Answering the haters: An FAQ for trolls who have questions
Yesterday, I posted an explanation at Slate about why I’m turning my Twitter mentions feed off and starting a new life with a dramatically reduced exposure to carping haters trying to make me feel bad about myself. I’ve been traveling and, of course, not checking Twitter mentions, so I haven’t seen much response to it. But I do know that sexists do not take it well when told they’re not entitled to a woman’s attention just because they want it. I also have a lot of experience of my own and watching what happens to other women when they push back against harassment. So I’ve compiled a list of the objections I expect the post to receive, and my responses.
You’re just afraid of criticism and only want to hear from people who kiss your ass! This one is the go-to response trolls cough up when blocked or banned, so zero doubt this will be screamed from the hills. It is always amusing since, as noted in the Slate post, these folks are so touchy that they can’t even be told that women dislike ingratitude without losing their fool heads about it. In a criticism-handling contest, they’d all somehow tie for last place. But it’s worth pointing out that as a professional writer, I literally have to put up with criticism every single day from people I actually like and respect—editors, other writers—and somehow that doesn’t seem to bother me.
But all that is minor compared to the real reason this objection is bullshit: What the haters are coughing up isn’t criticism. Criticism, to count as criticism, must have some acknowledgement or relationship to the thing being criticized. But the hollering on Twitter has nothing to do with that. Accusing me of “playing the victim” when I don’t mention my own life at all? Telling me I must be writing from a place of loneliness when you have zero textual evidence for that? It has as much relationship to “criticism” as writing “hodor hodor hodor” over and over again counts as a critical analysis of Crime and Punishment. This is basic stuff you should have learned writing book reports in high school English.
Screaming hateful lies and “diagnosing” them based on what you wish were true instead of what’s actually true is not criticism. It’s harassment.
You’re faking the harassment to get attention. You see this accusation leveled at any woman who complains about online harassment. I have links in the original post, however, and my mentions feed still exists for anyone who wants to look at it. I’ve also got a lot of examples in my Storify history.
Just ignore them if they bother you so much! Yes, that’s the idea of shutting off the mentions feed.
You’re lying about your life. I find it impossible that anyone actually cares about you. They’re probably all just white knights. Or whatever variation. Whenever there’s evidence against the anti-feminist contention that “no one” likes feminists, the friends/defenders/allies of said feminists are accused of having nefarious, underhanded intentions. This is yet another example of anti-feminists being unable to understand that just because they hate women (or at least women who don’t hate themselves) doesn’t mean everyone does.
I don’t want to speak for myself, as that sounds defensive and/or braggy, but I can say that I follow the work of a lot of women who have had this accusation leveled at them. Some of them are my friends. And I can say, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the love people bear for them is real. Indeed, I often think that one reason they get targeted is because so many people sincerely like them, and the haters are jealous.
You’re just weak-minded if you can’t take it! This is always said by someone who has no fucking clue how bad it is. The haters have had the chance to make their case for years, and they have, day in and day out. They’ve had their chance. It is an unconvincing case, and they have presented no new evidence and it’s unlikely they ever will. Time for me to move on and give that attention to people who have interesting or persuasive things to say.