Feministe Feedback: Dealing with sexism in social networking

A reader is looking for advice on how she can handle sexism in public, sometimes semi-anonymous spheres — i.e., where you can’t pull the individual aside to have a discussion:

I would like to get advice and your opinions on something that I’ve been struggling with.
On social networks like twitter and facebook there are always jokes about women e.g. Why did the woman cross the road, no wait, why isn’t she in the kitchen?!
I know they are pretty rubbish jokes but I always try to say why their wrong. However they just come straight back at me with another joke. It’s so frustrating! I don’t know what to do next, please can I have your help/advice/opinion?

Ideas? What do you all do?

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61 comments for “Feministe Feedback: Dealing with sexism in social networking

  1. Victoria
    April 7, 2010 at 8:44 am

    I would unfriend the offender. There will always be another joke with those types and the more you engage with them the more likely you will become the direct butt of the next one.

  2. Hannah
    April 7, 2010 at 8:52 am


  3. April 7, 2010 at 8:59 am

    I only recently made my Twitter account public again. Only allowing certain people access to it kept me away from a lot of the nasty comments. I’ve blocked a few people; I don’t feel guilty about that. I have the same standards for my online friends as I do my offline ones, and if I wouldn’t be friends without someone who continually made racist, sexist, homophobic, ableist comments in real life, why would I tolerate it online? I wish I had a better solution than just “block ’em,” but sometimes it is the only one.

  4. micheyd
    April 7, 2010 at 9:01 am

    Depends on the person – if it’s someone I met once at a party and barely know, that might be a good time to block or de-friend, as they’re not worth the effort. If it’s someone closer to me, I either respond sarcastically (“huh, you must have ALL the ladies after you with a sharp wit like that!”) or try to engage them in a conversation about why what they said/did was wrong (usually for more egregious examples of sexism). Sadly, though, a lot of the time I just ignore, because I’ve got a life to live and getting into heated discussions cuts into my productivity at work :/

  5. CassieC
    April 7, 2010 at 9:16 am

    I wouldn’t waste time with lengthy explanations or arguments, but I do think it’s worth it to make a statement of disapproval (if possible ridiculing the “joke”-ster). Like “that joke sure is funny, if you deeply fear and hate women and have a very small dick. good luck with that online dating and all.”

  6. Marilyn
    April 7, 2010 at 9:25 am

    Ugh, I hate stuff like that. In my experience, it’s difficult to engage in constructive dialogue with people who pass these kinds of jokes along. When you’re faced with the ever-formidable “Can’t you take a joke?” defense, there’s not a lot you can do but just defriend or ignore them at that point.

  7. April 7, 2010 at 9:29 am

    My most successful response, in terms of both speaking up and not getting engaged with a pointless argument, has been to comment “What a hateful conversation you’re having” and then walk away.

  8. April 7, 2010 at 9:30 am

    One possibility for sending them to the shame corner: “Oh, goodie! Sexist jokes! We’re going to do homophobic jokes next, and then racist jokes, right?”

    It’s a litmus test. If they realize that telling sexist jokes is like telling racist jokes and that would be wrong then progress has been made. If not, progress with that person is not possible.

  9. leedevious
    April 7, 2010 at 9:34 am

    “Make you a sandwich? How about I poop in your mouth instead?”

  10. karak
    April 7, 2010 at 9:43 am

    Unfriend them if they’re just a casual acquaintance or friend-of-a-friend. If they’re someone you actually know and care about in real life, make an effort to pull them aside sometime and say something. DON’T fight with them about it in the electronic sphere, though, it will just make them defensive and/or aggressive, and you’ll probably get dogpiled.

  11. Sam
    April 7, 2010 at 9:44 am

    I always post this Kate Harding quote. It’s amazing because it really makes people consider the effects of sexist jokes, without necessarily outright blaming them and making them get defensive. I’ve never had anyone come back with a negative comment, but have got at least a few “oh, yeah I guess you’re right…”
    Anyways, here’s the quote:

    ” ‘Cause the thing is, you and the guys you hang out with may not really mean anything by it when you talk about crazy bitches and dumb sluts and heh-heh-I’d-hit-that and you just can’t reason with them and you can’t live with ‘em can’t shoot ‘em and she’s obviously only dressed like that because she wants to get laid and if they can’t stand the heat they should get out of the kitchen and if they can’t play by the rules they don’t belong here and if they can’t take a little teasing they should quit and heh heh they’re only good for fucking and cleaning and they’re not fit to be leaders and they’re too emotional to run a business and they just want to get their hands on our money and if they’d just stop overreacting and telling themselves they’re victims they’d realize they actually have all the power in this society and white men aren’t even allowed to do anything anymore and and and…

    I get that you don’t really mean that shit. I get that you’re just talking out your ass.

    But please listen, and please trust me on this one: you have probably, at some point in your life, engaged in that kind of talk with a man who really, truly hates women–to the extent of having beaten and/or raped at least one. And you probably didn’t know which one he was.

    And that guy? Thought you were on his side.”
    -Kate Harding

  12. Jadey
    April 7, 2010 at 9:46 am

    I’m pretty quick on the ignore/defriend/unfollow options when necessary. That’s clearly not always an option, especially if the offenders are very close friends, coworkers, or family. My best defense is a good offense – the majority of my FB activity (no Twitter yet) is linking to the various awesome articles I come across through blog travels. These serve to make my views pretty damned clear as well as provide educational opportunities for my friends. Again, clearly not always an option – I’ve never had someone get on my case for something I’ve posted (in fact, mostly I end up even happier with my friends who return the favour by sharing amazing links back) and the family members I do have on my list have either been totally silent on what I post or give me positive feedback. Of course, I haven’t had to add all my family members either!

    It’s a balancing act. I haven’t regreted yet anyone I’ve ejected from my online circle (in one case, someone I thought of as a pretty good potential friend turned out to be a homophobic douche, which I only found out *after* I blocked him on FB for inciting too many abusive arguments among his friends during the US presidential election), but who knows what the future holds. I would say if it’s a really good friend and a relationship you want to work on, try a private venue. It’s harder for someone to back off a statement if they feel under public scrutiny. A face-to-face if possible, or IM/email if not – you might have better success talking out your issues here than where a mob might come in to back up the original offensive comments. If it’s someone you’re not entirely committed to, well… this can be tough to swallow, but we aren’t obligated to be friends (or “friends”) with everyone. If it’s family… my sympathies – do what you need to. Sometimes the best thing is to not engage directly, but to foster a different kind of conversation in your own space.

  13. Maggie
    April 7, 2010 at 9:50 am

    I usually just make it clear that I disapprove without piling on and making it personal. “lol stop being a douche plz” if it’s someone I am close enough to for trash talking, or “dude… no. just no :P” may sound flippant, but I think you need to respond on the same level of engagement as them, otherwise it looks like you’re escalating something unreasonably and they get defensive. If it’s casual sexism, respond casually – you can still let them know you don’t like it. If it’s someone who cares about your opinion, that should be good enough to at least start a discussion, if it’s not… that’s a good way to find out.

  14. April 7, 2010 at 10:14 am

    When someone in my Facebook friends list gets over the top about posting offensive crap I don’t want to be subjected to, I un-friend them.

    I find that these sorts of things usually come from people who are pretty tangential to my life, like someone I went to high school with over a decade ago. If it was going on with a close personal friend, I’d probably just talk to the person about it if I thought it was getting out of hand.

  15. Athenia
    April 7, 2010 at 10:42 am

    Q: Why did the woman cross the road, no wait, why isn’t she in the kitchen?!

    A: She crossed the road so she could make money to support your lazy butt.

  16. Ami
    April 7, 2010 at 10:47 am

    Lengthy diatribes are rarely effective in social media. To people I know well enough I’ll just make a short comment to cast my disapproval on them (aka “Dislike!” or “Boooo.” or “Yay sexism!”) But generally people I know well don’t say that stuff.

    To people I don’t know well, I defriend or “hide” them so I can’t see their bigoted ramblings anymore. Besides, if I don’t know them well and they’re annoying me, what’s the point.

  17. Justyna
    April 7, 2010 at 11:07 am

    Either ignore entirely or be ironic at them. Depending on the general level of the the adversary, either tell them some mean ‘man jokes’ or just cooly ridicule the line of thinking presented in theirs.
    Just the other say I stumbled on 2 of my (guy) friends having a comment chat under a status message one of them wrote on FB, saying he had a migrane, in which they arrived at the conlusion that migrane was a female thing (not like a good ‘ole manly headache-_-“) thus it was alien, which led to comparing women to aliens. I called them misogynists (as in just writing ‘Misogynists…’, not arguing or anything) and that shut them up pretty well. AFTER they checked the meaning they were falling over themselves to explain how ‘they didn’t mean anything by it’.
    Of course you can’t do that always and with everyone but I’d still say ignoring (as in showing aloofness/despise to stupidity) or ridicculing is the way to go.

  18. Tom Foolery
    April 7, 2010 at 11:14 am

    A simple “Unfriended” comment followed by an actual unfriending should probably get your message across.

    • April 7, 2010 at 11:22 am

      The unfriending things are good suggestions, except when it’s someone you kind of can’t unfriend — like, say, your brother’s Tea Party fiance who you don’t actually know what well. Then what?

  19. Selina
    April 7, 2010 at 11:25 am

    Seriously, ignore them. Don’t feed the trolls.

  20. Aidan!
    April 7, 2010 at 11:26 am

    I had a facebook friend who once said “Misogyny is essential for a man to stay sane” or something like that. This is a 16 year old who dropped out of high school because math was hard and HE IS A MUSICIAN. When I told him that that was bullshit, that I knew plenty of feminist men and he was looking like an idiot, he told me that I “didn’t understand philosophy”. Augh.

    It depends on the person. If it’s a dude with a history of fuckery, I’ll tell him he’s a privileged motherfucker and defriend him. If it’s someone I respect, I’ll usually privately message them, say something like “hey man, i know you didn’t really mean this, but it’s really ignorant”. It works.

  21. April 7, 2010 at 11:27 am

    First I made a life decision: I care more about social justice than I care to be liked. I do not subscribe to “good manners” where that would mean condoning hateful speech, even just by my silence.

    I explain, exactly once for each offender. I pretend that I think that everybody’s acting in good faith and that they’re going to listen. I engage in further conversation with people who respond well to that. Anybody who persists in asshattery after that I remove from my space in whatever way the medium makes available to me.

    It’s harder, for me, in person to actually make it through the explanation when I don’t know if anybody’s listening. But I’ve been learning to say “oh, because sexism is *so* funny,” and roll my eyes, and walk away. Works reasonably well on the internet, too, if I don’t feel like I have the spoons to really engage in the learning opportunity.

  22. norbizness
    April 7, 2010 at 11:56 am

    I spent all summer in the Catskills working on that joke and I’ll be damned if it’s going to get trashed here.

    The recent health care debate was illuminating as the tea-partying glibertarians in my extended circle of friends (i.e. acquiantances) revealed themselves. Unfortunately, one was my brother.

  23. Ami
    April 7, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    I mentioned the “hide” feature…I LOVE IT. (It’s a FB thing…no comparable feature on Twitter to my knowledge.)

    To elaborate: when someone shows up in your news feed you can click “hide” to the right of their status. Then it will give up the option to hide them from your feed. Still friends. And they’re none the wiser. You won’t have to be bothered by them and if you ever to want to see what they’re musing about lately, you can just go directly to their page.

    I use it most often for people who are only on FB to play Farmville and make incessant Farmville related pleas.

  24. stella
    April 7, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    I find in response to “Can’t you take a joke?”, perhaps “Yea, when you say something funny” or if it’s a white heterosexual male, make some kind of joke about them….tit for tat? not very mature but I enjoy giving them a taste of their own medecine. it’s exclusionary tactics anyway, when people make sexist/racist/homophobic/transphobic jokes. see how it makes them feel!

  25. bogusman
    April 7, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    Most of the comments here sound about right to me. If you feel strongly enough about it try to explain to them in a friendly manner why you think what they said is offensive and hurtful. Perhaps it’s better to do it via PM because, though public shaming does sometimes have its merits, too often it will only result in increased hostility and further hatefulness. There’s no sense in resorting to dick size jokes or anything else derogatory and pointless, responding to hate with hate does not contribute anything meaningful. If they continue in this way you might as well defriend them; like others said it’s more than likely they weren’t that close to you in the first place and it’s probably not worth the stress.

  26. April 7, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    Jill: The unfriending things are good suggestions, except when it’s someone you kind of can’t unfriend — like, say, your brother’s Tea Party fiance who you don’t actually know what well. Then what?

    I know someone who actually has this problem – her brother’s engaged to someone who’s a Republican pro-lifer.

    On a less intimate but still awkward level, I’ve had the problem with co-workers telling bigoted jokes.

    Her reaction was to hunker down with her parents and friends and figure either they’ll marry (and they’re stuck with each other, so the rest of the family has lots of time to explain to the new sister-in-law what’s wrong with those kind of jokes). Or they won’t, in which case, good riddance.

    My reaction with bigoted cow-orkers was to get a reputation as a Humorless Feminist by saying flatly “That’s not funny” without getting into a fight about why.

  27. Sailorman
    April 7, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    Jill 4.7.2010 at 11:22 am

    The unfriending things are good suggestions, except when it’s someone you kind of can’t unfriend — like, say, your brother’s Tea Party fiance who you don’t actually know what well. Then what?

    1) talk to your brother and have him raise it;
    2) talk to your brother and ask him why he is engaged to someone who says that;
    3) ignore it and hope it stops;
    4) decide that you don’t care if she likes you or not, and tell her “you may not say that to me any more, or I will no longer be able to interact with you.” Be prepared to write her–and, sadly, your bother–off for a while.

    I’ve had to do a few of those in my life for various reasons. Sometime #4 will work. Sometimes it won’t.

  28. April 7, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    Trolls in life, just like online just want to provoke a response. The only way to deal with them is to deny them the attention they want.

    As far as educating them, the old notion of being careful to not cast your pearls before swine seems applicable.

  29. iiii
    April 7, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    Ignoring them works in small, enclosed spaces that are vigorously policed. If you know a mod will be along soon to delete the hatefulness, by all means, feel free to not feed the trolls.

    In all other instances: silence gives consent.

    You can’t fight every battle, of course. Sometimes the cost is too high. But the battles we don’t fight today will have to be fought later. Might as well get started on what can be done now.

    As for what to say, I’ve had good luck with, “Hi, yeah, I get this is a free country and you can say what you want, and all, but I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t insult me right to my face like that. Thanks.”
    (“But I didn’t mean *you.*” “That ‘joke’ insults women. I’m a woman. Who did you think you were insulting?”)

  30. April 7, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    “Hi, yeah, I get this is a free country and you can say what you want, and all, but I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t insult me right to my face like that. Thanks.”

    ooh, I like that.

  31. Kim
    April 7, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    I’m in the ignore/hide camp. One “friend” on FB – a guy I went to high school with but wasn’t really friends with even back then – is a tea partier from hell. I hid him shortly after realizing it, and so it’s like he isn’t even there. For friends who I love even though they like to pass on sexist or offensive jokes, I ignore them or bust them with some smart-ass comment, letting them know that they need to cut it out. I guess I’m just repeating what everyone else here is – it depends on the relationship.

  32. Siobhan
    April 7, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    I have no problem unfriending or blocking somebody who says unforgivable shit.

    What’s harder is dealing with comments on the LJs & FBs of people I do like. I don’t know these assholes and I don’t mind telling them off. But to do so would create a stink in the space of somebody I do know and like. I have no idea if that person is having a “private word” with the author of the offense, or is hunkering down and ignoring it because they are a co-worker or family member. That situation is a lot harder for me to figure out how to deal with.

  33. Meredith
    April 7, 2010 at 2:24 pm


    This is a rare opportunity to show people why this is wrong or stupid. Sooo many people are commenting with mistaken assumptions and if we just defriend them, it separates us and them and they simply wallow in their ignorance instead of learning.

    Use this opportunity, not to preach, but to show them how inane their assumptions are. Maybe a smart-ass comment: “feeling a little insecure about your job prospects, hey?” Or be more direct: “I never realized you thought that about women like me.” People expect feminists to be mad and angry; they don’t expect to learn anything and they REALLY don’t expect you to be caring, emotional, or concerned.

    You never know, your carefully-chosen comment might create a lightbulb moment for your friends. At the very worst, it will lay the seeds of something that might, later on, contribute to a lightbulb moment. Use it to its fullest!

  34. PrettyAmiable
    April 7, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    I haven’t been successful in convincing anyone who didn’t want to be convinced that their behavior is wrong.

    Jill, I’ve defriended both of my siblings. My brother actually posted on my status that one of my gay friends upthread shouldn’t have a real say in the gay marriage debate because “he’s just going to die of AIDS anyway.” Yeah. So my gay friend got a copy of this comment in an email. I haven’t spoken to my brother in life since this event and it still makes me cry when I imagine being in my friend’s shoes.

    I decided that my social networking profile absolutely could not be used as a conduit for oppression and bigotry. It wasn’t a decision I made lightly, but if your brother’s fiance would ever actively hurt someone you care about, I recommend considering it. If you need to put up pretenses (which I understand because I’ve needed to do it for years with my family), hide them from your newsfeed and set them to a limited view of your profile so they can’t comment on your wall or postings.

    You’re not going to convince her on facebook that her behavior is hurtful.

  35. convexed
    April 7, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    Sometimes I pretend not to get it and ask in a sincere tone for an explanation of the joke.
    If the joker (or hate-mongerer) obliges and tries to explain why migraines are girlier than hangover headaches or whatever, and you ask for substantiation or clarification on each point, as if you really are curious because you never thought about it like that before, *sometimes* the joker’s own logic will start to taste embarrassingly undercooked as s/he tries to retroactively construct a reasonable foundation for the comment.

  36. convexed
    April 7, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    Some possible outcomes:
    –Joker/careless talker realizes the joke was a fail. If they don’t know you, they could assume you are humorless or unskilled at jokes. If they do know you and know you are smart and quick-witted, they will have to re-assess their own joke-intelligence.
    –The ‘don’t get it’ can backfire if they write you off as the kind of person who never gets jokes (maybe because your sense of humor is less advanced than theirs). And I realize it’s problematic for women to ‘play stupid’. I guess I consider feigned disorientation more of a rhetorical device in the same vein as assuming good faith all around or giving the benefit of the doubt to a repeat speech-offender (‘I’m sure you didn’t realize you were being offensive’).
    –Ideally, this works because you can demand an explanation or accounting for the language without giving the speaker an easy chance to dismiss you as overreactive, defensive, etc. If the convo happens publicly (in comments under FB wall posts, for instance), others can track the interaction and engage if they like, but both you and the original poster are shielded a bit. You asked an innocent question, and the poster is pulled into a conversation where facts and logic have a fair chance at prevailing.
    Asking for an explanation of a joke shifts the terms from subjective (‘i like this kind of joke, you don’t’) to a discussion of how the joke is supposed to be working (oh, it’s a joke because women get more migraines than men do? is that true? wow…how do you know?)
    You can then try to make your own joke based on their logic–one that they will consider problematic, perhaps because it flips the subject/object.

  37. April 7, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    If you don’t have a chair and a whip handy, sarcasm is usually the best way to handle idiots.

  38. April 7, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    On Facebook, this guy who used to be a close friend thought it was really funny and harmless to “troll” on my wall by calling me a feminazi and making really offensive, misogynist jokes (“killing hookers” was the last straw). It took me a while to figure out how to deal with it, because telling him I’m offended just eggs him on – he feels like if he persists, I’ll eventually “give in” and decide that he’s funny (?) – but not doing anything felt like I condoned it. I realized either way, he wasn’t going to stop, so I first told him I was mad and then banned him from posting on my wall.

    The de-friending came later, after a few political debates we had that got realllly ugly. He said that he was a “feminist” but thought the modern feminists took it too far and should have been satisfied with the second wave, and everything we get mad about now ignores “innate gender differences” and “it’s so obviously hostile to men now.” Then he called me a cunt. Real “feminist,” there. I de-friended him – and so did a few other mutual friends, including some male ones.

  39. April 7, 2010 at 6:14 pm

    @Jill I’ve unfriended blood relatives on social networks over this kind of nonsense. The world doesn’t stop turning.

  40. Atheistchick
    April 7, 2010 at 7:19 pm

    I don’t have facebook. I guess that’s how I deal with online assholes. Not to sound like a jerk, but some people have said things like “what’s the point” in reference to having people you don’t like or aren’t close to on your facebook. If there really is no point, then why even have facebook? It never seemed useful at all to me, as I have a phone, an e-mail address, and real-life friends. Again, I’m not trying to sound like a total ass, but I think facebook is way too overrated.

  41. Valerie2
    April 7, 2010 at 8:47 pm

    Insult: blah blah blahdy f-ing blah blah blah.

    Your response: If you can’t say it in person then it doesn’t count.

    Full stop.

    If they don’t know where you live or vice versa, they aren’t your friend. What have the interwebs come to?

  42. E.M. Russell
    April 7, 2010 at 10:40 pm

    Hah, I JUST dealt with this about five seconds ago…
    A guy’s Facebook status: Wondering… if you force sex on a hooker is that considered rape or shop-lifting?
    Me: You’re going to Feminist hell.

  43. RD
    April 7, 2010 at 10:58 pm


  44. PrettyAmiable
    April 7, 2010 at 11:24 pm

    E.M., do you think that may have just goaded the individual? I feel like people say horrible shit like that to get a rise out of people with more common sense.

    I sometimes wonder if the way to fight it is to post a link that describes that statistics they’re laughing at – like the ridiculous assault statistics for prostitutes. Or, something that I think is a huge part of this month, personalizing sexual assault. When someone I know makes a rape joke, I always comment, “Yeah, rape is hilarious.” — because pretty much everyone I know has heard about my history. It’s ridiculous how many people have picked up on shutting the fuck up when I do that (and how many of those statuses have miraculously disappeared…)

  45. J
    April 7, 2010 at 11:40 pm

    What I do really depends on the situation– how aware I think the person is of the offensiveness of the situation, and how I could counter it.

    In a few cases where the person isn’t ‘trying’ to be deliberately offensive, but definitely is, I’ve written comments like, “I hope you realize what a messed-up thing that was to say” and waited for their response to explain more.

    If it’s a clearly offensive joke, I try to make fun of the offensive person. “Women belong in the kitchen”- “Oh, I get it. You’re trying to be ironic and funny about gender discrimination that you’ve never experienced yourself. I’ve got another great joke! Male privilege!”
    “Jokes time! I’ve got one too!
    Q: How many sexists does it take to change a lightbulb?
    A: None! They don’t want to be enlightened!”

    Then if someone accuses me of being a HUMORLESS FEMINIST, I can accuse them right back of not appreciating my jokes.

  46. E.M. Russell
    April 7, 2010 at 11:40 pm

    It’s possible I suppose, I’d take it on a case-by-case basis though. This guy seems pretty nice, his sister is the head of the Women’s Centre at the local university, so a quick reminder that he’s saying a bad thing will suffice. I think I’m seeing him tomorrow though where I can give him a “REALLY DUDE!?” in person.

  47. Jamie
    April 7, 2010 at 11:45 pm

    Reading this thread is making me tempted to post a FB status asking which of my friends identify as feminist, for the sole purpose of weeding out anyone who tries to start crap about it.

    @PrettyAmiable: I also tend to say “Rape is hilarious” in response to rape jokes. I’ve never been sexually assaulted, but after trying a few different things, it seems the best way to get my point across without being drawn into some conversation about how I was misunderstanding, or it was just a joke, or whatever. Plus, it leaves me with the opportunity to just leave the conversation, because I get really tired of having that conversation.

  48. Dawn.
    April 7, 2010 at 11:58 pm

    I second Sweet Machine’s suggestion. Note that the conversation is hateful and because of that, you have no interest in engaging further. Or a short, sarcastic rebuff works well too.

    If it ends up spiraling into a big online drama, block them. Even if it’s someone close to you. I know that is mad awkward, but letting it go on is even worse.

  49. J
    April 8, 2010 at 6:19 am

    Forgot to add:

    Occasionally, if it’s just a word that’s problematic, I’ll leave a link to a site talking about that word.

    For ‘political correctness’: http://restructure.wordpress.com/2009/08/25/political-correctness-is-a-reactionary-term-against-the-loss-of-privilege/
    For ‘lame’: http://disabledfeminists.com/2009/10/12/ableist-word-profile-lame/
    For ‘retarded’: http://disabledfeminists.com/2009/10/16/ableist-word-profile-retarded/

    This has worked pretty well in the past.

  50. April 8, 2010 at 11:31 pm

    This comes up on my Twitter quite often- I follow a lot/have a lot of followers, mostly in the technology field, which means there are more un-vetted guys in my Twitter feed than I ever have to deal with anywhere else in my on-or-offline life (Facebook: Family & friends. Twitter: Professional contacts + anyone who might say interesting things about my field of work- a much broader net).

    When I see somebody post a noxious joke or statement, I immediately unfollow and post a public @reply describing who I have just unfollowed, and why. I’ve gotten quite a few nods of agreement, when I’ve done that, and even the occasional apology, but I don’t re-follow. I enjoy being a living, breathing example of a woman who won’t take that shit.

  51. April 9, 2010 at 5:56 am

    Explain why and then Unfriend. The bullshit about the people you can’t unfriend? That’s bullshit. I’ve unfriended my brother. IRL too. Why? Because he cannot accept that I am non-neurotypical and that I will never be normal. That’s not good enough for him and his girlfriend. So he’s been unfriended on Facebook and in real life both. After several failed attempts at explaining that it’s not fair of him to expect me to be something I’m not and can never be he’s been severed from my line of communications.

    It hurts, yes. But sometimes it’s bloody necessary to look out for number one’s mental health rather than try and make everyone feel all safe from criticism in your company.

  52. catfood
    April 9, 2010 at 8:07 am

    @glittertrash, I like you already. I would totally follow you on Twitter.

    A month or two ago, I had a racism-related incident that straddled social networking and the real world. This local guy, an advertising executive, who I kind of know from Twitter, does a conservative talk radio show with his lobbyist buddy. One week, the list of upcoming show topics on their website including “Gangsta Government” to describe safety-related fines against Toyota.

    I tweeted something like “Dude, ‘gangsta’ is an interesting choice of words. Explain?” His @reply intentionally missed the point, but he did address it on the air… basically “I knew that someone would call me a racist for that!” and going on this thing about people looking for stuff to complain about and something about Obama being from Chicago and they’re favoring GM and so on.

    I later put out a couple of lines on Twitter reminding people that this guy is a successful advertising executive and there is no way he’s unaware of connotative meaning. Advertising is all about connotations!

    Dude turns up at all kinds of networking events and parties and the like. Looks right through me like I’m not there. So I’m kind of defriended in real life. Oh well.

  53. Beth
    April 9, 2010 at 11:25 am

    Actually, if it’s at all feasable, I *do* pull aside the offender, or else send a message later, explaining that I value their sense of humor but that there are some implications they perhaps hadn’t thought of or had decided to overlook.

    I’m not very popular but I would have ended up avoiding these people anyway.

  54. Tawny
    April 9, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    I usually try to humiliate the person to death with some really sharp, witty comments. Although, sometimes I put in almost no effort at all. Yesterday someone in my newsfeed became a fan of “Why do women wear watches when there’s a timer on the oven?” Since he was an acquaintance, I just commented, “defriendedddddddddd.” on the post, and deleted him.

    My most successful one as far as other people being like “AHAHAHA PWND” though, is: http://grab.by/3Eyk (It’s just a screenshot of my iPhone, no worries, dudes!)

  55. Tawny
    April 9, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    (well, a screenshot with my little uploader guy obscuring the bottom half, but still, haha.)

  56. College Girl
    April 12, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    Report it! Most social networking websites have a “report” button attached to comments somewhere. Find it, and start using it any time someone uses violent or discriminatory speech against a marginalized group. The comments may or may not be removed, but the more people who complain the more likely that is, and the more comments are removed the more likely that the user will be banned.

    Call out your friends, consistently and calmly. If your friend posts something offensive, leave a comment explaining why you dislike the content. Pointing out problematic speech while keeping the discourse civil enhances your credibility and soothes your friend’s defensiveness, which may be the best way to persuade your friend or other people looking at your comment compared to the original post.

    Do NOT feed the trolls. It’s so tempting to give them a lecture or a good verbal shitstorm, but that’s actually what they want. They’re doing this to antagonize you and remind you how many people hate you for your identity. Make your point and know when to stop – usually you only need one comment and maybe a follow-up to give further clarification or respond to your detractors. Productive conversations can go on for longer, but if people aren’t listening at all you’re best off explaining your position and then refusing to dignify their bullshit.

  57. College Girl
    April 12, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    Oops, forgot to say that “reporting it” works best for the random douchebags you don’t know who create douchey pages, groups, leave comments on public spaces, etc.

    For example, after seeing that a friend had joined a fucked up misogynist “joke” group on Facebook, I went and looked at the group. Woah, the extent to which that page was controlled by rape culture was shocking! I started reporting every comment that explicitly condoned rape, and explaining in the “reasons for reporting” box that it condoned violence and created a hostile environment for women. Not sure if it worked, but at least somebody has to field this complaint mail and decide if that’s a good enough reason to delete the comments and/or group.

  58. Robin
    April 13, 2010 at 5:31 am

    So the question is, how do you win an argument against random assholes on the internet?


    Seriously though. Ignore.

  59. April 13, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    I never find that replying seriously has worked. People will laugh you off as the crazy feminazi. That being said, I don’t know what does….

    Beyond saying something like, “You know what else is funny? My fist in your balls,” followed by maniacal laughter.

  60. Kitty
    April 28, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    Why has no one thought of this really?

    Come back with man sexist jokes.

    “Why did the man cross the road?
    To get his ass to work where he belongs.”

    “What does a piggy bank and a man have in common?
    Both are useless once you got all the money out of them.”

    “Why did God make Eve?
    Because he didn’t get human right the first time.”

    “Why did the man put a spoon in his bed?
    Better question is, who the fuck said his ass could come home from work?”

    “What animal is hairy, unintelligent, and works its whole life?
    The human male”

    “If a man makes 90 dollars one week, then 100 dollars the next, how much money does he have?
    None, but his wife has has 190 dollars.”

    Anything about men belonging in the fields or a the office will pretty much do the trick.

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