Originally published on Ravishly and republished here with their permission.
(Content Warning: Rape threats, abusive language)
Being a person with a presence on the Internet is…weird. It fills your life with a lot of, well, weirdness. Being a feminist with a presence on the Internet is even worse — besides the general weirdness, there’s also a lot of backlash. A lot of hate mail. And hate tweets. And hate Facebook messages and YouTube comments and (ugh) anonymous Tumblr asks.
What’s funny, though (I mean, if the blatant hatred of women with opinions can ever be funny, that is), is that trolls are not only predictable, but they’re transparent as all hell. They say the same stuff over and over again, and the true meanings of the words are incredibly thinly veiled.
So take it from me (I’m kind of an expert). Here’s what the trolls say — and here’s what they really mean:
1. You’re a Bitch/Slut/Cunt
I actually made an entire video on this a couple of years ago, and it’s the most popular thing I’ve ever uploaded to YouTube.
But the gist of the “You’re a bitch/slut/cunt” insult is this: “You’re a strong woman, and that intimidates me, so I’m going to try to make you feel bad for it,” “You’re a woman who’s having sex, but I don’t want women to have sex, even though I spend hours on any given Reddit thread complaining about how women won’t have sex with me, and I want to try to make you feel bad for it,” and “You’re a vagina.”
Really, what they’re saying is, “You’re a woman! And so I’m going to call you any misogynistic slur I can think of because I don’t have a real argument against your point!”
2. Get Back in the Kitchen
This one has a very easy translation: “I literally have nothing more creative to say than this sentence that has been hurled at women for over fifty years. Take that, person with thoughts that I don’t agree with!”
3. Make Me a Sandwich
Sometimes this one and the previous come hand-in-hand. They belong together. Kind of like, while we’re on the subject of sandwiches, peanut butter and jelly.
This one means “I’ve frequently reflected on the fact that, throughout my life, women have nurtured me. Some have even gone so far as to feed me. Perhaps to the extent that I don’t know how to survive, really, without women. But instead of being grateful, like a decent human being, I’m going to imply that your only purpose on earth is to make lazy people like me sandwiches, thereby successfully undermining the work that women in my life put into helping me grow. Because I’m totally not an asshole.”
4. You Can’t Delete Your Comments – That’s Censorship!
I’m not even going to address the fact that, by its very definition, censorship can only happen at the governmental level – and that because I am but one person, I literally do not have the power to censor another person.
Instead, let’s address what’s really going on their head: “I honestly believe that I have a right to leave threatening and harassing bullshit all over your Facebook page without consequence. And I am furious that you would take that away from me.”
5. Typical Feminist – You Can’t Even Handle Debate
I think you probably need to take a foundational debating class if you think that calling me a “socialist whore” is a respectful and well-formed argument that would do me well to engage with in order to broaden my understanding of the world around me.
Translation: “I don’t have an argument. But maybe if I pretend that you’re the one without an argument, no one will notice that I have no idea what I’m talking about.”
6. Do You Think Men Should Be Able to Punch Women? That Women Should Be Drafted? That All Men Should Be Murdered?
Well, no. In case you missed the memo, I’m a feminist. That means I’m against stuff like, oh, intimate partner abuse, imperialism, and gender-based violence.
So what you’re really saying is, “Hey! Look at me! I’m a straw man!”
And I hear you, loud and clear.
“I cannot for the life of me differentiate between gender justice and genocide, but boy, am I angry!”
No. No. I get it. “Gender justice” and “genocide” begin with the same three letters. It’s a simple mistake.
8. Let Me Just Play Devil’s Advocate
Listen, buddy, I think that as a general rule, if the person you’re advocating for is Satan, you’re probably already in the wrong. But I’ll explain this one to you anyway.
When a troll wants to play devil’s advocate with you, what they’re really saying is: “I am in such a place of privilege that I actually believe that what I’m about to say to you is fascinating, intellectually stimulating debate and not just a regurgitation of the status quo that you’re already trying to dismantle. I have deluded myself.”
9. I Hope You Die/Get Raped (Alternatively, I Want to Kill/Rape You)
“Hello, my name is Troll. And I am here to prove all the points for you.”
10. You’re a Socialist
And you’re a troll.
See, I can name things, too!
All this one means is, “I am staunchly in support of politics that position some human beings as more worthy of rights and resources than others. And I may not really know what socialism is, but I know that I probably hate it because it gives stuff to people who I don’t think deserve stuff.”
Listen. I know that you’re trying to cut us down and shut us up with your sharp analysis and even sharper wit, but a word of wisdom to you, trolls: You’re not so much offensive as you are boring. Come back when you have something to say that’s actually worth listening to.
Melissa A. Fabello, Co-Managing Editor of Everyday Feminism, is a body acceptance activist and sexuality scholar living in Philadelphia. She enjoys rainy days, tattoos, yin yoga, and Jurassic Park. She holds a B.S. in English Education from Boston University and an M.Ed. in Human Sexuality from Widener University. She is currently working on her PhD. She can be reached on Twitter @fyeahmfabello.