On Monday, Libby Chamberlain, the founder of Pantsuit Nation — a “secret” pro–Hillary Clinton Facebook group with nearly 4 million members — announced that she had gotten a deal with Flatiron Books. Chamberlain explained that the book would consist of stories that she collected from the group:
A book of YOU. A book BY YOU. A permanent, beautiful, holdable, snuggle-in-bed-able, dogear-able, shareable, tearstainable book. Your voices. Your stories. Our community. Our project. Our message of hope and change.
Ah, yes, no better way to promote a book than by hawking it as something you can openly weep into.
She continued on, explaining that she was working to register Pantsuit Nation as 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) nonprofit organizations. She also stated, “Please don’t offer merchandise or solicit members for personal or political donations.” The Pantsuit Nation book will be out in May and is retailing for $17.99 at Barnes & Noble.
Chamberlain’s post garnered nearly 5,000 responses before she turned off the comments. Several members of the group were unhappy with this development, distrusted Chamberlain’s motives for publishing it, and accused her of profiting off of other people’s personal stories in what was intended to be a private space.
Several expressed that they were “disappointed” and that Chamberlain was a “sell-out.”
“What I saw was millions MILLIONS of people here wanting to DO something after the devastating election,” one commenter wrote. “But you quickly squashed that in lieu of a book deal. I checked out after you made it clear this wasn’t a place for activism.”
“Libby must have read Art of the Deal and thought, why not?” another chimed in.
Over at the Daily Beast, Erin Gloria Ryan called the Pantsuit Nation book deal “the perfect bullshit faux feminist capstone on a bullshit year characterized by the failure of popular feminism.” Harry Lewis, writing at the Huffington Post, explained that the group “has devolved into a space where white people can claim to fight for the survival of the sisterhood by performing apolitical acts of self-humanizing.”
Following the immediate backlash, Chamberlain took to Facebook again to say that “[p]roceeds from the book will support Pantsuit Nation and the causes that are central to the group.”