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How to Deal With Trolls And Come Out Winning

The future is feminist. That’s right. What’s more, if your feminism isn’t intersectional it’s not really feminism at all. Why? Because as women we can unite, but we all experience things like race, sexuality and physical ability differently. There’s one thing though, one thing that I’d be willing to bet 99% of women online have in common no matter who they are… trolls. It’s trolls. Dear gawd the trolls.

As welcome as a fart in a spacesuit, trolls can range anywhere from the annoying “meN ARe ThE rEAl vIctIMs hEre tHo” to the flat out rape-threats and toxic masculinity that have no place, well, anywhere..

Now, in real life you probably don’t often face a blatant rape threat in the middle of a friendly chat, so it’s normal to not know the absolute killer way to respond.

That’s why here at The Feminist Fact Club we spoke to a spectrum of women and feminists online. On the front line, if you will. To get the lowdown on how they deal with nonsense from trolls and come out winning. Keep reading for some fab statistics and strategies to come out winning…

You Have The Power

100% of the people I spoke to had constant regular harassment from trolls. Not one single person said they didn’t experience this plague. The first strategy in dealing with a troll’s nonsense is to recognise that for better or for worse (definitely for worse) they are a part of the online experience, especially for women and feminists. 

Amazing intersectional feminist illustrator Bridget (@handsomegirldesigns) tells us “they’re an unfortunate part of our digital culture, but what you don’t have to accept is them having an effect on you. That power is yours”. Thanks girl! And thankfully there’s a ton of ways to exercise your power over trolls. Let’s break them down

Block Those Trolls

Coming in hot on the list of tried and tested strategies is to flat out block those trolls! Almost a third of women/feminists I spoke to mentioned this as their go to response for hate speech and harassment. The Caven sisters (Co-founders/Editors @theGirlslikeme)  summed it up best  “We see no point in debating with people committed to misunderstanding you.” 

No one has to put up with rape and physical violence threats or hate speech. Over at @fiftyshadesofindianpatriarchy they don’t hesitate! “Block them”. Pure and simple. @feministwarrior_ smashes that block button as soon as the rape threats come out. These ladies are leading with zero tolerance, and so can you.

You may be tempted to try to educate trolls, but according to the majority of online women / feminists I spoke to, these ones are beyond the pale. They’re not interested in a constructive conversation so feel free to block and direct your fabulous energy elsewhere.

Delete The Hate. Keep Your Digital Space Safe

An alternative to straight up blocking trolls is to delete their comments. 24% of the women/feminists I spoke to were fans of this approach. Over at @queer.brown.feminist they try not to block trolls immediately. What they do instead is delete “problematic or triggering” comments, keeping their space safe for their community. 

You can’t control the disgusting (and frankly usually inaccurate) things trolls want to say. But, as the supreme queen of your own page, you do have the power to curate comments to keep the conversation constructive. Ale over at @world.feminsits uses the delete strategy and when trolls get persistent she goes ahead and blocks them. You don’t owe trolls any space on your page or time in your life, so go ahead and delete that hate speech from your digital world. 100% guilt free.

A red pink and purple pie chart showing the percentages relating to each strategy used for dealing with trolls online. Pastel pink background the title 'How To Deal With Trolls' appear at the bottom of image.
Pie Chart Anyone?

Ignore Those Trolls – Save Your Precious Energy

In third place on this helpful list of troll strategies, may be one of the hardest to do… Ignore them. Do nothing. Give them nothing. That’s what almost one fifth of women / feminists I spoke to do. And oh la la if that doesn’t flush their attention seeking plans down the loo! 

The inspirational and self proclaimed ‘imperfect feminist’ @femislay tells us she cuts off all attention to trolls, refusing to give them what they’re looking for. Go ahead and Ignore them and spend your time on your own thing. Celeste @theultimatemomchallenge does exactly that. “I ignore, and block if the comment was offensive”

I know, it’s tough not to get into it especially when the comments are unfair, untrue or hurtful. Take inspiration from Laurel Anne Stark over at @thefemininereclaimed though, who shares how she fights that instinct to jump into an argument because “it doesn’t serve me to do that emotional labour.” 

Alisa Igorevna over at @whatshesaid___  also uses this troll strategy in another totally valid way… when she’s just too damn tired to respond. Folks you’re under no obligation to be at their beck and call. It’s ok to just let their comments sit there sometimes. And as Bridget (@handsomegirldesigns) points out when you ignore trolls “the world can see their ignorant comments literally have zero effect on the community”. Ha, suckit trolls!

Another Way To Deal With ‘Em?

About 15% of the women/feminists I spoke to did regularly engage with trolls. Alisa Igorevna makes a concerted effort to invest some energy there. Why? Because she believes “dialogue is a solution to many of the problems we have and it’s important to listen to other voices”. Another survivor account (who asked to remain anonymous) told me they do sometimes engage with trolls “to see if they just want to raise a point” which is definitely fair. 

Interestingly though, 100% of the people willing to open the door to a convo with trolls, keep a zero tolerance policy for garbage, hate speech, death and/or rape threats. Which, you know, seems pretty damn reasonable.

What’s important to remember is that there’s no one hard and fast way to respond to these ‘delightful’ human beings. In fact a massive majority (Almost 70%) of women / feminists I spoke to, go for the triple whammy of Ignore. Delete. Block. Claire Wasserman from @ladiesgetpaid let us know that’s her go to response when these trolls show up on her women’s career empowerment page. It’s official – women and feminists have no time or space for trolls! 

Truly Enlightened?

With that in mind, if you’d like to take it one step further and become truly enlightened, take a tip of Melody Pourmoradi’s book (@girllifeempowerment) who tells us “I delete and forgive. I never engage”. Wow, it takes a strong person to forgive a trolls nonsense, but if you manage it like Melody, you’ll forever have my respect. 

So there you have it. That’s how women and feminists are dealing with trolls online. Block. Delete. Ignore. Engage (selectively) and if you have the inner power – forgive! 

Drop me a comment and let me know how you deal with trolls! 

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