That feminism is still needed. I love this video. And the shirt:
Oh, you can see the awful comments Jessica got for this video (before she deleted them) here.
I find this pretty fascinating and I can think of a few theoretical concepts that I’d like to explore with this story. Unfortunately, I have a lot of grading to do and I promised myself that I wouldn’t find ways to procrastinate, no matter how interesting they might seem. I’d really like to see a difficult discussion about this story take place, but for today, I’ll just keep my comment to one point:
The problem in this particular video seems to be that it points out the obvious without seeing the forest for the trees. It focuses on ideology instead of organization. It focuses on the content, but not the form. What I’m trying to get at is that, of course internet trolls drag out “tired, played out” tactics. That’s kind of the point.
If one is trolling a feminist, then they will say misogynistic things, because it’s the most direct and obvious way to get a response. And it worked. She did respond, which is exactly what trolls want. Trolls want a target to a) take what they say at face value, and b) to waste resources responding.
I don’t think we can take comments from trolls at face value. These are not necessarily misogynists revealing what they really think about women. The trouble with trolls is you never know what they really think about anything. They are intentionally role playing as whatever hateful figure will get a response from their target. This may sound like a defense of trolls, but I’m more just trying to say “it is what it is.” Don’t feed the trolls.
(I knew this comment was going to get long.) Let’s try a thought experiment. Imagine a video blog from a racist being raided by a swarm of trolls. We would find comments from an anti-racist perspective, but they wouldn’t be well crafted, critical responses. They would be tired, played out, misspelled, cheap shots. Regardless of the context, it’s the same strategy.
If you’ve ever played StarCraft or a real-time strategy game, you might be familiar with the term “zerging,” and these trolls swarms are basically the same thing. The comments they make are “low-cost and weak units.”
From Wikpedia: “Zerg units are designed to be cheap and fast to produce, encouraging players to overwhelm their opponents with sheer numbers. Since the release of StarCraft the Zerg have become a video gaming icon, described by PC Gamer UK as “the best race in strategy history”. The phrase “zerging” has entered video gaming jargon to describe using many low-cost and weak units to overwhelm an enemy.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Species_of_StarCraft#Zerg)
To trolls, the internet is a game. This is the origin of the saying, “The internet is serious business” — the idea being that, people who take the internet seriously should perhaps not.
Anyway, this comment is starting to go off on a tangent, and I’m sorry that I’ve basically written an entire blog post in your comments. Thanks for getting me thinking. Cheers.
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Assistant Professor of English with research areas in digital literacy, privacy and social media, and queering rhetorics.
This blog serves as a place to think through things, record thoughts, share interesting stuff, and hold conversations. Welcome!
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