’s coattails or attach myself to a ball-and-chain of a “fandom persona” that prevents me from speaking my mind. I hope my novel speaks for itself, and while I do think that SJM fans might like it, I don’t want to walk on eggshells for the next year trying not to upset SJM stans because they’re a potential audience. Can you imagine the kind of burden that would be? You all are free to love what you love, and I’m not trying to take that away from anybody. But a hint of criticism in a venue that’s entirely disconnected from fandom should not break your heart. 

For those who are wondering, anon is referring to a tweet that featured this screenshot of a proposal I’m submitting to a conference:

Anyway, anyone who has followed me for any substantial length of time should not in the least be surprised by this. And like I said, this is separate from fandom. No one get their knickers in a bunch. I can’t apologize to every stranger on the internet for like, actually have a career in literary analysis. That’s just not gonna happen.

Hey there! About that anti/stan drama earlier, I would also like to point out that the fan actually resolved the matter with the anti before opening it up again. The fan specifically said that the anti wasn’t to blame, and the two were on friendly terms, and the anti didn’t hear from them again, until that post painting the anti in a bad light appeared on your blog. Basically, the fan didn’t give you the whole picture and purposefully skewed out the anti from the discussion.

Seriously? *sigh*

Everyone, I know that my blog is a place where I try to make people feel welcome and comforted, but that doesn’t mean you can take advantage of me! I do not appreciate being looped in to someone else’s drama and made to sound like I’m taking sides when I don’t have all the details. If an anon comes to me, I tend to give them the benefit of the doubt, but it’s incredibly rude to put me in that kind of position. I don’t have the time or energy to investigate every anon that comes my way, so please do me the courtesy of not coming to me on anon to take advantage of me in situations like this! It makes it harder for me to help anons who actually do need it, and that’s not fair.

I’d like to say that I saw the interaction that I think the anon is talking about with the anti and while I agree they shouldn’t be made to feel awful and all that the anti didn’t go out of their way to be mean, the anon sent them an ask asking why they have a blog about things that they don’t like and while I agree it could sound like an innocent question it’s also what antis (including that anti) get asked all the time and it sounds condescending. The internet sucks when it comes to tone.

Ah, okay! Well, I had no way to know what the situation was, but that’s why I included the caveat that not everyone is going to be nice when talking about things that are upsetting to them. It’s a careful line to walk, but I do see people getting carried away on both sides, so it’s important not to act as though only one group is responsible for bad behavior.

Sarah… I’m feeling a bit down and I want to rant. So I interacted with an anti today, and I asked them a question (it wasn’t mean or disrespectful) and they replied saying my URL was shitty and I was whiny stan and I should “leave them alone”. It made me cry so hard and I hate that people can say such rude things not knowing how someone is going to perceive them based off of their life experiences. A comment like that hurts me so much because I was bullied and abused and I don’t want to sound

like a whiny stan like they said I am, but it freakin’ hurts. And I haven’t been exposed to any mean comments of the sort because I try my best to shield myself from that and remain a very positive blog, so this hit me harder than I thought it would. It’s like they said the exact words that would hurt me 😦 Am I just being stupid and overreacting? 😦

And I don’t want to seem like I’m a victim and want attention but I’ve been on the cusp of killing myself & this just confirms everything I’ve been told in my life. I can’t even say a freakin sentence without being a complete idiot and people hating me for it

Hey, honey! First, sorry it took a couple of days to respond. I hope you’re feeling better today. Second, a hug for you:

No, you’re not overreacting or being too sensitive. If they hurt you, no one else gets to decide that they didn’t. It can absolutely be rattling when you interact with a mean person on the internet for the first time, so that’s not your fault. 

I have said in the past and I will say it again and again until I’m blue in the face. It doesn’t matter if you’re an anti or a stan or someone in between–people are people, and people are more important than books. If you supporting or criticizing a book or piece of media comes at the expense of the real health and real feelings or a real person, you need to reexamine your priorities. I’m not talking about people who get bent out of shape over the slightest bit of criticism, because that’s not the same thing. It’s so easy on tumblr to hide behind your icon and url and not have to face the consequences of being aggressive and mean to another person. You have no idea who is on the receiving end of those remarks, and you could be doing serious damage. Just have a little compassion and use common sense, so you don’t end up really hurting someone.

I’m sorry someone came after you, nonnie. ❤ It’s not appropriate to make someone feel like crap. I’ll add the caveat that it shouldn’t be expected that everyone is always going to be nice to you online, especially when they might be talking about their own marginalizations, but going out of their own way to be mean is an entirely different story. I hope you’re feeling a bit better today and that this didn’t ruin your whole weekend. ❤ 

Hi Sarah. I have been trying to remove myself from the SJM fandom because it has been really toxic lately, and I have tried unfollowing SJM blogs and unfollowing sjm tags, but stuff keeps showing up in my dash. Anything I see just reminds me of the never ending battle between stans and antis, and I feel like I am caught in the middle. It is making me really stressed and sometimes angry (especially when people are being particularly ignorant). Advice?

Hey hon, I’m kind of in the same position. When you’ve been really involved it can be kind of difficult to unplug. Unfollowing blogs and tags is a good start, but if you use XKit or Tumblr Savior, blacklisting those same key phrases might be useful, too. I know I’ve got a couple of things blocked now. This way you can still follow blogs you do like without seeing SJM stuff they reblog. Hope this helps!