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Update 10/20: RequiresHate has posted an apology for the actions of her RH blog. However, she's also disclaimed responsibility for threats given out under the Winterfox brand. She claims that some, such as threatening an Asian woman with being raped by dogs, was the work of an impostor. I haven't been able to find any earlier mentions of an impostor, but large swathes of both the RH blog and Winterfox's backlog of comments remain deleted, so that's probably impossible to verify unless a witness wants to speak up. She's also apologized on A Bee Writes, her professional bog.

There's a theme of "I was an asshole but I've gotten better as the years have passed," which is something most of us have probably lived through ourselves -- however, Winterfox harassed a rape victim for six months as late as last year, so any decrease in assholery is going to be a very recent phenomenon. Intentionally or not, these apologies seem to further the narrative that the controversy is primarily about RequiresHate's book reviews rather than Winterfox's decade-long troll campaign. They also repeat assertions that all of Sriduangkaew's bad behavior was in the distant past, despite her harassment continuing into 2013 at least.

An open question to pro sci-fi: since Sriduangkaew has admitted she was wrong, can we stop arguing it's okay to threaten women of color with rape and assault if someone we like is doing it?
 

I had to stop following this wank for a couple of days to meet some RL deadlines. I wished someone had made a roundup post to summarize what's going on -- so I'm making one. If you're not interested in seeing some of your favorite sci-fi and fantasy authors make excuses for abusers, enable trolling, and belittle women of color who have received rape threats, stop reading now. It gets ugly.

This post is a work in progress and the wank is ongoing. Please feel free to comment with updates, corrections, and discussion. Anon comments are turned on, but I will delete with extreme prejudice at the first whiff of trolling.

Here's a timeline of events for this most recent blowup. 

  

 

Who is Benjanun Sriduangkaew?

Benjanun Sriduangkaew is an up-and-coming science fiction author from Thailand. First published in 2012, she has been nominated for a Campbell award for best new writer and her stories have been reviewed favorably in several publications. Her public persona is cheerful, friendly, and new to the genre. She blogs at A Bee Writes and on Twitter.

 

Requires Only That You Hate is Sriduangkaew's sci-fi/fantasy review blog which she runs under the pseudonym RequiresHate. ROTYH is famous for using violent rhetoric in reviews, including some that amount to murder fantasies, but has received some measure of critical acclaim among sci-fi and fantasy pros. (Sriduangkaew has recently deleted many of her most vitriolic reviews, following a long-established pattern of deleting posts that make her look bad.) Though RequiresHate reviewed many epic fantasy novels, Sriduangkaew claimed not to have read epic fantasy at all until last month. RequiresHate also has a Twitter feed. [Edit: that feed is now defunct.]

Winterfox is Sriduangkaew's long-standing troll pseudonym, which has been active since at least 2004. As Winterfox, she's famous for directing threats of rape and assault at various people, particularly women, especially queer women and women of color. For example, she threatened one Central Asian woman with rape by dogs for the crime of liking different videogames than Winterfox.

She shut down discussion in 50books_poc by directing personal attacks at authors such as Cindy Pon, harassing commenters who liked books she didn't, and making racist comments to various minority members of the comm -- one famous example involved accusing a Cambodian woman of crying "white woman's tears." 50books_poc was a community dedicated to reading and discussing the works of authors of color. Winterfox's personal hatred for certain authors of color and anyone who enjoyed reading them lead to the death of the comm.

In an unrelated incident, she drove one woman to attempt suicide. (Some of her fans then mocked the victim for the attempt.) Here is the account of a rape victim whom Winterfox harassed for at least six months in 2013. Any claims that Winterfox stopped harassing people years ago are lies, unless last year is now the distant past. Here is an account of a victim from 2012.

I can't sum up ten years of trolling in one post, but you can get a decent overview here. Known Winterfox aliases include acrackedmoon, pyrofennec, Valse de Lune, and Lesifoere. In brief, she's not one of the top ten misogynist assholes on the Internet, but that's not for lack of trying.

What the hell's happening?

It's been public knowledge for years that RequiresHate and Winterfox are one and the same. Meanwhile, Benjanun Sriduangkaew appeared to be just what she claimed: a sweet, friendly newcomer to sci-fi.

Last week, however, editor Nick Mamatas publicly outed Sriduangkaew as RequiresHate/Winterfox. His motivations for doing this are unclear, and it seems to have been done without Sriduangkaew's permission. As Mamatas has published several of her stories -- and therefore written several of her paychecks -- there're some serious ethical concerns about his actions here. (Full disclosure: Nick's banned from commenting in my space, but you can find him speaking in his own defense, or not, just about everywhere.)

EDIT: There's some debate over whether or not Nick Mamatas was in fact the person to out her. This comment was posted in early September, referring to rumors circulating among SFF pros that RequiresHate and Benjanun Sriduangkaew were the same person. I'm leaving the link to Mamatas's post up as the source for now until I can get some more clarity, because the Mamatas post is where most of the people who aren't SFF pros (including yours truly) heard it first.

This outing followed a post by author Tricia Sullivan in which she did not name names but discussed her recent experiences with a "toxic person" -- meaning Sriduangkaew. Sullivan reports that Sriduangkaew had befriended her and Sullivan had recommended Sriduangkaew to a couple of editors. When Sullivan later found out that Sriduangkaew is Winterfox, Sullivan privately contacted those editors and withdrew her recommendation, not wanting to be associated with a troll. Again, Tricia Sullivan did not name the person she was talking about and did not publicly out Sriduangkaew as Winterfox. Nick Mamatas did that. Anyone who tells you otherwise is selling something.

Following Mamatas's outting of Sriduangkaew, reviewer James Nicoll made a post in his LiveJournal, where the comments quickly exploded. (Note: Nicoll froze the post, but only after several days of single-handedly moderating a large, intense, and often nasty discussion across a national holiday.) This is where the discussion gets really ugly, because this is where Winterfox's victims start coming forward.

A sample: She said, posting as Winterfox not all that long ago, in a posting that has now been deleted in a semi-private venue, that I ought to be raped by dogs. (This is bad enough as it is, but I come from a country where dogs have traditionally been seen as distasteful or, for lack of a better word, unclean. She knew this; my being an American woman POC formerly from this country was explicitly part of why she targeted me. So it was meant as both a sexualized and culturalized threat and insult.)

Friends of Winterfox showed up to explain why rape threats aren't really threats, why women of color being threatened with rape is okay as long as it's another woman of color doing it, and that the correct response to feeling threatened is to toughen up.

Where discussion's taking place.

This is a list only. I can't vouch for or recommend any of these places in particular.

A lot of the current discussion among SFF pros is taking place on Twitter.
Discussion on RPG.net
Discussion on Dear Author 
Discussion at Absolute Write

Discussion at OhNoTheyDidn't [locked to comm members]
Discussion on tumblr [one of possibly many]
Discussion of the apology at James Nicoll's journal

Author Tori Truslow postsabout the Sullivan/Sriduangkaew feud

Who's siding with whom.

I'm listing only SFF professionals who have made explicit statements one way or another. I'm not linking to random fans. Also, a lot of writers have sent messages of support to Sriduangkaew on Twitter, but many were told only that she is a young writer feeling some heat for controversial opinions. At least one author has retracted her support and expressed anger at being mislead, so please keep that in mind before judging anyone on the basis of a single statement. The assholes here are making plenty of statements to judge.

Defending abuse

Djibril Al-Ayad
K Tempest Bradford (EDIT: retracting my editorializing here until I have links to back it up)
Jaymee Goh (here's a cap of a deleted post where she asks victims to stay silent)
Kameron Hurley 
Keffy R. M. Kehrli (also here)
Alex Dally Macfarlane
Nick Mamatas

EDIT: One of the names I listed under "defending abuse" was not a pro writer, violating my own rule. I've removed the name and I apologize for the error.

Defending the victims:

Polenth Blake
Kate Elliot
Caitlin Kiernan
Rochita Loenen-Ruiz
Tricia Sullivan

Ambivalent:

Charles Stross

Rumors, Distortions, and Lies (with the Occassional Truth)

I'm going to try to sort out the rumors that are flying around.

CLAIM
Liz Williams or Tricia Sullivan publicly outed Benjanun Sriduangkaew as RequiresHate/Winterfox.
Status: FALSE
Nick Mamatas did the outing.

CLAIM
"Benjanun Sriduangkaew" is a pseudonym.
Status: UNCONFIRMED
The only evidence for this so far is a comment from Nick Mamatas that he doubts Sriduangkaew is the author's real name, combined with a general sentiment that Winterfox wouldn't know the truth if it bit her. Anything else is simply speculation, and to be honest some of it sounds pretty racist on the basis of her having a "funny name" so let's not, okay?

CLAIM
Authors Liz Williams and Tricia Sullivan have conducted a poison pen campaign to ruin Sriduangkaew's career.
Status: SORT OF
Sullivan says she's contacted editors to withdraw her recommendation of Sridaengkeuw and has privately warned friends about Sridaengkeuw's habits. Whether this constitutes smearing a new writer or simply giving fair warning about a troll depends a lot on what you think about people being held responsible for their actions.

CLAIM
Sriduangkaew has contacted publishers and reviewers (falsely) accusing numerous authors of racist harassment and asking that those writers be blackballed -- often writers with whom she was publicly friendly.
Status: UNCONFIRMED
Tricia Sullivan's post says this, and it fits Winterfox's pattern, but there's as yet no proof. Nick Mamatas has also made statements which suggest this is true, but it's unclear if he's working from firsthand information himself.

CLAIM
No one speaking out against Sriduangkaew has spoken out against white male harassers in the past.
Status: FALSE.
Complete pile of horseshit. Here are the results of five seconds worth of googling by a kind anon.

CLAIM
Everyone speaking out against Sriduangkaew is an author angry that their books were reviewed poorly on Requires Only That You Hate.
Status: FALSE
Winterfox has been trolling for ten years. The majority of her victims are not and have never been published authors. Her ROTYH reviews, while often pretty nasty in and of themselves, are not the issue. Using violent sexual threats to frighten women into silence for a decade straight is the issue.

CLAIM
Winterfox was only actively trolling for a year or two, and she was 19 at the time and too young to know better. Status: AGAINST THE LAWS OF PHYSICS Unless she was 19 years old for 10 years, this is a lie.

CLAIM
All the anonymous comments on James Nicoll's post were from one or two IP addresses.
Status: FALSE
James Nicoll confirms that this is false. He also questions how whoever started this rumor purported to know, since only Nicoll himself can see the IP addresses on his journal.

CLAIM Tricia Sullivan wrote a super racist book.
Status: MAYBE. IRRELEVANT.
If every single person Sriduangkaew has abused was a sockpuppet of Tricia Sullivan, this would be relevant. Also if Sriduangkaew has developed the power of time travel, allowing her to wreak vengeance in 2004 for a book that was written in 2012. Listen, for all I know, Sullivan's the Grand High Elf of her local KKK. That has absolutely nothing to do with Sriduangkaew's abuse of other people.

CLAIM
Polenth Blake's post about abuse didn't specifically mention that it's wrong to abuse white people, therefore Blake thinks it's okay to abuse white people.
Status: ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS. ARE YOU.
Look, fellow white people. It's okay not to talk about us in every single post! Really it is! It doesn't mean someone's out to get us if we're not the topic of the conversation.

CLAIM
Sriduangkaew has a creepy stalker following her around.
Status: TRUE
There's a person by the name of Roguey a.k.a. creepalicious popping up here and there. I don't want to link them just in case they get off on the attention, but the long and short of it is this person seems to have met Winterfox on RPGcodex and gone from there. There's no indication this is someone involved in the current wank under another name.

CLAIM
Everyone speaking out against Sriduangkaew is white.
Status: FALSE
Have you read a single damned thing I've linked?

An anon at loudlysingcuckoo@gmail.com has offered to be a sympathetic ear to victims who want to come forward, anonymously or not. I've spoken with this person privately and can confirm that this person is absolutely not Sriduangkaew nor a friend of Sriduangkaew. I'm not otherwise involved and will not see any messages sent there.

The long and short of it is that there are two sides in this wank. One side, Sriduangkaew's side, thinks it's cool to threaten women of color with being raped by dogs. The other side thinks that's bullshit. Let me make it more explicit: Sriduangkaew is a racist, misogynistic bully, and those people defending her are of necessity defending racism and misogyny.

Think about that for a minute.

Sriduangkaew isn't the worst asshole in sci-fi. That means that sci-fi has a problem with assholes, not that it's okay to threaten women with rape and murder. When your best defense is "but little Timmy did it first" you're thinking on the level of a particularly spiteful five year old. When you want abuse victims to stay silent because speaking up might hurt their abuser's career you're contributing to abuse.

Many of the people currently defending Sriduangkaew and trying to silence her victims are people who spoke out loudly against James Frenkel and Rene Walling, two recent abusers whom the sci-fi community harbored and enabled for years before finally rejecting. Just goes to show that it's all in who you know -- exactly the same things that were said in defense of Frenkel, Walling, and every other abuser in history are getting said now, by people who know better. Sriduangkaew's friends are trying to spin this story to make her the victim and make the victims afraid. To hell with that.

Crossposted at Dreamwidth.

Who is Benjanun?

Date: 2014-10-18 07:38 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Under the section "Who is Benjanun..." you should include her own statements.

October 4, 2013
http://chieandweng.wordpress.com/2013/10/04/a-process-conversation-with-benjanun-sriduangkaew/

When asked for how long she has been writing, Benjanun claimed she started writing in 2011, in her early 30s. This may or may not be a contradiction. [Perhaps she assumed the question meant how long she has been writing professionally and therefore did not think it necessary to mention all the years she blogged or wrote fan-fiction.]

When asked what her first exposure to the genre was, Benjanun replied that it was magic realism and contemporary lit. [This seems to contradict her long history of pseudonymous posting and blogging on gaming sites, livejournal communities, and her blog as ROTYH.]

When asked the reasons behind her decisions to write in English, Benjanun expressed that the language barrier was a struggle: "Language was a barrier initially and I had to struggle with not being sure that my English is 100% good enough." [This directly contradicts her fluency in English as ROTYH and her other pseudonyms.]

February 20, 2014
http://sentidodelamaravilla.blogspot.ca/2014/02/interview-with-benjanun-sriduangkaew.html

Repeats her claim that she started writing three years ago (2011).

May 28, 2014
http://www.diverse-pages.com/2014/05/author-interview-benjanun-sriduangkaew.html

When asked how long she's been writing, she repeats her claim that she's been writing since late 2011. When asked if she's faced any challenges writing characters of color she replied that "both editors and reviewers have been very lovely about things." [If the alleged whisper campaign started before May 2014, it does not appear to have hurt her reputation as a writer.]

August 12, 2014
http://www.afantasticallibrarian.com/2014/08/author-query-benjanun-sriduangkaew.html

When discussing the "Hegemony" in her latest novella, she had this to say about Twitter: "While this makes dissemination of information more pluralistic, it does strike me as a little scary we trust what we see online fairly easily, as so many Internet hoaxes (and Snopes) have attested." [This is an interesting view, given that she is in fact ROTYH and has been manipulating how others perceive her new persona as Benjanun the writer.]

Re: Who is Benjanun?

Date: 2014-10-18 07:55 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
In one of her emails to Tricia Sullivan (http://i.imgur.com/RsWdcrZ.jpg) as RH she wrote this:

"Why do the Thai characters speak in broken English? I'm right here typing perfectly fluent English at you. I'm more literate than most Anglophones and have a greater command of English than they do."

It is unclear which of the two is the real personality, RH who is more literate than most Anglophones, or Benjanun who questioned her proficiency in English.

Re: Who is Benjanun?

Date: 2014-10-18 08:57 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I'm not arguing her fluency or whether it was a good idea or not for Sullivan to have broken English in her manuscript. The quote from Benjanun is important because it's a telling detail of how she operates: she misrepresents herself whenever it suits her purpose.

Re: Who is Benjanun?

Date: 2014-10-18 09:15 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
but as WF she was writing long fanfiction works in multiple fandoms - and also part of GAFF and other fic sporking coms like LK lashouts criticizing other writers without ever falling back on not her first language defense

it is part of her pattern of hypocrisy & chameleon circuit self representation to whatever is most convenient

Re: Who is Benjanun?

Date: 2014-10-19 01:29 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I picked up and read Shadowboxer thanks to this shitstorm.

As best I can tell because RH has only released part of the correspondence, RH is upset that Sullivan has Thai characters speaking broken English, and that she presents a very one-sided picture of Thailand; RH has in the past been outspoken about how modern and wired Thailand is (and her own snazzy cell phones), and taken (justified) umbrage at people who expect mud huts in Bangkok. Plot-wise, Sullivan made the choice to send her main character to a gym run by the relatives of another character, one which doesn't cater to/usually have Westerners. The American character is represented as speaking crappy beginner Thai, at times, via broken English, compared to the fluency of the native speakers. There's a whole lot of "I was an arrogant shithead and I thought I understood this place and I didn't know jack."

Apropos of nothing, it's also a strongly feminist novel with a discussion of gaslighting.

Tori Truslow, whose blogpost is linked above, is thanked in the back of the book; the book was also apparently begun in 2008.

Re: Who is Benjanun?

Date: 2014-10-20 10:43 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I was surprised at the outing partly because she turned out to be exactly what she said she was. Her written English on the blog and in the Winterfox persona was damn near perfect, and had a grasp of British English idiom that would put most native British English speakers to shame.

Re: Who is Benjanun?

Date: 2014-11-16 07:35 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Maybe because, if she is who she claims to be, she got to go to an elite British private school that most of the British population would have no chance of ever being able to attend.

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