A couple of months ago, I came across a blog post that mentioned Glennon Doyle. I didn’t know what that was, so off I went to Google. It turns out she’s a feminist author, and I stumbled across a 2016 blog post of hers titled Quit Hating Her. The chatter in the comments fascinated me, so I wanted to explore some of the thoughts it stirred up about misogynistic trolling in feminist spaces.
The blog post was written in response to this comment on her Facebook page: “Fucking ignorant liberal cunt. That is all.” Glennon’s sister Amanda wrote this response after checking the commenter’s Facebook page: “Interesting to announce a new baby girl and be publicly calling women cunts in the same week. Will pray your daughter finds her own worth outside of your rage.”
In her post, Glennon wrote, “If you call a woman a cunt, you are calling your sister and your mother and your infant daughter a cunt also. You are actively creating a world in which it is okay to call those women cunts. You are releasing poison into the air that the women in your life WILL BREATHE BACK IN. You are poisoning your own people. You cannot hate a woman for speaking her mind without hating all of us. Women are a package deal.”
The shitshow in the comments
Comments on the post remain open, and it appears that there was no moderation happening. Doyle herself didn’t respond to any of the comments. There are comments from as recently as 2021, and a huge chunk of them represent misogynistic trolling. The misogynists were gleefully cheering each other on, and there’s plenty of immature name-calling, like “I’m pretty sure that you are a gross fat disgusting whore” in response to a female commenter. Some came up with lame-ass names to leave with their comments like “MadeThisAccoutJustToCallYouARetard.” Winners, one and all.
Some of the comments seem like basic incel playbook stuff, with a few mentions of incel terms like hypergamy. There’s a fair bit of talk about how there are no good women left these days, and how most women are retarded/dumb/whores/cunts/etc. One delightful specimen commented, “Us good men will NEVER settle for a disgusting used up community love collection hole.” Good men, indeed.
There are various comments related to silencing like, “Shut the fuck up , no one , LITERALLY no one cares what you have to say.” Obviously, the person who wrote that comment cared enough to make their way to the article, presumably read at least part of it, and then leave a comment. And yes, someone did point out to the commenter that literally doesn’t mean what he thought it did.
Do only misogynists say cunt?
I agree with Glennon’s fundamental point that putting misogyny out there into the world fuels misogyny generally, which is likely to have an impact on all women. What I disagree with is that every individual using the term cunt is coming from a place of misogyny. That’s not to say that women (or anyone) shouldn’t be offended by the term; however, I’m not sure how useful it is to make generalizations about the intent of all individuals who use the term.
I used the word cunt to describe the useless psychiatrist who not long ago decided I should remain in hospital involuntarily. I’m not anti-woman and I’m quite happy with my vagina, but cunt is a strong negative word, and that’s exactly the sort of word I was looking for in that context.
I also disagree with this bit: “You cannot hate a woman for speaking her mind without hating all of us. Women are a package deal.” While I do think misogyny is bad for all women, there are plenty of women that I do not want to be in a package deal with. Let’s take some wackadoo like Marjorie Taylor Greene; I don’t hate her, but her speaking her mind is a frightening thing to behold, and I don’t want to be in that package.
There were some male commenters who expressed their disagreement with Doyle in a reasonable, respectful way, and some female commenters accused them of mansplaining. Let’s say Doyle had said something along the lines of when men say A, they all mean B, and that causes women to feel C. In my mind, if a man counters that with no, some men say A without meaning B, I don’t think that’s mansplaining. Mansplaining would sound like telling women what women think, along the lines of no, when men say A, women don’t feel C, they actually feel D.
I wonder how productive it is to brush off male opinions as mansplaining. It’s one thing if the individual is clearly misogynistic and not interested in changing their mind; in that case, it’s just calling a spade a spade. But at some point, addressing misogyny and patriarchy requires getting a critical mass of males to change their attitudes and behaviours. I’m not sure that brushing off people’s reasoned ideas as mansplaining is going to help achieve that. It’s one thing to invalidate nonsense, because the misogynistic nonsense-spewers aren’t going to be won over. But to brush off as mansplaining the opinion of a man who’s put some thought into the point he’s making seems like shooting a potential ally in the foot. The people who are willing to engage in discussions are where progress can be made.
Handling misogynistic trolling
Glennon Doyle has the right to handle comments on her site however she chooses, and I’m not here to criticize her choices. I do wonder, though, if the benefits of allowing totally unmoderated comments, open until the end of time, are outweighed by the downside of giving misogynistic trolls the opportunity to run wild on a feminist platform.
As a small-time blogger, this isn’t an issue I’ve had to give much thought to. For one, I don’t really get trolls. But also, while I don’t moderate comments before publishing, I get a manageable number of comments and I’m on WordPress enough that I quickly delete anything that detracts from the kind of space that I want my blog to be.
It doesn’t surprise me that a big-time author wouldn’t task whoever’s running her site with moderating the many comments that her posts get. Still, I wonder if there’s another way that could avoid giving such a platform to trollish voices that will feed off of each other’s hate. It certainly isn’t very welcoming for women readers to see that kind of garbage in the comments. I wonder if closing comments after a couple of weeks would have kept it more focused and relevant.
Clearly, the trolls are the ones who are entirely in the wrong here. However, if it’s an easy place for them to spew their vitriol and get feedback on it, that creates a pretty yucky environment that they’re going to keep coming back to. Is it worth giving them that opportunity? I suppose it proves her point that misogyny is a big issue, but that’s already been proven many times over in the manosphere. For that much hate to have a place on one’s own website makes the space less safe for women.
What are your thoughts on how to deal with that kind of trolling?