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Author Topic: Amazon.com GLBT Discrimination
Heather
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I'll keep all of you updated as best I can -- including if we will continue having all our links to Amazon we currently have at Scarleteen -- but as of this morning, it seems quite clear that Amazon.com is discriminating against those of us who are queer authors and books which are GLBT (fiction or nonfiction, including many pieces of classic literature), which are about sexuality for teens and GLBT-friendly, which are feminist sexuality books and many non-fiction sexuality books in general.

What they are doing is removing our sales ranks -- this shows us in the bestseller lists, which the Scarleteen book I wrote has long been on for teen sexuality books -- and also excludes us from topic listings. So, for example, right now if you were to go to the list for books on teen sexuality, you would no longer find my book and some others previously listed there. What this means for authors is that if someone doesn't know to look for your book by title, they will not likely find it. That's a HUGE deal for us, as, obviously, is being discriminated against, period.

Some other books which have been stripped of their ranks include: Changing Bodies, Changing Lives: Expanded Third Edition: A Book for Teens on Sex and Relationships by Ruth Bell, Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and A World Without Rape, Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Woman's Guide to Why Feminism Matters by Jessica Valenti, Cycle Savvy by Toni Weschler, Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters, Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson, Gender Outlaw by Kate Bornstein and too many others to count.

They are stating ranks are being removed because titles like mine and these are "adult," but that's clearly not true. To give you an idea of some titles which have NOT been stripped of their rankings, but are very clearly "adult," know that titles like Girls Gone Wild: Girls on Girls, Surrender the Booty 3: The Search for More Arse, Jenna Jameson: Ultimate Collection, Playboy: The Complete Centerfolds, Girls Kissing: Volume One, and Hot Babes remain ranked.

I made a sidebar on this at the page for my book at the site, but you can keep up with all of this via a twitter feed for it here: http://search.twitter.com/search?q=amazonfail

I'd also encourage you, as I did, to write them a very strongly worded letter.

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Jill2000Plus
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Not that it helps much, but DOUCHES, amazon are DOUCHES, amazon are giant PH balance upsetting, woman harming DOUCHES.

I'm really pissed off, because of the discrimination, and also because it's not as if amazon will go under if a thousand or two fundies are sufficiently offended by their content to stop buying from them, and I would have thought that most anyone who would stop buying from amazon because they have those books in their bestseller lists would have stopped buying from them because they stock porn (not arguing in favour of porn, but while there are good feminist arguments against it, it's also possible and commonplace to hate it on the basis that it contains nudity and sexual acts among those who object to feminist, LesbianGayBisexualTransgenderQueerIntersexedUnsure and sex education books), and also, y' know, books and films and music that show and/or are made by women who aren't in kitchens, baking pie, pregnant and barefoot while wrapped in a large preferred national flag patterned sack until their husbands come home and they cook what they slaughtered in the woods, even though there was already a meal there, but hey if it makes you feel more like a big man dear.

Girls Kissing, Volume One... I wonder if the sequel will be called Girls Kissing Volume 2 or Girls Giving Each Other Love Bites, or Girls Hugging or Girls now in Relationships or what. Curiosity... maybe it'll be called Women Kissing.

I'm torn between being straight up appalled by titles like Surrender the... and finding them utterly hilarious in their complete obliviousness to any vague notions of thinking before you speak... or print titles for DVDs.

I'm also annoyed because amazon is my chief DVD, music and book purchasing resource, and even with this I'm not sure I can afford or am seriously willing to give them up. Oh well, good for anyone who can manage it. I will write them a strongly worded letter.

And that the Playboy titles and other clearly adult (in the pornographic sense of the term) ones haven't had their rankings removed makes it even worse. It's awful that they are categorising "books that teach born homosapiens under the age of 18 about things outside of the religious, conservative environment their parents may want to keep them in" as porn, and more pornographic than actual porn.

Have they de-ranked boys love and girls love manga titles (I am slightly reluctant to use the terms gay and lesbian on the basis that a lot of these titles are written as fantasy for straight members of whichever sex isn't being depicted, in much the same way as it sometimes seems slightly odd to describe porn about women doing sexual things together to entertain men as lesbian porn, there's no other reasoning behind it)?

Also, do you think any of this is because easter is widely celebrated today (or hereabouts, I'm not up on what happens in america with religious festivals) and they think they'll persuade religious conservatives not to be inspired to boycott the site or start a detracting publicity campaign if they do this? Is this just on amazon.com or are their other sites being affected, such as amazon.uk?

[ 04-12-2009, 05:00 PM: Message edited by: Jill2000Plus ]

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Always knock before entering my room when I am in there alone, as I may be doing all sorts of wonderfully thrilling things that I'd rather you didn't see.

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NonStraightAnswers
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Uh, hi, can I just ask that you *not* use a word with misogynistic connotations (douches) as an insult, even if you're insulting someone for being homophobic? Thanks.

That being said, I agree with the sentiment and will be boycotting Amazon for the foreseeable future and have already started urging my friends to do the same....

I'm hoping someone can clarify something, though...So far as I can tell, S.E.X. still has a Sales Rank. Are there two separate things going on - stripping of Sales Rank and stripping of category tags? Or are there multiple listings for the book and some are stripped of Sales Rank and others aren't? I'm confused...

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atm1
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Where do we sent letters?
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Heather
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NonStraight, suddenly there IS a rank (it was gone this morning), but it is not typical of my usual ranking at all (it's usually way higher) and I am still no longer listed by subject. It also was NOT there when I posted to the blog there an hour ago.

In terms of finding out who was deranked, if a book has no sales rank AND no subject listing, OR no subject listing, it's been deranked.

Per who to email, I sent to their execs at: ecr@amazon.com

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Heather
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Correction: there is still no sales rank for my main listing: http://www.amazon.com/S-E-X-All-You-Need-Know-Progressive-Sexuality/dp/1600940102/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1239577310&sr=1-1

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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orca
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(Jill, please keep in mind that Scarleteen is an inclusive site which caters to individuals of many and diverse backgrounds and identities. I understand that you feel upset by Amazon's actions, as I do too, but attacks against people of a certain religious group or against people for feeling strong ties to their nation just isn't okay here. There are always ways to express ourselves without being disparaging toward others. If I've misread or misinterpreted your intention, then my mistake, though I think we always have to keep in mind, especially when writing on the internet, that others might be offended by what we write, and it's helpful for communication if we can form our words with others' feelings in mind.)

[ 04-12-2009, 06:08 PM: Message edited by: orca ]

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Jill2000Plus
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I just explicitly explained my non misogynistic reasoning behind the usage of the insult, a douche is a bag of chemicals that hurts women, I've stopped using virtually every swear word that exists on the basis of it's connotations, but the d-word has a valid feminist meaning as an insult, and I made that clear in my post, I can stop using it on the board if I'm requested to, but I am not insulting women or their genitals with my usage of the word. The point was, in fact, to insult amazon for their misogyny as well as their homophobia (as they are being misogynist here by taking down all those feminist books and because reproduction only sex education is misogynistic in that it clearly details a reliable method of bringing a substantial percentage of men to orgasm, penile stimulation, but does not mention what most women require to orgasm, clitoral stimulation).

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Always knock before entering my room when I am in there alone, as I may be doing all sorts of wonderfully thrilling things that I'd rather you didn't see.

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Heather
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I think we can probably agree that it's no easy call with "douche," okay? I've heard others express what Jill just did here in the past, and think it's just as valid as the feeling that it is misogynist. In other words, I think it's a pretty sticky wicket. [Smile]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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atm1
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Angry email sent. [Smile]
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atm1
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Oh, and they've unranked Our Bodies, Ourselves, too. So... at least you're in good company :/
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Jill2000Plus
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*cries* that smiley should totally become an international diplomat!

Anyway, thanks Heather, I can refrain from using it if a user that doesn't like it has a thread that's about them (support group or advice or something), but if I'm allowed I will keep using it in general. I can see that it can have misogynistic connotations, but like I said, I'm using it with a logically thought out feminist reason. I don't often say this, but I think it depends on what meaning you intend the word to have. It's in an unusual position in that it's a word that can be used insultingly in two ways that are ideologically opposite (I think there's a better word than opposite) in meaning, most other insults are either a word that is meant to be a term for an action or characteristic and also says that action or characteristic is bad (w**ker, b**ger, racial slurs), or using a word that is not per se an insult as one (gay, girl).

Also, I was complaining about religion influencing things in general, not about any particular religion, I only said easter because that's the religious festival that just happened, true that I probably wouldn't be so inclined to say specifically hanukkah or diwali, and I'll watch out for that in future, but I wasn't specifically trying to attack christianity at all. I can't really think of a better way to put the flag comment, but I would like to ask that if you're defending those who feel strong ties for their nation you understand that I care about ending all the "my country is better than your country and so are all the individuals in it" nonsense that starts wars and encourages prejudice.

[ 04-12-2009, 06:38 PM: Message edited by: Jill2000Plus ]

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Always knock before entering my room when I am in there alone, as I may be doing all sorts of wonderfully thrilling things that I'd rather you didn't see.

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Heather
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Edit: I'm still seeing OBOS with a rank: http://www.amazon.com/Our-Bodies-Ourselves-New-Era/dp/0743256115/ref=pd_sim_b_3

And Jill, I'm in agreement with you, and also appreciate everyone being able to feel they can voice objections, and voice disagreement constructively and kindly, as well as also leaving room for difference of opinion.

[ 04-12-2009, 06:33 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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atm1
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hmm... it didn't have a rank when I looked, but maybe the website loaded wrong... that happens sometimes.

Sorry for the misinformation

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atm1
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So... am I just missing stuff or is Gilligan's "In a Different Voice." unranked?

http://www.amazon.com/Different-Voice-Psychological-Theory-Development/dp/0674445449/ref=sr_1_40?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1239580423&sr=1-40


Um... maybe a feminist book, but it's pretty much just about psychology. Maybe it's because she interviewed women who had had abortions?

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Heather
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Yep, looks that way!

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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atm1
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So far as I can tell, it's EVERYTHING that's listed under Gay and Lesbian books (umm... and can you tell me why Gilligan's book is there? It's been a year or two since I read it, but I really don't remember anything significant about queer people in it...)
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atm1
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Yup, seems to be everything. I seriously doubt anyone complained that this one was offensive:

http://www.amazon.com/Boys-Girls-Learn-Differently-Teachers/dp/0787961175/ref=sr_1_117?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1239587719&sr=1-117

GAH... So, after finding out that Gilligan's book has been unranked, I've now gone through and looked up a lot of the books that we used for my (pretty innocuous) adolescent psych class... and more than half of them are unranked. So are quite a few of the books that I read for a gender and education class... I just don't get how this stuff could be offensive.... they may get more than one angry email from me

Ok, I'm done with this for the night.... I just am too frustrated.

[ 04-12-2009, 09:02 PM: Message edited by: atm1 ]

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NonStraightAnswers
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Heather: Thanks for the clarification!

Jill: This is why I shouldn't respond to things late at night - I'm more likely than is justified to respond testily.

Anyone interested: There's something in the LA Times about this; Amazon is claiming it's a "glitch". Something tells me that this "glitch" is going to force GLBT-related and feminist books to re-start their position in the ranks and thereby unfairly disadvantage them...

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Jill2000Plus
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It's cool, groovy and funky, NonStraightAnswers. I was posting on here at 4am (in the UK) last night, and I I.D. with tiredness causing one to have to be extra careful not to say something ill judged.

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Always knock before entering my room when I am in there alone, as I may be doing all sorts of wonderfully thrilling things that I'd rather you didn't see.

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cool87
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I think this GLBT discrimination is really stupid, seriously.

They can't even be honest either in really saying that those are not adult books that they've deranked but rather GLBT books, as if no one would notice or react.

Anyone knows what their purpose might be in wanting to discriminate GLBT books ? I mean they must be doing that for a particular reason, as much as this reason is probably not valid nor acceptable, otherwise I don't think they would have done so. I mean, what's their point in doing so ? I'm not sure to know how this can have something to do with the money they make or how much clients they have or anything like that...

[ 04-13-2009, 09:11 AM: Message edited by: cool87 ]

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Djynnjah
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Neil Gaiman has both blogged and become part of the TwitterStorm about it, which is sure to get the word around. Besides the petition and direct emails, there is a google-bombing campaign getting off the ground (questionable tactics for some perhaps). At any rate, so glad to see such a crowd not taking this lying down.

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fallchild
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Looks like they fixed it:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090414/ap_en_ot/amazon_s_glitch

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Heather
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Well, the ranking for some books has been fixed (after I finally got a rely last night, mine was), but not anything close to all, which makes their story on what happened fairly implausible.

In other words, if it was simply one field swapped by accident, it would just need to be swapped back, right? Yeah.

And personally, I'm not at all satisfied with the statement they issued. There's no apology in it, there's no explanation in it.

I have a piece going up on The Guardian about it soon, but also did a blog on it AT Amazon, on my book's page, Sunday here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/blog/post/PLNK211IP2AQ0XSE9

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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PenguinBoy
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Guardian Link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/apr/14/amazon-derank-books-sexuality

I really do think there's something wierd about amazon... it's no longer number 1, but i remember searching "Coming out" on amazon and the first item on the list was "Coming out straight" which is some ex-gay book, telling people how they can train themselves to be straight.

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Djynnjah
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Neat little summary and commentary of the end of mess: http://www.cheryl-morgan.com/?p=4528

I can sort of, kind of, maybe buy the 'programming mistake' explanation, but the Blame France bit is just so 'Freedom Fries'. And the PR is sorely lacking.

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