Reverse trolling

The stats have been showing a lot of hits via New Matilda for the past three days, and via a comment rather than the post. New Matilda must be big.

Anyway, the post is by Jane Caro, and it’s about the waves kicked up by her piece on “the wave of misogynistic remarks recently” (gosh, why does that sound so familiar?) and her tweet inviting suggestions for “new ways of ‘destroying the joint” being a woman & all.’

I had no idea whether I’d get any takers, but it took off like wildfire. Surgeon Jill Tomlinson added the hashtag #destroyingthejoint and a twitter phenomenon was created.

The tweets from both men and women were mostly hilarious, some borderline obscene — unleashed vaginas featured prominently (I was guilty of a couple of those myself) and some made powerful points. Jill Tomlinson tweeted about the way Liberian President and Nobel Peace Prize Winner Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was #destroyingthejoint.

Twitter flashmob kind of thing. That can be fun – or, in the wrong hands, it can be just more wave of misogynistic remarks. That’s why I’m not as optimistic as Caro is.

…the hilarity and humour of #destroyingthejoint is precisely the point. In the past, we often — quite understandably — reacted to comments like the above with outrage, but outrage is defensive. It is the response of the powerless. Social media has given the powerless, many of whom are women, a voice and a platform.

As one commentator put it, #destroyingthejoint is reverse trolling. That’s why I think so many people, particularly women, have taken to the thread so wholeheartedly. Instead of feeling hurt and angry about the way women are routinely dismissed and put down by many of the powerful, they have felt gleeful, naughty — and yes, powerful.

They are not on the defensive this time, they are on the offensive. Maybe it is my advertising background but I have long argued that satire, humour and wit are much more powerful weapons than indignation. This weekend, twitter proved it.

That’s cool, but it works only as long as it works. The flashmob breaks up and goes back to work, the misogynist trollers stick around and keep at the trolling.

Still – Caro is great, and I’ll be delighted if she’s right and I’m wrong.


  1. Nathair says

    Trolling is bad and should be condemned, unless we do it, then it is lulzworthy.

    Dudebro, you keep up this training and you could be irony blind for America in 2016.

  2. Orlando says

    It’s not just Twitter. People have been making some great images and posting them on the Facebook page, including ‘print out and put up at work’ posters. I suppose the point will be lost on people not Australian, but who knows? Maybe it will go global:

  3. bvganfematheist says

    As an Australian woman I am loving the reaction here to our very own Rush Limbaugh. I hope it can be sustainable but the reaction itself has given me hope. I also like that the t-shirts are raising money for asylum seekers which is a very worthy cause.

  4. Dave says

    @7 – it is rather true that Australian politics is legendary for the quality of its public insults, but some of the examples there do seem rather to reinforce than argue against the central point Caro made.

    OTOH, I am for culling misogynist assholes one by one, until the world is a better, and less over-populated, place, so what do I know?

  5. John neighborly says

    Dudebro, you keep up this training and you could be irony blind for America in 2016.

    I don’t find your ableist comment at all funny.

    Possible additional John Neighbourly: WHERE’S WHITE HISTORY MONTH, HUH?!!

    The concept of a [certainly level of melanin] history month is fucking dumb. Anyone who supports having a specific month to teach about a “color” rather than teaching to significance, should be asking themselves why they are such an asshole for not wanting a “yellow history month”, “brown History month” or to get more specific “mexican history month”, “Desi history month” “south east Asian history month”, “native north american incl. native canadian history month”.

    Tell me, why do we not dedicate months to these other cultures/races/colors? This is a serious question one should think about if you think a single month dedicated to one color(not even a specific culture or historical lineage) is not ridiculous.

  6. John Neighborly says

    I’ll take the total lack of responses to my question to be either, a complete failure by the ideologues here to engage in any sort of self reflection. Or perhaps you have, and are now campaigning for a “history month” for every possible level of melanin.

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