The low road needs feminism too

Jessica Valenti is not a fan of “don’t feed the trolls.”

Don’t feed the trolls: it’s probably the most common refrain in online  discussions, especially when dealing with misogynists in feminists conversations. The idea is that the best way to deal with sexists is to starve of them of the attention they’re so clearly desperate for. Besides, we think, why sink to their level?

But the high road is overrated. It requires silence in the face of violent misogyny, and a turn-the-other cheek mentality that society has long demanded of women. A vibrant feminist movement has ensured women don’t take injustices  lying down offline—so why would we acquiesce on the Internet?

Because it’s trivial. It’s just messing around. It doesn’t matter. It’s not as if it’s like racism or anything.

When I started Feministing in 2004, the  hate mail started to pour in right away. At first it felt easier to ignore the  haters, but it was incredibly difficult to write about feminist issues every day without acknowledging the awful backlash we were experiencing behind-the-scenes.  So we created a series of posts called “Anti-Feminist Mailbag”—we published our  hate mail, mocking the often mystifyingly stupid prose. (“Why do you have to be  for abortion to be for women’s rights? How can it be a part of your body if it  is a male?”) It was a way to take back power through humor, while revealing just  how much hate is still directed at women who speak their mind.

It was also a way to demand accountability in a space that’s often dominated  by hate speech made anonymously. If someone was thoughtless enough to message us  from a easily-tracked e-mail address, we outed them. One lucky young man who  called me a “stupid cunt” turned  out to be the public relations officer for his college republican group.  Good times ensued.

Omigod! Doxxing!! They doxxed people!!! People who all they did was send hate mail. Somebody send an Open Letter to someone! Better yet, lots of people send lots of them. Plus a petition. With Jessica F. Valenti among the signatures. LOLZ

For Lindy West, staff writer  at Jezebel, engaging with hateful detractors is not just important as a way to  bring attention to misogyny—“A lot of those attitudes are poisoning our culture,  and it’s too easy to write them off as some fringe opinion,” she says—but also  because it can be cathartic. Recently, West has been taking on sexists on  Twitter over rape  jokes and their cultural consequences. “If talking back to some random idiot  makes me feel better—if it’s fortifying for my mental health—then I don’t care  if I give some dumbass with thirteen followers the flash-in-the-pan attention  he’s been craving.”

“I’m in this for the long haul. It’s not a game to me. I’ve been lucky enough  in my career to get to the point where I can talk about things and people  listen. And now that I’m here I have an obligation to keep going, and, by  extension, to do whatever I need to do to keep my brain intact,” she says.

For me, sometimes, it takes a whole roll of duct tape.

The downside of engaging with sexists is that in an online culture where common  knowledge says ignore trolls, speaking out becomes “asking for it.” You don’t  get a ton of sympathy for egging on assholes. While ignoring haters can  sometimes be the best move, putting the onus on women to stay silent is not. So  though I still believe in picking your battles, I’ll continue to get down in the  muck with misogynists from time to time—because the low road needs feminism too.

Putting the onus on women to stay silent is not the best move. No it is not.


  1. Guest says

    Somehow it is always me that is supposed to take the “high road.” I am very hesitant to take it as the default. Find that road that works for you and take that one!

  2. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    I’m done with the high road. Cause when I try to stay up there, the jerks sneak under me and attack from the rear.

  3. johnthedrunkard says

    ‘Ignore them and they’ll go away’ is one of the most toxic lies our culture perpetuates. It completely ignores the whole matter of power and inequality.

    Do you parents beat you? ‘Ignore them and they’ll go away’
    Is your rapist posting pictures of you on FaceBook? ‘Ignore them and they’ll go away’
    Are your Hutu neighbors rounding up your family for slaughter? ‘Ignore them and they’ll go away’

    The strategy can only be suggested as an acquiescence to ANY assumption of control over your life by others. The underlying impulse is the notion that ‘normal’ conditions can’t possibly include evil, in this the Best of All Possible Worlds.

    The downside of acknowledging the reality of evil is a kind of tax: the drain of time and energy shoveling out the Augean Stable of vicious hatred.

  4. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    Don’t feed the trolls – shine the sunlight upon them instead!

    That generally freezes and turns ’em to stone.

    Works for Tolkien or his hobbits anyhow. Doesn’t anyone read the source mythology anymore these days?

    Now, metaphorically speaking, what could “sunshine” or “dawn” be here I wonder? Exposure and catching them in the public gaze for the ugly brutes they are?)

    Putting the onus on women to stay silent is not the best move. No it is not.

    That. Seconded very much.

    That’s not a best move but – by definition – a silencing one. Isn’t that axiomatic?

  5. seraphymcrash says

    I’m no expert, and this isn’t advice, but I think the best places that deal with trolls are the ones that first refute the trolls, and then take steps to remove them from discussion (because they will just blither on regardless of whether people ignore them or respond).

  6. amm says

    FWIW, the phrase “don’t feed the trolls” originated in a very different environment and used a different meaning of the word “troll” from today.

    Back in the days of Usenet (a mere 30 years ago), a “troll” was someone who posted provocative articles for the joy of seeing people getting upset (“‘trolling’ for a reaction, the way fishermen ‘troll’ for fish.) E.g., posting recipes for cat stew to rec.pets.cats (or whatever it was called.) And the way “newsgroups” were implemented, it was hard to control what got posted and deleting posts was effectively impossible.

    However, the client programs you used to read the articles had a feature called a “killfile” which would cause it to ignore any poster you didn’t want to see. Unfortunately, if someone you liked responded to a killfiled poster, you ended up seeing his (or, rarely, her) obnoxious prose anyway. However, if nobody replied to the troll, you could pretend he hadn’t posted anything.

    So there was a definite logic to refusing to reply to trolls.

    Usenet is mostly dead now, partly due to Canter & Siegel’s popularization of “spamming,” and the spread of Internet access has moved discussions to individual host (or hosting services), where access can be better controlled.

    On the other hand, the word “troll” has changed its meaning from denoting people who post cat stew recipes to now referring to people who incite to and facilitate physical violence against people.

    So saying “don’t feed the trolls” is about as relevant to 2013 as hat etiquette or rules for using buggy whips.

    But “banish or disemvowel trolls” is IMHO quite relevant advice. And advice which isn’t followed nearly enough. Even at FtB.

  7. Scr... Archivist says

    Maybe it’s time to retire the term “troll”, or at least reduce it to its smaller, historical meaning.

    I suggest we use very clear language: “harassers”, “abusers”, and possibly “stalkers” and “intimidaters”. But I’m not sure about that last one. Ophelia doesn’t seem intimidated.

  8. says

    #9 Scr:

    I disagree, the “feeding the trolls” issue is one of context. If you’re talking about a feminist issue and a misogynist shows up, yes, you should engage. But in general when one runs a blog (as I do) you will find a general tendency of trolls to hijack a given discussion and divert it towards their topic of interest. They may do this in such a diversity of ways (sometimes even without abuse, stalking or harassment) that they need their own word. You might have a post on something like healthcare policy and the troll will show up and start yelling about government conspiracy and 9/11. In such instances, I usually am aggravated when commenters respond to the hijacker, because that is handing the hijacker a success. I’m not an advocate of unrestrained free speech in my comments. I warn, then delete, and then ban.

    One major motivation of trolls is directing conversations away from rational, meaningful discussion and towards rhetoric and anger.

    I would make three points
    1. Clearly there are instances in which people are using this expression to say, “shut up” and that’s wrong, this is it’s own kind of trolling (concern-trolling).
    2. When you are being trolled on topic (which means someone is commenting for the explicit purpose of aggravation, hatefulness, but not necessarily a hijack) it’s important still not to directly engage, nor let trolls run amok when you have control of the venue. They should be discussed as the interlopers they are, their arguments addressed and usually rapidly dismissed, and then met with increasing barriers to their attempts to control discussion.
    3. When you are being trolled of topic (troll hijacks thread for off-topic craziness) discourage your commenters from engaging, or just delete the comment if you are in control of the thread. Don’t give them what they want.

    In each instance the goal is to deny the troll what they want. They want feminists to shut up, so don’t let their trolling be an excuse to tell someone to shut up. They want to generate hate and anger, if you do acknowledge them, do it rationally, address their nonsense, then close them out. If they want to hijack, do not feed, do not engage, block and delete.

    Ultimately, hate-mongers are acting on irrational impulse. Engaging them can’t be for the purpose of changing their minds, that is a futile task. They are broken people, irrational, and no conversation on the internet, no debunking, no rational argument is going to make a dent in their warped little minds. So while you shouldn’t be told to just “shut up” in their presence, you should be wary about “feeding” them too. Don’t let them win, don’t let them control a conversation, hijack a thread, make you angry, drive off your friendly commenters or ruin a productive discussion. Address them, yes, but don’t let them win by seizing control of the debate. I advocate a middle path.

  9. says

    @3: About the only thing I can think of that just goes away when you ignore it is herpes…and then only temporarily.

  10. says

    This is a great post. Jessica is right on and your remarks are, too, Ophelia. And Johnthedrunkard please accept this shiny internet – I also wanted to link and tweet it but of course Nifty never can figure out how to work the internetz. lol

    When I was little (60s/70s) I remember being told that old chestnut (ignore them and they’ll go away) especially towards those boys who chased me out of the local park, or knocked me down and “felt me up” (a gang of them, mind you) if I would not be chased away; or sometimes they’d do the “get her down!” thing just for kicks – yes, fun times. I noticed that if a girl stood her ground and talked back to those jerks, it was then HER fault. The initial verbal (and sometimes physical) assaults were just “teasing” while any attempt to defend yourself from it was labeled childish retaliation. And you know “retaliation” carries a whole lot of fucking judgemental baggage that mere “teasing” does not. The RETALIATOR is always in the wrong.

  11. says

    #10 MArk, I can’t agree with you. I hear that you think it’s better to walk the middle path and be the reasonable ones and so on, but what ends up happening is that this does not discourage “trolls” of any stripe, and they do wind up dominating the conversation. For women in particular, this has been a trick used to silence, redirect and confuse almost every discussion where any woman tries tot ake the lead or tries to be heard on something that matters to her.
    Women can’t be all reasonable and high road travelers with misogynists and others who just want to maintain the status quo. That is exactly how the status quo (for women’s place in society) is STILL nearly as bad as it was 50 years ago, in reality of women’s experiences (in spite of legislation granting putative “equality”)

    I can’t find a link right now (I linked to it in my blog a few weeks ago in the Steubenville post; will look for it later) but there was at least one study done that found that when people speak up about misogyny, when it is pushed against, it becomes less “normalized” and people are therefore less likely to continue to express misogynist views AND to behave in a misogynist manner. It is the silence of listeners which has encouraged the spewing of hateful speech to continue.

    Furthermore, the same studies even pointed to a significant reduction in rapes within groups studied when study participants were instructed to push back verbally against rape apologia.

  12. says

    Me too, Ophelia. When my own daughter came home from Kindergarten saying that a boy in the class was yanking on her plaits, whipping up her skirt, chasing her on playground until she fell down and skinned everything etc and teachers said it was because he must LIKE her – that boys “tease” girls they LIKE” I saw red. I had been well socialized into silence by assault and degradation and silencing as a girl and young woman but my little girl? My fantastic, smart, creative talented little girl> HELL NO!!
    I told her that was an old excuse girls have been hearing for generations and it is NOT true! Anyone who torments anyone else like that is doing it because he is not a nice person. Full stop (Obviously I could not go further – she was only 5 after all). I told her, you don’t have to put up with this – and I also called the teacher to ask her to be extra vigilant as it was not Ok, not “teasing” and not because this little jerk “liked” my daughter. He needed to learn better ways of relating to other human beings!

  13. says

    BTW that was more than 20 years ago – I still remember the surge of rage I felt – and how much I realized women accept and swallow on our own behalf because we just give up – but when it is a child (a daughter, niece, a gentle boy being bullied or any precious child) suddenly that rage just wells up and there is an ferocious internal roar.

  14. janedoe says

    Taking the high road is ok for some, and for those whose peace of mind is at stake, good for them. Honestly though, I think that taking the high road simply perpetuates bad behavior.

    It’s been my experience that people who are consistently rude, confrontational, and harassing do so in reliance on the fact that, generally speaking, their targets feel socially constrained from being confrontational in response. Not sure if I’m allowed to curse here or not, so I will just say…eff that stuff. Throw some verbal bombs in response and have fun with it.

  15. great1american1satan says

    Comment @7 needs to be seconded. The only way I can deal with Fox News is by having it bookended by Jon Stewart mocking it. I think ManBoobz, for example, fails sometimes, when Mr. Futrelle posts stuff without sufficient mockery. It just leaves me feeling horrible.

    The mockery helps soothe those aggrieved by the abuse, and puts the abuse in its place: as worthy of utter contempt, de-legitimized.

    Good comment.

  16. great1american1satan says

    Weirdly, I responded before I finished reading comment 7 completely and that wasn’t even what it was about. I saw the word “before” and latched onto that, but I agree wholeheartedly with the rest of that as well.

  17. ischemgeek says

    I want to say the “take the high road” bs comes back to preserving the fallacious idea of a just world. I was extorted to take the high road a lot as a bullied kid, and it’s interesting how even reporting threats and acts of violence to appropriate authorities (at that time, to kid-me, the teachers) was considered “stooping” to “their level”.

    So: Want to be morally superior? Don’t give anyone a hint it’s happening.

    To me, that kind of behavior is explainable by only five things: 1, dealing with it would be too much extra work (laziness). “I can’t police everything that goes on, I’m only one person!” would be a textbook case of laziness when it’s offered as a reason not to investigate a case of harassment or abuse. 2, they just don’t give a shit (apathy). “What do you want me to do about it?” or “Why should I care?” 3, they don’t think it’s a big deal – either I’m exaggerating for attention or over-reacting (minimization). Brushing the abuse off as harmless teasing or as people of another gender “liking” the victim is minimization. 4, is when they think the world is a just place – that bad things only happen to bad people, and the idea that a bad thing is happening to someone who is innocent in this situation is threatening to their world view. This is when the victim gets advice on what to do to be “less of a target,” or how to avoid attracting attention / not “provoke” the abuser, or is extorted to take the high road. 5 is some combination of the previous 4.

    I’m inclined to think 5 best explains the reactions of people. I encountered a lot of laziness, apathy, and minimization, but even when I could break past the previous three, others in my life at the time still resisted doing anything and started to advise me to not stoop to their level, to take the high road, etc. Often trying to pound out social non-conformity from me so that they wouldn’t have “reasons” to make fun of me.

    That part is only explainable by a fallacious just-world worldview: If you hold the view that everyone gets what they deserve, and someone is telling you that a bad thing is happening to them, then you assume that person deserves it in some way, and look for ways to make the victim act in a way undeserving of such treatment. If this fails, obviously the victim is failing to take the high road sufficiently, annnd it gets stuck in a positive feedback loop of victim blaming -> advice to victim to act more undeserving -> doesn’t work because abusers don’t give a shit about whether or not their victim deserves it -> more abuse -> people learn about it -> cognitive dissonance re: just world -> just world is preserved by deciding the victim isn’t being undeserving enough -> more victim blaming.

    Minimization fits in with preserving the just world fallacy, as well: If you pretend like the bad thing isn’t happening at all, there’s no challenge to your worldview, after all.

    I only wrote all this out because as a victim, there’s only so much victim-blaming you can receive before you start to internalize some of it, if that’s what you’re receiving from all directions. Hopefully my navel-gazing helps explain what’s going on to some other person in the same situation as I was in, and hopefully their takeaway from it is that nobody damn well deserves abuse, but people will try to convince themselves that victims of abuse do deserve it if the existence of said abuse threatens their worldview, which explains why well-meaning bystanders will hurt you so badly by basically telling you that you must deserve it some how. Victims of abuse aren’t the ones at fault. Abusers are.

  18. Johnny Vector says

    Amongst the things I generally read, there was a fair bit of not speaking up going on up until a couple years ago. Until then, I counted myself a feminist, but with the idea that probably some people overreact, cause, y’know, people can be like that. Since the non-silence that has followed you-know-what-gate, it has become obvious enough even for obliviods like me that in fact most women have been under-reacting. Keeping quiet, despite daily aggressions. And I was just blissfully unaware. I didn’t get that kind of abuse, and most bloggers I was reading didn’t talk much about it, so hey, must be okay, right? I knew there were misogynistic jerks, but I had no idea how bad it was. Turns out they’re everywhere, and I didn’t even know it.

    This is one thing responding is good for. I can’t be the only guy whose response to the “troll-feeding” has been to wake up from “is it really that big a problem?” to “Whoa, it’s way worse than I thought, what can I do to help?”

  19. says

    I’m just gonna totally second Johnny Vector. I hung for a long time in a head space (as a 18-23 year old guy) as someone who considered himself feminist but was totally fine saying cunt wildly (because it was counter-culture, you know, like the fucking muppets) and making rape jokes left and right.

    However, I managed to pull my privileged fucking head out of my arse.

    We’re not at all alone, we’re just the silent majority. And the more ridiculous that the fucking misogynists become the more of us become outraged that they could possibly consider the idea that the majority of people totally believe in their misguided and fucking fallacious ideals. I’m angry because of the fact that I was lied to, consistently, throughout my childhood and ‘uni’ years. Lied to about very fundamental facts of human interaction. Literally, what the fuck is that. I’m not trying to sound incredibly radical or anything, but I can quite easily fucking tell, from listening to my girlfriend, that the life a woman leads is -very- different to a guys. And it’s not down to inherent differences or any bullshit like that. She’s quite easily smarter than I am. With more empathy and a bunch of other attributes that are “womanly” that I would love to possess.

    In all honesty, it makes me sad for the lost potential; the potential of both women and men who could’ve achieved great things but had been held back because of gender biases. I know a lot of women smarter than me (and I certainly do not consider myself an idiot) and a lot of men who, after having a deep and personal interaction with, I absolutely think that they would benefit from what people think are women’s skills. I’ve met many a man afraid to talk about feelings or emotions (and yet, after getting to know them, will completely dissolve in a sea of those emotions). If only feeling were genderless, what a world that would be…

  20. freemage says

    g1a1s: When ManBoobz doesn’t heap tons of mockery on the original posts he’s highlighting, it’s mainly because he’s giving the commentariat a chew toy to play with. We’ll dig in, dissect, armchair-analyze and generally play with the original material until it’s nothing but a well-destroyed, unrecognizable ball of spit and wire.

  21. says

    I agree with the post, but I think this was unnecessary:

    It’s not as if it’s like racism or anything.

    racism on the internet isn’t taken any more seriously than sexism, and non-white people on the internet are being told to stop being so angry, too.

  22. Rebekah, the Wily Jew says

    racism on the internet isn’t taken any more seriously than sexism,

    That is complete bollocks, but having seen your views, I can see how Ophelia’s remark threatens you deeply.

    The privileged status of racism over sexism and homophobia pervades debate and public policy, let alone the Internet. No issue exemplifies this like the handling of child genital mutilation. By any rational application of basic human rights principles and medical ethics, all child genital cutting outside of acute medical need should be illegal in Europe, where the practice has no wide cultural roots as in the U.S. to create ‘grass roots’ opposition to such a move.

    Yet it is not illegal at all for boys, and pro forma illegal only for girls (has never been prosecuted in the UK, only once in France). And why? Because being ‘not racist’, matters more than the welfare of children in the post-1968 leftwing worldview that has come to define European politics except for the extreme right. Any rational move to stop child genital mutilation would inevitably mean targeting those ethnicities linked to such practices, Jews, Muslims and non-Muslim black African. Am I to believe that you, jadehawk, would have no problem with a white-majority power structure rooting out human rights abuses among Muslims and Africans in particular?

  23. says

    @16 Niftyatheist

    I don’t think we actually disagree but I don’t think you got what I was saying. It’s not about ignoring them and them going away, it’s about not treating them as honest brokers in discussion. The point is to deny the troll power over the conversation, while marginalizing their hatred and irrational beliefs. It’s the opposite of ignoring them. It’s frustrating and opposing them.

    Using, “don’t feed to trolls” to tell people to shut up is wrong. I agree. But at the same time you have to mold your response to demonstrate the illegitimacy of their position. You engage them while recognizing the point isn’t to change their minds (which is futile) but only to hold them up as an example of misogyny, or irrationality. Otherwise what is the point? It certainly isn’t to change their minds, that simply won’t happen. The goal is to marginalize this behavior, and not let anonymous little pricks behind keyboards think they’re in control of anything. You can’t shut them up, they’ll only retreat to their hateful little communities, but with time and effort, those place will become smaller and more marginalized. Then we wait until they get old and die.

    Is that to cynical? Maybe. It worked on the racist members of my family. Ultimately, everyone goes away.

  24. says

    nice knejerk post you’ve got there. the UK is the internet now? that’s good to know.

    also, I’ll let all black atheists know that their issues are taken much more seriously than those of female atheists. i’m sure they’ll be thrilled to know; the same goes for internet media critics focusing on race; they’ll be delighted to know that they’re imagining being told that they’re oversensitive and that they’re overreacting. and that there’s no such thing as an “angry black male/female stereotype” or similar latin@ etc. equivalents.

  25. Rebekah, the Wily Jew says

    Who is being “knejerk [sic]”, Jadehawk?

    the UK is the internet now? that’s good to know.

    Rather than “the UK”, I actually spoke about “Europe” in general if you could be bothered to manifest even the most basic reading comprehension skills, mentioning both the UK and France only as more specific examples.

    That childish remark just exemplifies your defensive response to Ophelia, and now myself.

    I’ll let all black atheists know that their issues are taken much more seriously than those of female atheists.

    Wow talk about moving the goal posts. You seem to have switched sports to avoid any debate. When you are ready to talk about the issue of racism being privileged over other other prejudices (i.e. ones heavily manifest in non-white cultures) let me know, until then you can babble about some wholly manufactured point about “black atheists” and “female atheists”.

    Besides since when did “feminist” become synonymous with “female atheist”? Not only is that you failing hard at reading comprehension (or basic honesty) once again, but many of the contemporary debates revolve around that very issue.

  26. says

    Besides since when did “feminist” become synonymous with “female atheist”?


    No, you have it wrong: Jadehawk qualified the statement because it’s people who present as female on the internet who get disproportionately harassed for being feminist. She was being considerate of the existence of male atheists and their experiences.

    Guh. The stupid.

  27. Rebekah, the Wily Jew says

    You will note that Ophelia is discussing “feminism” and “feminists’ conversations”, not “atheism”, etc. The other comments here grasp and reflect that basic fact, just not Jadehawk’s.

    Jadehawk “qualified” (i.e. radically deflected) the conversation because she had no leg to stand on when it comes to the relative privilege racism (by which I mean censure thereof) has enjoyed in public discourse for well over a century. Racism affects heterosexual men, unlike misogyny, homophobia and transphobia, so it should hardly surprise a thoughtful feminist that the situation is thus.

    And your ad hominem attack on me over that specific comment basically just admits that you have no defence of Jadehawk’s absurd claim either. You are left with defending her by targetting at a secondary remark.

  28. Rebekah, the Wily Jew says

    And what a surprise, when called out to actually defend Jadehawk’s original claim (and not her ad hominems/deflections) neither she nor her ally can offer even the slightest defence.

    Could this be because you both exemplify the ‘brown people’ paternalism that leads some leftwing atheists to constantly disrupt criticism of Islam with deflections, blame casting, false equivalencies, and ad hominems? In other words, your otherwise noble commitment to fighting racism nevertheless disturbingly overrides your commitment to women’s equality and LGBT rights.

  29. great1american1satan says

    Oh look, Rebekah is here. Debate class is in session. Everyone prepared to write a doctoral thesis to defend the phrasing of a single sentence post you wrote? No? She wins. You can go home now.

    And we can’t have you around without your favorite topic:

    criticism of Islam

    Have fun with that. I’m not biting today.

  30. Rebekah, the Wily Jew says

    great1american1satan , it is amusing to see you reduced to open anti-intellectualism, where all you can muster is spitting venom at me for having the audacity to expect a higher-quality of debate than that in which you are capable of participating. As you rudely discovered last week, I have this ‘problematic’ tendency to demand evidence rather than just let assertion/narrative take its place as many in postmodernist/poststructuralist circles would prefer.

    Besides isn’t jeering me about “debate class” and “doctoral thesis” precisely the sort of rhetoric your salt-of-the-earth, Christian rightwingers invoke when they start shrieking about ‘elitism’, ‘eggheads’ and ‘the ivory tower’?

    By the way criticism of Islam is my “favo[u]rite” topic only because it is the only religion for which criticism prompts constant resistance and falsehoods from alleged atheists and people with left-of-centre politics here at FTB. From lurking I realised your ilk had gone unchallenged for too long and the way you, Jadehawk and Sally Strange all are reduced to responding with deflections and ad hominems, instead of actually defending their views, speaks volumes as to my effect. Thank you for letting me know it has not been a wasted effort.

  31. says

    Rebekah – you need to dial down the condescension. Way down. Don’t do things like “[sic]” for a start – you don’t know when English is a foreign language for a commenter and anyway it’s just rude.

  32. Rebekah, the Wily Jew says

    Ophelia, if it grates on you that people come to your blog just to spit venom at me, then I can perfectly understand that feeling. However, why am I at fault, when I am clearly willing to debate a topic with evidence, whilst others choose to offer nothing but personal invective?

    Having read your blog as a lurker, I know for a fact that the hostility I am inspiring in Jadehawk and Sally Strange is nothing unique to me or my views. In fact I have long viewed Jadehawk in particular as a bully who uses various accusations of racism to intimidate people. Both women are American, fluent English speakers, and foul-mouthed, sneering personality types. Honestly I feel no compunction whatsoever about rubbing any errors, including typos (i.e. “[sic]”), in their face when the chance arises. In contrast I avoided doing so when Gen in the Pakistan-rape thread used the non-existent term “Islamite” precisely because I suspected English was not her first language. I do think about those things.

    Further Sally and Jadehawk are part of an an ilk that includes even nastier types like Salty Current, walton and Ms. Daisy Cutter. You personally have shared some venomous words with these people, so again I ask you to consider who is really at fault here.

    As for great1american1satan how can I not appear condescending when my opponent is reduced to announcing that evidence-based debate is an arrogant, burdensome demand on my part akin to a “doctoral thesis”? I had perfectly polite exchange with great1american1satan at Crommunist’s blog last week. His new hostility is likely due to two things: 1) Crommunist actually complimented a post of mine with which great1american1satan had taken considerable issue and 2) I asked for evidence from great1american1satan which was never forthcoming.

    Since our worldview on women’s rights are virtually identical, I would think you would welcome an effective defence against the various tropes, deflections, etc. that mire discussion of Islam in particular. If you prefer to do that on your own, just say so and I will be happy to stop posting here.

  33. great1american1satan says

    I’m not jealous of you, just not interested in doing hours of unpaid, uncredited homework. You can have the debate with anyone you find willing to do it. That ain’t me. I feel like I’m spending too much time reading blogs as is, and am probably about to go silent for a while here pretty soon. (In my absence, i wish Ophelia well.)

    If the ladies you mentioned are horrible bullies and all that, then so am I – not that I speak for them or vice versa, but I’ve never found them disagreeable. In fact, in my absence, you can just take whatever issues you have with them and assume they are also true of me. Have fun!

    I stick the flounce now.

  34. John Morales says



    Ophelia, if it grates on you that people come to your blog just to spit venom at me, then I can perfectly understand that feeling.


    Anyone can see that it was you who entered the thread thus:

    racism on the internet isn’t taken any more seriously than sexism,

    That is complete bollocks, but having seen your [Jadehawk’s] views, I can see how Ophelia’s remark threatens you deeply.

  35. Forbidden Snowflake says

    the relative privilege racism (by which I mean censure thereof) has enjoyed in public discourse for well over a century.

    Easily the dumbest thing I’ve heard this month.

  36. Rebekah, the Wily Jew says

    Easily the dumbest thing I’ve heard this month.

    Then if racism does not enjoy such privilege over misogyny and homophobia then please explain the following:

    Why did men gain universal suffrage, irrespective of race, before women in the US, UK, Canada, France and so forth, often by decades.

    Why was slavery made illegal decades (or in the UK almost a century) before women were given true legal independence in Western nations?

    Explain why homosexuality was still widely criminalised until the past decade in the United States, forty years after you implemented “Civil RIghts” (the very use of that phrase to mean exclusively racial civil rights speaks volumes).

    Explain why your Equal Rights Amendment failed.

    Explain why the Labour government continued to fight transgender person’s new sex into the 2000’s, when its political programme had been based on ‘anti-racism’ since the early 1980’s.

    Explain why anti-miscegination laws have never existed in most European nations, have not existed for decades in the US, and yet same-sex marriage equality remains a political struggle.

    Explain why did Saudi Arabia was pressured by the international community to abolish chattel slavery (heavily impacting non-Arab Africans) in 1958, but has maintained misogynistic structures with no such pressure?

    In fact, why have Western leftist never demanded South Africa-style sanctions against the gender apartheid in Saudi Arabia and Iran?

    Similarly why have Western leftist never demanded South Africa-style sanctions against the myriad of nations that maintain a death-penalty for homosexuality?

    Explain why accusations of “racism” pervade discussions of misogyny and LGBT-persecutions by Muslims?

    I could continue…


    Ophelia, again you wonder why I am condescending, but please contrast the fact I can immediately produce a good-faith, evidence-based argument when challenged, whilst my opponent has offered nothing but childish name-calling (i.e. “dumbest”).

  37. Forbidden Snowflake says

    I’m supposed to explain why a time period spanning the Darfur genocide, the Rwandan genocide, the al-Anfal campaign, the Nanking massacre, the Holodomor and the friggin’ Holocaust, with dozens of other genocides and race-based deportations and incarcerations wasn’t some kind of paradise of anti-racist consensus? Yeah, how about I don’t. And don’t make assumptions about what country I’m from. And insulting a statement you made isn’t name-calling.

  38. Rebekah, the Wily Jew says

    some kind of paradise of anti-racist consensus

    I presented multiple examples of racial equality being more advanced and/or privileged over gender equality and LGBT tolerance. You respond with an utterly absurd strawman position, that neither I nor any rational person would ever argue on behalf of. ‘Privileged’ does not mean wholly and universally accepted, merely relatively better.

    I will note in light of your remark that there is a codified duty under international law for nations to respond to genocide. There is no such law requiring a response to systemic abuses of women like FGM, foot binding, forced marriage, legally-permitted domestic violence, honor murders, sex slavery, etc. that parallel all the things you mention. Nor is there any move in international law against the death-penalty that LGBT people continue to face in multiple nations.

    And don’t make assumptions about what country I’m from.

    Fine, I apologise for using the adjective “your” in front of one the examples.

    Still whether or not you are an American is totally irrelevant to my point about the failure of the ERA in America. That sort of manufactured outrage, I note you do not actually deny being an American, is just another tactic to avoid addressing the evidence I presented.

    And insulting a statement you made isn’t name-calling.

    It is when you use childish superlatives like “dumbest”.

  39. Rebekah, the Wily Jew says

    By the way John Morales, while I did begin my initial response to Jadehawk with very harsh words, I followed it up with a specific illustrative example of the treatment of FGM to argue my premise of how concerns over racism take precedence over women’s equality.

    I never claimed to be a model of civil debate. However, I do ALWAYS come with a sincere willingness to argue the facts.

    The responses to me consisting solely of ad hominems, assertions without evidence, and evasive tactics from you and others speaks volumes about which of us is ready to debate in good faith.

  40. says

    Jadehawk’s comment was about racism not being taken any more seriously ON THE INTERNET, and all of your NON-INTERNET counter-claims are blatant goal-shifting.

    Since the Deep Rifts which have prompted the entire Slymepit sniping gallery (which is the point of this post and discussion) are essentially an online phenomenon, your offline examples are clearly not the slam-dunk you’re boasting.

  41. says

    Further Sally and Jadehawk are part of an an ilk that includes even nastier types like Salty Current, walton and Ms. Daisy Cutter.

    I think I can imagine a single common thread in this ilk. I’m guessing it also includes Nick Gotts.

  42. Rebekah, the Wily Jew says


    Jadehawk’s comment was about racism not being taken any more seriously ON THE INTERNET, and all of your NON-INTERNET counter-claims are blatant goal-shifting.

    The Internet does not exist in some vacuum. It inherently reflects the values of the societies we inhabit, even if it has unique characteristics at times. I provided considerable evidence for the position that racism enjoys political and social privilege relative to other forms of discrimination. Unless you can show my evidence is faulty, or demonstrate how the Internet differs significantly on that issue from society at large, you have no argument.

    But if you want to limit things to the Internet, the constant hand-wringing if not wild accusations of ‘racism’ that pervade discussion of Islam come to mind as fairly strong evidence of the privileging of racism here as well. You cannot condemn Islamic misogyny and homophobia even here at FTB without considerable contention. Even ex-Muslims like Taslima and Maryam face hostility from those who privilege racial issues above other forms of discrimination.

  43. Rebekah, the Wily Jew says

    Rebekah, you’re derailing the thread. Stop.

    Opehlia, all I am trying to do is defend a point you made. Please let me remind you of what Jadehawk has inspired in you in the past:

    Oh damn, you caught me, Jadehawk! Me and Maryam both. The jig is up. We’re both secret racists (Maryam, weirdly, is racist against herself). It’s all just a ploy to pick on the brown people.

    I’ll go quietly.

    So why are you asking me to “go quietly” when I am literally defending the same worldview as you from the exact same person? The fact her like-minded ilk are piling on me is outside my control.

    In turn Jadehawk’s post right after yours exemplifies what is actually derailing this thread, deflections that have nothing whatsoever to do with the point of contention.

    Contrast that with my response to tigtog above. I am perfectly willing to stick to a serious debate when the person offers a legitimate comment.

  44. Gen, Uppity Ingrate. says

    In fact I have long viewed Jadehawk in particular as a bully who uses various accusations of racism to intimidate people. Both women are American, fluent English speakers, and foul-mouthed, sneering personality types.

    That’s just not true.

  45. says

    Rebekah’s been quite successfully threadjacking to make this thread all about Rebekah’s claims. I’d rather see folks discussing Ophelia’s point about the futility of recommendations to be silent about abuse. Like a lot of other bad advice given to marginalised groups, it merely props up the status quo.

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