Girl Power.

  • Thu, 23, Jun, 2016 - 5:00:AM

Angry men on the internet: I do not have to debate with you

There’s a common fallacy that is becoming increasingly widespread on the internet: that women with opinions must be required to defend their opinions to anyone and everyone who decides to disagree with them.

Blocking, banning, hiding, muting or just declining to engage with the argumentative is seen as some kind of affront to free speech, or an indication that the (most often female) writer cannot “handle” those who disagree with them. It seems women cannot be allowed to have opinions unless men can disagree with them.

I call bullshit.

Why? As the Guardian found when it analysed the comments on the articles of its opinion writers, of the top ten most-abused authors, eight were women. When it comes to opinion-having, it is hardly an even playing field.

When men have opinions, dissenters are much more likely to stick to the argument at hand without reverting to ad hominem attacks. When women have opinions, they’re more likely to be trolled, abused and bullied.

But cyber abuse aside, even when commenters do remain on topic, there is no obligation for a writer to respond to their critics, no matter how vocal those critics may be. No one is paying writers to spend hours of their valuable time reading through comments, engaging in multiple concurrent arguments with commenters, aggrieved or otherwise.

Frankly, I can think of many better things to do with my time than engage in arguments with strangers on the internet. The odd conversation may be fun and enlightening, who’s got the time or energy for persistent written warfare?

So let me dispel the idea once and for all. To any online debaters, you are more than welcome to love or hate me, agree or disagree with me, but do not expect me to argue with you. Let’s just agree to disagree.


  • Online Abuse /
  • Opinion /
  • Trolling /
  • Debating /
  • Debates /
  • Arguments /

Comments ( 1 )

  • DBC's picture

    DBC - Sat, 2016-09-10 12:18

    No one says you have to debate anyone. That statement keeps crows out of farms. Firstly, the Guardian isn't exactly an unbiased source, but that aside your points are ridiculous. Right, all of those people in the comments who post mean crap are trolls. No more. They will not hurt you. They will not attack. This is not akin to being barraged by people screaming at you from outside your house because if you so chose you can just ignore them. I see that your article is tagged under "Online Abuse". What's that about? Who is abusing you? Trolls? Here's an idea; just don't do that! and boom your problems are solved. Now it's time to deal with the more important subjects. 1) This is not a sexist thing, it's an idea thing. Trolls aside (and you must always exclude them because they are never serious) no one is writing mean comments under videos made by women simply because they are women, they are writing mean comments because they hate the ideas presented. Maybe it's a dogma thing, maybe its a logic thing, the point is people type mean shit because they disagree. This happens to both men and women. The Guardian is a fairly far left leaning media, whose female writers tend to have ideas even further left than the mail ones, resulting in people who disagree with women more often than men, explaining the results we see better than just "because of sexism". Also, it is a shame that so many have so little elegance and eloquence to resort to ad hominems instead of legitimate arguments but that in no way means that they are wrong. 2)"There’s a common fallacy that is becoming increasingly widespread on the internet: that women with opinions must be required to defend their opinions to anyone and everyone who decides to disagree with them." Yeah, there is. But it isn't a fallacy. There is no jump in logic there. It is simply if you have a position you should be able to defend it at any point in time, else you should probably change positions, or know more about your own. All we ask is that people (irrelevant of their sex by the way) should be able to defend their ideas. Side note nobody has the right to their own opinion. Opinions are earned, hardened and change through research and debate. 3)And this irks me the most; "Let’s just agree to disagree." NO! we cannot just agree to disagree. What you fail to understand is just how unproductive this sentiment is. One of us is right. Agreeing to disagree gets us NOWHERE.
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