Fight fire with fire.
That's what celebrity blogger Wendy Cheng, also known as Xiaxue, did when she was repeatedly flamed on Facebook over the past week.
Temasek Review (TR) had posted a series of Cheng's photos -- taken during the run-up to the People's Action Party (PAP) rallies with her fellow bloggers last May -- and asked its readers to caption the pictures. Of three photos posted, two were taken from her blog and one from fellow blogger, Qiu Qiu.
In all, the three posts garnered over 350 comments, of which many were insulting or downright derogatory.
Not taking it lying down, Cheng responded by writing her own blog post titled “The Faces of Haters” on Thursday, naming and shaming the eight men who left nasty comments about her on TR’s Facebook page, which has over 10,000 followers.
Trawling their public Facebook pages for information and photos, Cheng turned the table on the men by posting their photos in her own blog, accompanied by a short write-up of each. To one who called her a “Geylang chicken”, she posted a photo of the man, seen posing with his friends, with the accompanying note, “Are those ladies surrounding you also Geylang chickens? Is your mother a Geylang chicken? See it isn’t nice to assume.”
To another man who had commented, “pretty and sexy girls, which part of geylang they work?”, she posted a photo of him, his wife and young children, with the note, “He is married with two cute kids. I wonder how he will feel like if in future men ask his daughter which part of Geylang she works at?”
Cheng, a full-time blogger who has been upfront and candid of her support for the PAP, said she has received a lot of flak in the last year.
“I’ve blogged for 10 years and I’ve covered the most controversial topics but nothing, and I mean nothing, have gotten me more hate as me supporting the PAP,” wrote Cheng, 28, who is married to the man she has been dating for the last seven years.
“[The mean comments] lasted for a whole year, got me several hate sites and hate parody accounts. People wish death upon me and my family, threatening to hurt me if they ever see me,” she said.
She explained in her blog that although she “detests men who write s**t about girls online”, she would not have written about the men if they didn’t bully her or her friends in the first place. She also said she didn’t know why Temasek Review dragged up her photos from last year since she knew nothing about the ongoing Hougang by-election.
Her gutsy post on Facebook has got 11,000 likes to date and sparked a major buzz in the Singapore blogosphere.
However, fellow bloggers Lee Kinmun (@mrbrown) and Benjamin Lee (@miyagi) lauded her for standing up against her haters. “Remember when you were young and your mother told you not to play with fire? Meet Fire,” mrbrown tweeted.
Another blogger Pat Law (@patlaw) tweeted, “At the core of it all, @xiaxue stood up against cyberbullying from GROWN UP MEN from Singapore & defended her friends. Thank you @xiaxue.”
Others felt she also did the right thing.
Singapore Management University student Chong Siew Yee told Yahoo! Singapore that Cheng did a good job of outing the men who labelled her a prostitute.
“Given that some of them are actually dads, [I am] worried for their kids future because I wonder what values these dad might bring to their kids,” Chong said.
“And insulting women in such a distorted manner is a thing that all men should not even do in the first place!” the economics student added.
Gender equality advocacy AWARE Singapore also joined the conversation and praised her for waging a one-woman war against online misogyny.
But some felt that she crossed the line when she posted photos of her detractors’ family and friends.
Shawn Lim (@mediumshawn) tweeted, “Doing what she did to those who flamed her, Xiaxue has stooped even lower than them. She doesn't even realise it. Shows how low her IQ is.”
One of the eight men featured, Isaac, 23, said that he didn’t mind taking a few hits from her since he started by commenting on her photo.
“But what makes my blood boil her is her putting up a photo of my friend, who has nothing to do with the situation and knows absolutely nothing about her. She should have cropped my friend out of the picture,” Isaac told Yahoo! Singapore.
Hong Xing, one of the guys Cheng exposed, said, “We should be responsible for our harsh, nasty comments. We are responsible for it but we didn’t expect our family photo [to be included] as they are innocent. Put yourself in our [shoes] and you will know.”