To the best of my knowledge, the extent of my interaction with the individual known variously as Winterfox, Requires Hate and Benjanun Sriduangkaew (among a great many others), has so far consisted of me correcting a factual mistake she had made on a community we were both part of at the time. Due to reasons that had (as far as I know) nothing to do with her, I had begun detaching myself from that community. I learned soon after that the person I had just interacted with was Winterfox and I have not commented on that community since.
I was lucky. I never interacted with her again. She didn’t go after me for years, the way she did to so many others.
Like I said, I was lucky. I knew who Winterfox was; I’d seen the things she’d done elsewhere — the rape threats, the death threats, the endless vitriol. I wanted no part of that and so I walked away.
Other people were not so lucky.
I’m speaking up for them. Because some people didn’t know, because they did and spoke up anyway, because they didn’t have the luxury of hiding behind a pseudonym, because she went after them with sheer, unrelenting hatred even when they cut off all contact, because she made it looked like she was the harassed instead of the harasser and so other people went after them for her (the way too many people are sadly doing now).
I knew (I know) some of the people who were hurt, who were there when communities they’d struggled so hard to build turned into decaying corpses around them, who lost pride in their work and joy in their escape. For a genre that prides itself in being escapist, SFF is most definitely not, right now. Hasn’t been for a long time, for some of them. Winterfox has been active since 2003 and possible even earlier. That’s a decade plus of walking on eggshells when talking about the things they love — the things I love, because I relented, walked away and stayed quiet. Because it might have been my choice at the time, but it certainly does feel a lot like I was silencing myself out of fear. Because I was. It didn’t cost me much to walk away, but it did cost me this much: I didn’t leave entirely on my terms. But at least I wasn’t driven out and I got the chance to walk away. Too many people didn’t.
I’m speaking up because people were hurt and silenced and made to believe that it was all their fault. And that’s abuse. And that scares me, because I know what abuse feels like and this is it, this is exactly it. Seeing so many people — people I once respected, even — defend it, act like it’s something honourable or justifiable or, hell, even deserved. That sickens me more than I can say.
And it scares me. I’ve hesitated a lot to post this, because what if they come after me next? Who’ll speak up for me then?
So I’m speaking up, because so many people, all the unlucky ones, are thinking that right now and risking so much more. They’ve been through this before and risk going through this again by speaking up about what’s happened to them. The least I can do is let them know that I believe them and they have my support.
Because talking the talk means nothing if you’re not willing to walk the walk.