Before starting up my blog, I had a look around the internet for other blogs about feminism, and searched for tips to start up a successful blog. Something that caught my eye and set me thinking was the common recommendation to moderate comments. The likelihood of a feminist discussion attracting sexist trolls is high, the advice acknowledges, and many people find it best to remove such offensive behaviour from their sites.
I’ve been lucky – so far I’ve met with nothing but support, kind words from fellow feminists that have buoyed me up and inspired me to keep writing, to keep fighting. But I cannot help but wonder, if I were to one day receive an offensive, misogynistic comment, full of violence and threats (and I’m sure everyone’s seen these before), what should I do? Delete it? Leave it up? Respond to it?
Let’s dismiss the last option straightaway. If an individual can read a thoughtfully-written, sensible feminist blog, and still think it appropriate to threaten the author with rape, I doubt an argument with him would do much good. So let’s consider the other two options – deleting it, or leaving it on the site.
I can definitely see the benefits of disallowing it straightaway. After all, feminist blogs should be areas of support, where women rally round to vent their frustrations and articulate their hopes. We get so little support in real life that online support is vital. Allowing vile comments to parade about on my blog feels like a violation, a discouraging slap in the face. And it won’t be just me who is affected, others who read my blog (if they support the cause) will receive an indirect threat as well. If a budding feminist were to stumble upon my blog, I want her to find support, to be empowered. Seeing men hurling abuse may well discourage her from speaking out for herself in the same manner.
And yet, I can’t help but feel that deleting these nasty comments will only serve to further cultivate one of the biggest problems of combatting sexism today. And that’s the fact that most people do not believe sexism exists. With clear-sighted feminists on one end and unapologetic misogynists on the other, it is the people in the middle of the spectrum that we need to reach out to if we want to see change. And how can we convince them that sexism is a problem if we painstakingly hide away all evidence of it?
It isn’t an easy decision. I would be curious to know the thoughts of bloggers more experienced than I am – there may be an aspect of the problem that I’m missing. But for now, I’m leaning towards fearlessly displaying sexism in all its nakedness, and showing the world exactly why I am a feminist.
Your last sentence is the perfect way to handle it.
I allow all comments to my blog. I too have been relatively lucky that most have been supportive, however I do, at times get comments that are clearly meant to pick a fight. Those are the one’s I don’t reply to. I leave them up for others to see and judge for themselves. Often, another person will respond to those comments with more intelligence and less reactionary emotion than I would have anyway, making it unnecessary for me to reply in the first place.
I have had the same thought. I don’t want to silence dissent so I am more than happy for people to disagree with me. After all, my blog is only my opinion and it’s not as well-researched as some, so I would never remove a comment that merely has a different view. I block spam, which is spam so no problem there. As for trolling or threatening comments? Hmm. I haven’t had any yet. I certainly wouldn’t want to feed the trolls and it would be unacceptable if they threatened any of my readers but for now I would be inclined to leave them up, without a response. Best of luck.
THank you for following my blog. As for comments, I barely ever get comments. Most I get are pingbacks where others have refered my post to their’s and that is complement enough. Closest negative comment I have got is a 1 star for a perticular post. Actually I got off easy, I was expecting far worse after I posted that. lol… I don’t think people take me seriously…so I get away with a lot. he he he he
I have no problems allowing dissenting opinions through my moderation queue. However, I’ve also received comments that were trolling, insulting, and threatening. Those, I block without hesitation.
My thought process on it is this: I am the one responsible for running my blog. I have some emotional health issues (PTSD and generalized anxiety) that would make seeing those comments left up increasingly damaging to me over time. Not only should I not have to deal with that, but also — that makes me less able to run my blog (e.g., doing things like writing new posts and engaging commenters who aren’t attacking).
I certainly don’t think there’s anything objectively wrong with leaving up any comments you choose. But I do think what’s “best” depends some on the individual blogger.
Thank you all for the comments and advice. Yes, it is indeed a tricky decision and down to personal choice, and there isn’t really a one-size-fits-all approach. My policy for now will be to approve all comments, but it’s open to re-evaluation further down the line. Thanks once again. =)
I think that’s definitely a brave call and you gave your reasoning very articulately. Sometimes people will say far more to incriminate themselves than you could ever say to incriminate them. Keep up the good work. 🙂
Thank you. Your writing is very good.