Quote, April 18 2012 — Women Who Write About Women’s Stuff vs. Women Who Don’t Have Weird Hangups

Girl World’s many feuds, for the most part waged via “little comments,” include the ancient Blondes vs. Brunettes, the post-Title IX Sporty Girls vs. Girly Girls, and the brutal Thin Girls vs. Curvy Girls. One of the most fraught wars of Girl World is Women Who Write About Women’s Stuff vs. Women Who Don’t Have Weird Hangups, because the former category has a near monopoly on magazine feature wells. The most important feature of Women Who Write About Women’s Stuff is that they are trolls.

– Elspeth Reeve, “Katie Roiphe Moves into Phase Two of Trolling”, The Atlantic Wire, April 17 2012 (site last accessed on April 18)

Internet trolls are a pain to deal with, and as another article recently pointed out, the structure of many internet news sites encourages trolls. Those news sites get paid by advertisers — and in turn pay their writers — based on how many people read a page or article online.

A good way to guarantee lots of viewers, links from other internet sites, and long comment threads which people come back regularly to view is to write something that offends almost everyone.

(It’s also possible to get higher page views, commenters, etc. by writing articles that are actually good — well-written and well-argued, and hopefully well-researched if facts or figures are being tossed around — but quite frankly a lot of writers and people in general take the route of notoriety to become famous fast, rather than the slower route of hard work and expertise.)

Anyway, the article the quote divides social commentary trolls into two phases:

  1. “The troll’s goal is to maximize emotional outcry with the simple thesis, “Heads up bitches: you think you know but you have no idea,” and then “prove” said thesis with a personal anecdote or bit of pop culture.”
  2. “The trolls’ next step is to marvel at all the uproar and say it only proves you were right. . . .The beauty of this phase is that it’s self-perpetuating. The more you say the outrage proves you’re right, the more outrage exists to feed your argument.”

Based on my own experiences with trolls, I think Speer is absolutely correct in her assessment.

The troll discussed in Speer’s article is a writer “who argued for Newsweek that all this equal rights for women stuff has made women more interested in getting beaten up during sex”.

And no, I’m not going to link the original article or mention the troll’s name. If you click through to Speer’s article, you can find links there. As I’ve said, clicking on a troll’s link encourages the troll, because they get increased traffic numbers which is really what they & their advertisers care about. So I’m not going to encourage the Newsweek troll by linking to her.

[The Newsweek troll] said the problem wasn’t hers, but those who attacked her: “In our post-ironic era, one of the things people criticize is, ‘This piece is so boring,’ or ‘This piece is so stupid.” What they really mean by that is, ‘This piece made us kind of uncomfortable,’ which to me is a sign of a successful little polemical analysis.” Further, “I think it’s a good sign, a positive sign and a healthy sign when you write something that enrages, irritates and appalls so many people.”

Anyway, good article, has some more details and examples of other women’s issues trolls, it’s well worth reading.

2 thoughts on “Quote, April 18 2012 — Women Who Write About Women’s Stuff vs. Women Who Don’t Have Weird Hangups

  1. I have also found that said trolls will quickly play the victim if you present a reasonable argument that deflates their “Heads up” factum. I’ve been called arrogant and hostile, and was pitied because I am “unable to express genuine love.”

    • Definitely agree on that Rob. I hate the victim-playing, and I hate the armchair psychoanalysis. Those probably could have been included as a stage three of trolling. 🙂

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