16 Steps to Every Argument a Man Has with a Woman Online

Now, I know what you are thinking. Every argument is different. The players involved are different. The content and context are different. There’s no way this piece can be indicative of a general reality.

Only it is.

I am going to use a specific argument to flesh out my points, but that’s only because this particular argument went on for 1,000 comments and covered every single base. Usually, only a few of these show up at the same time. But in this case, we got a bingo, and that needs to be recognized. In fact, I’ve even left off a few, due to length.

1) A condescending comment from a man to a woman, meant to be a “compliment”. Usually this occurs when a thread is already in session. This time, the man had the guts to go to this woman’s page, and post it with no prompting at all.

Let’s take a moment to go through this before we get into our next steps:

a) You were using your radio voice again.

This implies it’s an issue that’s been spoken about between two people before, with the receiver acknowledging the advice and vowing to make a change. That isn’t the case. This person hardly knows this woman, and they had not spoken about her voice before. (Which also happens to be…her voice. Not some random act for you to find “cute.”)

b) Very cute, but no offense

Any time you see the words “no offense” that is a guarantee whatever comes next is about to be offensive. If you find yourself using that phrase, stop. Do not speak on.

c) Exude the confidence I know you have. Be proud of the 30-year-old professional that you are. Who knows, maybe you can be the anchor someday. I look forward to seeing that.

This implies she’s not proud of herself and doesn’t have confidence. This woman is a hard-hitting, no-nonsense reporter and has been so for decades. She doesn’t want to be an anchor, either. Surprise! Not everyone does! (She’s also not 30, lol). This basically says turn into my vision of your goal for yourself so I can get behind this. And…no.

d) Good luck doll.


Okay, back to our steps:

2) Understandable backlash from people who see the offensive comment:

“Just saw your post here on _______’s Facebook page. You were using that douchey, neckbeardy tone again. Very cute, but no offense, you sound like a 45-year-old asshat. Exude the intelligence I know you must have since you’re friends with ________. Be proud of the 30-year-old professional she already is. Who knows? Maybe you could actually turn into a supportive and good friend. I look forward to seeing that. Then I can say, “I saw you that one time when.” Good luck, bro.”

3) Bystanders completely baffled at aim of original comment and attempted deconstruction:

Q – I can’t even get my head around his motivation. Hitting on you by “negging”? Honest but assholish attempt at advice? He secretly hates you and has been biding his time for an opening to be mean?

A – “This woman will appreciate that I see the potential she has, and that I am treating her almost like a real person because I’m asking her to be a person that commands respect, while at the same time, I am expressing fondness and familiarity toward her with my cutesy taglines that degrade her into exactly what I just told her she ought not be. In this way, I show her that her intellect is worth something, but also that I am not immune to her 19yo femininely wiles. Then maybe she’ll be so grateful, she’ll take my advice, act as I’ve advised with everyone, except me. With me she’ll be soft and child-like, just like a woman should. I am very complex.”

4) The original commenter says “I wasn’t talking to you.” (even though the comment is open for all to see, and not a PM).

I really was just trying to help. I’m sorry for offending you. But since ______ herself hasn’t flamed me, I’m going to assume that she accepted my constructive criticism. Notice that she didn’t “like” any of your comments?

5) Professional accolades and accomplishments that mean nothing are trotted out.

In this case, our man is an architect and we can thank him for many beautiful buildings. This obviously entitles him to give shitty advice in regards to news broadcasting. He knows things, guys.

6) The person he is talking to says something. Anything.

In this case, it’s kickass. I mean, boom.

7) Bye, Felicia.

That should end our story, but alas.

8) Women who have been watching the thread understandably rejoice.

8) The White Knight. Some other dudebro comes around a bit later, feeling the urge to tell the women who were insulted how wrong and mean they are.

I found the thread rather depressing myself. ______’s response was detailed, on point, and said everything she wanted to say. Almost everything else just reinforces my conviction that FB is like the worst aspects of high school.

9) Dogpile and Bullying are invoked. (Remember, this man comes into this space, which was clearly dying down, to take ownership of it and make it all about him.)

what you seem to be saying is that this is a venue where you can be rude and bullying without consequences. _________’s response was a textbook case of taking the high road, and would be perfectly appropriate delivered to someone’s face, not to mention a spot on, devestating rebuke to condescending assholism. About half the comments here are just textbook gang-bullying by people who probably think of themselves as decent human beings in real life.

I’ve been on the bottom of these kind of dog piles, and it’s no fun. The really disturbing part is seeing people who probably think of themselves as progressive resorting to bullying tactics I associate with the extreme right, like “feminizing” one’s opponent by insinuating he’s some kind of sissy (“did we get our wittle fee fees hurt” etc.) and a group of individuals ganging up on someone who has expressed the “wrong’ opinion. It’s like the mean girls club in high school.

11) Mansplaining.

If I may offer a bit of advice (yeah, I know, mansplaining”) but why give a shit about being labelled a “bitch”? The men who hang that on you are assholes whose respect you don’t need, and the rest of us understand that you have to drop a hammer on these twerps or they just waste everybody’s time.

It’s a difficult line to walk. It’s hard for me too, and the sad truth is there are plenty of men out there who don’t like being “bossed around” by a women. But hey, fuck them, you know? That’s their problem, not yours.

Oh my God, we were so wrong about you. You totally “get” it. You even know you’re mansplaining. Thank you so much for validating our lives, and yet again telling us how we can behave. We have never seen this before.

12) Watch your tone, ladies. (I’m Darlena, so one less black mark I have to amateurishly make in paint.) Annnnyway, maybe we would get what we wanted out of our communications with men if we were just nicer. Thanks for letting us know what your idea of a discussion is. We will try to behave better and adhere to your ideal discussion.

13) Concern Trolling. They’re just looking out for our best interests. As men, they can help us win this world. If we’d only let them share their valuable and relevant experiences.

Concern trolling. I’m pretty sure you knew what was going to happen if you came into this thread AS A MAN and tried to school us all, yet you decided to do it anyway. I have absolutely no doubt that you are here without any attempt at respect, and seek only to piss us all off so that you can get off to it.

14) Pre-conceived notions / Not all men. Then, inevitably, women standing up for themselves against mansplaining get the ‘you don’t even know me’ line, sometimes plied with ‘not all men are like what you say we are!’ Okay, that’s true. Not all men are like that. But you are.

15) The follow up. Then the conversation usually goes like this:

Woman: “I just don’t understand why this even has to happen. A condescending, sexist as fuck post was made. From very early on it was very clear this post was not okay. But instead of any apology, or even at attempt at self reflection, an attempt to listen to any of us, it’s just flailing and whining that we’re mean bitches. I’m so sick of this shit.”

White Knight: “what you seem to be saying is that I should just fuck off, butt out, and slink back into my hole. That I have no right to join this discussion in anyway unless my contribution consists of “yeahyourite.” Cool. Enjoy your epistemic closure. Who died annd made you king of this thread”

16) You people.

Woman: He’s acting like we did this to HIM. He’s the one who came into this post to shit stir it all up again just because he clearly enjoys putting women in our place and finger wagging at us.

White Knight: If the tables were turned, I would not participate in the bullying, mob behaviour. You people should be ashamed of yourselves.

This is normally where I’d write a witty conclusion, but Julia wrote one for me, right on that thread, so I’ll leave you with this, the point of the deconstruction.

“Women are allowed to support each other. We’re allowed to get annoyed or pissed off at men who constantly belittle our efforts, our work, our choices, at men who only want to comment on our physical attributes instead of, quite literally, ANYTHING ELSE we happen to do. Hence the anger at the original post. Which is still one of the shittiest negging posts I’ve read in a long, long time.

We’re allowed to respond however we want. It doesn’t make us stupid, or not worth being listened to, or not worthy of being right. Our response does not make it okay for you to hop into the post, insult all of us willy nilly at once, then act surprised when we respond.

Fucking goddamn ridiculous.

You’ve tried to police women for how we respond to sexism with more sexism. You’ve derailed the conversation completely with your own intense need to finger wag at women.

You have NO BUSINESS telling women how we should or should not respond to asshole men. We live this life every single fucking day and we have every single right to get pissed off if we want to. Just because YOU don’t like our tone does not mean our message and our points are invalidated, no matter how hard you’re trying to invalidate them and pretend they aren’t important because of the words chosen to express ourselves.

You have talked over women, you have talked down to us. You have tried to mansplain how we should respond to situations that are, quite frankly, none of your fucking business.

You call us bullies, a mob. And yet you’re perfectly content to try to bully us into being silent, to bully us into responding how you see fit. You are doing the exact same shit you claim we are, when you’re the one who jumped into this thread for no reason only than to be a condescending asshole.

In short: go fuck yourself.”

So, if you are a man, thinking about engaging in a debate with a woman about how society treats her…

Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

Join the Conversation