TrollsFor years now, I have wondered, “Why is he here?” He would be a male.  I can’t bring myself to call him a “man,” although biologically that would probably be the correct term. He* baffles me by showing up on websites and blogs geared toward women only to wonder why the conversation isn’t about men. He peruses posts about what women are thinking, the ones where the comments section numbers into the tens and hundreds, and then calls the issue “irrelevant” or dumb.”  He shows up to every conversation about Black relationships to remind Black women that Black men are not interested in them, somehow missing the irony that by reading and posting — always at length — his action contradicts his assertion.  No matter the issue, he absolutely always faults women in general or feminism at large.

If he posts early enough on Clutch, his comments are shielded from later viewers with a “hidden due to low rating,” the invariable result of the Sisters who got here first clicking the thumbs down button. But for the stragglers, the one who show up to a juicy post a day late (that’s me), his often off-color and vicious comments sit. I always read the rant and I always wonder mid-way, “boy, why are you here?”

I wanted an answer, truly, for years. But I’ve treated the musing like a rhetorical question. Someday it would be answered… better, someday, someone would ponder harder, do the work, and deliver the answer since I was interested enough to wonder, but too busy to really be concerned. And then a Clutch commenter suggested, “someone should write about why there are all these male trolls on women’s blogs.” And so I have.

I had my theories. Leading the list was a lot of men like having sex with women, but don’t really like women. But that seemed too simple. I wondered if berating women online was to get the same effect of doing it in the real world. Guy emotionally batters women because he insecure about self and must make woman feel inferior so he can feel strong and she will be docile. That kind of had merit.

My conspiracy theory went something like—if boy believes feminism is the downfall of mankind, and most women’s sites/blogs are perceived as having feminist leanings, then maybe he thinks women are on women’s sites plotting  to overthrow men. He might think “natural hair” is our code word for “machete.” Maybe his rabble-rousing in the comments can distract us (because, you know, women are like children) and thwart our agenda to take over Man, which, of course, would make him a hero among men. I swear, it’s not really as far-fetched as it sounds.

It still felt like I was missing something though, so I asked my guys — my Male Mind Squad, if you will — why they thought some boys were trolling women’s sites.

The first response gave the most obvious answer: “We live in a trolling world,” he explained matter-of-factly. “Anonymous posting has allowed anyone to be a cyber-terrorist, bully, or saboteur.”

One friend genuinely thought that maybe women were looking at it all wrong and the guys weren’t as bad as I made them out to be. “Men, generally, are solvers and when women have issues,” he guessed. “Some men believe a simple opinion will cure their issues and voila … problem solved.” Or er, started.

A couple of guys had outlooks I didn’t expect (but in retrospect, should have been obvious). “Men are perpetually trying to figure out the foreign specie that is the female human,” one gent hypothesized. “Once men discover the truth, they’re not willing to accept it and become combative toward it. Very similar to a woman asking her man if she looks fat in new jeans …”

Another guy confirmed a theory about these males: “They are there to prey upon any weak-minded women and portray themselves as ‘real men’,” he said. “They’re lost. They don’t understand the entirety of context and what it’s like to BE a woman.”

And yet another guy confirmed my leading suspicion. “On the low, a lot of dudes HATE women,” he said. “This is a vehicle for them to let out their anger bitterness, frustration and venom.”

Why do you think the males are here?

*The “he” I refer to isn’t any of the plethora of men who visit women’s sites and manage to contribute to the conversation meaningfully with their male POV. I get why they are here. Most of what society tends to think of as women’s issues don’t affect just one sex. And well, men who like women and want to get along with tem are genuinely interested in what we’re thinking and talking about. I find their input mostly helpful. Oh, and so the guys tell me there are ZERO forums for men to express themselves, “and probably won’t be,” said a guy friend. I assume all of the above is why men join in from time to time.

Demetria L. Lucas is the author of “A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life” (Atria) in stores now. Follow her on Twitter @abelleinbk

  • Dr. J

    Dr. J from SBM here, this is an interesting topic and I have a few thoughts both from an industry standpoint and also from a reader’s perspective.

    From an Industry standpoint, let’s evaluate it. Relationship blogs demographics are about 75% female/25% male. Running a male blog, I can say that number stays pretty solid for us, VSB, NWSO, etc. But when you look at a women’s blog that number changes, it’s like 90/10. So first let me say, you gals have this problem, but WE really have the inverse in a worst way. The next step is to profile your readers. I live in our dashboard and I tell our readers, keep in mind, I read everyone of your comments and create a profile of you as a reader (inc. ideology, stances, perspective, demographics).

    So when I look at men on women’s blogs, they fall into a few categories:
    1) Myself, people who have their own blog and want to see what other people are doing to write great articles and promote great sites.
    2) Men interested in hearing female’s thoughts.
    3) Men who feel that they are somehow the leaders of “thought” and are also interested in evangelizing other readers. (Instead of starting their own d*mn blog.)
    4) Men who are angry and looking to exert that anger on the Internet.

    Your trolls come from #3 and #4, but you can deal with them the same way. You can’t acknowledge them. You also have to ask all your readers to do the same. Don’t respond to their comments and don’t continuously dislike their comment. It only draws attention to them as a troll. Most trolls just want acknowledgement, when you take that away, they typically leave in a bit and your conversation can carry on.

    For #4, be mindful that regardless of the gender of the troll, people who are hurt and angry don’t really need to be argued with, they need to deal with the anger in a healthy manner. When you start arguing with them or get disgusted, it’s not helping them at all. When we experience this on our site with women trolls, as moderators we’re quick to internally decipher if someone is going through something and we should not be quick to respond. Or if we have to go in and direct the flow of conversation away from them.

    For #3, they can get you upset because they typically are bigots or chauvinists who make a small point hidden in a larger flawed point… like everyday, lol. Just ignore them, don’t validate or affirm their presence or seat at the table.

    There’s a lot more that can be said on this, but I wanted to be brief.

    PS – That first guy who commented wasn’t saying anything crazy. That’s trolls trolling on trolls right there. Quite hilarious, but yeah, good example of the next conversation. “Your Site’s Troll Protection: Are Your Readers Ready for War?”

  • JN

    And RAVI!! don’t forget Ravi!! love me some Ravi.

  • kiesh

    Just curious, why do people do this:

    “Men interested in hearing female’s thoughts.”

    Men and females? Why not men and women? I really don’t get the popularity of using “females” these days. It wasn’t like that a couple years ago.

  • Anthony

    I am probably guilty being somewhere between #2 and #3.

    I just hope that my contributions are mainly positive. I am glad this article about male trolls was posted because I distinctly felt that I should have stayed out of the article on curvy women. I was the second poster, and my point totally missed where the great majority of women were coming from. That is why I say now that sometimes men are better served if we just read and don’t comment.

  • Sasha

    Isn’t it disgusting? I automatically checkout mentally whenever I hear anyone use the word females to refer to women and girls and if I see it online that person is AUTOMATICALLY labeled a dumbass not worthy of carrying on conversation with. Didn’t even bother reading the rest of his comment after I saw that.

More in community, opinion