Refusing to give a voice to trolls is not the same as “censorship”

Several trans women who are well-known trolls of radfem blogs have complained about being banned from commenting at the New Narratives blog. They have said (in comments that I left in the spam folder) that they were being censored, that the authors of New Narratives are hypocrites, and that we are lying when we say we want an open and honest debate.

Every woman knows that online trolling is a real problem, because women are overwhelmingly the victims of online trolling. Women are told to get raped, that they’re ugly and unfuckable, that they should kill themselves, that they should get murdered, and combinations of all of these things. Most of this trolling is (obviously) done by men, though a good bit of it is also done by trans women. When their hateful language is pointed out, the trolls say they’re “just joking”, or complain that they’re being censored or silenced.

If you think it’s funny to make jokes about raping and murdering women, you are not a friend to women. It’s that simple! And I will not support you in making those jokes by publishing them on a blog I run, unless I’m publishing them specifically to critique them. Why would I signal boost someone who hates women? My politics are informed by feminism, which means I believe in the liberation of females from male violence and oppression!

The internet has given us unprecedented access to information, which most people think is good. However, the dark side is that there is also more misinformation available than ever. Say what you want about the biases of traditional news media and publishing outlets, but at least they generally did some amount of fact checking. In the age of twitter and tumblr, an opinion written in thirty seconds by someone with no knowledge of what they’re pontificating about is considered equivalent “proof” to a book that an academic took ten years to research and write. Frankly, this kind of anti-intellectual populism is a deeply disturbing trend which does not bode well for the future of civilized society!

Curating blog comments, to eliminate ones which deliberately spread lies and misinformation, and likewise choosing not to publish comments which represent opinions as fact, is clearly a public good. If you want to keep opining that “penis is female because I say so”, go start a tumblr. But on this blog, I’m sorry but it’s going right into the spam folder.

However, there are a lot of discussions about sex and gender that we welcome on this blog, and look forward to having in Portland. By all means, talk about the problems you have with your birth sex, talk about the frustration you feel that society forces arbitrary roles onto us all based on our birth sex, talk about how slugs are your spirit animal and how human society would probably be more egalitarian if all humans could get pregnant and give birth. Talk about what it means to be born male, but be perceived as female by most people you meet. Talk about the weird things that happened to your body at puberty that made you feel like an outsider from the sex binary. But cut the crap with “sex is socially constructed” and “female penis” arguments. If you didn’t learn what sex is in first grade, you should probably ask a first grade teacher (or your mom) to go over how babies are made with you. We don’t need to waste everyone’s time with your fantasy view of the world on this blog.

Likewise, it is not “censorship” to enforce a zero-tolerance policy for comments which say violence and threats of violence against women are ok. I refuse to support hate speech! If you hate women, go post on a men’s rights forum. There will be plenty of males who agree with you over there, whether or not you’re a trans woman. And by the way, when women say “men are awful, they rape and murder women all the time”, that’s not hate speech – it’s just accepting reality.

On the other hand, if you would like to debate the priorities that we have set out for New Narratives, or suggest alternate priorities that you feel are more important, we would love to hear your feedback. We have already heard from a number of readers, both in the comments and by email, that they would like New Narratives to focus more on some of the specific issues which are causing the current crisis in the trans community. How do we reduce violence against trans women of color, especially trans women of color who do sex work? How can we support trans women and trans teens who are homeless? How do we improve access to and the quality of trans health care? All three of the organizers agree that these are important topics, and we look forward to talking them out with you, and trying to find solutions.

But we will still insist upon the ground rule that solutions to the problems of trans women cannot come at the expense of the rights of women born female.

We look forward to further thoughtful discussion, both on this blog and in Portland.

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2 thoughts on “Refusing to give a voice to trolls is not the same as “censorship”

  1. I guess my post with a different point of view on the subject of silencing trolls would have been more appropriately posted here.

    I won’t repeat it all here. Allow me to say however I consider a troll to be someone who stirs the point for stirring the pot sake and often doesn’t even hold the views they spew with purpose of causing conflict.

    I feel the people engaging in actions getting them labeled as trolls are in fact genuinely held by those individuals. And as such the best way to counter is simply let them prove your point for you. Let them provide the example supporting your point of view because inevitably they will demonstrate it with abandon far better than any claim you could ever make.

    Trust in the intelligence of your real audience to see thru their actions. In my view attempting to silence them plays into their hand.

    This is just my view and I certainly understand the emotional desire to not want to give them any voice when they have never respected your voice.

  2. There is a very real problem in opening the door to anything goes!

    As someone who has often been labeled troll for daring to questioning the “trans* paradigm, I’m mixed on this one… On the one hand… there is truth to having an open dialogue as it does offer contrast and room for more information, and always, taking the high road does accentuates the difference…

    Then again… the uber masculine “I’m the effing center of the universe take no prisoners zero sum game look at me look at me hierarchal underpinnings to almost all Trans* dialogue makes actually opening that door an exercise in co-option and eventually, futility!

    Setting aside the fact that if you do not agree with the paradigm… and you open the doors. You will be inundated by every single male tactic know for dominating and controlling the discussion and or silencing any and all opposition!

    I have been online for almost two decades… in that time I have watched this same thing play out over and over and over again… they scream and scream and scream about how you’re not listening, you’re not being fair, you are supporting hate…etc etc etc (all for saying that we really do NOT know what the hell transsexual whatever it is… transgender” It ain’t!) and so you give an inch… which seems to translate to take a mile, or three… Suddenly the dialogue as well as the language has been completely re-arranged to mean something very very different than what it did when you started.

    Take the I was always a girl meme for example… I’ve been around long enough that I knew quite well the woman who birthed that concept… When she did, she meant it as meant an end point for a transsexual figuring out who they were.. It was meant as a final realization that looking back… you were never functionally male and that despite the body, you had always been a female making your way the best you could under the enormous constraints imposed by being born Transsexual.

    When she offered this up, both she and her idea were so soundly rejected and ridiculed by the TV’s and the TGs who at the time were still embracing the fact that they were men. That she was eventually hounded off the net only just now more than a decade later making the occasional rare foray back…

    The irony in that since then every man putting on a pair of panties to whack off in even once is now saying he was “always a woman” There is clearly an element of truth to her words… but only for those born transsexual, and ONLY for those born transsexual… It is the final stage long after surgery when you at long last make peace with your history and the reality of your biology.

    But like all things transsexual, as time passed it became clearer to those who were not transsexual that this bit of little bit transsexual narrative could be quite handy in deflecting criticism of a male wanting to act out any feminine aspects of gender… and suddenly it seemed that every man who ever put on a pair of panties “knew” he had always “been a woman” A concept that was further honed to have happened the moment of conception or perhaps a week before as the few actual transsexuals left on line pointed out that they had been dealing with this from the moment they realized there were two sexes and that the good lord had made a terrible mistake!

    So no, you can’t open the door to any and all because like men they will walk right through the middle of it, right to the center of the room and take it over as men always do!.

    MKIA

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