Some months back, I provided space on my blog for Benjanun Sridungkaew to talk about her novella Scale-Bright (that post is here). That was, in fact, after an apparent? possible? blacklisting campaign against her due to her actions towards other authors, actions I was unaware of and largely carried out under a pseudonym, namely: Requires Hate.
The actions taken by Requires Hate – the hate, fear and pain spread under that and other monikers – aren’t mine to talk about. The suppression of the conversations around the genre, around issues of diversity, around issues of inclusion, around how to act within fandom? Those things are not mine to talk about. Nor are the actions of her supporters. None of these things were directed at me, though they have been directed at friends of mine, at people I like, at people whose voices – voices, note, attacking colonialism, assaulting racism and sexism head on, and fighting for diversity in concrete ways – I value.
It’s not my place to say how we move forward from here; I’m white and Western, so my privilege in this field – although not as great as that of some commenting and trying to shut others down for speaking from positions of privilege – is great. My job here is to facilitate. It’s to get voices out there that otherwise are being unheard. It is to stand behind people – some friends, some acquaintances, some I do not know – and, when they raise their voices, to help those voices to be heard.
Voices like that of Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, a very good friend:
Because of my position and because I had publicly supported Tricia Sullivan, I was accused of being complicit in racism and transphobia.
Regardless of this accusation, I continue to stand by what I have said. I cannot condemn a work based on a manuscript that has since been rewritten.
I am aware that things have been said about me. I am not sure what has been said and I do not know with how many this conflict has been shared. I had, at first, made a decision not to talk about this conflict as I valued Alex Dally MacFarlane’s work.
Tori Truslow who is one of the Nine Worlds organizers is Alex’s partner and it was clear that she was aware of what had taken place between Alex and me. I did hope that she would keep an objective position on this matter. It will seem illogical to many, but the position Alex and Tori occupied in UK fandom made me anxious and fearful when I went to Nine Worlds.
In all our communications, I had always supported RH in her desire to build a career as a writer. I respected her descision to maintain secrecy and her choice to take on a writing pseudonym. I do not know what RH’s real name is. I also do not know Benjanun Sriduangkaew’s real identity. I do know that Benjanun was a persona that RH donned in order to achieve her desire of being a published writer.
I had heard that Benjanun had been outed in public by Nick Mamatas, but Nick told me that Benjanun was spreading the rumor that I was the one who had outed her. I told Nick that this was an untrue accusation. I thanked him for taking the time to ask me about this and tried to think of what I could do.
I will admit that I was quite disheartened. Among the messages I received was one that accused me of sabotaging and destroying Southeast Asian writers. It is an accusation that has no ground in truth. My work has always been directed towards creating more visibility for writers coming from the margins. That these kinds of lies were being fed to the vulnerable is a deed that I consider unconscionable.
I’ve heard that Requires Hate a.k.a. Benjanun Sriduangkaew has tendered two apologies and that she has apologized to those who she has harmed. More than two weeks have passed since then, but I have yet to receive an apology for the untruths she spread about me and her attempt to destroy my reputation.
To say that all RH did was to utter words is a complete denial of what we are as writers. Words have power, and words wielded in hatred and violence are just has harmful as violence dealt out with fists.
It is clear to me that RH has made use of her words to create schisms and divisions. She created an atmosphere of distrust and fear. By her actions, she has harmed many who chose to put their trust in her.
(Standing Up And Speaking Truth; emphasis mine)
I believe Rochita, who is now being gaslighted.
Voices like that of Athena Andreadis, another active campaigner for diverse voices in the field and one with a story of her own:
I recommended that she own up to the RH identity to head off any unpleasantness, including people feeling betrayed if they were blindsided about her two very different personae. It was also clear from our second exchange that BS was not her real name but yet another handle. BS/RH didn’t like my advice and, realizing I wouldn’t become one of her acolytes, eventually stopped interacting with me.
Then I started getting odd reactions from an increasing number of people: whispers, insults, cold shoulders, abrupt unfriendings. Some of this came from writers whom I had invited to my anthology and paid pro rates, such as Alex Dally MacFarlane (a staunch RH lieutenant, who now had some clout as the editor of a Prime Books reprint anthology and a Tor columnist). Readercon, the only gathering my health allows me to attend without strain, notified me in 2013 they had “received complaints” about my panel proposal. MacFarlane, who had originally clamored to join my panel, attempted to disrupt it. My request for a reading slot for my brand-new anthology was denied and in 2014 I was not invited to Readercon.
As more people whom I knew befriended the BS persona, I told Nick Mamatas, who had become a buddy of sorts. A few months ago, I also told three others I deemed vulnerable, all in strict confidence. One of them was enticed into breaking my confidence. She informed me that BS “was upset” and “asked what she’d ever done to you that you’d say that about her” (i.e. that she was RH). The signs were clear that BS/RH had targeted me for isolation and expulsion from the SFF community: having proved unherdable, I was a potentially dangerous loose end.
When I told the story to Nick Mamatas, he mentioned that BS/RH had indeed sent him a note about me “spreading unfounded rumors” and “having it in for her”; I suspect she sent similar notes to all her editors and publishers as a pre-emptive strike. Nick also let me know that bad people can be good writers, whereas BS/RH’s adversaries were jealous “has-beens”. He didn’t answer when I asked if he deemed me disposable as well. Soon afterwards, he publicly stated that BS was RH, arguing that this would stop her predation while sparing her career. Many of the people who knew but did not see fit to tell me I had been targeted for slaughter have been beneficiaries of my personal and/or professional support.
I believe Athena, who is being attacked and ostracised.
Voices like that of Rachel Manija Brown:
I only exchanged about five or six comments with Winterfox, all during the span of a few days. That was the last direct contact I had with her, and I never posted about her. But she commented on me, on blogs and on Twitter, for the next three years.
She said the same sort of things about me that she said about a lot of people – that I was racist, homophobic, sexist, misogynistic, a rape apologist, stupid, despicable, and worthless. All this was expressed with intense rage and vicious profanity. She didn’t say that she wished I could be shot in the head or have acid thrown on me, or make any other threat of violence. But I saw her say those things about other people whom she also accused of being homophobic, sexist, racist, and so forth. I was clearly categorized in her mind as the sort of person who ought to be mutilated and killed.
Her harassment of me followed a pattern. Every time I posted on LGBTQ issues and sometimes when I reviewed a book with queer content, she would launch a wave of harassment. Sometimes she’d quote from my post and abuse or mock me, and sometimes her abuse would be on an unrelated topic. But whenever I mentioned queer issues, the harassment would start. Her intent was clear: to intimidate me out of speaking on queer-related topics and rights. That is an issue of great importance to me. I do fundraising for LGBTQ causes. Once I and two other women ran an online auction that raised $50,000 for marriage equality. That is the sort of activism that Requires Hate spent three years trying to suppress.
There were times when I didn’t post on LGBTQ issues, or posted only under lock, because I didn’t feel up to facing yet another onslaught of verbal abuse. So Requires Hate succeeded, to some small extent: she got me to shut up about queer rights a couple times. This is the person whose bullying is defended as being in the service of the greater good. Whose greater good did that serve?
Requires Hate/Benjanun Sriduangkaew recently put up a pair of apologies, one for each persona. She has never apologized to me, though she has had four years to do so. However, I don’t need or want an apology. We have all seen how words can be faked. But actions, whatever their motivation, are real.
I believe Rachel.
Voices like Chelsea Gaither, RH’s harassment of whom is “in the past”, but really isn’t:
Thank you for calling me an awful human being because I wrote that rape recovery makes people stronger, and that I find that recovery to be a sublimely beautiful thing. Thank you for believing that means I glorify rape and abuse. Thank you for making assumptions. Thank you for taking your own cause and turning it into something that’s all about hatred and not about dialogue, because that sure as shit stinks will make humanity better. Yes, I am sure it will. Answering hate with hate, murder with murder, and violence with violence has always solved all of the worlds problems.
Thank you for deciding that I don’t deserve to have a voice.
Thank you for showing me that you really are an inconsiderate, un-self-aware, remorseless piece of shit.
Fuck you for making me talk about this.
(Cerulean sins–chapter 47. Triggers. Consider yourself warned.; I reiterate the trigger warning. Followup more recently here: Fine. FINE. Thoughts on the Requires Only That You Hate drama)
I believe Chelsea.
And I believe the other victims who have laid their stories out to Laura J. Mixon, who have been harassed and bullied… and the majority of whom are not the straight white Western men RH and her allies claim to punch up against, but are women (60%) or people of colour (37%) (Source); people who RH is at best punching across to, and her allies are largely punching down at.
I don’t want my (white, Western) thoughts to get in the way of what I’m trying to do here, which is give a little bit of a boost, however small, to those targeted by Requires Hate. But what I did want to do is provide them with the same platform I provided to her. What you do with what you learned above is your own affair. If you can, speak out. If you can’t – because clearly speaking out is a risk! – then I can understand that, especially for those with less spoons, less social capital, more prominence, or any combination of these things.
Look after yourselves. If you can, look after each other. As for me, I’ll do my best to look out for and after all of you. If you need me, you know where to find me…
(Posted backdated for reasons of median-term curation; for the record, this post was put up at 00:19 GMT, 07/11/2014)