What exactly is BookTok? And what does it have to do with hockey and the Seattle Kraken?
If, like me, you don’t have a TikTok account, you may have opened Twitter one afternoon, and found yourself quite baffled by a story making its way over to Hockey Twitter.
Felicia and Alex Wennberg (the latter, a center for the Kraken, and the former, his wife) released a series of statements on their Instagram stories calling for an end to the sexual harassment brought on by some within the Hockey BookTok community. Kierra Lewis, a prominent TikTok creator within that community, released statements across her social media accounts, claiming that Felicia’s statement was personally directed at her.
Over The Glass Podcast sat down with fellow Hockey of Tomorrow contributor, Kaja Antic, to break down everything that happened.
*This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
Jey: I wanted to start this out with where was everyone at before this hit the fan? I only knew that something called BookTok existed. I assumed it was on TikTok. I don't have TikTok, and that is as far as I went. I figured it's about books. Cool.
Kaja: Yeah, so, I work at a bookstore. A rundown of what goes on in that situation: There's just a community that's trying to make reading a trend, which I wholeheartedly support.
Jey: I'm down with sharing your love of books!
Kaja: Exactly! With Hockey BookTok, it's like a subset, a subgenre of BookTok itself. So, it's all these typically smut stories that involve hockey to some extent.
There is a prominent hockey genre, though, that is quite popular across social media and it's kind of made way for a lot of harassment of players in a more public setting. It’s just blatant harassment. The whole “krak my back,” with the Kraken.
Jey: I noticed that, in the course of finding all the stuff to talk about today, they invited one of the prominent folks, who came out with her own statement.
The Kraken invited her to a game, gave her a jersey, and I'm guessing they paid for her to be flown out there.
Jey: Yeah, so let's break that down.
There's obviously stuff looming and it's not like it just happened yesterday and all this is starting to erupt. This looks like it's been happening over the course of the season.
Kaja: The thing with BookTok, they're all fictional. None of the hockey players in the books are real. So, what I've seen on the BookTok community — I've seen a lot of people using actual hockey players as face claims.
Jey: They're trying to make their book experience a reality and using these actual players and manifesting them into the storyline.
The creator had said, basically being on TikTok, it doesn't take itself seriously, but you've kind of jumped into the ocean with that. “Oh, well, you can't hold us accountable. We don't even take this seriously. Like, it's a joke.”
Kaja: You can't say it's just a joke if the person you're making the joke about is uncomfortable with it. You have to respect some sort of boundaries. This is harassment.
You're harassing a person in their place of work.
Jey: It's not even a blurred line. It's just completely thrown out the door.
Nessa: You guys said it all already. This is a very uncomfortable situation.
This is his wife saying, “Hey, he's uncomfortable, I'm uncomfortable. We'd like you to stop because you're talking about us.” Really, him, essentially. I can't really make sense of why people are reluctant to stop when they're clearly saying, “hey, I'm uncomfortable.”
And it's not like she said it in a rude way. She was very... respectful about it.
What I don't really condone is if there's a bunch of people going to her page and calling her out. They're bullying her. “You're a sexual harasser,” calling her names, and what? There's no need for that, when Felicia already posted what she posted. Be aware of this. You know? The internet — even if your heart is in the right place, it's not the right way to go about things.
Kaja: Yeah. Because the same thing is happening, too, in the reverse end of things. A lot of Kierra's fans are commenting on Felicia's post saying, “you just want attention,” and she's the one who's married to him. Just don't harass people.
Jey: There's also this lack of accountability that seems to be going on on TikTok. “We're not even serious like 99% of the time.”
That's not a reason to act that way.
Kaja: Freedom of speech does not mean freedom of consequences. It should be known well across the board. The Kraken had “mostly BookTok” as their bio, and they made thirst traps of the players. Do the players know they're being thirst trapped?
I feel like that should be something they consent to.
Nessa: Speaking of consent... I feel like that's another conversation that we haven't touched on. People are allowed to change their minds. They're not consenting to it anymore and you have to be okay with that because it's their lives.
Kaja: Yeah, consent can be withdrawn anytime. She might have been okay with it at the beginning, but when you go off and make this whole minute long video of you just saying all this disgusting stuff that you say as a joke, you can withdraw consent if that's being said about your close family member; your husband. And he went out and said, “stop harassing, it's uncomfortable.” Alex Wennberg made a statement, especially in hockey, where people do not make statements about this stuff.
Nessa: I am now a Felicia and Alex Wennberg fan, big time.
Jey: They're queer allies! Spokesperson, please! For the future of the NHL. After he retires, give them both the ownership of the NHL. Point it in the right direction! She pretty much said it in the most adult, civilized manner.
Nessa: She didn't attack anyone. She just wants equality.
Jey: Well, to close out this discussion, I hope folks who’re just riding at the seat of their pants and reacting to the fact that they're having to account for all this, I have to hope that maybe they take a moment after it simmers down to realize what they're doing wrong.
As for the Wennbergs, they're human beings. He happens to be a hockey player. She happens to be a public figure because of that. They should be able to exist on the internet as well and share their lives and if she happens to make a comment, in regards to her husband, that's her right.
That doesn't give you consent to do the same.
I just hope that they're doing all right.
Check out the extended discussion on the Over The Glass Podcast!