Friday, April 10, 2015

The 2015 Hugo Awards: Why I Am Voting No Award in the Best Fan Writer Category

It's been six days since this year's Hugo nominations were announced, and in fandom time that feels like an eternity.  As dispiriting as the nominations themselves were, the response to them has been gratifying--the consensus that the Sad and Rabid Puppies crossed a line in promoting a single slate of nominees has been swiftly reached (including in mainstream venues like Salon, Slate, and The Guardian), and I'm seeing a lot of support for the policy of No Award-ing all Puppy nominees.  With the shock of the nominations starting to fade, it's perhaps time to start looking at the nominees that are left to us, and to see how we can cobble from them a selection of winners that best reflects what we want to see from the field.

In several categories, the Puppies took all but one nomination, and those remaining nominees have no doubt taken a read of the situation and realized that they stand a very good chance of winning a Hugo by default, which is probably something they feel very conflicted about.  Taking a look at those nominees myself, I see some who would have seemed like deserving winners in any year (Julie Dillon for Best Pro Artist), and others that I don't know much about (Wes Chu for the Campbell Award).  I also see the Best Fan Writer category, in which Laura J. Mixon is the only non-Puppy nominee.  As difficult as this is to say, my plan at the moment is to rank Mixon below No Award, and I'd like to talk for a bit about my reasons for doing that.

Mixon is on the ballot because of a single post, "A Report on Damage Done by One Individual Under Several Names."  George R. R. Martin endorsed her for a nomination, and whether or not that played a deciding role in securing it for her (his endorsement was made only a day before the nominating period closed, but on the other hand he does have a huge megaphone and the Best Fan Writer category has a relatively low profile and would thus be susceptible to his influence), it reflects the perception that Mixon performed a public service in writing that report, and that the Best Fan Writer category can and should be used to reward such service.  I don't know whether I agree with that approach, but the fact that everyone (including Mixon herself) seems to agree that this is what happened makes it easier to discuss what message is sent by nominating and rewarding her.

The individual Mixon writes about was known variously as (to give a by no means complete sample) Wintefox, Valse de Lune, Pyrofennec, A Cracked Moon, and, most famously, Requires Hate.  Under that last name, she published a blog in which she wrote angry, often harsh critiques of genre fiction, particularly epic and urban fantasy.  She often came under fire for the angry tone of her reviews, and for her liberal use of violent rhetoric, often directed at authors or other reviewers she disagreed with.  Defenders of the blog argued that the anger Requires Hate displayed was merely a performance meant to illustrate her disgust with the sexist and racist tropes and plot elements she disdained, that her reviews served an important function in dismantling the prejudice that still lingers within the genre, and that attacking her rhetoric amounted to dismissing her arguments for not being presented in the correct, conciliatory tone.

The Requires Hate blog was allowed to fade away around 2012, more or less coinciding with a loud, public blow-out with a number of authors including Liz Williams and others.  Shortly thereafter, a young writer by the name of Benjanun Sriduangkaew began publishing well-received short stories in several major short fiction venues, even earning a Campbell Award nomination last year.  Known to a small number of people within the industry was the fact that Sriduangkaew and Requires Hate were the same person.  (Because that's the name under which she's continued to speak publicly, for the rest of this post I'm going to use the name Sriduangkaew to refer to this individual, even when referring to statements made under her other aliases; the impression I've formed, however, is that Benjanun Sriduangkaew is also a nom de plume--which, for the record, is a thoroughly legitimate and commonplace choice for which I see no reason to criticize her.)

What happens next is less easy to discern.  What does seem to have been substantiated is that Sriduangkaew got into a fight with author Tricia Sullivan over the latter's most recent novel, Shadowboxer, which Sriduangkaew felt presented a skewed, Orientalizing view of its Thai setting.  At some point she seems to have attacked the author Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, who refused to join in her excoriation of Sullivan's book.  At another point--and the timeline here has been very hard to gauge, so I have no idea what happened before what--Sullivan and, apparently, Williams began a whisper campaign linking Sriduangkaew to the Requires Hate persona.  This went on for several months and included, it has been claimed, contacting publishers and urging them not to buy stories from Sriduangkaew.  Finally, last fall, Nick Mamatas, who is close with Sriduangkaew and knew her identity, made a public post linking her with Requires Hate, in what he claimed was an attempt to get ahead of the rumor mill.  If Mamatas believed that his post would throw the burden of guilt on Sullivan and Williams, however, he miscalculated.  When James Nicoll reported on the affair, the comments to his post became inundated with anonymous respondents all saying the same thing--that during the ten years that she was switching identities and "performing" rage, Sriduangkaew was also engaged in campaigns of abuse and harassment against authors and fans, many of whom were still too frightened to accuse her publicly.

My own feelings about this mess are deeply conflicted.  I never thought much of the Requires Hate blog.  I appreciate--and indeed have published--angry and performative reviews that make strident points about racism and sexism, but in Requires Hate's writing the ratio of rage to actual critique and insight didn't seem to justify the effort.  Still, it was obvious that a lot of readers got something out of her writing and valued its existence, so when the rhetoric in her reviews turned violent and began to be directed at actual people, I quietly stopped reading.  I had been vaguely aware that Requires Hate was one of several pseudonyms (which, again, I see nothing wrong with), but the only one I was aware of was the one under which she commented at Ferretbrain.  There, she struck me as a bully, someone who perceived disagreement as inherently illegitimate and ruthlessly attacked anyone who expressed it.  But, since the people on the site seemed to take this in stride, it hardly felt like my place to intervene.  When the blow-up over the Requires Hate blog happened in 2012, I was sympathetic to a lot of the criticisms raised, but it also seemed clear that to stand against Requires Hate would mean standing with people I cared for even less, who would cheerfully use her behavior as a cudgel against all anti-racist, anti-sexist writing, and who would tar any angry review with the brush of "bullying."  I was dismayed to discover that the friendly Sriduangkaew persona had been a front, but in the grand scheme of things we hadn't been friends and she hadn't owed me anything.  It did not seem obvious to me that the extent of Sriduangkaew's deception justified its exposure.

I did not know about the abuse.  When the allegations surfaced in the comments to Nicoll's LJ post, however, it seemed obvious that I should have guessed.  Not only were there multiple accounts of it, but the behavior they described was entirely consistent with Sriduangkaew's public utterances, the viciousness merely turned up.  In that light, Sriduangkaew's behavior--the multiple aliases, and even more tellingly, her consistent deletion of her internet history, especially where it could cast her in a negative light--was clearly revealed as that of a predator, who makes nice with those who have power and attacks those who don't.  Sriduangkaew's apologies--one as herself and one as Requires Hate--only confirmed that impression.  They both minimize or outright ignore her actual abuses.  She is far too busy apologizing for offending the powerful to remember that she bullied and abused the powerless.

I've said all this not only to clarify where I stand on Benjanun Sriduangkaew (which is surely not something that anyone cared about) but to make it clear that I do see the value in Mixon's report, which collates evidence of Sriduangkaew's history and actions over more than a decade and in multiple guises.  Abusers thrive when the communities around them forget who they are and what they've done.  They actively encourage that forgetfulness--as Sriduangkaew has done by switching personas and erasing her own past.  Especially in a community like ours, in which newcomers are always showing up, there is a great deal of value in having a single resource to point to whenever a certain name comes up.  And there's no denying that something like Mixon's report is exactly how people with privilege and power should use them when abuse and harassment happen in their community.  (Over at SAFE, the blog she established with Tade Thompson to provide a safe space where fans of color can hopefully be protected from abuses like Sriduangkaew's, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz writes about why she feels that this value justifies awarding Mixon the Hugo.  Obviously, we disagree, but I strongly urge you to read her take in full, because it is an argument worth considering.)


There is a huge difference between acknowledging that something has value and giving it an award.  The message that the latter sends is one that I, personally, am not comfortable with.  To begin with, there are huge problems with Mixon's report.  Some of them are not her fault--Sriduangkaew's self-editing and the fact that so many of her victims would only speak on condition of anonymity mean that Mixon lacks citations for many of her claims, and I can see feeling that the importance of her cause justified ignoring the conventions of good journalism.  Others, however, were entirely within her control.  The report consistently treats all of Sriduangkaew's excesses--her rage-blogging, her public bullying, and her private abuse and harassment--as if they were equally bad, whereas to my mind only the last one justifies the opprobrium that has descended upon her.  In a particularly ill-judged segment of the report, Mixon divides the people who have sounded off about Sriduangkaew into "pro-abuse" and "anti-abuse," even though it should be clear to anyone that this is an enormously complex situation with many nuances.  (UPDATE: I had misremembered that this segment was in Mixon's report.  It's actually in another LJ post by azarias.)  The report's emphasis on mathematical "proof"--Mixon includes charts and graphs to demonstrate, for example, that Sriduangkaew predominantly targeted women of color--feels perverse, especially given that Mixon is missing most of her sources.  Worst of all, unsurprisingly, are the comments, which confirm my impulse from back in 2012 that most of the people who would take an anti-Requires Hate stance are ones that I want nothing to do with.  It takes a mere instant for someone to show up and announce that Sriduangkaew's existence proves that all anti-racist writing is bullying.  Another wonders aloud whether Sriduangkaew is "really" Asian.  In her essay, Loenen-Ruiz writes that giving Mixon a Hugo demonstrates the genre community's commitment to protecting the weak and vulnerable.  I think the comments on Mixon's report demonstrate something very different.

One thing that Loenen-Ruiz and I absolutely agree on: more than race or gender or anything else, this story is about power.  There is, sadly, no shortage of abusers in the genre community, and whether they get excoriated as Sriduangkaew has (deservedly) been seems to depend a lot more on their power and connections than on what they've done.  René Walling sexually harassed a female writer at Readercon.  It took tremendous community organization and outrage to get him banned from that con (and where, might I ask, is Genevieve Valentine's Best Fan Writer nomination for her fearless and oh-so-eloquent writing about the experience of the harassment and the ordeal that followed?).  Within weeks of that decision being handed down, Walling was volunteering at the 2012 Worldcon in Chicago, and being thanked from on stage by Best Novel winner Jo Walton.  Jim Frenkel harassed women from his position as an editor at Tor for decades before anyone thought to do anything about it.  Marion Zimmer Bradley sexually abused her children and enabled the abuse of countless others by her husband, Walter Breen, something that should, if we lived in a just world, have landed her in prison for life.  Instead, the genre community seems determined to forget about it.  This last year, Deirdre Saoirse Moen and James Nicoll did yeoman's work in publicizing the sordid details of Bradley's crimes--things that were known but not spoken of--but somehow no one seems to have seriously considered them for a Hugo.

I'm not trying to say that Sriduangkaew deserves a pass because so many other, more powerful (and whiter) figures in genre got one--she clearly doesn't.  But when people like Walling and Frenkel and Bradley are allowed to skate by for years, while an author of George R. R. Martin's caliber (who is, quite justifiably, a prime target for the kind of angry rhetoric about race and gender that Requires Hate specialized in, and who just yesterday published a post in which he describes all such angry rhetoric as illegitimate) takes the time to sing the praises of Mixon's report...  Well, it makes it easier to understand why so many people were willing to ignore the problems with Sriduangkaew's public behavior for so long.  Loenen-Ruiz thinks that nominating Mixon for the Hugo shows that the community is taking abuse seriously.  I think it shows that the community will happily excoriate abuse, but only when it's committed by someone of relatively low status.

Benjanun Sriduangkaew and Vox Day are two sides of the same coin.  They're both bullies and trolls, who seem to take genuine pleasure out of causing pain and destruction.  But at the end of the day, neither one of them is really our problem.  Vox Day destroyed this year's Hugos and may have done the award permanent, irrevocable damage, but he's never going to get the prestige and recognition he so clearly craves.  Sriduangkaew has hurt real people in a terrible and lasting way--and if you take nothing else away from this post, I'd like to be clear that I consider that unforgivable--but everyone now knows what she is and her career has suffered real damage (earlier this year parent company continues to publish Orson Scott Card and John C. Wright--came under fire for publishing a story by her).  Neither one of them is our problem because neither one of them is in a position to have any real power over the community as a whole.  Our problem--our real problem--is things like the inexplicable, sickening hostility directed at projects like Con or Bust, the People of Color in European Art History project, or Tempest Bradford's challenge to take a year off reading books by white men.  Our problem is that the only thing that gets fandom up in arms over the prevalence of rape in Game of Thrones is when the rapist is a beloved male character.  Our problem is that when fans of color complain about the uniform whiteness of Agent Carter they're told that what they want is "unrealistic," and criticized for harshing white fans' squee.

There's been a lot of talk in the last six days about Us and Them.  The takeover of the Hugos by a cabal of reactionary, bigoted trolls makes it very easy for us to feel righteous and just, as the standard-bearers for social justice and equality.  But the fact is that there are a lot of people on our side who don't feel like an Us, who frequently feel that their concerns, their points of view, their grievances, are not taken into account.  What sort of message does it send to those people to give a Hugo to Laura J. Mixon and her report?  Does it tell them, as Loenen-Ruiz claims, that genre is becoming a kinder, more equitable place?  Or does it tell them that if they ever fuck up, they can look forward to being pounced upon while people with more power and status who have committed far worse crimes skate by?

In writing this, I realize that I will be seen as attacking Mixon.  I'm very sorry about that and I hope that what I've written here doesn't cause her a lot of distress.  My problem, in the end, is less with her than with the people who nominated her and who will now vote for her.  (It is also worth acknowledging that I was a Best Fan Writer nominee last year and had reasonable expectations of being on the ballot again this year.  To be honest, I'm relieved that I'm not--I wouldn't want to be in the middle of this mess--but you only have my word for that.)  I also want to urge you, again, to read Loenen-Ruiz's post, because her perspective is important--arguably, more than mine.  I would also, however, like to point out this post by Kate Nepveu, another victim of witness to Sriduangkaew's bullying (she ran was a member of an online community, 50books_poc, which was destroyed by Sriduangkaew's actions) who writes about her decision not to vote for Mixon.  I'd like to encourage you to consider these perspectives and make an informed decision, rather than voting for Mixon because she's not a Rabid Puppy (one possibility, by the way, is to put No Award first and then rate Mixon below it, which would mean your vote would go to her if No Award is eliminated).  Either way, take a moment to consider the message that your vote sends, to the people within this community as well as the Sad Puppies.


Kate Nepveu said...

I did _not_ run 50books_poc , and I do not regard myself as a victim of Sriduangkaew. Carry on.

Abigail Nussbaum said...

Sorry, Kate. I've corrected accordingly.

Kate Nepveu said...

Thanks for the quick correction.

dolorosa12 said...

As far as I can tell, Mixon doesn't have any section in her report dividing people into 'pro-abuse' and 'anti-abuse'. A poster on Dreamwidth called Azarias, who wrote a widely-circulated roundup post at the time Sriduangkaew's various pseudonyms were linked publicly, had such a section in their post.

Abigail Nussbaum said...

You're right. I'd misremembered that that was from Mixon's post as well.

benpeek said...

For the little it is worth, I agree entirely with you about the message it sends giving Mixon's piece a statue.

matthew-lane said...

"As dispiriting as the nominations themselves were,"

To you: There is nothing intrinsically dispiriting about the nominations, especially since you and I both know you've not read the majority of the nominated materials. You simply find it "dispiriting" on the basis of who nominated them.

"the response to them has been gratifying--the consensus that the Sad and Rabid Puppies crossed a line in promoting a single slate of nominees has been swiftly reached (including in mainstream venues like Salon, Slate, and The Guardian),"

LOL, so in other words "I've other people on the internet who agree my views are the right ones." An I'd like to take a second to point out that the articles DON'T agree with you: They are simply playing devils advocate while NOT agreeing with you, making sure to quote what other people have said in such a fashion as to cause click thru traffic, without making an assertions of their own. They've been very careful to not make any assertions after Entertainment Weekly had to pull their article on the basis that it made them a target for a slam dunk defamation case.

The fact remains that nothing the Sad Puppies, or even the Rabid Puppies did crossed the line & if it did then it crossed the line in EXACTLY the same way you and yours have been crossing that same line for the last decade. Seriously, explain to me how just the Sad Puppies crossed the line that doesn't exactly echo the Scalzi constructed list called "The 2008 Award Pimpage Post."

An do it without resorting to appeals to motive, ad hom's or identity politics: Because if you can't do that they you can't say that the SP's crossed the line, if you & yours have been doing the self same jig across that line for years & only are getting butthurt now that someone with the wrong politics has out played you at it.

"and I'm seeing a lot of support for the policy of No Award-ing all Puppy nominees."

I'm sure you have, after all that's how an echo chamber works. One voice echoed many many times, so it sounds like many voices. That's how the same echo chamber had your demographic mocking the sad puppies list when it came out earlier this year.

Seriously, your vocal minority couldn't stop many people nominating the books that ended up on that list (an that was out of all the possible books from that time period), do you really think it's going to be able to stop those same people voting on those books, over say "no award"?

I think it's time to accept that in the current culture war, your side has well and truly lost this particular battle: Your uncontested control of the Hugo Awards is at an end. At worst you & yours will no longer be able to push your preferred candidates onto the list unilaterally & at best the rules will be changed so that they FINALLY represent all of speculative fictions fandom, rather than just the exclusionary subset it's been supporting increasingly for the last 15 years.

Chris A said...

Matthew, you have the numbers backward. The Puppies are a minority; non-Puppy voters outnumber them 10 to 1.

Abigail, this a great post. I agree with your overarching point that it would be nice if the field and the fandom were more consistently willing to hold powerful people to account for their bad behavior in the same way it's been willing to hold Sriduangkaew accountable. (Though I do think there may be one or two false equivalencies here: Bradley's crimes, for example, would probably be more talked about had she not died in 1999.)

I think I would also rather see the award for fan writer recognize a body of work, not a single piece, focused on fiction, rather that on fandom.

matthew-lane said...

"Matthew, you have the numbers backward. The Puppies are a minority; non-Puppy voters outnumber them 10 to 1."

Except they demonstrably aren't. First because it's not puppies versus everyone else, it's people who liked the content of the puppies list, versus a small vocal clique that's manipulated the outcome of the award for years. An in that the SJW's are well and truly outnumbered.

Because there is no such group as the sad puppies. The sad puppies isn't gamergate mark 2, it's not an identity, it's not a self identification, it's simply a list of recommended book built around the idea of the overlooked, yet deserving novels worth of a Hugo Award.

The fact is the sad puppies list was a success the second a lot of other people outnumbered the usual rogues gallery of SFWA & Tor provocateurs, an the list resulted in a wider diversity of nominated works. The second success for the sad puppies list was when those very same provocateurs showed up to write blogs entries like this one, shouting about the wrong kind of fans, voting for the wrong kind of books, from the wrong kind of list.

It demonstrated exactly what the original creator of the concept was trying to demonstrate: That while these people talk the talk about inclusiveness & sincere openness, when it comes to walking the walk their actions speak volumes to the contrary.

So no it's not everyone else versus the puppies, because the puppies don't exist, only the list exists & many people like the contents of the list, not just the non existent puppies.

Abigail Nussbaum said...

OK, Matthew, you're done. I don't know why you think my blog is the right place to argue your counterfactual conspiracy theories (much less a post that isn't even really about the rabid puppies), but let's be clear that it isn't. Don't comment here again.

jeffro said...

"I think I would also rather see the award for fan writer recognize a body of work, not a single piece, focused on fiction, rather that on fandom" -- Chris A.

Pardon me if I am intruding, but I would like to point out that there is at least one fan writer on the shortlist that fits this criteria.

Seth Ellis said...

Thank you for this, you make some excellent points. I should say that I'm speaking as someone who managed to behave very badly in the resulting fracas at James Nicoll's blog, to my considerable and enduring shame. But I'm very glad to see someone point out a very troubling aspect of the issue, which is the phenomenon of white people who've been called on their bullshit in the past few years, who reacted with triumph to the news about Sriduangkaew as though it were a revelation that their bullshit wasn't actually their bullshit after all, but hers.

As you say, it seems pretty evident that Sriduangkaew was a harasser. Apologizing was literally the least she could do, and I have no opinions about her sincerity. (I see she's back on Twitter now, in a more-sinned-against-than-sinning mode.) But her own very bad behavior is distinct from rewarding Mixon's post, which in its pretensions to data analysis is massively flawed, and does as much to promote the narrative you describe (calling out racist behavior is a mode of bullying) than it does to point out Sriduangkaew's own behavior. I remember the blow-up of 2012, and I remember how much of the narrative was how mean she was to white people; very little of that, and I think none of her vicious serial reviews of white male authors, made it into Mixon's rundown. It's possible that Sriduangkaew has primarily harassed women of color, as opposed to reviewing authors harshly, but the flattening of information sources makes that impossible to determine from Mixon's pie charts.

Seth Ellis said...

I meant to say that the white commenters I'm thinking of who've been speaking with an air of vindication aren't even ones who've been critiqued by Sriduangkaew herself.

ajr said...

Intersectionality is complicated.

A couple of your interpretations of events I may quibble with, but such quibbles don't really have any bearing on my conclusion.

My conclusion being that I agree with ranking Mixon below No Award.

Regardless of the rights and wrongs, my feeling is that giving the award as a pat on the head for writing a single piece goes against the spirit of the award. I've always felt, and argue the history of the Fan Writer award shows, that the award is for a body of work. You know, more than one thing.

On top of which, no matter how important and well done the report might be, the idea that it counts as 'fannish' feels, well, off. Would you show it to anyone as an example of fannish writing? I wouldn't.

In coming to my conclusion, I make no judgment whatsoever on Mixon, or her report, other than that to my mind it's not what I'd consider a legitimate nomination.

I consider this similar to how last year I put 'No Award' ahead of "If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love" and "Wakulla Springs" in their respective categories because I found neither story to be sufficiently SFnal.

-Peder said...

Would anyone else be happier if this award conversation had something to do with whether or not Mixon's writing was good enough to qualify for an award and not the extremely complicated social message that the award would convey?

kainosite said...

I have to say, I don't find the argument "We shouldn't award someone who has performed a valuable service to the community by exposing an abuser because that abuser made enemies of awful people as well as decent ones" at all convincing. What we need is more Mixon-style reports about people like René Walling and Jim Frenkel, not fewer Mixon-style reports about people like Sriduangkaew. That Sriduangkaew is nominally anti-racist (although I think her concerted effort to destroy 50books_poc and harass other POC authors should cast some doubt on that assertion) in no way excuses her abuse, so I don't see how it can taint Mixon's exposé.

The enemies of our enemy do not automatically become our friends. Except for occasional appalled rubbernecking I take no notice of Vox Day or John C. Wright's opinions on any other matter, so why should I care what they think about this? Insofar as I wish them general unhappiness it's unfortunate that an award for Mixon might please them, in the same way it's unfortunate if they don't burn their dinners (lol, what I am saying, real men don't cook!), but I don't see why anyone else should change their vote because of it.

AJR makes some compelling points about the intended purpose of the Fan Writer award, and to whatever extent you feel it's meant to recognize a body of work or to award critique or meta about SFF instead of intra-community investigative journalism, it makes sense to down-vote Mixon. But I don't think we should be changing our votes to accommodate the feelings of racists, even to displease them or deny them the delusion of community support. We can far better show our opposition to racism by supporting initiatives like Con or Bust or 50books_poc than we can by saying we won't reward an exposé of an abuser unless that abuser is sufficiently privileged. Sriduangkaew is a serial harasser and Mixon was brave to challenge her and rendered a service to fandom by doing it. That's something that deserves recognition (although perhaps not through this particular award, as AJR says).

mevennen said...

I haven't the faintest idea who you are, but please note that you are recycling lies about myself and Tricia Sullivan. I sent one email to Paula Guran at Prime, with a heads-up regarding Sriduangkaew's alias as Requires Hate. Guran was my editor at Prime: it is still considered acceptable to send private communications to one's business associates without consulting the rest of the internet.

If you have evidence to the contrary about a 'whispering campaign', you need to produce it to back up your allegations, which are potentially libellous.

Liz Williams

Mia said...

I apologize if my comment appears twice, I'm not sure the first one went through and feel free to delete it, but I will try and re-write it in this one.

Benjanun Sriduangkaew and Vox Day are two sides of the same coin. They're both bullies and trolls, who seem to take genuine pleasure out of causing pain and destruction. But at the end of the day, neither one of them is really our problem.

I'm finding it difficult to express the strength of my disagreement with this without resorting to profanity. I am a queer woman of color and VD and BS are absolutely my problem. They have contributed to making the act of writing with the view to publication painfully fraught. BS is the reason I was not able for many years to talk about books in public. VD and BS are major factors in why I struggle so hard with staying in the SFF scene and have felt unsafe, unheard, isolated, and marginalized in it. What BS has done, and the horrible effects of it, may yet make me stop writing SFF entirely.

It is no exaggeration, either, to say that you minimizing their effects is disheartening and hurtful. You are saying that horrifically toxic people who make people like me feel unsafe are not truly our problem. Indeed, perhaps the fact that marginalized people have to deal with the double-bladed hostilities of racism from white men and people of color who trample fellow people of color for not being "authentic" enough is not a true problem. In any case, what does that matter? I am only one person speaking from the margins.

My problem, in the end, is less with her than with the people who nominated her and who will now vote for her.

Had I nomination and/or voting rights I would do both, but thank you for telling me that I am part of your problem.

rcloenen-ruiz said...

Mia, first of all, I want to thank you for speaking up here. I want to acknowledge your courage in this space. I know what a struggle this has been for you. Abigail, I wrote a reply, but it doesn't seem to post because of length, so I'm dividing it into two. Apologies for that and apologies if this post gets repeated as it just vanished the first time and I had to write a new reply.

rcloenen-ruiz said...

:What does seem to have been substantiated is that Sriduangkaew got into a fight with author Tricia Sullivan over the latter's most recent novel, Shadowboxer

I think you need to check your facts because there was no fight between Tricia and Sriduangkaew. Sriduangkaew was not yet in existence when Tricia asked RH for feedback on her novel. There was an exchange of emails where RH excoriated Tricia Sullivan for her use of culture and for the Thailand setting. Tricia responded as she could and did say she would shelve the novel. By then, the novel was already doing the rounds. Note that it had already been read by another Thai reader. By the time it was published, it had also undergone a number of rewrites. Sriduangkaew never confronted Tricia on this matter, did not offer public or private criticism. Instead, a whisper campaign was launched talking about how racist the book was and why it should not be read/reviewed. There are many fallacies being circulated about Tricia's treatment of Sriduangkaew. I was present a number of times when Tricia recommended Sriduangkaew's work to editors and those editors did solicit and publish work from Sriduangkaew. That she eventually rescinded support for Sriduangkaew is something I feel she was entitled to. No one is required to support someone intent on destroying them.

: At some point she seems to have attacked the author Rochita Loenen-Ruiz

It's not seems. I have hard evidence on black and white that RH did try to blackball my reputation. I also have testimonies from people with black and white evidence where RH said that she would destroy me completely. I don't know what I did to merit such attention, but there it is. I also have evidence that there was an attempt on the part of RH's friend to have me blacklisted. As if any editor worth their salt would blacklist an author on the say so of another.

: I think it shows that the community will happily excoriate abuse, but only when it's committed by someone of relatively low status.

I don't know who you're talking about there. I have never made use of the fact that I went to Clarion West and have never asked for favors from other writers. Ask anyone. They know this. I'm not interested in awards, not interested in being popular. If people like what I write, that's a happy side-effect. Sriduangkaew and her friends wielded more influence and were willing to use that influence to shut out and suppress the voices of those like me.

It seems that people are unhappy that I am not silent and that I refuse to be silent. Well, let my continued presence bring discomfort because it's about time people started questioning themselves about where they stand on matters of abuse and harassment. Color does not excuse it. Race or status does not excuse it. Would it make people happier if I had remained silent? I know that there were those who said I should show solidarity and not talk about it. Not talk about it when there were others more vulnerable than I was talking about leaving the field just when they were starting to emerge? Hell no. Those voices are too important to me. I knew I had no power to speak of when I decided to speak and the chances were that I was going to be driven out of the field. But heck, if speaking up would send a signal to those who were afraid, then I counted it all as gain.

I also question your statement where you say that Mixon's report doesn't deserve recognition because of the folks who commented or supported it.

rcloenen-ruiz said...

Let me tell you what it's like when you're drowning: you don't stop and say: hey, that's a white person's hand reaching out to me. When you're drowning and someone reaches out to you, you take the hand of the person who reaches out and says: take my hand, I'm not gonna let you drown.

There is no us versus them narrative. It's purely and simply about whether harassment is okay or not. That these other folks you've written about were not called out or made to account for their deeds is no fault of mine or Laura's. It's the fault of the people who were there and who didn't do anything about it.

I and those who stood with me knew that we didn't have any institutional power of our own. I'm thankful that Laura reached out when she did. I am thankful that Bear believed me and spoke up in support of me when those who claimed to stand for social justice were telling me to not make a fuss about it. I was at the point of getting ready to leave the field. Who reached out to Nalo for me? It was Laura. Who got me in touch with folks who told me not to quit. Laura. Who offered their network in service of the healing efforts that needed to take place? Laura.

You said: My problem, in the end, is less with her than with the people who nominated her and who will now vote for her.

I've been trying not to get upset but when you write this, I find myself wondering who you think nominated Laura Mixon-Gould and who you believe will vote for her. Because what you're telling me is that I and my brothers and sisters of color who nominated Laura are your problem. Perhaps you need to stop and question your own statement. Do you think voting and nominating fandom is made up of white people only? Because I'll tell you this, fandom doesn't belong to the West alone. It doesn't belong to USians. It belongs to the world and we're many different races and different shades of brown and we don't all think alike.

This is a lengthy reply, I considered posting it from my blog, but I don't want to keep talking about this issue. It's taken up too much of my energy as it is.

rcloenen-ruiz said...

Minor correction to my reply. When I say this: "when those who claimed to stand for social justice were telling me to not make a fuss about it." I'm not talking about everyone. But there were some who did tell me that I should just keep quiet.

Abigail Nussbaum said...


I tried, when writing this post, to make my argument without disrespecting Sriduangkaew's victims and the ordeal they experienced. That's a tough needle to thread, and obviously I failed in your case. I'm very sorry about that.

I'm not sure there's any value in trying to restate my argument, because I think I made it as well as I could have and you've rejected it, but I'll try in the form of an analogy: I can accept that Bill Cosby is a vile rapist while also noticing that the same Hollywood that has now made him a pariah is still lining up to work with Woody Allen. If Hollywood were now to start patting itself on the shoulder for how it stood up for the rights of rape victims, I think I'd be well within my rights to point out that something is not right.

Perhaps the fundamental disagreement between myself and Rochita is whether awarding Mixon does represent white, privileged fandom patting itself on the shoulder. She may very well be right that it doesn't, but from my perspective that's hard to see, and I think that there are a lot of people within fandom who share that perspective. If in sharing that perspective I made it seem that I don't care about the pain of people like yourself who experienced Sriduangkaew's bullying, then that is entirely my error. Again, I'm very sorry for it.

Abigail Nussbaum said...


Thank you for your long, considered reply. To be clear, I absolutely do not think that you shouldn't be speaking, and I hope that everyone who has read this post has also clicked through to yours and read your thoughts, which I have a lot of respect for, though we still fundamentally disagree.

You're right that in ascribing Mixon's nomination (and potential win) to white, Western fandom I'm discounting fans like yourself, and I apologize for that. When I look at the comments to Mixon's post, however, and at the endorsement of her for the Hugo by George R.R. Martin, it feels as if they are speaking to a particular group of Hugo voters. It's impossible for me to know whether it was those voters who gave Mixon her nomination, or whether it was the group that you point out and that I (inexcusably) ignored. My instincts and experience in fandom say one thing, but I could be wrong.

You write that this is not about race, and as I say in this post I think that we agree there. But I've seen too much of fandom's willingness to forgive outrages when they're committed by the right kind of people to accept that this is purely about justice. You and I obviously disagree about the kind of message that is sent by awarding Mixon, and it may simply be that doing so sends different messages to different groups. What I hoped to do with this post was to give my point of view without claiming that it is definitive. Again, I hope that whoever reads it gives your perspective consideration as well before they make up their mind.

rcloenen-ruiz said...

Abigail, I want to express my thanks for your openness and your willingness to converse. As you said, we see things differently and this is because of the history that we bring with us. I don't have your history and so to me, this all has been bewildering as it feels to me like a clear cut issue and I admit to having been puzzled as to why it's not. In any case, I do appreciate your clarifications. I will think on this some more. I suppose that only time will tell if we are indeed moving forward or if we are moving towards a reinforcement of the status quo. In my heart, I am hoping that we are always moving towards a better and more inclusive future. Perhaps someday, we'll be able to chat about these things over a drink. It will be an interesting conversation.

triciasullivan said...

What you say about me and my actions in your post is simply untrue.

rachelmanija said...

On a purely personal level, I'm happy that Mixon's piece got a Hugo nomination. That brings it more publicity, which makes it less likely that Requires Hate will follow through on her threats and hire someone to murder me or throw acid in my face, or do the same to another one of her targets. I understand that people who were not victims of her threats or relentless, years-long stalking often don't take those threats seriously. So I'm not demanding that you believe that she really might follow through on them. I'm just suggesting that you exercise a little empathy - whatever empathy you might extend to other people who got rape or death threats from other abusers - and consider that we are people too. And that no people deserve to be abused and put in fear of their lives. Marginalized people don't deserve it. People of color don't deserve it. Women don't deserve it. No one deserves it. I'm a privileged white person, but I still don't deserve it.

Whether you vote for the award or not is up to you. But I don't think it's right to dismiss the victims on the basis that they're being supported by some people you don't like. SF is a small world. If I only supported the victims of harassment and abuse based on a purity test of their supporters, I would never support any victims at all. So I don't do that.

Mia, I support you. I also know a number of people who stopped reviewing books out of fear of Requires Hate. I know I cut way back on reviewing, and put other reviews under lock - mostly reviews of books by authors of color and queer authors - because RH harassed and abused me when I tried to promote authors of color and discussed LGBTQ topics, or spoke out for or raised funds for LGBTQ rights.

I know I'm not a perfect person. I'm not untouched by prejudice. I've said and done things I'd take back if I could. In your mind, Abigail, I'm probably part of the privileged white people who are the problem. But what good purpose did it serve to systematically harass me in a calculated attempt to frighten me out of LGBTQ activism? What good purpose did it serve to destroy 50 Books POC - a community based around an alternate version of Tempest's current challenge? What justice was served by trying to destroy Rochita's career?

I don't care whether or not anyone votes on the Mixon report. I hope that the nomination itself served its purpose - to protect the victims from further harm. No matter what you think about the strange bedfellows who are also supporting it, I hope you can extend a little empathy towards those of us who know from experience that threats and stalking can be followed up with very real action.

- Rachel Manija Brown

mevennen said...

Let me put this another way, since you appear not to have had the courtesy to reply to either myself or Tricia.

I am about to consult my foreign rights agent, who is Israeli and who has legal representation in Israel, about legal action.

Liz Williams

rcloenen-ruiz said...

Just a note: GRRM has lots of fans in The Philippines and I wouldn't be surprised if they read his blog too.

Andrew Stevens said...

Speaking as someone who is probably quite a bit closer politically to Brad Torgersen than he is to you, whether I agree with you or not on this issue or another isn't very important to me. What is important to me is that you continue to write what you believe.

Abigail Nussbaum said...


I'm sorry that what I wrote has hurt and angered you. However, I think that I reiterated several times in this piece that I don't consider Sridunagkaew's bullying and abuse justified or acceptable, and that I think her exposure is a good thing. My problem is with what the zeal of that exposure reveals about our community, and with the message that I think is sent by rewarding it. You and I obviously disagree about what that message is, and you may be right, but let me be clear again that we do not disagree about the harm that Sriduangkaew has caused.

Once again, I apologize for the hurt I caused you.

Abigail Nussbaum said...


I have responded to everything said in this comment thread that seemed to merit a response.

mevennen said...

So calling you out on factual inaccuracies doesn't merit a response? A call for evidence for repeating a lie doesn't merit a response?

No wonder you didn't merit a nomination this year.

Farah Mendlesohn said...

Abigail I think you need to ask questions rather than make statements. You excoriate Mixon for a report she wrote on the basis of the evidence she had, and assembled from speaking with people. You wrote your blog post entirely on the basis of rumour and gossip and avoided speaking to the people you have accused.

The only whisper campaign I am aware of is the one started against Liz Williams and Tricia Sullivan: I know of this one personally because I was approached to contribute it. I did not at first realise what I was being asked, and withdrew from the conversation at the point at which it became clear that the questioner had an already established agenda.

Who you vote for is your choice, but I would be letting down Rochita and others if I didn't note that I nominated Mixon's piece for Best Related (and not actually for best fan writer, a category for which I usually look for multiple writing not one piece). I did this long before Martin posted.

One last comment: there was plenty of accounting around Rene Walling and around Jim Frenkel. Genevieve Valentine and Elise Mattheson received a lot of kudos (as well as crap). If you happen not to be in the circle that was focussed on that you may well have missed it. Science fiction, even the literary side of it, is not one circle it's a Venn diagramme. Jim lost his job, Rene is no longer welcome at most of the conventions on the Eastern seaboard, and despite common gossip was *not* accepted as a volunteer at Chicon. He had offered to help at one of the parties to someone who was not part of the Chicon committee and who was not aware of an issue. [What Jo chooses to do you will have to take up with Jo.]

As for who gets nominations: did you either nominate Elise or Genevieve/? Did you suggest in any of your posts that they be nominated? If you did, then your comments above are reasonable (you can post links). Otherwise they are rhetorical hot air.

Tim Ward said...


George Pedrosa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
George Pedrosa said...

Some of the comments here have left me confused, as I really don't see how this is defending Sridunagkaew's actions or "excoriating" Mixon:

"I've said all this not only to clarify where I stand on Benjanun Sriduangkaew (which is surely not something that anyone cared about) but to make it clear that I do see the value in Mixon's report, which collates evidence of Sriduangkaew's history and actions over more than a decade and in multiple guises. Abusers thrive when the communities around them forget who they are and what they've done. They actively encourage that forgetfulness--as Sriduangkaew has done by switching personas and erasing her own past. Especially in a community like ours, in which newcomers are always showing up, there is a great deal of value in having a single resource to point to whenever a certain name comes up. And there's no denying that something like Mixon's report is exactly how people with privilege and power should use them when abuse and harassment happen in their community. (Over at SAFE, the blog she established with Tade Thompson to provide a safe space where fans of color can hopefully be protected from abuses like Sriduangkaew's, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz writes about why she feels that this value justifies awarding Mixon the Hugo. Obviously, we disagree, but I strongly urge you to read her take in full, because it is an argument worth considering.)"

I think Abigail made it abundantly clear that her intention was to point out the double standard in this community regarding individuals who commit this sort of harassment. You may disagree with her conclusions or point out inaccuracies in the post, but to say that she's defending Sridunagkaew's or attacking Mixon seems more than a little dishonest.

Asymptotic Binary said...

Farah: I'm very interested in your comment, because you're the first person I've seen state that they were approached to contribute to a whisper campaign against Williams and Sullivan. Would you care to elaborate on that?

Liz Williams: what part are you taking issue with?

Both you and Tricia Sullivan state, explicitly, that you contacted editors directly to alert them to Benjanun Sriduangkaew's past history as having been A Cracked Moon, the blogger who maintained the Requires Only That You Hate blog and @requireshate Twitter account.

Are you denying that there was a whisper campaign concerning Bee's identity?

Because there was, and here we have Elizabeth Bear and Pat Cadigan - neither of them Bee partisans - discussing it directly:

Abigail Nussbaum said...

So, one of the reasons that I haven't responded to Liz and Farah is that I have absolutely no interest in rehashing this summer's events, or what did or did not happen behind the scenes, or what people are now claiming that they did or did not do. I see no value in it - there's very little chance of getting at the truth, and since we all know who Sriduangkaew is, very little benefit in it either.

So, if anyone wants to have this conversation, kindly have it somewhere other than my blog.

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