Blake Bailey, the man who recently wrote a bestselling biography of writer Philip Roth that focused partially on his “breathtaking tastelessness towards women,” has been accused of sexual assault as well as grooming former students for future sexual relationships, leading the book’s publisher to temporarily pause distribution of the book.
In light of widespread praise for Bailey’s biography, former students from the New Orleans middle school where Bailey taught in the 1990s have come forward to say that he pursued sexual relationships with them after graduation and encouraged eighth-graders to keep him apprised of their “latest slap-and-tickle” as they progressed to high school. One former student has accused him of raping her when she was 22 in an interview with the Times-Picayune.
While a lawyer for Bailey told the Times-Picayune he “has never acted inappropriately with any student and has never received any complaints” about his conduct while teaching at the school, Bailey has been dropped by his literary agency and his publisher, WW Norton, has announced it will “pause the shipping and promotion of Philip Roth: The Biography.”
Now, to people outside the literary and academic worlds, it may seem like a wild coincidence that the man who chronicled Roth’s history of shitty behavior toward women—from getting revenge on an ex by describing her “withered” vagina in print to trying to “fuck” his young stepdaughter’s friend—is also allegedly shitty to women. But allow me to explain something to any outsiders who are reading this—the overwhelming majority of (overwhelmingly white) men in the literary and academic world are shitty people who routinely harass women. Production of most books by dudes would have to halt indefinitely if publishers actually began to care about this problem in actuality, instead of just the stories that made headlines.