Libby Chamberlin, the Brooklin, Maine-based founder of the popular, invite-only Facebook group Pantsuit Nation, acquired a publishing deal for a book this week, invoking the ire of many on social media. According to a post on the private page, the book will be a collection of some of the stories and images shared by the group’s nearly 4 million members.
Following the book deal announcement on Monday (currently the pinned post on the page), Pantsuit Nation page members began expressing their disappointment and anger at what they perceived to be Chamberlin’s profiting from their social media presence. “Disgusting opportunism. I am horrified,” one user wrote, which others mirrored in comments describing a “betrayal of trust” and monetization of a safe space. “This is gross. Gross. Gross. Gross,” one commenter wrote.
The 33-year-old Chamberlin’s post announcing the deal says that she “believe[s] that collecting our stories in a book is an important step, and a very exciting one.” She wrote “the book will further our mission and the premise that stories give meaning to action and that meaningful action leads to long-term, sustainable change.” Comments have since been disabled on the post.
Chamberlin started Pantsuit Nation in late October as a Hillary Clinton support page and has continued as a rallying spot after Clinton’s election loss.
In addition to the book deal, Chamberlin also wrote that she filed paperwork to establish Pantsuit Nation as 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) nonprofit organizations in order to “support the advocacy, education, and political action efforts we have already seen grow out of Pantsuit Nation.”
“I’m sad that a group that many of us came to for hope and as a means to unite for a greater good is falling apart before our eyes,’’ said Pantsuit Nation member Meghan DeMariano of Maryland in a Facebook message. “I’m sad that it morphed into something that needed to be trademarked and used for profit instead of continuing to be that place we could go to share, learn, support, and organize during a time of intense political decisiveness. Now it’s not a safe space for anyone because our stories can be subject to exploitation.”Carly Sitrin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @carlysitrin