• Fri, Jul 8 2011

Where Are All The Female Internet Trolls?

Earlier  this week, we talked a little bit about what we learned about ourselves from our new male commenters, namely, that we play Tiger Beat and should not have the right to vote. This meant we spent the entire week making dirty jokes about what it meant to “play Tiger Beat” and also, thinking. Thinking about how most of the really angry comments we’ve seen – those comments clearly intended to stir up trouble because the commenter is angry – come from people who, at least judging from their usernames, were male people.

And it’s not just us!

Our intern Joanna notes “A couple months ago I won a contest from the Criterion Collection – it was like 22 movies. So my friend and I made a vlog of us opening the videos. It was just supposed to be fun. And the video got so many comments from the Criterion Collection forum and Blueray forums – they apparently exist! – and middle aged men started calling me names. It was things like “who is this dumb bitch, she’s disrespectful, she doesn’t respect the Criterion Collection.” And the video was just me for 5 minutes opening a box of movies and holding them up. I could track where the comments were coming from and the demographic was all 20-30 year old guys. One of the comments was “who is this terrible flighty 20-something female!?” A friend tried to point out I had a film degree, but then I had to write a response trying to defend myself. I think there is an idea that women of a certain age don’t know anything. And I feel certain that never would have happened if I was a man opening a box of movies.”

Right. And if you’d been a man saying you didn’t like women who wore white socks – as Amanda did in one of her posts for us – I doubted you’d be told to “go kill yourself now.” That obviously doesn’t take into account the 40 odd comments just calling her a cunt.

I mean, that seems like a dramatic overreaction to someone not liking white socks, right? Although I do love the sock salesman who points out that “I am a sock salesman and to hear that some fat ugly high school dropout bitch doesn’t like white socks is very disheartening. I sell white socks every day of the year to those who loves them, It’s a way of life!”

So clearly, there are some people who care very much.

But I thought it was curious that there seemed to be no angry women. But then I thought, “well, maybe that makes sense in this case, as the post is about not wanting to date a certain kind of man.”

So I found a post called “I Swear I Hate Fat Women. They Sux.”

I read the comments on that post to see if there were any women screaming “GO KILL YOURSELF NOW!”

Which I assumed would be the reaction. After all, the two posts seem roughly comparable (except that Amanda’s is, to my mind, well written and, I think, clearly a matter of personal taste). There weren’t any comments telling the writer to kill himself. There were comments like:

There was a time when fat women were jolly like all other fat people. Not true anylonger. They are always complaining and smell. I promised myself I would never date another one. I took one to IHOP and she complained to the waitress, nice looking young lady, constantly. I think the fat pig was jealous. They are terrible people, fat girls.

And the angriest women seemed to reply not with prompts for that man to commit suicide but by saying:

You need help with that attitude. The girl you took was probably insulted by your oggling the pretty girl while she sat at the table for all intents and purposes invisible. Do all large women a favor and stay away from them. You can’t handle all the loving they hold inside themselves. Go get yourself a beanpole.

This surprised me. I mean, we’re often told that women aren’t allowed to be as aggressive in public as men because it’s perceived as being “unladylike.” That explains why we’re not societally allowed to yell at people and challenge them to fights.

But this isn’t society. This is the Internet. This is a place where women can anonymously call people assholes all the time. No one will ever know! Or they might, but only if they were a site admin who dedicated their life to tracking down your IP address’s location! Very few people are actually that obsessive. (On a side note: party at your house next Tuesday, I’m bringing nachos!)

But, in spite of that, women don’t seem to take to trolling. I mean, occasionally, we get wonderful things from women we think might be trolling the Internet to stir up anger like Melinda, who wrote:

“You are all so well versed in manipulating words until their not even mine. Your regular Bill O’Reileys, all of you. And its not fair. I’m not stupid, ok? I’m very smart. My sister was valedictorian of her class at BU. “You’ll never be people” isn’t an insult. It’s a pitiful fact, none of you are people. I’m done with this website, why should I give you the satisfaction of more site traffic if I’m going to be blatantly harassed?

“You’ll never be people.”

Those are gems are as precious as the ones you might find in a troll’s belly.

But those don’t really seem violently hostile. If Melinda is a troll, she’s not a terribly effective one, because rather than making people OMG SO ANGRY, she made people just full of joy, like a watermelon.

Of course, we do few women commenters we see being angry. But they mostly seem angry not because they want to create discord and start a fight, but because their feelings were hurt. Like the lady who wants the man who thinks ‘fat women smell’ to know that those smelly ladies have a lot of love inside them!

Some people point out that I shouldn’t really be surprised by this at all.

Maybe it’s because, as a random office Gadfly speculates  “women – of any age – will never hate men as much as teenage boys hate women.”

In conclusion, there are very few female trolls because women are more virtuous than men. QED.

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  • Paige V.I.

    Fantastic article.

  • menis

    “women – of any age – will never hate men as much as teenage boys hate women.”

    I think you are mistaken. What you are encountering is, at least in part, habitual trolling that is randomly directed at women among all other targets.

    I really can’t imagine anyone who will troll only females.

    But of course women in vblogs are sour grapes to most users so the hate comes easily.

  • Jon

    Contrary to the recent Beyonce song, girls do not in fact run the world — be it real or digital.

    • Lindsay Cross

      So… you realize that you just proved the point, right?

    • Jon

      ..crap.

  • B

    Agreed, this is a fantastic article.

    Also, I feel it must be said: There’s no such thing as a “valedictorian of BU,” at least, not if she went to the same BU I did. (Also, having a smart sister does not make one smart; she misspelled several common words; etc.)

  • porkchop

    If you are interested in lady trolls, they are on baby and childcare forums!

    • Steph

      True. I’ve seen a ton on The Knot and its subsequent forums.

  • Sarah

    If you want to see some lady troll action, check out the feud between Heather Armstrong of Dooce.com and her rivals.

  • Steph

    So very true. However, when I was going through the comments on those articles, I wanted to tell all of them one by one that they were douchebags, but I didn’t.

  • OG

    Melinda really did bring watermelon like joy! I miss her comments.

    I think in the 3-d world men are scorned by women more then women are scorned by men and this is their “payback”. Or maybe men just tend to bottle up their feelings until they can spew them out anonymously, whereas women are more likely to cry to their friends.

    FYI – pretty much anyone is welcome at my house if they bring nachos.

  • MM

    REAL LIFE CONFESSION: I was a ladytroll when I was like 13 and socially awkward. I used to go on teen girl message boards and post links to Lemonparty. I’m still ashamed.

    • Jennifer Wright

      First off, Ashley wants to say “wait, there are people who didn’t share links to lemonparties as a teenager?”

      Second, please write us a post about the glories of ladytrolling. Jennifer [at] thegloss.com, just in case I can’t make it to your house with nachos (my cat-husband gets jealous when I go out).

  • Melinda

    I am not Melinda. I just miss her.

  • Melinda

    If this comment feed were a party scene in Dirty Dancing, I would gladly carry a watermelon to it. And awkwardly watch the sexy dancing happening around me.

  • Lawdy

    The internet is honestly not some man-haven, female trolls exist are are EVERYWHERE. ED was created and used to be owned by a woman before the big clusterfuck a few months ago. I’m a female troll and have been for years, both irl and online. It’s fun, toughens you up, and teaches you to stop giving a fuck.

    P.S
    Lol lemon party? Amateur.

  • Tania

    I troll, but I do it in a sneaky nice way so no one seems to notice. It annoyed my male troll friend, because I’d say something (he thought) was blatant trolling, and people would respond sympathetically, whereas no one ever took him seriously.

    It was awesome. Girl trolls, in my experience, just tend to be more subtle and less ragey than male trolls!

    • Questioning Journo

      Hey Tania. If you genuinely are a female troll are you open to doing an interview for a British women’s magazine? If so please e-mail me at question.journo@aol.com. And that goes for any other female internet trolls out there.

  • Abigail

    If you want to see some of them, check out the forums on BabyCenter.com. They can get BITCHY and defensive. It’s hilarious how much people care about something that doesn’t matter, doesn’t affect anyone, and is anonymous. Most of the moms try to give legitimate advice, but some of them are just there to be assholes.

  • Hanna

    So, this means women DO troll but they do it only on “womenly” topics?
    I think I have to register at some kind of pornstar forum or a site about motorcycle racing right this minute and go wild to make me feel better.
    Now, if only I knew how to troll… Are there workshops about it?

  • Melissa

    Oh, female trolls exist. Just not in exactly the same form… in fact, you’re often left wondering if it’s intentional or just social ineptitude. On fanfiction, deviantart, quizilla, or any other site where middle school-aged girls tend to congregate, there’s plenty of drama. It’s not quite so much trolling, but as a ff.net user, I can say that I have definitely seen some women (or girls, at the lesat) troll like crazy.

  • Emme

    I’m an internet troll. I troll omegle, yahoo answers, write rage comics and stir shit up for the lulz. Hell, I’ve braved /b/. I just post under a male psuedonym to avoid the inevitable “TITS OR GTFO,” or “MAKE ME A SANDWICH, WHORE” comments. Actually, I do that most of the time because then I dont have to worry about my gender overshadowing my point.

  • MeggyWeggy

    Successful TheGloss troll is successful.

  • Tamora

    I think the authors and even many reply-posters deeply misunderstand the nature of trolling. Trolling is not the posting of hateful or angry messages. Trolling is the art of fabricating material to get an overblown response —esp. by challenging or defying values that the target takes seriously. There may be less women trolls than male trolls, but that isn’t proven by a lack of *reactions* such as “go kill yourself.” Real trolls plant seeds of discord by publishing things that seem both sincere and horribly stupid/offensive —without getting personally attached— in the hopes that some fool will come by and flip his lid over what he reads. My friend and I are writing an instructional manual on the subject. There are so many subtle ways to do it that the victims never quite understand how it works, and “feed the trolls” with the most sincere of responses. The troll’s raison d’etre is to get people to waste time by barking up the wrong tree. To make people realize that they ought to spend more time outside and less time getting mad at messages.

    • some guy

      So what you’re saying is that this article in and of itself is trolling? Meta!

  • Granite

    The majority of Internet trolls are women. You have to remember that the goal of a troll is to get a response. Women aren’t so obvious with their trolling. Their technique is to use contempt with instruction. The female troll is righteous, moral and here to tell you a better way to think and behave. She wants you to be insulted by her post and to pay attention to her with a response. In which case she can affirm her superiority with another explanation of her moral fortitude. Her second explanation will include bits of nastiness as in “you wouldn’t understand because you clearly aren’t a mother”, or “I enjoy sacrificing for my family, something most people would know nothing about”. Oh, yeah, definitely a troll.

    • http://www.facebook.com/catherineawendt Catherine Egan

      “The majority of Internet trolls are women” <—-Fallacy. Clearly, the truth (which is just the opposite) offends you. Men make up the majority of trolls. They are also caught making fake profiles under females names in order to come back and argue with others on forums. Does this ring a bell for you? And the examples you gave for women you are calling trolls (assuming they were ever actually written somewhere in internet land) are not representation of trolling.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Agentmra-Orangemrm/100003207256953 Agentmra Orangemrm

    Try Mumsnet. Troll city there.

  • Kimberley Rankin

    This article is hatefully misogynist and essentialist. Women are just as capable as men when it comes to internet trolling.

  • late_replyer

    Why should I stoop to their level? Why should I care about a bunch of people that discriminate against others based on what they wear or look like? It wastes too much time to change people’s minds on a post when they haven’t realized how wrong they are yet. One day they will have a life changing experience and will realize how ridiculous they have been this whole time and hate themselves. That is the worst feeling in the world. It has happened to me plenty of times, and I have learned from the experience. This is my justice.