Skip to main content

Adventures In Troll Land

Ironically following my post about oppressors who masquerade as victims, some troll-provocateur found his way to this site to comment as "Anonymous" under my entry Where's Andrea Dworkin When We Need Her.  Breaking the rules of my guideline policy, Mr. Anonymous decided to post his misogynist, uninformed, and rather banal thoughts about Andrea Dworkin.   Although I allowed his original comment to remain, though indicating that it was in defiance of the comments policy, I deleted his following comments and placed the page under moderation.

This trolling is especially amusing considering that I recently dealt with the discourse where oppression desires to masquerade as victimhood.  Today's Anonymous has provided me with an excellent real world example to reinforce the claims made in that post.

Let's take a look at his first comment that still remains below the post that talked about Andrea Dworkin:

“This walking maggot of a woman was NEVER relvant to the real world out there. She was always, like radical feminists are, living in her sexist bigoted bubble. I know enough REAL feminists, eauality feminists that snort with contempt at the mention of Andreas name. They know full well that when this walking sewer lid uses the word rape, in her comment "I want a twenty-four hour truce where there is no rape." This KKK, lesbian Feminist, Nazi, (All the same thing) is really refering to all sexual contact between men and women. Good-bye Andrea, say hello to your new partners in hate and bigotry, Hitler, KKK, etc,” (Anonymous, comment on Where’s Andrea Dworkin When We Need Her?)
In my response to this post, other than mentioning that he was in defiance of the comments policy, I also pointed out (somewhat angrily I will confess) that his statement not only demonstrated an ignorance of Dworkin's writing but that his use of language (the misogynist terms applied to Dworkin, his misandry-discourse that refers to radical feminism as bigotry) made it seem doubtful that he knew any "real feminists."  I also called him privileged and a rightwing reactionary.

Obviously Anonymous's comment is rife with fallacies.  First of all he straw-persons Dworkin, restating the myth that she believed "all heterosexual sex is rape" that I already demystified in the same article.  Secondly, it's filled with abusive ad hominems: calling someone a Nazi, making a false analogy between feminism and fascism, and using the word bigot does not an argument make!  Finally, the argument demonstrates the larger socio-historical fallacy that I criticized in my previous post: the discourse where oppression likes to make the victims seem like the oppressors.  Calling someone who fights for equality, for the end of oppression, a "Nazi" is usually a charge made by people whose set-politics are in line with fascism.  Witness the Tea Party's mobilization of the Nazi argument against social programs even though the Tea Party, a populist movement manipulated by billionaires and for the interests of billionaires, is precisely what fascism is.

Then there is the fact, as I would point out in a later comment, that my post was about the real world (yes the "real world" that he mentioned in his first comment) rape of a real person.  He was more interested in calling Dworkin a "bigot" and "Nazi" than dealing with the fact of real world oppression.  One of the previous commenters, for example, possessed a critical attitude towards Dworkin but would have never posted - because of authentic commitments to liberation and equality - what Anonymous posted.

In any case, a comrade and regular poster on this blog also responded to Anonymous - and probably with less vitriole than myself.  This prompted Anonymous to make two more posts - both of which I deleted because I already warned him that he was in defiance of the comments policy.  Here was his next stellar and well argued comment:

“Why is it that I have NEVER and will NEVER see a gorgeous looking but man-hating bigoted lesbian feminist. Gee, sounds like classic wolf and the grapes tale doesn't it?” (ibid.)
Wow: I haven't heard this one before.  I guess you have a point, Anonymous: if these "man-hating" and "bigoted" (again the abusive ad hominem fallacy) feminists were "gorgeous" then I would listen to what they had to say.  Not only is this misogynist argument utterly and pathetically typical, it doesn't say anything.  Although the "all lesbian feminists are ugly" position is a hasty generalization fallacy, the ad hominem notion that an argument only counts because of the appearance of the argument-maker is utterly ludicrous.  Winston Churchill was not a "gorgeous" person but I think he made a pretty good argument in British Parliament about why Britain should fight Nazi Germany.  No one in British Parliament said "he's wrong because he's unattractive - oh, and also everyone who argues against Nazism must be unattractive as well."

Furthermore, every feminist knows (and if Anonymous really did have feminist friends they would have told him this) that the beauty myth has been used, historically, against women in general and feminists in particular.  Since women are supposed to be desirable according to patriarchal logic, then they only possess worth if they fit a specific standard of beauty.  Furthermore, women are supposed to WANT to be beautiful and desired by men: so feminists only exist, this logic claims, because they're just women who can't fulfill their natural function - namely become male property.

In my personal experience I have never met a Mens Rights Activist who is attractive, either.  Does that mean that all Mens Rights Activists are ugly?  More importantly: does that mean I dismiss their arguments on the basis of how they look?  No I deal with the arguments - arguments that Anonymous, I reemphasize, does not make very well.

Finally, Anonymous's last deleted comment (so far) complained that I had no right to refer to him as "privileged" because, little did I know, he is "half-black" and "gay." Let's leave aside, for the moment, that we only have Anonymous's word on this matter.  Fair enough: I assumed certain things about his social position that did not apply to his circumstances.  And yet there is a reason I assumed certain things about his position: he was speaking with a privileged discourse.  Someone can be a racialized person, for example, and still actively support white supremacy: oppression is structural, not the product of individualized psychology, and every great theorization of oppression has begun with this insight.  The majority of people demonstrating for the Tea Party, for example, are not economically privileged - and yet they are speaking with the discourse of oppression and demonstrating actively for the maintenance of their oppression.

I do not know why these rightwing folks want to comment on my site.  They're not going to change my mind and I'm not going to convince them to rationally understand society and history.  There is a reason that Fanon once claimed that a perfectly reasonable argument never convinced the oppressor of anything.

There is also a reason I have a comments policy: something that troll-provocateurs, apparently, do not understand.


  1. I'll hazard a guess at why they post.

    The thoughts and positions you present threaten their comfort zone. Every day their self-righteous mindset is re-validated by popular culture and then the come upon your site. They see their whole pre-supposed world order being challenged by (really good) analysis and argument and it drives them (literally) crazy.

    I learned that one is generally making a really good argument when they become the subject of ad hominem attacks. Rigth wingers have a really hard time with this; I generally end up saying to them "stop f***ing around and stick to the subject at hand if you can't just shut up and f off".

    For all their talk about "freedom", "liberty" etc ect. they really cannot stand to see a position contradictory or opposed to their own voiced. In short: they're full of shit, and I am glad you call them on it.


  2. Thanks, RRH. This does, however, bring up the whole topic - that I've mentioned at numerous points both here and elsewhere - of why a logical argument is incapable of changing the mind of someone who is ideologically committed to an oppressive position.

    Speaking from experience, and looking back on my entire process of politicization and political education (which is always ongoing), I can recall those times - years and years ago - that I would also reject reason over knee-jerk "common sense" ideology. At some point you either have to experience the moment of politicization and then make a choice to be critical [not that I want to get all existentialist]. And maybe also have good and patient friends around you (like my partner who is largely responsible for my politics).

  3. "Someone can be a racialized person, for example, and still actively support white supremacy: oppression is structural, not the product of individualized psychology, and every great theorization of oppression has begun with this insight. The majority of people demonstrating for the Tea Party, for example, are not economically privileged - and yet they are speaking with the discourse of oppression and demonstrating actively for the maintenance of their oppression."

    fascist anti socialist workers from former eastern bloc countries (or any country for that matter)

    Uncle Tom {Thomas} Sowell (privileged now but not always so)

    Unionized workers who hate unions (see first point above).

    Women who belong to the NCC.


  4. Logical argument vs ideological commitment to oppression.

    Could it be that privilege (perceived or real) is an addiction much the same as cocaine or tobacco? When the "fix" is taken away or threatened irrational and violent behaviour ensues. Are these people "sick"?


  5. Thanks for the other pertinent examples, RRH, which also connect to the previous post. And a good analogy between privilege [glad that you note perceived or real] and addiction. The male privilege exhibited by these anti-feminists does seem like the fear of withdrawal. I don't know if I'd go so far as to medicalize the behaviour literally (because of all the problems that discourse has caused) but it is definitely a good metaphor.

  6. Just throwing it out there. I could always understand why the rich are so horribly vicious when defending their privileges. It's mean, cruel, and selfish but rational.

    A worker, a peasant, or a colonized person, though, I've always wondered what made them take of the trappings of their oppressors. What makes them ignore the obvious and defend people (to the death, if necessary) that have little or no regard for them at all? Trying to reason with people like this is often, in my view, a waste of effort. We're just not going to convince a lot of people to see things our way, regardless of how many logical arguments we make.

    That's the crux of it, isn't it? That's the tragedy.


  7. Tragic or not, the arguments are still worth making. Especially now when political discourse is flattening the debate into the one-dimensional "liberal versus conservative" discourse.

    In any case, I know that a lot of people who once accepted the oppressors' common sense have been able to break from that way of seeing the world due to their experience in labour movements, etc. I think back to my union's strike two years ago, for example, and recall how so many people on my line and others were radicalized by the experience. And once our practical experience skews things in a different light we want to read that literature that explains our experience.

  8. point taken,

    there are people who can be reasoned with. I've just been really caught up with the people who won't.

  9. Update: the troll just claimed, in a comment awaiting moderation that I deleted, that s/he is a "woman." Aside from the fact that I already responded to this identity politics garbage above, I think all of these identity claims are rather contradictory. The best part was that s/he called me a "blind bigot." Well it's not like I can see you Anonymous! And if you speak in the language of Mens Rights Activists and anti-feminism, then I just assume that you're one of them.

  10. Unhinged wierdness.

    On the victim note; I had to laugh at the U.S. coughing up phlegm over N. Korea's shelling of a S. Korean island today. Here we have the U.S. and their client barking up a storm at the UN (and China) about N. Korea needing to "obey the rules" of international law...what gall. Talk about oppressors playing the victim!

    Absolutely no shame.

  11. I appreciate the extended dissection of the oppressive language wielded by "Anonymous". Too often (and I'm guilty of this as well) such language is dismissed as uneducated and thus not worthy of critical analysis. While perhaps there is a point when one must refuse to engage with such abusive banter, I think it is important every once and a while to identify aspects of oppressive language that lend to its popularity.
    Looking forward to more posts!


  12. You're right in that it probably is better to not address these sorts of comments but, because of my previous posting, I couldn't help it...

  13. I really enjoyed this post as a response to the trolling that has been going on. I was so appalled to read some of the "anonymous" comments posted in reaction to your Dworkin post. When I addressed some of these problematic statements, the only response I got was that feminists are not pretty, and therefore not worth listening to (which you address above, and very well I might add). I think those kinds of simple dismissals really discredit people -- It's like reading the comments section on the Star or Globe websites! Rather than critique someone on some kind of substantive basis, why is there the need to resort to schoolyard bullying tactics. It's like people who criticized Rob Ford for being fat, or Hillary Clinton for not being feminine enough (or sometimes too feminine -- i guess she can't win). I can think of SO many other things to say about these people than something that relates to how they look. If you're really going to take the time to critique someone/something online on a blog post, there are more thoughtful ways of doing so -- no need to resort to simple name calling.

  14. Thank, Xtina. Your initial response on the Dworkin post to said Troll was rather funny, though. I think the combination of your irony and my grumpy rage was what made it launch into the simple dismissals and baseless rants you mention. You should have seen the ones that continued to pour into my moderation box afterwords. And yeah, if you're really going to take the time to critique a post you'd think you would make it worthwhile... seems like a huge waste of time otherwise (especially if your idiot comments get deleted immediately).

  15. "Real Feminists(TM)" are the ones who say things men are comfortable with hearing.

  16. Ha! Yes, the term really should be trade-marked. It is kind of an ideological commodity.


Post a Comment