Posted by: Ophelia | July 25, 2008

Oldies but Goodies

In the conversations I’ve had with anti-feminists, I’ve found that their arguments rarely if ever change. The Feminism 101 blog proves that the rhetoric largely remains the same. Their opposition tends to come from either ignorance or indoctrination. You know the gist, that feminists hate us for our freedoms, they hate children, they hate men, they hate everything that’s not hairy legs and menstrual cups. Some of the golden oldies have been dusted off recently, however. I haven’t heard the one about how women can’t understand men and have no right to discuss anything pertaining to them in ages. In a way, I’m almost glad to see it again. It points out the trolls pretty quickly and you don’t have to waste as much time engaging with them only to find that they’ve just been disrupting the conversation.

Though I would like to address for a moment the dangers in this relativist view. The logic used in this poor excuse for an arguement is that unless you’ve spent a lifetime in the body of the opposite gender/have interviewed every member of your own, that you can never speak about either. So then, one can never question gender equality or construction because one can’t possibly know everything. So–we should ignore our personal experiences because they do not always conform to those of every other individual. Further, we should never question anything just in case our thoughts don’t match that of every potential reader.

This is bullshit of the highest order. It conforms to the other trope: if you can’t solve the problem, may as well not talk about it. It’s a classic attempt at silencing and simply being contrary. “Well I don’t feel that way, so your argument has no merit.” I can no longer count the number of times I’ve read articles on other blogs that simply didn’t represent my experience. Yet somehow, the articles managed to inform me, to make me look at my own experience for lessons I may  not have previously considered. Things do not have to relate directly to you to increase your understanding of the larger picture. Moreover, being asked to think about our understanding of the world is not meant to dictate our response or to tell us how to feel. It’s just asking us to think, to consider, to stop taking what we “know” for granted and to open our eyes. Better yet, it gives us a chance to retell our own experiences and inform the author of our point of view.

Taking the offer to think as an opportunity to take offense speaks more of you than of the author. It speaks of complacency and fear of the unknown. But if those elements didn’t exist, nor would trolls. They don’t hope to sway opinions in their favor and they certainly don’t hope or want to learn anything. They want to disrupt and they want the opposition to shut up so they can go back to being comfortable.

As long as Feminocracy exists, I’m sure there will be trolls to tell us to shut up about men, to shut up about race, to shut up about religion, about sexuality (although we haven’t gotten that one yet). It’s easier to try and dictate what other people should talk about than to think about what you know and realize that you might not be so sure if you actually listen.

Some of the best and worst parts of blogging are the responses. This brings me to my next tangent. I try not to moderate comments highly. I keep the spammers out and thus far haven’t had any profanity spewing trolls but we have had others. Believe it or not I feel weird about banning people–even when they deserve it. Usually its in the cases where the commenter seems hard headed, but not stupid. I keep hoping that maybe they’ll open their eyes, and am reluctant to ban. I’m reluctant to turn into one of those moderators that silences the opposition. At the same time, I cannot allow them to take over and disrupt conversations. There’s nothing I hate more than when comments turn from the post and its discussion points into trying to school some fool who wants to disrupt the whole thing. I feel I owe a duty to the commenters that are on point and on topic.

I reserve this right

In this vein, I’d like to ask you about the comment policy. What should be added? Should there be auto bans for new commentors that bring out one of the old chestnuts from the feminism 101 blog? What are your favorite anti-feminist sayings that let you know right away that there’s no reasoning with them?

In my experience, “all women/all feminists do x” is a pretty good indicator.



  1. I had one troll whose message was: “Feminism has convinced white women not to have babies, and as a result, Europe is overrun with Muslims who are willing to keep reproducing. ohnoez!”

    It’s that kind of sexim/racism/religious bigotry combination that REALLY gets to me.

    I admit, I hate banning people, too. If my troll had been a repeat offender, I would have banned him, but as he never bothered following up to my response, I let it go. I’m personally a big fan of the “3 strikes, you’re out,” rule myself.

    Still, I think an autoban would be appropriate if a commenter uses threatening and violent language.

  2. I’ve never seen a one time troll around here–which makes it tricky. I’ve taken to using the bingo boards in the comment policy as a guide. More than four and its pretty obvious that its time for them to go.

  3. I’ve been promising readers a commenting policy for months… but since I started moderating all comments, the trolls have disappeared, so the pressure is off. I still want to put one up though – perhaps we should join forces. I think that mine will be something along the lines of:

    1. No hate speech
    2. No demeaning of any race/ethnicity/religious persuasion
    3. Do you say anything related to the post? If you just make a generalization a la ‘you feminists are all XYZ,’ I reserve the right to delete your comments

    Obviously, it’s a work in progress… but that’s the gist of what I’m thinking right now.

  4. Yeah that’s a whole nother kettle of fish. To delete or not to delete. I haven’t yet had to delete existing comments.

    I really like your third point. That is a tell tale sign that they’re just itching for a fight–when they can’t even be bothered to read the post and reply to it. Should they get a warning if they’re off topic? Is it a three strikes sort of deal? I like the policies that note that whether or not a comment is published is at the sole discretion of the moderators. I think that without that clause you get a lot of “wah why was I banned/you had no right to stifle my free speech” emails.

  5. I read a new troll tactic the other day, at least new to me. Feminism caused AIDS. Yep, that’s what she claimed. To the troll all feminists are whores who caused AIDS to spread. No mention of the presumed men that would have been involved. LOL It was in the comments here:

  6. I’m dumbfounded by the first comment that cites Ann Coulter as a source. I know people like that exist but still–I mean really? Wow. I caught the dumb.

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