No thanks, random incompetent shill

Just received this in mail. WTF?

[snip product spiel]

We know your are big in the beauty blog world and we would love to send over some free product that may inspire you!

I’d LOL if it wasn’t so difficult to do when my jaw is on the floor.

There’s been a noticeable uptick in such mails around the blogosphere lately – the idea of sending bloggers freebies in order to get a favourable review. In one way it’s logical, and if one likes a product why not recommend it to others? Yet I have concerns about the level of transparency about some of these freebies that bloggers are reviewing positively, an issue that appears to have hit the “mommy-blogs” primarily amongst women bloggers, because they have such a large readership of people with little kids to buy stuff for, but I’m sure some of the larger feminist blogs are also being offered a steady drizzle of freebies.

I doubt anyone has an objection to review copies of books relevant to certain blog’s core issues, but what about other stuff? Where does the line get drawn, especially for feminists who regularly criticise consumerist commercialism as a fundamental aspect of the commodifying of women’s bodies and the marginalisation of women’s choices? Where does the co-opting of activists and critics begin? Has anybody stopped reading someone because the freebie-blogging became intrusive?

At least it’s unlikely to become an ethical dilemma for me just yet so long as the only freebie offers I’m getting are so laughably ill-matched to my writings.

About tigtog

writer, singer, webwrangler, blogger, comedy tragic | about.me/vivsmythe

14 comments on “No thanks, random incompetent shill

  1. To me, it sounds like a great way for an arsehole misogynist stalker with a beef against feminists to fraudulently obtain their home addresses.

    Yeah, I’m not buying.

    I’ve encountered a few blogs where the spamvertorials are out of hand. “Australian Women Online” springs to mind. I’m pretty sure it used to pretend to be an actual blog, but it sure doesn’t now.

  2. The fact that they actually appear to be quasi-targeting their spam offers to the individual is way smarter than I gave them credit for. At least “this blog is about women = this blog is about beauty!” is a defective logic chain that you can comprehend. I get spam mails that assume I’m trying to buy industrial polishing equipment. THE SPAM IS EVOLVING!

    The co-opting of activists and critics begins immediately when they allow their opinions to be altered by the company’s influence. If you think of a person or company better, you espouse opinions more friendly to them, because of things they give you, then you are officially co-opted. I don’t necessarily think that getting free stuff from the company co-opts you innately, though. Even if they give you stuff other than review copies, it can be okay to mention or recommend it if you really, actually like it — the way an un-bought, hyperbolic blogger might say “I just bought TF2 and it is the greatest achievement in the whole of human history” when they really, really like it and want to recommend it to others.

    I think the line is drawn in how it affects the person in question, not what they are getting. Basically I think you’re a shill if your opinion, or stated opinion, is changed by the stuff you get, no matter how germane. But if you’re good at being an ungrateful asshole, you’re still cool even if Monsanto is mailing you bouquets of roses.

  3. Well, since you are willing to look at book offers, perhpas you will want to check out a free e-mail sereis about…


    Most people are quite a bit in the dark about the suffragettes.

    Now finding out the sexy, shocking truth of HOW the suffragettes won the vote is as easy as opening your e-mail.

    “The Privilege of Voting” is a new historical e-mail series that goes behind the scenes in the lives of eight well-known women from 1912 to 1920 to reveal the exciting and surprising twists and turns that played into women finally winning the vote in England and America.

    The women depicted include two of the most beautiful and outspoken suffragettes — Alice Paul and Emmeline Pankhurst, along with Edith Wharton, Isadora Duncan, Alice Roosevelt, and two stunning presidential mistresses.

    There are weddings and funerals, babies in peril, damsels in distress, war, peace, prohibition, broken hearts and lots of hot affairs on the rocky road to the ballot box.

    The best part is it’s ALL true!
    Presented via e-mail in a unique, sequential, interwoven short-story format called Coffeebreak Readers that makes discovering the delightful heroines of women’s suffrage history fast and fun!

    Each action-packed e-mail episode takes about 10 minutes to read, so they are perfect to enjoy on coffeebreaks, or anytime.
    You can subscribe to receive free twice-weekly e-mails at:


  4. Many sex bloggers have been reviewing sex toys for a long time. I am among them. I get toys for free but I feel absolutely no obligation to give them a positive review. The company I review for encourages me to be honest. I gave several products tepid reviews but they keep sending me things to try out. I can’t imagine why anyone would feel obligated to give a good review just because they got a product for free. You can’t possibly be that easily bullied.

  5. That’s why I’m asking about where the line gets drawn, Ellie.

    It makes sense to me for specialist blogs to review freebies appropriate to their topics – those topics are already what have attracted their readers, and the products are totally relevant.

    But if you suddenly started telling your readers about other products, that weren’t part of the original focus of your blog, simply because they came to you as a freebie, how would that work out do you think?

  6. I hear ya, i got this randomness recently:

    Many concerned mothers today worry about raising their princess. There is a royal struggle to have fun with fairy tales and at the same time teach girls the true meaning of “Happily Ever After!”

    Princess Bubble stars a princess who is confused by the traditional fairy tale messages that say she must find her “prince” before she can live “happily ever after.” Princess Bubble dons her “thinking crown” to research traditional fairy tales, interviews married girlfriends, and even takes counsel from her mother, who advises her to sign up to Find Her Prince… “True happiness,” the book reveals, “is found by loving God, being kind to others, and being comfortable with who you are already!”

    I am so confused… So yea, i agree with you, NO THANKS!

  7. The true meaning of happily ever after? Is that sorta like when you find out the true meaning of Christmas is that your parents have been lying to you for your whole life so far?

  8. OK, came to this site through Shakesville and was inspired to post. Was I the only on falling over laughing at the wonderful “satire” posted above about the “sexy suffragettes” that sounds like the back cover of a Rona Jafee novel? Then I clicked through and found out it WAS TRUE. I’m staggered that this obviously sincere effort to market some kind of email serials about feminist history can be so off the mark. Especially in a blog posting about the inappropriate nature of some of the marketing offers. Am I the only one here that is interested in hearing the “true” version of how the women got the vote — but only from the most “beautiful” ones? Now that makes me snark all over my keyboard.

  9. Chryslin, thank you. I was beginning to think it was only me. The tin ear is alive and well, isn’t it?

  10. Okay, I was recently researching a feminist theatre project and came across this. The movie is less troubling to me, and the creator’s comments are more troubling…
    Anyway I read your blog from time to time, so i thought as a feminist you’d appreciate. (Even though I’m fully aware that arguing with this guy is pointless).
    Check out some irrational misogyny here:

  11. I WISH the spam was evolving. I get invites to mommy/beauty/lady communities, ad networkss and “opportunities” all the time, due to my affiliation with Blogher and then they see my URL. I’ve taken to saying “yes” just so I can watch them backpedal. And lulz ensues.

    This pushed my buttons and I had to vent! Thanks.

  12. I always thought feminists were beautiful, raw, sincere, intelligent, articulate, well, that’s what I like to think of myself as. But back to your topic, yeah, it’s poor marketing to send beauty products to a feminist web site that doesn’t offer product reviews (“ooh ooh I’m a woman, and I write, so I must only write about lipstick, right?”) but as a woman of colour, I would love to see a feminist analysis on the assumptions of these companies that are targeting blogs, along those lines. Do their products speak at all to women of colour? While obviously there is an assumption of class (we do have access to computers, after all), is there also an assumption of whiteness? I imagine one wouldn’t have to dig to deeply to see that’s probably the case.

  13. sorry about that winky smilely face… computers have no respect for punctuation.

  14. feministgal: Ooh, almost! “You don’t need your prince to live happily ever after … just so long as you have God in your life”

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