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Adding my two penn'orth - Helen's journal and online home
heleninwales
heleninwales
Adding my two penn'orth
A couple of weeks or so ago it was revealed that the obnoxious blogger and Tweeter "Requires Hate", aka Winterfox, aka other online names is the sweet, gentle, up and coming new Thai writer Benjanun Sriduangkaew.

If the name Requires Hate means nothing to you, then just ignore this post and scroll hastily past. Whatever you do, don't click here to see a thorough and painstaking catalogue of all the misery and distress she has caused over the past 13 years

I first became aware of Requires Hate and her followers back in 2012 in the LJ comments to Cat Valente’s post about visiting Scotland. I didn't actually comment in that thread, though I watched the argument unfold, but I was one of the commenters in the follow up discussion on Liz Williams' LJ. I was horrified by RH's behaviour and by her total lack of understanding or empathy. My view was only further reinforced when I looked at what she was posting on Twitter. Unfortunately, she drew in well-meaning people who were keen to demonstrate their SJW[*] cred and who failed to see how damaging RH's behaviour was, both to the authors, reviewers and readers that she attacked and to the cause she claimed to support. She also destroyed several vibrant online communities, including at least one that was specifically set up to promote work by writers who weren't the usual heterosexual white guy. People stopped posting because if you disagreed with her, it unleashed a stream of foul abuse and hate speech. You had to be her sycophantic follower, or you were her enemy and fair game.

When called on her behaviour, her excuse was that she was "punching up", claiming that oppressed people can say what they like to fight their oppression and her vicious language was simply hyperbole and that the people she attacked were stupid to be afraid. That excuse seems a little thin, bearing in mind the recent case where stalking moved from online to actual physical harm. Her claims that her victims should have known that it was all just words and she never meant them any real harm is patently ridiculous. And that's ignoring the fact that words can seriously damage someone's mental well-being.

Personally, I felt that Benjanun Sriduangkaew's apologies were just a little too pat. If she thinks that saying "sorry" is sufficient to atone for years of appalling behaviour it isn't. She claims she was only 19 and "very young". The students I teach are a couple of years younger and none of them would think that sort of behaviour was acceptable, so being "very young" cuts no ice with me.

If she truly reforms, stops being a manipulative bully and gets on with being a writer and starts being a more pleasant person to those around her, then good luck to her. People have been complete arseholes and reformed and gone on to lead productive lives. But I will be watching with interest to see what happens next because it seems that she is even now playing mind-games in order to gain advantage from having her appalling past revealed. She manipulates the truth to suit her purposes. If your path should ever cross hers, you have been warned!

I'm not saying, "Don't buy her books." I won't be buying them, because there's too much to read and not enough time and I'd rather support writers who don't have a track record of awfulness. I'm not saying don't give her awards if her writing truly deserves it. But you might like to think about the message an award would send to those she terrorised, many of whom were non-white writers.



[*] For those unfamiliar with the term, SJW = Social Justice Warrior, in other words someone who claims to fight racism, sexism and ableism. Whilst claiming to support those who suffer any form of oppression, Benjanun Sriduangkaew has, by her past actions, seriously damaged a very serious and worthwhile cause.
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Comments
cmcmck From: cmcmck Date: November 7th, 2014 12:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
I was mentioning to Sherwood that we in the trans community have a long term troll who started out being offensive and obnoxious and has now moved to 'Doxxing' people in the real world.

At this point it gets personal and dangerous and thus much harder to ignore.

I wish I knew what motivates such individuals. :o(
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: November 7th, 2014 01:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think it's simply that they take pleasure in being the centre of attention and manipulating others. They enjoy cruelty for its own sake. It's no more complicated than that.
hano From: hano Date: November 7th, 2014 12:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
She's breathtaking in her sheer, relentless nastiness. Avoid her at all costs, she's toxic beyond belief.
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: November 7th, 2014 01:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
I saw enough two years ago to know to avoid her, but unfortunately those of us who did exactly that, by blocking her Twitter feed and blocking or de-friending anyone who reposted her Tweets, left the victims feeling isolated.

I don't know how we prevent that happening again, but I think the days of the totally unmoderated internet community are numbered, though of course in the past she manipulated mods and effectively silenced anyone who didn't totally agree with her.
nutmeg3 From: nutmeg3 Date: November 7th, 2014 12:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
I had never heard of her until the last few days, when people have begun talking about her and her past. Even the little bit I've read about what she did is enough to turn my stomach. I'll certainly never buy or read her work, but honestly, because I'm a bitch I wish the world would pile on and do to her what she did to so many for years. After all, people would only be "punching up."
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: November 7th, 2014 01:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
I only encountered her in passing two years ago, but what I saw then means that I absolutely believe everything her victims say about her now it's all finally been revealed.

I am actually suspicious of her "poor oppressed me, all white people are horrible to us poor Thais" stance. When this blew up 2 years ago, several people said she claimed to be Thai-Chinese, and (according to Wikipedia), "Descendants of Chinese in Thailand are among the leading Thai families today [...] and make up a disproportionate percentage of Thailand's business and upper class." As she also claims to have studied in the UK, her family must have plenty of money to have afforded the overseas student's fees, which are hefty!

Anyway, if she genuinely repents and reforms, I'll be very happy for her, but people like that seldom do. I just hope we can be more alert and spot the next RH before s/he can do any damage.
sartorias From: sartorias Date: November 7th, 2014 01:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
She will probably just leave that Benjanun persona and start up a new one, alas.
lil_shepherd From: lil_shepherd Date: November 7th, 2014 01:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
Indeed, I think that may have already begun.
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: November 7th, 2014 01:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
matociquala suggested as much in her LJ post. I even wonder if RH/BS actually wrote the fiction she has received so much praise for? Perhaps she did, but she is so manipulative that it's not beyond the bounds of possibility that she's passing another writer's work off as her own. She just lies as easily as breathing, it seems and so can you believe anything she says?
joycemocha From: joycemocha Date: November 7th, 2014 02:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've had encounters with her, but I had enough real-life toxicity at the time due to my workplace deteriorating that I disengaged. Plus I was insufficiently prominent for her to bother with for much more than a few dismissive remarks. Though now I have to wonder about a couple of things which happened professionally....

I do wonder about her background, because she does have a rich and spoiled tone about her. Nonetheless, it doesn't justify being a bully--and that's what this is all about, in my opinion.
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: November 7th, 2014 03:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
Nothing justifies her being a bully, but she hid the extent of her bullying so cleverly that it was never revealed as the systematic reign of terror that it was.

She only affected me tangentially, but she did add to my post-Racefail feeling that it wasn't worth writing for publication any more. Either I stuck to British, all-white casts of characters and got condemned for not including other races. colours and enthnicities, or I included them and Did Them Wrong. :(
seaivy From: seaivy Date: November 7th, 2014 06:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
Of course, I don't know what this is all about but i am sending a little bit of juju that all shall be well
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: November 7th, 2014 07:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thank you. I'm afraid that this isn't over yet, not by a long way. It doesn't affect me directly. I can opt out and ignore it all, but it has affected some of my online friends, so I wanted to make my feelings clear, just for the record.
birdsedge From: birdsedge Date: November 8th, 2014 03:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
I wasn't aware of any of this at the time and only became aware after one writer friend tried to take an ovedose and another blogged about it. At that point a friend gave me a brief rundown and I back-checked some of RH's posts requiring that people pour acid over themselves and set themselves on fire. It made me feel sick and I was shocked and very sorry for the people that they were directed at. Apparently RH has a habit of taking things out of context and slamming authors for it, and she dsproportionately targets women and writers of colour.

It was pretty obvious that this whole trend was/is something truly toxic in the worst possible way, but since the communities she was posting in were not ones I hung out in, I never got involved one way or the other. I was not aware of how widespread it was until I read this:
http://laurajmixon.com/2014/11/a-report-on-damage-done-by-one-individual-under-several-names/

I am deeply apalled by the whole thing. That so many people have enabled this woman (if that's what 'she' is) for so many years either by joining in or by simply backing out and leaving her victims unsupported says much about the internet age. Her underhand methods of stalking, damaging and deleting said damage so the victim has no proof are bad enough, but then claiming to be a victin of stalking herself adds another layer of deliberate damage.

It's nothing less than creative and deliberate cruelty and I can only think that she does this for personal gratification.

In an ideal world I would like to see an international investigation because much of what she's done is illegal in many countries. That's not going to happen, but I would be delighted if someone would out Requires Hate's real identity. Whether this is classed as doxxing or not, I don't care. This person has done a lot of damage and the two recent apologies she has published (after taking down the evidence) neither go far enough nor, in my opinion, are genuine. The fact that some people are now saying 'Well, that's all right then,' boggles me completely. It's NOT all right. Nothing she can do will ever make it all right. The kind of damage she inflicted can't be undone, it can only be left behind.

What is important is that her coterie of enablers is shamed into melting away and that when all this starts again (as it surely will, though maybe under another pseudonym) internet communities stand together and freeze her out.

Supporting books by authors who have suffered RH abuse is a great way to start. Tricia Sullivan's Shadow Boxer is on my to read list.
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: November 8th, 2014 07:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have the Kindle version of Shadow Boxer on my iPod to start reading tonight!

Regarding whether what RH did broke the law, I know that Liz has involved the police. Whether it will ever come to a prosecution or not I don't know, but they surely have the means to find out her true identity. At the moment, the people she has persecuted have no way of knowing whether they are sitting next to their tormentor at a con. RH / BS can be smarmy and nice when it suits her, apparently. Revealing her real name would not be doxxing in my view but a public service!
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