Storming the Battlements: or, Why the Culture of Mary Sue Shaming Is Bully Culture

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Title: Storming the Battlements: or, Why the Culture of Mary Sue Shaming Is Bully Culture
Creator: boosette
Date(s): April 2010
Medium: online
External Links: no longer available, journals deleted
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Storming the Battlements: or, Why the Culture of Mary Sue Shaming Is Bully Culture is a 2010 essay by boosette, which criticized the tactics of Protectors of the Plot Continuum and Mary Sue-slayer groups.

The post, originally at boosette's Dreamwith journal, is no longer publicly available but has been widely quoted and discussed.

Boosette stated that the Protectors of the Plot Continuum's stated actions bore "a remarkable resemblance to the bullying a goodly number of us experienced as geeky misfits, growing up." [1] The essay sparked a huge debate among fans and the article was widely quoted.


From astridv, quoting directly from boosette's entry:

Calling "Mary Sue" in this environment is shaming women for empowering themselves.

There is no substantive harm in writing a "Mary Sue" -- there is no substantive harm in creating a character, original or otherwise, who "warps the world around them", who is "adored by all for no particular reason", who wins the day.

There is substantive harm in bullying and shaming real people for empowering themselves through their writing. Words have power. Words cause harm. Words hurt, and the wounds they leave are deeper and longer-lasting than many physical wounds. I nearly stopped writing entirely, as a teen, after having my work and my OC called "Mary Sue". I have friends who did stop writing because of it.

Before anyone says: "Oh, they/you should just have sucked it up and grown a thicker skin! Learn to accept criticism!


You are blaming the victims of bullying for their bullies' behavior.

That is Not. Okay. Ever. [2]
From blythe025, also a direct quote from boosette's entry:

There are some interesting discussions going on about Mary Sue bashing (found thanks to astridv, and whom I sort of stole the formatting of this post from), namely that Mary Sue bashing a bad thing. For example: "Storming the Battlements or: Why the Culture of Mary Sue Shaming is Bully Culture", by boosette: "Writing "Mary Sues" is empowering. Writing them being awesome is empowering. Calling Mary Sue, and contributing to an environment such as the above, which encourages the denigration of female awesomeness in fiction, which encourages the bullying and harassment of participants in female awesome, is participating in that culture.

Calling "Mary Sue" in this environment is shaming women for empowering themselves.[3]
PPC members took issue with Boosette's interpretation of the Mary Sue issue, arguing that they were not shaming writers or women, but rather calling out bad writing:
Calling “Mary Sue” in the PPC is telling a flat, unrealistic, stereotypical character exactly what she is.."[1]
Hello, there, canon-defenders and other curious people! It's happened again. One Boosette has ranted against the PPC and its canon-defending affiliates. This is a little different than your average Suethor rant, in that 1) it is articulate, and 2) it brings up specific, serious charges of bullying and misogyny, rather than just spewing aimless vitriol. (Not accurate charges, mind you, but serious ones.) And so, with this expanded version of what I posted on the Board, I give you: entertainment! Hopefully. [4]


By Others

By Protectors of the Plot Continuum Members


  1. 1.0 1.1 An Answer to Some Accusations, accessed January 3, 2011; WebCite (post contains quotes from Boosette's original post, Why the Culture of Mary Sue Shaming Is Bully Culture)
  2. I'd been meaning to write a post called "In Defense of Mary Sue" but I see that I was beaten to it, April 13, 2010; WebCite
  3. On Mary Sue, April 13, 2010; WebCite
  4. An answer to some accusations.; archive link, Araeph (April 15, 2010)