I’ve given up on the RH essay for the time being

The next essay on the rank for the Debarkle was intended to be an account of the 2014 reveal that writer Benjanun Sriduangkaew was the rage-blogger known other various names but referred to in general as Requires Hate.

Firstly, why would I have the essay in the first place in a series about the Sad Puppies? I think the answer is fairly clear. The events were a big deal, the led to Laura Mixon writing a report on Requires Hate, for which she became a 2015 Hugo finalist for Best Fan Writer and the only non-Puppy in that category. She subsequently won. There would be a very weird space in the account of the 2015 Hugos as to why this one category operated differently for this one finalist. The non-puppy discussion around it also takes in George R.R. Martin as well as Deidre Saoirse Moen’s voting advice when the news of the Puppy sweep took place (which has already had some discussion in the comments). More broadly, the themes of how fandom engaged with race and gender but also how fandom has tried to manage individuals, are recurring ones in the Debarkle. In addition, events around Requires Hate were used by Puppies as a kind of paradigmatic case for their narrative of the left being out of control and attacking authors (what they would now call ‘cancel culture’).

So why NOT write it? The core reason is that I’m not getting it written. I’ve a ton of notes but not a good way into the topic. So productive work on the series is close to a standstill because I can’t get past this point.

The problems are manifold. Firstly there is both a lot of material and a dearth of material. The main extant stuff is from 2014 and 2015 and includes the Mixon Report itself, as well as discussions and rebuttals of the Mixon report. There’s enough to draw out a consensus on a set of events by picking the elements that aren’t disputed (or aspects of elements that are disputed but not wholly rejected). Original material pertaining to the disputes analysed in the Mixon Report and in the rebuttals is often gone for the most contentious topics or lacks context (e.g. archive versions) or is from dubious sources.

The Mixon Report itself is, I think un-salvageable as a document. There’s a sound idea there of trying to demonstrate the scope of an individual’s behaviour by showing that events weren’t just separate toxic arguments between individuals but rather patterns of behaviour. However, to do that in a way that is both accurate and just would be much harder work than I imagine Laura Mixon anticipated. My impression previously was that it was a report with localised flaws but overall it is not fixable. It is now only available on archive sites, I think. I note also that when the issue of Requires Hate has come up more recently, people have pointed to some very specific individual accounts of their experience with Requires Hate rather than the report, primarily because they carry more weight and are less vulnerable to counter-arguments.

The rebuttals to the Mixon report are flawed in different ways. They correctly identify many issues in Mixon’s work and they also highlight that underlying racism and misogyny within fandom play a role in the targetting of Benjanun Sriduangkaew and that she had become a target of troll communities herself (eg Kiwi Farms). However, in doing so, whether the authors of the rebuttals intended to or not, a side effect was to minimise, diminish or cast doubt on the genuine feelings of many people impacted by Requires Hate.

Was racism, homophobia and misogyny involved in the reaction against Requires Hate/Benjanun Sriduangkaew? I could put my hands up and say ‘this is too messy to tell’. However, it is not unlike bad weather and global warming. You can’t pin climate change on weather and doing so often leads to foolish claims or counterclaims (a hot day is not an omen, a snowstorm is not a counter-example) but CLIMATE is the context in which weather happens and racism, homophobia, misogyny (and trans-misogyny and misogynoir) pervades fandom in ways that shape our beliefs and expectations (often despite our intentions) in a way that is analogous to the climate. So the shorter answer is “yes, of course, it did” but you also can’t dismiss the genuine hurt people experienced (including people I have come to know online and whose account of events I would trust).

A few years back I went to what was likely to be an interminable HR training day on workplace bullying but which turned out to be less superficial than I was expecting it to be. The facilitator was keen to delve into messy cases to exemplify Australian employment law on workplace harassment and bullying. They had led with a case where an employee had been systematically ostracised and bullied by co-workers culminating in serious ill-health for the employee. The managers had, in turn, then wholly messed up their investigation of events by trampling all over the employment rights of the co-workers who had done the bullying. Is that what happened with Benjanun Sriduangkaew? The analogy is too imperfect to hold up. Fandom isn’t a workplace. There isn’t, nor can there be a due process for ‘being in fandom’. Conventions can have codes of conduct, online spaces can have moderation policies, organisations (such as the SFWA) can have codes and ways of dealing with grievances but the issue at hand was none of these but rather networks that were quasi-professional in the way that the hobby/job of engaging with popular culture can be.

The hypothesis for the essay I’ve already alluded to in the comments on earlier chapters. I think that if Sad Puppies hadn’t taken over events in 2015, then the Mixon Report would have been a major subject of debate, all be it with a smaller number of people. I don’t know if it would have been a healthy debate, I imagine it would have caused many people further pain as they would have experienced their genuine feelings put under question or dismissed as being motivated by racism (or they would have felt that they were being dismissed). Likewise, attempts to put aside the issues around the relative power of influential people within SF/F publishing focusing their efforts on one specific woman of colour would have also been damaging. And yet, that all sort of happened anyway and the issue has just lingered on for years.

Well…that’s already quite a few paragraphs. It’s a lot easier to write without lots of references and vague hand waving at events. I’m back to the same issues where I started. Is there a fair way of engaging with the issue? Argument-and-counterargument like it is some sort of trial proceeding is a shitty way to go. Attempting to get the history and shape of the online identities and online feuds she was involved in, falls into the same trap as the Mixon report. Not unpacking anything leaves the headline narrative (essentially established by the Mixon report) untouched – the story that goes along the lines of there was a bad troll with lots of pseudonyms who was eventually unmasked and leaves a lot unsaid, specifically the question of whether they would have had this level of attention if they hadn’t made enemies of so many famous writers. I think it is obvious that they wouldn’t but then it isn’t unreasonable for a notable person to object to people saying objectionable things about them etc etc.

As I said, already too many paragraphs and already too many caveats and too much wanting to avoid the twin errors of minimising the experiences of people who experienced harassment versus endorsing (or appearing to endorse) the use of institutional power without proper respect for natural justice even for people who behave.

So, might still write this chapter but if I do it will be out of sequence and either way, I’ll need at least a paragraph more than once to say what the Mixon Report was and what it was about.

55 thoughts on “I’ve given up on the RH essay for the time being

  1. Unless there were factual errors in Mixon’s report that I haven’t heard about, it seems like RH was a pretty terrible bully. The one time I noticed RH before the report was when she went off on Peter Watts on his blog on some flimsy pretext. It seemed to me like she was attacking him to gain clout and infamy. That was no big deal, IMO, because there was no way she was going to hurt Watts at all, but the abuse Mixon reported on seemed pretty bad.

    RH seems like a toxic person I’d have no interest in knowing, but I have no doubt the level of outrage aimed at RH was heightened by misogyny and/or racism. I have no idea how you’re going to work that chapter into your book, as the topic could use its own book (preferably written by someone neither white nor male).

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    1. Another issue is that while people mostly remember the high-profile SFF authors, mostly white men, that RH attacked, e.g. Peter Watts, Paolo Bacigalupi (where her cricisms of The Wind-up Girl were correct, but threatening bodily harm to Paolo Bacigalupi was not acceptable) or R. Scott Bakker, many, probably the majority of her targets were women of colour, often new or unknown writers, e.g. Cindy Pon, Rin Chupeco or Rochita Loenen-Ruiz (and also N.K. Jemisin, who was neither new nor unknown).

      Did she do a lot of harm to many people over years? Yes. Was the reaction to her unmasking coloured by racism, homophobia and misogyny? Yes. Was she both the bully and the victim? Yes. Was her writing career hurt by the revelations? Yes, though she is still writing and publishing and editors are still buying her stories. And yes, it’s telling that Benjanun Sriduangkaew’s career suffered more than that of many puppies, but then RH was harrassing the people who were likely to read and buy her works, whereas very few of the people Larry Correia was harrassing were reading him anyway.

      As someone who watched the whole things unfold from the sidelines, I also find it strange that nowadays everybody focusses on Laura Mixon and her report, while the person who revealed RH’s identity was not Mixon at all but Nick Mamatas. Though I’m pretty sure that rumours were flying through fandom before that, considering that Benjanun Sriduangkaew came in dead last, when she was up for the then-Campbell in 2014 and had a high number of no awards, which baffled me at the time. However, in 2014 I wasn’t well enough connected in the SFF community that I had any inkling what was up.

      That said, I fully understand why you don’t want to step into that hornet’s nest. Because it’s still an open wound even six and a half years later.

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      1. I have read one story by her (In a best of the year collection), I wasn’t impressed. Of course it is an interesting question how much my knowledge of Required Hate did impres my opinion on the story.
        I think if you look at the other puppies execpt Larry some of them have tanked their career spectaculary (Wright and Torgerson for example).
        Another problem is that Benjanun Sriduangkaew has attacked people after the report came out, continuing the bahavior that got her in to problems and reminding people in the known about her behavior.

        Another point: I think Cam you want to much here, if a brief synopsis is all you can do here, than this has to be enough. While RH is a topic important to it, it is not important enough to destroy the whole debarkle.

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      2. Regarding Benjanun Sriduangkaew’s nomination for the then-Campbell, I just checked who the other finalists were and it turns out that 2014 was a weird year for the Campbell with several promising finalists who sort of vanished afterwards or – in the case of Sriduangkaew – spectacularly imploded. Sriduangkaew is actually doing better than some of her fellow Campbell finalists of 2014.

        The 2014 Campbell finalists were Sofia Samatar, who won that year, May Gladstone, Wesley Chu, who would win in 2015 due to being the only non-puppy on the ballot, Ramez Naan and Benjanun Sriduangkaew.

        Of these five, Gladstone is doing the best and has a steady publication career and has even won a Hugo in 2020.

        2014 Campbell winner Sofia Samatar has several short fiction publications, mostly in anthologies, as well as two collections and two novels, both small press. However, her career seems to have slowed down in recent years and the last SFF publication by her I found was a short story in a John Joseph Adams anthology in 2020.

        2014 Campbell finalist and 2015 winner Wesley Chu had a couple of novels with Angry Robot and Tor, but again his career seems to have slowed down and the most recent thing by him I’ve found was a collaboration with Cassandra Clare in 2020.

        Ramez Naan had a trilogy with Angry Robot, which was the basis of the Campbell nomination, but has published no SFF at all since 2017 and the last publications were stories in small press anthologies.

        Benjanun Sriduangkaew is still publishing regularly, has a trilogy and a standalone novel with Prime, and several short fiction publications in the likes of Beneath Ceaseless Skies, The Dark or Future Fire. So in short, she’s doing better than several of her fellow 2014 Campbell finalists

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    2. I believe every incident listed in the report occurred but the characterisation of those incidents varies wildly in terms of how they are framed and classified to the extent that the report itself doesn’t support some of the generalisations it makes. But…that doesn’t mean some of those generalisations are false. I think your conclusion is right. Somebody else needs to unpack all this.

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  2. “It is now only available on archive sites, I think. ”

    It’s weird that a Hugo Award winning, recent, originally web-published document is currently unavailable. The web is weird – lots of stuff that you’d expect to be ephemeral is still around, but stuff that you’d expect to be more permanent is gone, making life difficult for historians of the web era, like Timothy’s friend.

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      1. A cursory look at Fanac didn’t find it, but I might not be looking the right way.

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      2. The Wayback Machine has a number of captures — here’s one from February 2015. (The associated blog post was from November 2014.) Is there anything lacking from this copy?

        Click to access A-Report-on-Damage-Done-by-One-Individual-Under-Several-Names.pdf

        Obviously Mixon’s own website, where the report originated, isn’t online anymore. The fact that she took it down may indicate something. However, it would be possible for her to request that the Internet Archive take down its copies, and she hasn’t done so. So I can’t predict what she might say if Fanac.org asked for permission to host a copy.

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      3. They will, upon request. And have. That’s why the Clarkesworld page for “Helicopter Story” as originally published is unavailable.

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      4. Yes, the other archival site has that reputation. And probably deserved, since the original version of “Helicopter Story” was still there when I looked a few weeks ago.

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      5. Regarding the “Helicopter Story”, I wonder whether it will be included in the Hugo Voters Packet. Because frankly, Isabel Fall’s behaviour doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. I understand that she wanted to distance herself from the story, after the internet fell on her head, and just wanted the whole thing to go away. But she did accept the Hugo nomination, so the fact that the story still isn’t available makes no sense.

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      6. The story was republished as a limited number ebook last December(?). I guess to maintain its eligibility.

        But yes, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. Obviously, she can choose how she disseminates her own story but I don’t really get any of it.

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  3. One of the things which the whole “Requires Hate” / Silverfox / Benjanun Sriduangkaew” mess brought home to me is the ways people tend to see categories like “is a member of a marginalized group” and “is a toxic person” as somehow being necessarily mutually exclusive (where in truth, they aren’t).

    It also made me aware of the ways people tend to contextualize “marginalization” – Sriduangkaew is “marginalized” only if you consider her in the context of “what if she was living in the USA?”, which it’s clear a lot of people automatically did. But she wasn’t living in the USA at the time when she was carrying out her worst interpersonal excesses. She was living in Thailand, where she was a Thai citizen, of Chinese extraction[1], from a wealthy family (essentially, her ONLY axes of oppression in Thai society were her gender and sexuality – in Thai society she’s the equivalent of a wealthy white lesbian in Western culture). So it’s clear there was a rather significant failure to correctly contextualize her behaviour made by a LOT of people, which she was exploiting at the time.

    I was there, Gandalf, and I remember running across her a few times in various forums, and thinking she wasn’t a particularly pleasant person to be around. I was never targeted by her, but reading the stories of the people who were… I get the strong impression she’s someone who could have literally changed the trajectory of my life in a very negative fashion. Regardless of her identity and the context of same, as far as I’m concerned her behaviour was such that I don’t want to be sharing spaces with her (I spent twelve years of my life being regularly bullied; this has left its scars on my soul). The most offensive part of her entire performance, as far as I’m concerned, was her regular attempt at playing “Oppression Olympics” and competing for the title of “most oppressed person in the room” whenever someone called her on her anti-social behaviour. That sort of thing hurts everyone. Was there racism, sexism, and/or homophobia involved in some of the call-outs for her? Possibly. But I would claim at least fifty percent of the racism, sexism and homophobia in any particular argument about whether or not she should have been called out for her behaviour was injected there by her, as part of her attempt to de-humanize all people of colour, women, and non-heterosexual people through claiming any attempt to require civilised behaviour from a representative of any of these groups (namely, herself) is a form of discrimination.

    One of the big things the whole “Requires Hate” mess taught me is how identity politics can be used to hurt people on “your” ostensible side. It’s why I argue one of the big freedoms majority populations should be granting to minority populations is “the freedom to be thought of as an arsehole” – admit it’s just as possible for someone who is a member of a minority population to be a complete arsehole as it is for someone who is a member of a majority population. Because as long as we all keep pretending “member of a minority population” and “complete arsehole” are apparently somehow mutually exclusive categories, we’re going to keep seeing the “Requires Hate”s of the world cropping up.

    [1] I’m not going to delve too deeply into this, but let’s be clear being of Chinese extraction in an East Asian or South-East Asian country is rather analogous to being of English extraction in the Commonwealth – you’re not an “oppressed minority” as such, but rather the descendant of a colonizing power which has been occupying territory for centuries.

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    1. My one interaction with her, on LiveJournal, was very brief and baffling (I was even more of a nobody than I am now, I just pissed her off by not understanding what she was saying, or something) but it stuck in my memory more than other unpleasant things because the non sequitur attack was so bizarrely specific: she told me to get back to the country club with Mummy in my Bentley. There wasn’t a thing in my brief comment or online presence that would remotely suggest I was a rich kid, which indeed I wasn’t. Anyway, years later when she was outed and I saw who that LJ account had been, and the stuff about her background, I was like ohhhhhh ha, I think I get it now.

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    2. Your analogy (footnote) isn’t perfect. Chinese communities have been on the receiving end of persecution in Vietnam and Indonesia, and of Malay supremacism in Malaya. And apart from Vietnam, as far as I know, Chinese was mostly a hegemonic power in South East Asia rather than a colonial one[1]. (There was the failed Mongol invasion of Java, and Mongol and Manchu invasions of Burma.) But Thailand seems to be one of the better places for the Chinese in South East Asia.

      The Jews (a commercially prominent minority) and the Volksdeutche (minorities with cultural connections to a powerful neighbour) might be better analogies than the English.

      [1] The main areas of China as a colonial power are within the boundaries of present day China – Yunnan, Tibet, Xinjiang, Taiwan, and in earlier centuries much of southern China. Manchuria is an odd case, as much of it was colonised during the Manchu rule of China. An analogy would be if the Anglosphere was a single nation.

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      1. The analogy makes more sense in Thailand were many influential Thais acknowledge some Chinese descent. In Indonesia there’s been a lot of violence towards ethnic Chinese.

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      2. What the Nazis called “Volksdeutsche” (ethnic Germans living in Eastern Europe) isn’t really an issue anymore, since the vast majority of them immigrated to Germany in the 1990s due to generous immigration laws, which let them in no questions asked, because they were German, after all.

        There still are some ethnic Germans and their descendants living in Eastern Europe. The current Romanian president is a member of the German minority as is the president of the Czech Republic.

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      3. I visited Romania in the early/mid 1990s (after Ceaușescu had gone but before it had changed substantially) and more than once would be greeted warmly by people who explained (sort of) they were of German background under the assumption that I must be a German tourist.

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  4. I think you should omit the whole thing.

    It’s not like the whole Debarkle doesn’t already have plenty of material anyway, and your work shouldn’t be derailed by people re-litigating this sideshow. Leave it to someone who isn’t a SWM to analyze it.

    IIRC, BS is still getting published — under that name, even — so she hasn’t been totally “canceled”.

    Just back away quietly and concentrate on Puppies.

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    1. I really can’t, although it would make my life easier.

      Take this for example by GRRM https://grrm.livejournal.com/419232.html
      “Make no mistake. Vox Day and Requires Hate are twins. Mirror images of one another”

      Requires Hate as a myth (not neccesarily one based in falsehood but still a kind of fictional figure) is scattered through 2015 as a metonym for both a centrist both-sides argument (GRRM above) and as SJW-boogeyman for the Pups.

      I think I have a solution though. I’ll leave a placeholder for the moment and then do a short chapter that just deals with the events in 2014 without much analysis. More of a really long footnote so that people who want to do their own research know what to look up and can make their own minds up.

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      1. From the writing point of view (versus the succession-of-finished-chapters-in-a-row-on-your-blog view) that’s the best way to go. You probably use the placeholder tactic in other writing tasks — I do it all the time, too, Write what’s ready in your head to be written.

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      2. And if you get stuck elsewhere, you can always add a footnote saying “As already proven in Chapter 30.”

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      3. Just thinking about the isue some more, if the isue is too complex what do you need for your essays at the bare minimum? Requires Hates is a sidestory, even if the parallels between her and Day would be interesting, or the different treadment on the community mentioned by Cora above.
        On the other hand is there even a connection between Puppy and RH, did anyone of them, ever mention her? I remember speculation that the puppies would nominate her for the Hugos, but nothink came out of that.

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      4. I’m going to go for the minimum plus 2014 Puppy reactions, so that the use of “Requires Hate” as rhetorical point in 2015 still makes sense to a reader.

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  5. Speaking as a far-left fan person, I still see far-left SFF people (fans, critics, and creators) defend Requires Hate and handwave away what she did as not that bad. Somebody needs to set the record straight.

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    1. Yes, I find it troubling how many otherwise smart people on the left still defend her, even though she never fully apologised and kept harrassing people, even after she was outed.

      But whenever there is any kind of scandal in SFF, her supporters pop up like weeds to declaim that what happened to poor RH was so much word than the scandal du jour.

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  6. Trolls being targets of other trolls is common and doesn’t mean anything really. If you harass people, you are still harasser, even if other trolls find you a target. It has nothing to do with any “rebuttal” whatsoever and I can’t see the relevance. Gamergaters were also targets of other 4chan-trolls.

    I find this post to be the wishy-washy handwaving nonsense that has always protected abusers. As if abusers always had one skin colour and one political leaning.

    It is one thing to stay with that it is hard to find an angle and how much should be focused on RH or on reactions from other participants in the puppy drama (that’s where I’d put the focus). That I can understand.

    It is another thing to bibble-babble around that RH was heaping abuse on others and creating a truly toxic environment. Regardless of there being other toxic people too.

    As I see it, you aren’t writing a review of the Mixon report. It doesn’t really have to factor in more than it was an item to be voted on and part of the drama.
    The interesting thing is the reaction from the key players. And I think the fact that Sriduangkaew acknowledged that she for years had hurt others should be part of it. Wether you can find good sources for her more than ten years of trolling and hate spewing is another thing.

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    1. We have a special situation that a troll decieded to become a fictionwriter, this is not somethink very common. The question if abusers are treated diferently, because of who they are, is a yes. It plays a role in the people defending RH and is one that we should ask ourselve (do we tread a non-minoritytroll they same as RH).
      I do think stating that Cams post is part of protecting RH is to much. Most of the readers of the blog can be assumed to know the basic stuff.
      It is interesting that this is the first chapter that Cam has problems with, the 30th.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. It’s not the first chapter I had problems with to be honest. RaceFail was difficult also but that had the advantage of multiple retrospectives that others had written that captured the complexities of the issues. The RH period doesn’t and the closest think to a kind of definitive summary is the Mixon report, which as I said, is too weak to use as an authority.

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      2. Several of the puppies are also both trolls and fiction writers, though in their case the trolling came after they had already sort of established themselves as fiction writers (except for Vox Day who was always more troll than writer). RH spent almost a decade as a troll before she decided to become a fiction writer with a clean slate.

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    2. //
      I find this post to be the wishy-washy handwaving nonsense that has always protected abusers.//

      I’m not going to deny that it is wishy-washy because it’s very much me just put my thoughts on (virtual) paper. There was a danger that the chapter would end up being that if it went into any depth. Even with Vox Day, I’m trying to ensure that statements can be backed up and that things are well documented. With RH, things aren’t but as you say, we do have concessions made by BS herself and supporters that acknowledge the harm done. I think that will be sufficient for a short chapter.

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  7. Ok, well it is a tricky subject. RH is not actually safe in her home country because she is marginalized there on several different axis. Additionally she was facing the same discriminatory blocks that other authors of color face in the English language market, whether or not she lived in the U.S., because she’s a POC. At the same time, RH was an abusive person who used her basic stated demographic identity as a shield to attack both white and BIPOC authors from behind pseudonyms. Intersectionality is a thing.

    When it came to criticism of RH’s behavior, it tended to often be centered not on just her behavior but on her stated gender and racial demographics. As Cathrynne Valente noted in the discussion that occurred when Christopher Priest made a derisive old white man rant about the Clarke Award nominees in 2012, women, including RH, making similar comments wasn’t tolerated in the field in the same way and certainly wasn’t often praised even when they had a point. https://catvalente.livejournal.com/675153.html?rfrom=yuki_onna

    White women and BIPOC criticizing people, whether they do so well or badly, does not in general go over well. Witness events already explored in Cam’s exploration — the upset over women speaking up against sexist material in the SFWA Bulletin and the problems that BIPOC had with the SFWA not helping them in major issues; RaceFail, the convention Codes of Conduct, etc., etc. The point of marginalizing people by their demographics is to make them powerless to speak up against discrimination and abuse in the public sphere, to declare that they don’t have the right to point out inequality or demand that it change unless the dominant allow it — which is not equality. And that was one of the large problems that people had, especially a lot of BIPOC people in the field, with Mixon’s report. It was framed very much in ways that presented racially dominant white women striking down a troublesome woman of color, so there was a lot of splitting opinion about the interpretation of events concerning RH in that essay. Mixon was also, as a woman writing about a problematic topic of abuse, also subject to abuse for doing it.

    RH was presented as a radical lefty woman of color. And some of that was her own choice in presentation, but a lot of it was also projection by others, both defenders and opponents. There’s not that much to indicate that RH is really politically left or even supportive of most civil rights. Views she expressed were autocratic and as noted, her worst critiques and harassment were aimed at other authors of color. Intersectionality is a thing. And that points out the biggest issue concerning RH, that Megpie touched on — the weaponization of bad, bigoted and/or abusive behavior of a marginalized individual. Certainly there was plenty to condemn RH for, but the conflict was weaponized as a battle between white authors and fans and BIPOC authors and fans, which was wildly inaccurate (though also created in part by RH’s particular attacks.)

    When a marginalized person is abusive/an asshole, it is weaponized by many of the dominant to argue that the entire marginalized group are inherently abusive assholes or at least any of them advocating for civil rights changes are such and can be dismissed. When you have an abusive marginalized person, you will have people who excuse the behavior away because they are scared of what happens if a marginalized person is condemned for such behavior and may also not believe some of the claims of behavior even if factually proven because the claims are coming from the dominant (who have a tendency to lie or exaggerate.) And there is also a tendency to weaponize assholery by a marginalized person as a claim that all progressive people do such hand-waving defense and are trying to declare everyone in a marginalized group to be a saint (and therefore we can ignore their claims of discrimination and need for civil rights changes.) This last one conveniently ignores progressives and other marginalized people criticizing the marginalized person who was abusive or waves it away as not sufficiently strong enough.

    This last one was a favorite tactic of the Puppies, both in claiming that marginalized people were rigging the Hugo elections and being treated like saints (getting Hugos) and in the Marion Zimmer Bradley situation. They set up a strawperson progressive and then argue against the imaginary person as representative of many different people who are having very different reactions. The RH situation was messy, complicated, international and intersectional, which does not go with the good-bad binary of hierarchical myth that people prefer.

    And what it was absolutely not was like Beale’s attacks on the marginalized. Trying to both sides it using RH, as Martin and others did, was basically a tactic of the dominant to discount what many marginalized people are trying to say about what they face. It made the Puppies more acceptable in their demands, even though those demands were openly bigoted. RH was made as a stand-in for all marginalized critics, even though she attacked the marginalized, and as the supposed representative for the Left, meaning that the Right could have abusive people and it shouldn’t be condemned. She was a convenient stalking horse that meant more complicated topics and the issue of the Puppies’ abusiveness could be ignored.

    When the Puppies filled up the nominations for that particular Hugo award in 2015, it let the vote be split among the Puppies’ block voters. Some of those votes likely also went for Mixon’s essay as it was about RH, a woman of color. Those who didn’t want to vote for any Puppy nominees, as they were basically awful, had Mixon’s essay or No Award as their remaining choices. And enough of them chose Mixon’s report to have it win. It’s not a big mystery that this would be the voting record in those circumstances.

    I don’t know if any of this helps you with your dilemma, Camestros. But certainly the whole conflict around RH’s outing, coming when it did, probably helped the Puppies believe that their increasingly bigoted behavior would be welcomed or at least tolerated by much of the field because they believed that much of the field was furious with a woman of color, some of whose actions were abusive or deceptive. And if they were mad at one of them and thought her behavior extreme, the Puppies figured they could be mad at the rest of the “lefty” authors and BIPOC authors because marginalization says the behavior of one person in the marginalized group represents everyone else uppity in the marginalized group. (Whereas people in the dominant group get to be individuals for that domination axis.)

    So RH wasn’t really part of the Puppies Debarkle, but her circumstances represented conflicting change in the overall field and that was used as a justification in many situations such as with the Puppies.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. //but certainly the whole conflict around RH’s outing, coming when it did, probably helped the Puppies believe that their increasingly bigoted behavior would be welcomed or at least tolerated by much of the field because they believed that much of the field was furious with a woman of color, some of whose actions were abusive or deceptive.//

      Yes, and while others aren’t neccesarily to blame for Puppies misreading what was going on, I think you are right that they took this as a sign that they had broader support than they did. That will come up later in how the Puppies misjudged support – it’s also one of the reasons why having GRRM oppose them mattered

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  8. You could present RH as a pioneer, who almost invented Cancel Culture all by herself, but she got one of the key parameters wrong: you’re supposed to get a whole bunch of people to attack one person, but she structured it as one person attacking a whole bunch of other people. She tried to make up for that by creating a legion of fake people to back her up, but it didn’t work.

    Come to think of it, that’s about the same as Vox Day’s strategy, except that he’s got a legion of brainwashed people. Ultimately, though, both were centralized approaches that couldn’t compete with Cancel Culture’s decentralized “structure.”

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  9. I forget who it was that first gave me this advice, but I’ve been using it in my writing ever since: it you get hung up on a point in the story that you can’t figure out how to get out of, write, “They do something clever to escape” and then move on the writing the rest of the story. You can come up and fix that later.

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    1. Mary Robinette Kowal sometimes shares excerpts from her drafts on Twitter, with a lot of [something interesting], like this:

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  10. Thanks to Benjanun, I have been uncomfortable in professional spaces since she came onto the scene. In public, she says the sorts of things my abuser said in public while abuising me. For the past decade and change, I have been looking over my shoulder at the happy and whole individual I could have been if not for my abuser. And every time Benjanun shows up, be it in professional discussions or industry folks who defended her/were friendly with her, it is like I am suffering that abuse all over again. The Mixon report is ‘weak’? Those are the voices of Benjanun’s victims. Making them weak is the point – the weaker the victims are, the fewer consequences Benjanun faces.

    I don’t know what to do about the sociopolitical facets of this, but stripped of those, those victims need to be advocated for.

    ‘Oh but BS exists in this protected category and is this minority…’

    There are people who are unable to participate in industry because of her. I catch area of affect damage wayyy on the edge purely because I have a history of being abused by a different person. How much worse must it be for her direct victims? How many of them are suffering every day because the Mixon report has been disregarded as ‘weak’?

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  11. One more overlap between Sriduankaew and the Puppies I’ve noticed is that she’s taken to using Marion Zimmer Bradley as a stick to beat feminists with — although, in her case, specifically trans-exclusionary feminists. I’ve seen her on Twitter claiming that MZB would be a TERF if she were still alive, and accusing a certain fantasy author who’d recently said something insensitive about trans people (no, it wasn’t Rowling) of enabling MZB’s crimes. Either allegation might be true, for all iIknow, but she provided no evidence.

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