Note: I have edited this post to include the text of the account I posted to Laura Mixon's report.
In 2011 I had a run-in online with someone called Winterfox, aka Requires Hate, aka Benjanun Sriduangkaew. She proceeded to harass me online for the next three years. Specifically, she attempted to intimidate me out of doing activism regarding or even publicly mentioning LGBTQ issues.
That turned out to be barely the tip of a Titanic-sized iceberg. A report on her activities is here
Requires Hate harassed me for about three years, in 2011-2013.
I first encountered her (under the name of Winterfox) on 50 Books POC, a community for reviewing books by people of color. The community, founded in 2007, had thrived until Winterfox joined it in 2011. Every time someone reviewed a book by certain authors of color, she verbally abused not only the reviewer, but everyone who commented to the post. Her intent seemed to be to intimidate readers out of reviewing books by those authors: in particular, African-American author N. K. Jemisin and Chinese-American author Cindy Pon.
Posting to the community dropped off noticeably. Several people privately told me that they had left the community due to Winterfox’s abuse. After Winterfox posted a book review in which she called Cindy Pon a “stupid fuck,” I asked Winterfox to stop using personal insults. The ensuing blow-up resulted in the destruction of the community.
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.
This is why people found her so frightening, and why so many of the stories about her are only told anonymously. It’s not because she told everyone that they should be raped by dogs or have their hands broken with a hammer. It’s because she made those kinds of threats frequently enough, and was so vicious in general, that they became the subtext of everything she said. Another thing that frightened people was her tendency to harass people for months or years after a single encounter, pursuing them from platform to platform, long after ordinary trolls would have gotten bored and moved on. Her sheer relentlessness was creepy, disturbing, and obsessive.
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?
I am not going to post my personal credentials of oppression to argue that my disability, religion, or sexual orientation made it wrong for her to harass me. (Though I will mention that Requires Hate knew exactly how I was a minority, because she obviously read my blog carefully and consistently for three years.) Harassment is wrong. Period. Using intimidation to suppress civil rights activism is wrong. Period. If I was a straight white able-bodied Christian man, it would still be wrong.
I can’t prove any of this. Requires Hate deleted everything she wrote about me, and I didn’t take screenshots of the abuse she directed at me. At the time it was happening, I wasn’t thinking of getting revenge on her or proving her misdeeds in the future, and I didn’t want copies of her abuse on my computer. So you can believe me, or not. You can think her harassment was justified, or not. That part is up to you. All I can do is tell you what happened.
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.
Requires Hate, if you are genuinely remorseful and honestly intend to change, here’s what I want from you: I want to have no contact with you ever again, and I want you to have nothing whatsoever to do with me. That means that you never contact me in any way, online or offline. It means that you never discuss me or even mention me online, in any persona and for any reason, whether directly or in veiled references. It means you never link to anything I post. It means you don’t harass me, and you don’t send your friends to abuse or harass me.
If you are willing to agree to this, please copy the paragraph above and post it on both of your blogs, attributing it to me under my full name and promising to abide by its conditions. And then never say anything else to me or about me again.
I was hesitant to make this post, as Requires Hate has a long history of retaliating against those who speak up about her. This statement is far more likely to prompt her to start harassing me again, as herself or in some new persona or via friends, than it is to make her leave me alone. I am also concerned that signing my name to this statement will spark attempts to damage my career, the spreading of malicious lies about me, or other forms of retaliation. And I can only hope that I don’t need to be concerned about physical violence.
But I don’t want to leave all the rest of the people she targeted standing alone. So here’s my story, in solidarity. To those of you who named yourselves, and to those who remain anonymous: I believe you, and I stand with you. What was done to you was unjustified and wrong. And I really hope that none of us will have to go through this again.
As of November 10, Requires Hate has not agreed to my request that she leave me alone. She may instead retaliate, possibly by spreading false rumors about me. Given that, if you hear that I have stalked someone, have outed or doxxed someone, have sent someone racist messages, etc, please contact me privately and ask me about it before assuming that it's true.
People often think it's easy to make a claim that you were harassed. It is not easy, and it is not done lightly. For everyone who believes them, there will be one or many who don't, or who think it wasn't that bad, or they're being over-sensitive, or that the harassment was justified.
Posting this will be proof to some people that I am exactly what Requires Hate says I am. The argument, which I have seen many times over the last four years, is that she only harasses people who are racist, sexist, misogynist, homophobic, colonialist, rape apologists, and otherwise bad people. Therefore, anyone she harasses must be those things. And also, it was not harassment, but truth-telling.
I have nothing to say to those people, except to request that they defriend me (if we're friended on LJ/DW) so I can know to do so in turn. I would prefer not have people reading my locked posts if they think so poorly of me.
(To be clear, none of us, myself included, exist in a vacuum, untouched and uncontaminated by social prejudices. But there's a difference between, say, "subconsciously affected by social rape myths while consciously working against them," and "rape apologist.")
I believe Rochita Loenen-Ruiz
. I believe Athena Andreadis
. I believe Video Games Anon
. And I believe all the others
. If you read those links and still think it doesn't take courage to stand up and say what they said, then you are a very lucky person who has never been targeted themselves. And also lacking in empathy. We are real people who have been hurt, and are taking a risk to warn others in the hope that if we do, the bullying will stop with us. Have some compassion.
Comments are closed on this post. I will not read posts or tweets in support of Winterfox, so please do not link me to such things. If you want to talk more about this with me, please email me.