I’m Laura J. Mixon, an American science fiction writer who has published a handful of novels since 1987 and done some design work in games and interactive storytelling, as well as a few short stories. I occasionally blog at FeralSapient.com. My current fiction and blogging comes out under the pseudonym M. J. Locke. I’m married to SF writer and current SFWA president Steven Gould and my friends and engineering associates know me as Laura Mixon-Gould. I’m on the 2014 Philip K. Dick Award jury.
For those of you who don’t know me, I’m acquainted with a number of people who have been around for a while, primarily in US SFF publishing and fandom. I have asked my friends and acquaintances to signal-boost this post for me, because something important is going on in the SFF writing and fan community that is not on everybody’s radar screens, and I believe it should be.
Here are links to the major sections of this report, for those who want to skip ahead or jump around:
What’s this all about?
Linkage; getting up to speed
Throat clearing and report parameters
Requires Hate/ Benjanun’s targets
Requires Hate/ Benjanun’s attacks and impacts
Wrapping it up
APPENDIX A – Rules for Inclusion
APPENDIX B – Database
What’s this all about?
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Friends, the tl;dr of this very long, comprehensive, analytical report is that up-and-coming John W. Campbell nominee Benjanun Sriduangkaew (who is also rage-blogger Requires Hate, who is also several other internet personalities including Winterfox, pyrofennec, acrackedmoon, and others) (oh yes, the list goes on), is VERY BAD NEWS.
Those who have no idea yet what I’m talking about—you’ve never heard of this person but you heard some buzz and you’re curious—go straight to Linkage; getting up to speed, which has some useful background info.
Those who are well aware of the extent of her prior destructive behavior and just want to cut to the chase and find out what I’ve found in my four-week investigation into her history, go straight to Throat clearing and report parameters/#throat.
Otherwise, read on.
Benjanun Sriduangkaew has established herself over the past two years as a well-liked and talented newer writer. As a lesbian Thai woman, she identifies as a member of a highly marginalized community, and there has been quite a bit of excitement in progressive circles around her rise in popularity as a short story writer. She has been publishing SFF since 2012 and is a John W. Campbell nominee for 2014.
In September 2014 she was publicly revealed as Requires Hate, a controversial rage-blogger. Thai blogger Requires Hate appeared on the scene in mid-2011, and has built her reputation primarily by publishing vitriolic reviews of various writers’ books. She has ruffled a lot of feathers, but she too has her advocates: progressives (among them people I hold in high regard), who appreciate that—despite her sometimes over-the-top rhetoric—she unapologetically speaks up for people of color and queer/ LGBTQI people, calling out racist, homophobic, misogynist content in many popular SFF novels and stories.
Our genre has always had a soft spot for sharp-tongued souls. The person who speaks embarrassing truths has an honored—if discomfiting—place at the dinner table, in our SFF Island of Misfit Toys. Though some dislike the extreme rhetoric she uses in her reviews and on Twitter, Requires Hate has shown a deft way with words, and has been promoted as a contender for a Hugo award for some of her blog posts.
What has also become clear in recent weeks is that Benjanun, in the roles of Requires Hate and her other known pseudonyms (including Winterfox, acrackedmoon, ACM, pyrofennec, Valse De La Lune, valsedelune, and Lesifoere), has a decade-plus history of destructive trolling behavior in online SFF and videogaming communities, going back to at least 2003.
Benjanun/ Requires Hate (hereafter BS/RH) has denied some of the allegations leveled against her. She has also apologized, in both her Requires Hate and Benjanun identities, for the damage she has done. She has asserted that some of the damage was done by an unspecified impostor.
In the latest dust-up over Tricia Sullivan’s novel Shadowboxer, accusations have flown back and forth about who did what to whom around the revelation of BS/RH’s multiple pseudonyms. There’s been a lot of smoke and noise around the revelation of the connection between her two identities, with accusations of blackballing and stalking and shunning flying about.
People from non-dominant social groups (POC, women, LGBTQI, the poor, etc.) get accused of being bullies all the time, simply for not being quiet when they’re told to. I can’t blame her progressive supporters for being skeptical, when they hear rumors that people are stalking her, doxxing her, shunning her, and calling for her to be silenced. It resonates deeply with messages people from marginalized groups have been hearing for centuries in Western culture, when they’re harmed by oppression and seek a platform to speak their own truths.
I think of what happened this last August in Ferguson, Missouri. As a mother of two young adults around Mike Brown’s age, I break into a cold sweat when I think what his mother must be going through. I feel deeply angry, that in my own country today an unarmed young person can be shot on the street by a uniformed police officer, and months later there is no indictment, no criminal charges, against that man.
People are pissed off about that kind of thing, and rightly so. Context matters. Anger is an appropriate response to abuse of power. It can be a huge relief, when you feel as if your own voice isn’t being heard in your community—whether it’s a suburb of St. Louis, or a subcommunity of SFF—for someone to raise their voice above the din on your behalf.
It’s easy when a controversy like this occurs to shrug and call it fanwankery, or a tempest in a teapot; or to loftily counsel the participants to stop feeding the energy creature and move on. It’s certainly easier to do that than it is to investigate and sort out the actual issues. It’s very complicated; there’s a lot of he-said-she-said; and it’s hard to find direct links for some of the most damning allegations. I’ve already seen calls for everyone to just move on, let the current ruckus die down, and trust that things will eventually sort themselves out with no help from the rest of us.
Bluntly, I disagree. The SFF community matters to me. So does basic fairness. So does social justice, which should not be reduced to a rock people throw at each other when they want to hit harder. I don’t believe we can answer the questions bouncing around about BS/RH, or decide what (if anything) should be done about her, if the community doesn’t first get a clearer and more complete picture of what has already been going on.
That’s why I’ve been delving into the matter to find out more, trying to keep an open mind and go where the data led me. This is my report on what I found.
Linkage; getting up to speed
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If you haven’t heard about the most recent flare-up, plenty of information on that is available, for those who want more details. This report has a different focus.
Here are the two most thorough backgrounders I’ve seen to date, to bring people up to date who haven’t been following this.
Here are links to BS/RH’s apologies.
I’ll post accounts here from people who have been targeted in the past, as I receive them.
- Athena Andreadis: “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Wrecker”
- Rochita Loenen-Ruiz: “Standing up and Speaking Truth”
- Rachel Manija Brown: “Not a Fun Post to Write”
- Paul Weimer: “The Passion I Have for Genre Literature”
- Juliet McKenna: “Requires Hate, a/k/a/ Benjanun Sriduangkaew, is a multiple, serial & proven bully, liar & manipulator.
Throat clearing and report parameters
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Prior to 2 October 2014, I had no idea who either Benjanun Sriduangkaew or Requires Hate was. I have not had, to the best of my knowledge, any interactions with her. I had no more than a cordial acquaintance with some of the parties at the center of the most recent flare-up, on both sides. I have never been involved in a prior dust-up with Requires Hate, nor do I have a business relationship with any of the members of the current or prior conflicts.
Second, this is not an official report, from SFWA or any other professional organization. It is coming from me personally, as a long-time member of our SFF community. I’m doing this as a community service, to provide as many relevant facts as I can, within the timeframe of this report, and—I hope—provide a safe space where people can talk about their experiences and begin to heal.
Third, I’m not a reporter by trade; I’m an engineer and a fiction writer. I’ve applied what I believe to be reasonable standards to the data I’ve collected. I’ll correct errors and update my results as I receive good information from credible sources, and as time permits. But this has been a month-long, full-time volunteer effort, in the crannies of a full life. I’ve used my own best professional and personal judgment in determining whom to contact, what to include here, and how to interpret it.
The remainder of this report contains the results of my fact-gathering expedition.
Consider this your only giant trigger warning for all kinds of nastiness along just about every social vector imaginable.
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It quickly became clear as I began looking into this situation that that Requires Hate/Benjanun Sriduangkaew’s treatment of others has been extremelydestructive, manipulative, and widespread.
To give readers a sense of BS/RH’s actions, I’m interspersing a few screencaps from her prior verbal attacks. I think it’s important for people to see her own words, in order to avoid the risk of having people elide over just how harmful her words have been.
BS/RH’s online attacks against others in the SFF community extend far beyond simply a few youthful indiscretions in her past, foul language, or having posted harsh reviews of some people’s books. Her assaults, using multiple identities, are repeated, vicious, and energetic. They have spilled out across the years, well beyond the edges of fannish and writing communities online. BS/RH’s attacks have destroyed communities and harmed careers and lives in the real world.
- She has been involved in efforts to suppress the publication of fiction and reviews for those works that in her sole opinion should not be published.
- She and her associates have pressured con-runners to disinvite speakersfrom panels and readings, constraining their ability to do business.
- She routinely accuses people ofdoing the very harm to her that she is in fact doing to them—of stalking, threatening, and harassing—when they have done nothing except try to get as far away from her as they can.
- At least one of her targets was goaded into a suicide attempt.
- She has issued extremely explicit death, rape, and maiming threatsagainst a wide variety of people across the color, gender, sexual-orientation, and dis/ability spectrum.
- She and her supporters argue that she punches up, but the truth is that she punches in all directions. The bulk of her targets—despite her progressively-slanted rhetoric—have been women, people of color, and other marginalized or vulnerable people.
- She has single-handedly destroyed several online SFF, fanfic, and videogaming communities with her negative, hostile comments and attacks.
- After an attack, she deletes her most inflammatory posts and accounts and departs, leaving her targets reeling and others who come later scratching their heads, unable to find evidence and wondering what all the fuss was about.
- She has stalked SFF fans online for months and years, simply for posting that they liked an author’s book that she did not, or for speaking up against her when she called their favorite author (often a POC) epithets like “stupid fuck,” and calling them “morons” for liking that author.
- She has chased down positive reviews of authors’ works, to appear there and frighten reviewers and fans away from promoting the writers’ works, interfering with their ability to get publicity for their publications. Of the most extreme cases, lasting at least a year, two were launched against women writers of color.
- Her attacks have not diminished over time; they have simply become more skilled and difficult to deflect. As recently as three weeks ago as I write this, she was lying to her supporters to manipulate them into attacking one of her latest victims.
- She excels at shifting her tone and her strategy, seeming friendly and helpful one moment and vicious and harsh the next. She has mastered the crafting and dissemination of false narratives that seem persuasive to observers who are not familiar with the harm she has done in the past.
- In light of the harm she has done, her apologies do not even come close to addressing the damage she has done, much less undoing it.
I know the above facts to be true either because I directly witnessed it myself; researched the evidence still available from online forums; or received information from people who have been harmed by her, who have entrusted me with evidence (screencaps, copies of incriminating emails, web archives, and witness accounts) of the actions I describe above.
Some reading this will note that few people have come forward with their stories as a result of the recent dust-up, and most of those who have spoken out have done so anonymously.
They have not come forward because they are afraid.
They are afraid they will not be believed. They are afraid that their experiences will be discounted or minimized. That people will make excuses for her, or believe her when she tells the world that they are the villains and she is the victim. Their run-ins with her were in many cases among the worst experiences in their lives. When they resurface on the web, she often finds them again and re-launches her vitriolic attacks.
If one person had told me these stories, or two, I might be skeptical, and wonder what their role in the blow-up had been. But I’ve heard from or discovered the internet traces of far more than two.
Some of BS/RH’s targets responded with anger, others with fear. Some managed to shrug it all off and move on with their lives. A few have apparently tried trolling and stalking her back. Her targets’ lives were altered, regardless, and not for the better.
I identified 47 candidate cases, chosen at random, and collected links, screencaps, emails, and quotes to confirm BS/RH’s attacks. Of those, I was able to confirm 30 cases before I finally decided to stop trying to gather further information (though I suspect that she has many more victims than that). An additional four cases, while they could not be confirmed as BS/RH targets, had enough indicators to list as probable additional targets.
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—BS/RH, as acrackedmoon, responding to a commenter on her blog who criticized her for using death threats against writers whose work they like and she does not.
From the beginning of my investigation, I have felt reluctant to drag up the specifics from individual cases of BS/RH’s online assaults. My primary goal with this effort is to reveal the truth while minimizing harm, and allow people a safe space to heal and tell their stories. But to do that I must expose the wounds she’s inflicted. And I’m certain many of her targets would not be thrilled to have the SFF community dredging up the details of her verbal assaults, picking over the visible remnants, passing judgment as to whether the harm done to them was really all that bad—with the added risk that at some point BS/RH or some of her followers might show up and start pouring more vitriol into the mix. I can’t say I blame them.
My solution was to use my information-management skills to give the community a look from a broader perspective: a more statistical look. I’ve created a database of the 30 people for whom I found documented evidence of her online abuse, stalking, and harassment.
While her targets’ desire for privacy is important, it is also important to help protect future potential victims of her online attacks. People need to see the details of what she has done. Therefore I’ve included the named list of targets for whom public information is available, along with a headline describing or summarizing the attack, along with links to sources. It is attached at the end of this report.
In certain cases, BS/RH’s targets may not define themselves as victims. They may have reached an accommodation with her, or have been able to move on in some other fashion. However, the pattern of BS/RH’s attacks is consistent and widespread. If public information is available on an attack, I think it’s fair to include the information.
For 25 of the 30 targets analyzed in depth, despite her extensive efforts to conceal them, I was able to obtain multiple sources confirming the nature and extent of her attacks. Links are provided in the database; however, in addition to links, in many cases I was also provided email accounts from both the targets themselves and from direct witnesses to the attacks, as well as screencaps, which confirmed targets’ statements. The emails will remain private, as they were told to me in confidence. Quotes provided by targets, when confirmed by witnesses, are used in some cases.
Without further ado, here they are.
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—BS/RH, as Lesifoere, using racially-loaded transphobic insults against a European transwoman who disagreed with her in a gaming forum.
In order to show demographics, I used publicly available information on targets:
- Community Role (Fic Writer, Reader, Reviewer/Blogger, Editor, Gamer, Other/Unknown)
- Race (White, POC, Other/Unknown)
- Gender (Man, Woman, Other/Unknown)
- Sexual Orientation (Straight, LGBTWI, Other/Unknown)
In order to keep the rollups from getting too complicated, I have used deliberately broad categories, which may have resulted in oversimplification of how a person identifies themselves. I also had to make some basic assumptions based on public statements about her targets’, e.g., sexual preference, marital information, and race or ethnicity, which may have resulted in mischaracterization.
Lastly, these kinds of details are a matter of personal privacy. Consequently, I have not included the individual demographics in the public version of the table. I welcome opportunities to update and correct these entries. The people listed as targets may query me as to their own demographics and offer corrections, if they so choose, at any time.
BS/RH’s targets, by and large, are her peers. An overwhelming 77% of her attacks have been launched at professional writers. The next largest group in the sample I analyzed, at 12%, were readers who spoke up to defend writers whose works they liked, when BS/RH did not.
A large majority of BS/RH’s targets have been women, at between 73 and 81% of the targeted population (two targets provided information anonymously, without clues to their gender).
Between 37 and 40% of her targets, or nearly two-fifths, were people of color. Given that the field has been, and still is, predominantly white, this is disproportionately high. In other words, POC are much more likely to be a target of her attacks than whites.
To show this more clearly, it helps to look at the racial breakdown for targeted writers only. Between 26 and 30% in the sample are POC. To tell whether this is disproportionate, we would need to compare it to publication data by race. I was unable to locate statistics on stories and books published in SFF by race; I was, however, able to find some statistics on children’s book writers in the US.
If we assume that the rates of publication of POC authors are roughly comparable between the two fields, then approximately 7% of published SFF writers are POC. This means that if Requires Hate were targeting fiction writers at random, only one or two POC fiction writers should have been targeted, not eight. POC writers were four times more likely to be attacked than white writers.
Here’s a chart showcasing the disparity.
Furthermore, all readers attacked in the sample were POC. (Of the two gamers, one identifies as POC and one as trans.)
I did not further break POC targets into ethnic groups; however, BS/RH showed a clear pattern of targeting specifically (though not only) Asians, Pacific Islanders, and people of Asian descent around the globe.
The proportion of women targeted versus men was about the same for POC as for whites, or possibly somewhat higher (72-79% of POC were women, versus 72% for whites; 7% of POC were anonymous and did not report their gender).
Sexual Orientation, Dis/Ability, Other Analysis
o little public information is available about the target population’s sexual orientation to draw substantive conclusions on BS/RH’s targeting patterns.
For three of her targets, I found evidence of a pre-existing disability or chronic illness, either physical or mental/emotional.
In addition, I also saw some evidence of a correlation with gathering “buzz” for a number of her targets. In other words, the timing of her attacks often came at the targets who were perceived as up-and-comers or “come-back kids.” They had won or been nominated for awards or good reviews or were receiving other industry attention. But I did not have sufficient data available in the timeframe for publication to confirm this.
Demographic Analysis – Summary
The data indicate that BS/RH preferentially targets writers who are POC, women, and people from other marginalized groups, with a particular focus on people of Asian descent.
BS/RH attacks and impacts
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BS/RH attack methods – The process goes something like this.
Using one of her pseudonyms, BS/RH begins chatter about a writer or a social-justice topic on her blog, a forum such as LiveJournal, or on Twitter. She uses increasingly obscene and insulting language against her target(s). This is done to goad the target (or their supporters, or a particular community) into responding sharply. In their responses BS/RH finds words or phrases she can re-cast as misogynistic, homophobic, racist, or colonialist (sometimes they actually arethose things, but for her purposes it doesn’t matter).
For instance, rachelmanija, a commenter on the Livejournal community 50 Books POC, told Requires Hate (as Winterfox) that it was inappropriate to call Chinese-American author Cindy Pon a “stupid fuck.” Rachelmanija added that the standards at 50 Books POC were different from those of 4chan (a community where anything goes). In response, Requires Hate accused rachelmanija of being racist and implying that Winterfox was a Nazi, because 4chan was a cesspit of Nazis and white supremacists.
Often BS/RH will then begin to pursue the person she has decided to target, issuing multiple vituperative posts or death threats on blogs they frequent, and/or on Twitter, and/or in the online forum where she first targeted them. She then erases—at the very least—the most violent and abusive comments and posts, leaving the target reeling but with no visible proof that the threat occurred. Often, she deletes everything. Therefore not many screencaps of her worst abuses exist.
However, I received numerous screencaps that had been recovered by her targets or witnesses, and I was also able to obtain copies of a portion of BS/RH’s now-deleted content via The Wayback Machine. In addition, I received independent emails from both targets and witnesses confirming the substance of the death, rape, maiming, and dismemberment threats BS/RH has been accused of.
For some of her targets, she has mounted whisper campaigns, reaching out through her network of followers—prominent among whom is Alex Dally MacFarlane—to con committees, reviewers, and even publishers, pressuring them not to publish or review books she does not approve of, asking them to disinvite or limit the participation of professionals at convention events such as panels and readings.
Working with words, we writers know their power. At the same time, writers work in solitude. It’s easy to feel alone—that comes with the territory anyway. To be pointedly excluded for the crime of disagreeing is an ineffable cruelty.
Rape victims have been hounded and stalked; writers have reported to me that after their encounters with her, they have been unable to write for months on end, out of sheer shock and terror at encountering such violent language directed against them for their work. Readers have been driven away from the field due to the toxicity they’ve experienced or witnessed.
Here is a sampling of some of the threats she has made about her targets. More are in the database and still more are in the links:
- “If I see *** being beaten in the street I’ll stop to cheer on the attackers and pour some gasoline on him” – “*** is an ignorant, appropriative bag of feces.”
- “Spread the word that *** is a raging racist fuck. Let him be hurt, let him bleed, pound him into the fucking ground. No mercy.”
- “Stupid fuck” – “homophobe” – “without any talent whatsoever”. To a reader defending her: “Your liking for this pile of verbal diarrhea proves what morons fantasy fans are.”
- “rape apologist!” – “her hands should be cut off so she can never write another Asian character.”
- “ah, if only I could actually do it in person. with scalpels, not words.”
Community demolition – Furthermore, BS/RH’s repeated attacks have had a chilling effect on our online communities. Once people witness what BS/RH does to others, they become fearful of speaking up, even mildly, against her or in favor of whatever she attacks. They prefer to remain silent, or quietly leave the field.
Here are some commenters describing the effect of BS/RH’s insults and threats in 50books_poc, a LiveJournal forum promoting books by POC:
- “having seen that ‘throw acid on them’ is a threat for uppity folk not only in my parents’ home country but in SFF fandom certainly put me off a career in writing fantasy.”
- “She made me afraid to talk about books—books, for crying out loud—because she disliked them and I would be branded a shitstain and worse for disagreeing. She made me feel unsafe in certain communities including those that were created to support people like me. She made me reluctant to express support for certain authors of color. “
This is not the only LiveJournal forum that died out as a result of her hostility. According to targets familiar with LiveJournal, she was also responsible for killing participation in girl_gamers, another LiveJournal forum for fans. She is known for trolling fanfic and videogaming forums as far back as 2001, by some reports. Targets have reported leaving LiveJournal and Twitter and other SFF gathering places, rather than risk an encounter with her. One or two writers have left online discourse altogether, and report that they now hesitate to have contact with their fans.
BS/RH’s followers – How is Requires Hate able to cut such a wide swath of destruction? A major part of the reason is that for over a decade BS/RH has been cultivating a sizable cast of followers who respond to her calls to help launch attacks. When one of BS/RH’s targets tries to speak up against her, BS/RH publicly positions herself as the victim and accuses her target of doing what she in fact has just done to them, and asks her followers to go on the attack.
Some people who do so are simply supporters—those on the sidelines who see someone who has cultivated their friendship, an intelligent young lesbian woman of color, speaking up about a social injustice. They trust her and believe her version of events. It seems apparent that in many cases they are acting in good faith—though their actions still do harm, as BS/RH’s targets end up being blasted with hostile or suspicious messages from the community, when they in fact have been the victims of an attack by BS/RH. As a consequence, her targets experience a deep sense of isolation, when many people they admire and respect are amplifying Requires Hate’s false narratives about what has happened.
Others are part of BS/RH’s inner circle. These people actively work in coordination with her to identify and launch attacks against targets. They appear to be mostly progressive women, and many are women of color. I know this because a number of them have reached out privately to me. They feel trapped and want out. They have provided me with details.
BS/RH draws them into her circle with flattery and friendliness, cultivating a mentor-like relationship with them. She provides a supposed safe, private space online for them to vent their frustrations and fears. Gradually BS/RH pulls them in a tight orbit, a world filled with negativity and paranoia where no one is to be trusted but her. She eggs them on in email exchanges or live chats to say intemperate things about their SFF colleagues. In other words, she incites them to help pick targets.
Members of the inner circle receive (initially gentle) correctives if they push back against BS/RH’s directives. If they continue to resist, they become targets, themselves—with the added unspoken threat that she can publish their ill-considered emails at any time. They have been her loyal soldiers, and have spoken ill of and acted badly toward other people at her behest.
However, though they are culpable, it is important to remember that someone they thought they could trust is in essence holding them hostage. In a very real sense, they are BS/RH’s victims, too.
It is my deepest hope that when they realize that the community knows her game, her inner-circle members who want to escape her control will feel safe enough to step away from her. And I hope that those who have been harmed by former supporters of BS/RH will find it in themselves to forgive those who lashed out at them, hear their stories, and enable them to make amends.
Social justice hackery – Reviewing BS/RH’s track record in depth makes clear Requires Hate’s progressive rhetoric is nothing more than a cynical attempt to coopt it to serve her own ends. If her target is white, they’re white supremacists. If they are a POC, they aren’t racially-pure enough. (She is notorious for attacking an Asian-Hispanic woman in a LiveJournal forum, for instance, for not being Asian enough in comparison to her—she wasn’t “Asian-Asian.”)
BS/RH’s forum-trolling and destructiveness extends back well before her adoption of social-justice rhetoric (for instance, in one SFF media fan forum early in her career, she savaged other commenters in arguments over SF shows; in gaming forums, she has insulted gamers who disagree with her about videogames).
However, at some point she discovered social-justice-driven rage-speak and found it to be a particularly effective weapon. In this way BS/RH has been doing great harm to the progressive wing of SFF. By hiding behind the language of progressive causes, she taints—she cheapens—one of the primary means at social-equality activists’ disposal to help the community-at-large understand a very important series of systemic biases that is harming people every day.
I must add that I don’t believe she could have gotten such traction if there weren’t a great deal of fear and frustration among younger writers entering the field who are not part of the traditional US and UK white middle class. We are particularly vulnerable to the kinds of attacks Requires Hate has leveled because many newcomers to our community who are marginalized—POC, queer/LGBTQI people, the dis/abled, and older writers, as well as working-class and other marginalized groups—see few opportunities to break in. The SFF social network is still very white, straight, middle-class, able, and male.
It doesn’t have to be that way, either. As we expand the diversity of our writer base, we draw more readers in. The field as a whole grows. Readers like reading stories about people like them, but many will go on to read books across a broader scope, as they discover new writers they like. Everyone benefits when we open the doors wider and welcome more perspectives in.
I’d like to take this opportunity to ask my colleagues who are in a position to do so to start thinking and discussing how to help elevate and amplify marginalized writers’ voices. There have been some efforts around this already—several anthologies have been created and more are on the way; some influential writers have begun workshops on how to write about characters from races and cultures not their own. I believe more efforts are needed, if we want the SFF field to continue to prosper. I’ll be thinking about more ways I can help with this, too.
BS/RHs identity, denials, apologies, and accusations of banning, blacklisting, or doxxing – I do believe it’s possible Requires Hate has been stalked and trolled. Just because BS/RH has done awful things doesn’t mean that others haven’t done awful things to her. It doesn’t change the reality of the harm she’s done.
With regard to the ethics of outing, when someone has demonstrably used numerous multiple identities to assault people without consequences, they have crossed a line. Furthermore, if it weren’t enough to look back and survey the harm BS/RH has done over the years—death, rape, and maiming threats; deception; gaslighting and deletions of incriminating posts; false accusations; terrorizing of fans, rape victims, and people in emotionally or mentally fragile states; and all of these other acts of harm I’ve showcased here—it’s only been in the last few weeks that BS/RH has lied to her supporters about the connection between her Benjanun Sriduangkaew and Requires Hate personae, and to the community-at-large about whether she was actually outed without her permission, by whom, and when.
I have seen evidence with my own eyes of an email she wrote to a former supporter, in which she admits that even “Benjanun Sriduangkaew” is yet another constructed identity. Frankly, I don’t know who the person behind these many constructed identities is, or if it’s even really just one person.
Unavoidably, given all this, BS/RH’s apologies, promises to reform, and everything else she says about herself or her accusers is called into doubt.
I would not support publicly revealing information such as her street address or that of her family members. Nor would I call for people threatening her. I don’t call for a ban on publishing her; I can’t imagine any publisher is going to pay attention to such a thing anyway, and I wouldn’t want them to. That’s not my job.
But when harm is done to people and the community does not acknowledge it, the burden of that harm falls on the victim’s shoulders, instead of the abuser’s. That isn’t right. We need to acknowledge, as a community, the serious damage BS/RH has done. We owe it to the people she has harmed.
Writers’ reputations have been marred. Their careers were harmed. Readers’ right to choose without interference what they read, and to love what they love, has been impugned. Online communities have withered and died.
Discussions about colonialism, racism, sexism, and homophobia in our works may not be an easy conversation for writers to have, but it’s necessary, and I welcome that dialog. I want to know where my privilege has blinded me. Stereotypes are bad writing, and they are easy to propagate.
What’s not OK is to stalk, threaten, and silence people who don’t do what you want. No matter who you are or where you live.
And there are lots of talented writers out there, including some exciting new voices from around the world whom I’ve had the delightful opportunity to discover during this research project. I’m personally much more interested in using my remaining days on this planet meeting them, promoting them, and reading the stories of people from around the world whose visions and hearts and stories have room for the rest of us.
Wrapping it up
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—BS/RH, as winterfox, mistakes a Cambodian-American woman for white when she won’t identify her race.
For the past month as I’ve prepared this report, I have read some of the most gut-wrenching and heart-breaking accounts of BS/RH’s attacks. Her targets’ stories have weighed heavily on me. They have spent years suffering in silence, knowing that no one would believe them without proof. They’ve also shown great courage in trusting me with the truth of what happened to them.
I believe their stories, and I’m standing up for them.
But I can’t do this alone. To put a stop to the harm, we need to stand together, to help protect both current and future prospective members of our community. It is precisely the least connected among us who are the most vulnerable, and I don’t believe BS/RH will stop on her own.
A month ago, as the true nature of what had been happening began to unfold before me, I stood at a fork in the road.
Turn toward the ugliness? Face it down, in order to bear witness for those who had been harmed? Knowing the toll it would take—the time and effort, the emotional impact, and the risk that it might open a rift between me and many people whom I respect and admire? The near certainty this will make me a target, too? Or turn away, take the easier path, knowing I was allowing a terrible injustice to continue?
I chose my path. And now that you have read this, it’s your turn to choose.
What comes next
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Invitations – I would like to invite those who have been harmed by Requires Hate in any of her incarnations, or who have witnessed BS/RH harming others, to tell their stories in the comments below this post. Of course if you prefer to post on your own blogs or forums, I will update this post with links to them. Either post links to your own accounts, or mail me links for inclusion at loudlysingcuckoo at gmail dot com. (Bear in mind, it may take a couple of days for me to respond.)
I would also like to invite the SFF community-at-large to check back here, to read people’s stories, and bear witness in the comments. BS/RH’s targets need to know that they are heard and believed.
Comment policy – Needless to say, this will be a strictly-moderated space, intended solely to provide support and a safe space for people to tell their stories and be heard. I will have no patience for nitpicking, minimizing, and the like. I will also have no patience with racist, ableist, misogynist, transphobic or other hate-filled comments, or with blaming, insulting, or sarcastic language. Not even against Requires Hate. I will delete without hesitation any comment I deem inappropriate. Be gentle with each other. We’ve had enough hate to last us.
Trolling policy – Any insults, threats, or the like coming from Requires Hate or her followers will be immediately screencapped and added to the database, as I have the time and inclination, to document BS/RH’s further abuses.
APPENDIX A – Rules for Inclusion
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Rules for screencaps – I have removed the identifying information for BS/RH’s targets and witnesses from the screencaps used in this report, in order to avoid singling out people she has already harmed. In certain cases I pared down screenshots to focus on BS/RH’s words, and summarized context below it. Links to the un-redacted screencaps can be found in the links table at the end of the report.
Rules for database entry – To be included in my analysis, the following had to be true:
- Requires Hate in one of her known pseudonyms or aliases launched a sustained and energetic attack on a target (not just an occasional sarcastic remark).
• Attacks include primarily:
- Cyber-stalking (following the target around to different social media or blogs and deriding, insulting, or threatening them).
- Implicit or explicit death, rape, and/or maiming threats in email, on Twitter, on Facebook, LiveJournal, or other sites.
- Multiple, vituperative reviews of their books or stories (one review didn’t count).
- All entries have at least one credible source. If at least two sources confirm the target, nature, and extent of the attack in its substantive facts, it is flagged as having 2+ sources confirmed.
• Source types include primarily:
- Online links to the original conflict, or to web archives of it.
- Screencaps from Twitter, Facebook, LiveJournal posts, etc.
- Email accounts and forwarded emails from interactions with others, or copies of comment threads.
- Other rules of entry:
- I gathered names of targets at random from online sources by searching on BS/RH’s pseudonyms and following links and references. I solicited for people to come forward at an anonymous Gmail account, loudlysingcuckoo at gmail dot com. I was also given names by other targets and witnesses. I stopped collecting names at 47, and began researching to obtain evidence of the attack. Thirteen names were removed due to lack of evidence.
- The dates are approximate. In many cases, BS/RH’s abuse extended over months and years. I often used a date associated with one of BS/RH’s public attacks.
- I reserved, and continue to reserve, the right to use my own judgment with regard to what should be included in the database. I may be willing to update links and correct demonstrable errors of fact, depending on my availability, but not going to have a lot of patience with nitpicking. These are real people’s lives. They shouldn’t have to prove to the court of the internet that they’ve been sufficiently harmed, or belong to a sufficiently marginalized status, in order to be believed.
I consider what you were doing on those threads I linked above to be trollish behavior. They have a chilling effect on the comm: I know for a fact that some people have chosen not to post about Jemisin, Pon, or any other book that you may in the future review negatively, and that they are doing so because of those comment threads. What’s more, I don’t believe that chilling effect is counter balanced by any benefit to the comm or the issues that the comm has been trying to serve: it’s just chilling.
—LJ moderator to BS/RH, regarding her attacks on commenters in 50books_poc
- My analysis does not rely solely on links, but also on personal accounts, with copies of forwarded emails and screencaps, provided to me confidentially by several of her targets. It is my hope that those targeted by her will be willing to step forward, but if they do not, I will keep their information confidential. Theirs should be the final decision about whether to go public with their stories.
- In some cases, BS/RH has deleted content within her control to do so, or may delete further content in the future. I’ve included the links anyway, as the headers provide some information. Further deleted content from her blog can be found using The Wayback Machine. Here is one useful archive of tags, which can be used for further research: https://web.archive.org/web/*/https://requireshate.wordpress.com/tag/*
- There are many more links available for these and other targets. I will continue to expand and make corrections to the database as time permits.
11 Nov 2014 Update:
Comments have been turned off for this post. A POC safe space has been created at Tade Thompson’s blog, Safe. I’ll note here further amendments and updates to this report.
18 Nov 2014 Update:
Since release, I have added a read-more tag, removed one target from the list, and modified language in Table 1 to reflect input from Rose Fox. Statistics have not yet been updated. A followup post is planned, with updated statistics and further amendments to this report based on targets’ recent input. It’ll be a while yet–definitely after Thanksgiving. Check back periodically.
Meanwhile, Tade Thompson has opened a safe space for non-POC people to talk, and Rochita Loenen-Ruiz has guest-posted with a place for wider discussion of how to build community, over at Tade’s Safe. I urge everyone to have a look and join in the conversation.
22 Nov 2014 Update:
We are having technical difficulties; the report links have been acting up for a significant number of users over the past couple of days, and some people can’t access the report at all. Bear with us while we troubleshoot.
10 May 2015 Update:
Here are links to my follow-up posts related to the investigative report below.
- 14 Feb 2015 Requires Hate Follow-up, Three Months Later: Are We Past the Winter(fox) of our Discontent?
- 6 Apr 2015 About that Hugo Nomination…
- 13 Apr 2015 Standing in the Borderlands of Discourse
- 1 May 2015 Yes. But.
- 10 May 2015 Double Vision: Our Conflicting Nerdish Legacies