Anatomy of a man-tantrum: A woman shuts down the advances of an ex-"Harry Potter" podcast host and he freaks out

A Buzzfeed writer blocked Ben Schoen, formerly of MuggleCast, for creeping on her—cue his abusive public meltdown

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Published August 19, 2015 2:37PM (EDT)

  (<a href=''>Zdorov Kirill Vladimirovich</a> via <a href=''>Shutterstock</a>)
(Zdorov Kirill Vladimirovich via Shutterstock)

Here's a handy guide to what women you don't really know and have no previous relationship of any kind with owe you: Zero.

That's lesson one. Here's lesson two: If you want to assert your feminist credibility, doing an interview with Chuck Johnson is probably not the top way to go.

Earlier this week, Buzzfeed writer Grace Spelman went public on Twitter with her incredibly awkward recent exchanges with Ben Schoen, best known a few years back as the cofounder of the Harry Potter fan podcast "MuggleCast" and, ironically,, "a positive community for women online." As Spelman put it, "when i was 14 i was a fan of the HP podcast MuggleCast. I added one of the hosts on FB (bc i was stupid & 14) & now [Schoen] won’t leave me alone."

She says that over the course of the past several years, "I had seriously NEVER spoken to him or heard him say anything until 10 days ago and I NEVER saw any of his activity on facebook." But after Schoen moved quickly from a casual observation to her on Twitter that she's "awesome and hilarious" to more insistent contact, she ignored him.

He reached out to via Facebook, with a message about her "hyperactively beautiful" personality and how he "realized you're probably definitely a special soul (aka 'the one')." Spelman politely replied, "Thank you for the kind words but I actually have a boyfriend! Hope you stay well!" She then says she blocked him on Facebook and Twitter.

You know why? Because it doesn't matter why, the block tool does not require anyone who uses it to submit an explanation.

Schoen, in classic turnaround mode, went on the offensive, tweeting that "The way you ghosted me was immature and insulting" and saying, "Just bc you work at Buzzfeed doesn't mean you're good. Good luck in finding meaning in all of that garbage you find content." Then he sent her a message that "When you removed me from Facebook in a ghostly manner I was so angry and offended that I wrote a 1500 word diatribe 'putting you in your place.'" But he instead decided, "I'm sorry if I made you uncomfortable."

She didn't reply — because she doesn't have to — but said on Twitter that "The only reason I’m doing this because I know for a fact other girls my age & younger have added him on FB."

Schoen went big on Twitter, saying, "Thank you for the free publicity. Don't you have a listicle to be writing? I'll make sure your bosses know what u r up to… My favorite part of today is deliberately punching up at a buzzfeed staff writer and watching her take the bait… All of these people wasting their time trying to come after me and generating precisely the reaction I was looking for…. To borrow a line from @realDonaldTrump it seems @GraceSpelman has blood coming out of her wherever."

He also went directly after some of his critics, telling a man, "keep up the pansy tweets I might turn gay for you" and a woman, "I really hope you get a vicious form of cancer and die slow." To another woman who said, "I would really recommend stepping away from twitter right now" he replied, "I would really recommend choking on a fat one." If it weren't so disturbing and abusive, it'd just be sad.

In a statement to the Daily Dot, Schoen claimed that "I have done more for the cause of advancing women's rights than any of the people who are criticizing me. This so-called crisis is manufactured by Ms. Spelman as a way to increase her profile as a social justice warrior. I grew up without a father and I spent years protecting my mother from scummy men and dealing with all of the difficulties that come with not having a male role model. Am I rough around the edges? Sure. Am I a predator? Absolutely not."

For the coup de grace, Schoen then did a 45-minute interview with Chuck Johnson, because nothing says "advancing women's rights" like running to Chuck Johnson, a man who's been banned — reportedly forever — from Twitter for offering to "take out" activist DeRay McKesson, a man who last winter hilariously went a glorious boast fest about his hot Asian wife and asked "Who won, feminists?" Unsurprisingly, Johnson and Schoen have beef with "Women who basically famous on social media not because of what they write or what they say but because they're pretty" and what Schoen describes as "the true dark side of the Internet." I watched it and it's a master class in bro sadness. 

Rhiannon Payne, who is still on Feminspire's masthead as editor-in-chief,  told the Daily Dot this week she's no longer with the site, "due to the toll that the situation was taking on my mental health and I avoid communication with him …. I have not kept up with what he has been doing because frankly, the entire situation is a painful one."

Abbey Lewis, who is still listed as a senior editor, said on Twitter, "All of the writers we started with have left, afaik."

And Andrew Sims, creator and host of "MuggleCast," tweeted to Spelman, "I 100% stand with you. He hasn’t been on the show in two years for reasons and needless to say he won’t be on again."

As for Schoen, though, he's still swinging. On Wednesday morning, he tweeted disappointedly that "I forgot that writing an email was a crime."

Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a senior writer for Salon and author of "A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles."

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Ben Schoen Charles C. Johnson Chuck Johnson Grace Spelman Harry Potter Mugglecast Podcast Twitter