Helen (heleninwales) wrote,

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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