Six Months and Counting

Hi, I’m Benjanun Sriduangkaew. Friends call me Bee. I’m a writer of science fiction and fantasy, mostly of the ‘queer ladies have sweet love and also board spaceships’ variety.

I used to run the review blog Requires Only That You Hate (a nerd reference, not a statement of intent; surprise, I also wrote positive reviews). Last year, September 2014, I was very publicly doxxed and my professional identity connected to the blog. Almost instantly, my stalkers came back. The campaign of defamation and harassment began. In November 2014, a hit piece (now thoroughly debunked, as of May 2015) went live to round up my alleged sins based on speculation, anonymous gossip, and forum posts half a decade to a decade old; it implicitly called for the total destruction of my online existence. Wherever I’m published or positively covered, the comment section will immediately become a landfill of concern-trolling and anonymous rage. Anywhere with comments enabled becomes an attack vector. Anyone who speaks up for me will be swarmed almost instantly by a mob out to, allegedly, purge the Internet of harassment.

Here are two critical analyses and rebuttals to Laura J. Mixon’s hit piece (the first one is very long, but also beyond comprehensive).

Just before I get on with my summary, I think it’s important for people to understand what Mixon accomplished with her essay. Mixon produced what is called a Gish Gallop. She created a barrage of accusations and presented them in such a way that it was impossible for the readers to associate each accusation with it’s appropriate “source” and evaluate the evidence for it. The strength of this “argumentation” technique is that it takes so much time to refute it that most readers will give up partway through, and take on faith everything said by the producer of the Gish Gallop. Plus, even if the overwhelming majority of the Gish Gallop turns out to be false, people will fall back on the tiny and insignificant parts that are true to justify and defend the whole work (or the creator of the Gish Gallop will simply fabricate more accusations). In other words, in this case, it’s easier for people not to confront the racism that allowed them to believe the wild accusations in the first place, and rely on the words of powerful white people telling us what PoC to shun, rather than spend hours understanding why they were wrong. Most people will not be able to face the fact that these powerful people, although some may sometimes have had their heart in the right place, are just parroting attacks against a queer WoC without fact checking it, because they will face no consequences when they get it wrong. Indeed, as discussed much later in my essay, people will actually go as far as fabricating evidence, rather than believe their friends are acting in a reprehensible manner.
A Critical Review of Laura J. Mixon’s Essay

By July 2015, partly due to Laura J. Mixon’s campaign to drive me offline and/or out of publishing (and certainly using Mixon’s narrative as justification), my primary stalker attempted to blackmail me. When I didn’t comply, they doxxed me by posting my private information that includes birth records and my extended family. This act has seen wide support from Laura J. Mixon and Teresa Nielsen Hayden, among others. This act has also put children in danger for no better reason than that they are related to me.

Here’s a primer on my situation, written by a friend of mine (I had no part in its contents; I like to think it presents a pretty frank, concise view of things including the acknowledgment that I’ve been shitty in the past).

For six months, I kept my mouth firmly shut. I disengaged entirely. I issued two apologies, one to those I’d hurt and one to those I’d lied to about my identity. Immediately they were called lies, insufficient, and manipulative. I have been compared to Goebbels, the Aurora shooter, Roman Polanski, Jim Frenkel—name a mass murderer or pedophile or rapist, and chances are good that I have been compared to them. I’ve publicly shown receipts for rape threats that have come my way, and my detractors immediately said I invented those. Because that’s what women do, apparently: make up rape threats and harass themselves. Every time I blog or breathe or tweet, a new gossip thread on an anonymous community full of racist conspiracy theorists will spring up to look for new ways to ruin my life.

The extent of myth-building around me has been staggering: I have been painted as this all-powerful, Machiavellian manipulator who can control the science fiction/fantasy publishing industry; I—a queer woman of color who lives half a world away from any publishing center, a new writer who’s the smallest of small fries—apparently wield the clout to blacklist writers I don’t like, ‘eliminate competition’, and browbeat editors/publishers into doing whatever I command them. I don’t have friends—I have ‘minions’ and ‘lieutenants’ who perform my evil work for me. Friendship with me is, in the eye of my detractors, participation in corruption and collusion to drive out the virtuous.

All that, while extremely successful, influential writers who have multi-million book deals under their belts try their hardest to drive me out of publishing and blacklist me.

I’ve come to the realization that I can never address the allegations against me because, if I refute it, then I’m lying; if I don’t refute it, then I tacitly admit my guilt. And for every allegation I address, fifty more will be thrown in my face based on half-truths. When people run out of them, a hundred will be invented on the spot. My thought, then, was if I kept quiet and ignored it all, eventually it will die down and people will move on.

It didn’t die down. It’s been six months and it has not stopped. Each time things start calming down, the same core group of people would line up twenty new hateblogs to remind people that I’m exactly like Goebbels and need to be exterminated; to remind people not to be ‘silent’ about my evil abusive ways. Several attempts have been made to sic Gamergate on me, the most recent one being in February 2015. It was justified immediately: ‘I can understand why someone would want to point GG at her’, ‘What goes around come around’, ‘Live by the sword, die by the sword’.

In short, ‘She deserves it.’ The issue with this is that, even if you decry GG as the worst ever, when you say anyone deserves GG, you are legitimizing them as a retributive force. You are acknowledging their jurisdiction. You are validating their methods.

Congratulations. You are ceding your online ground to them and welcoming them as a vigilante police force, one with authority over your community and your house. You have bowed to them as a governing entity.

Why am I speaking up now? By saying anything at all I run a tremendous risk, because anything I say can potentially backfire, be used against me, get twisted, taken out of context—nothing is off-limits in the campaign to villify me, break me, and drive me offline. But I’ve also recognized that my silence has been just as self-destructive. If I’m quiet, then I must be plotting something in secret. If I talk, then I’m being manipulative. In a threat climate constructed by those with total power over you and all the institutional authority in the world, all choices are bad choices.

Recently, George R. R. Martin promoted the hit piece on me for award nomination. It drew me more harassment than usual, and that’s no surprise: remember what happened to Sady Doyle in 2011 when she criticized A Song of Ice and Fire? But we are still meant to believe that this is about ethics in driving out the evil harasser (i.e. me), because if anyone cares about harassment, then surely it must be the man whose fans are a rampaging mob who regularly deluge feminists with rape threats.

My objective is not to retaliate. I don’t believe the answer to harassment is more harassment, the answer to abuse more abuse. I don’t condone or encourage anyone to chase people down on Twitter and fill their mentions. That’s not what I want, and so whenever possible I’ll avoid naming names. (However, if you speak up in support of me, you’ll invariably have one of my stalkers in your mentions. This individual has made it their life’s work to crawl Google and Twitter for every mention of me in order to concern-troll people and ‘inform’ them that I’m horrible and need to be driven offline. They have demanded that I get in direct contact with them; that if I don’t accede to their arbitrary demands, then it’s my own fault that they keep stalking me. Yeah. You may recognize all these things as textbook stalking, abusive behavior.)

My objective is not to change minds. If you’ve already made your stand on me, you aren’t going to change it now.

My priority is to survive and to keep the writing career which I’ve earned with incredibly hard work. My priority is to lessen and hopefully stop the harassment of my friends and supporters, who have had their privacy violated, their character assassinated, their sex lives speculated on—all because they associate with and speak up for me. My priority is to defuse the threat climate. My priority, very simply, is to be left the hell alone.

And being quiet isn’t going to work anymore.

Update: Since Laura J. Mixon’s hit piece on me has been nominated for the Hugo awards, there have been some folks speaking out. I’m including what they have said here. As you can see, I’m not including only from people who have spoken up in my favor — Abigail Nussbaum actually compares me to the very neo-Nazi someone tried to sic on me, but I believe she makes good points in other ways. I don’t require people to be my fans or think particularly well of me.

I would also like to request that people read Chelsea Gaither’s statement on this and respect what she has to say.

These tweets from @NotAllBhas are, I find, a good and concise summary of what the situation looks like from outside the science fiction/fantasy community.

It’s worthwhile to note that the community of anonymous racists in question have already targeted every single one of the people linked here or who have shown me support, including but not limited to Abigail Nussbaum (who, as I said, compared me to a neo-Nazi but that apparently isn’t vituperative enough for FFA), @FangirlJeanne, Solace Ames (who I am not friendly with), Tessa Khum (creator of #illridewithyou), and more.

Asymbina’s Tumblr (concerning the anonymous community and more).

Six months have passed. In that time, efforts to bolster true diversity and create nuture safe spaces for minority voices have been undermined by WASPs — the same WASPS who were in a tizz initially — continuing and continuing and continuing to ‘raise awareness’ of RH’s past behaviour, long past the point of what is useful or reasonable. As I said below six months ago; RH has publically owned and apologised for her actions and the damage she has caused, the fact that this is not enoughindicates that this was never about taking an anti-harassment stance but of personal vendettas being played out on a communal level. That Mixon’s brief of evidence was published after RH’s apology is indicative of this.
I said initially that individuals were enacting racial bias with the anti-harassment steps they were taking, probably unconsciously. They’ve had time to balance the racist pall cast by their initial actions — many suggestions made below still stand — but they haven’t. Quite the opposite.
— Tessa, The Long Campaign Against Racism (Bogged)
As such, the name of this category fits the sorry roster of nominees. In addition to 4 canine nominees, there is Laura J. Mixon, who appears to have made it through on the strength of George R. R. Martin’s praise for her hit-piece against Benjanun Sriduangkaew.
This is a particular travesty, since Sriduangkaew is one of the best writers working in the genre-space now. Her crime, in the eyes of the likes of GRRM and Mixon, is to have formerly been the writer of the critical blog Requires Only That You Hate. In the latter capacity, she excoriated science fiction and fantasy writers for their exoticizing portrayals of non-European cultures, their blindspots for gender oppression, and for just plain bad writing. Often intemperate, and unwilling to give credit to an otherwise clumsy text for its author’s identity, politics, or network of friendships, Requires Hate offended middle-class, middle American notions of propriety. Even if I did not always agree with its judgments, I loved it.
Novelettes, Novellas, and Fan Writers