Hero Burlesque Dancer Names and Shames Her Trolls

trollsJessica Davey-Quantick, a Burlesque dancer, posted videos of a performance along with pictures of herself in costume to her social media.  A troll started leaving inappropriate comments. By the following morning more trolls had joined in.  According to Davey-Quantick the most prolific troll told her that she should “slit my own wrists and eat my own blubber.”

This is often the time when people chime in to tell the person being bullied that they should “turn the other cheek,” or to “just be positive,” or that they should not “feed the trolls” by talking about what’s happening to them. Each person who deals with trolls and bullies gets to choose how they want to deal with them, and these are completely valid choices.  But they’re not the only choices.

In my experience (which includes everything from the lazy “fatties gonna fat” style trolling, to having entire forums and websites dedicated to trolling me personally, to having people show up where I’m at to video and photograph me and my family, edit: and, in response to this piece, a threat to doxx and harass my partner and her family,) ignoring bullies allows them to bully in peace with no push-back. I’m pretty sure that the person who started telling people that “ignoring the bullies will make them go away” was, at best, never bullied and, at worst, a bully trying to pull one over on us.

Jessica took a different approach. She said “I am over the idea that we have to somehow protect the individuals [involved],” And to prove it, she found the first troll’s father and headmaster, and she let them know what was going on.  The dad started off apologetic and then later claimed his son wasn’t involved, chided Jessica for calling him out, and said that if she didn’t want to be abused she should lock her Instagram account. Sooooo, lying and victim blaming…I guess the troll doesn’t fall far from the tree.

She found greater success with the Headmaster.  It turns out that, as is so often the case, the trolls were children – which doesn’t make their behavior any less harmful, but does help to explain the mentality of doing it in the first place.  Several of them attend Westminster School, an exclusive private school that was “appalled” to find out that their students behaved this way.  So appalled that they suspended the three boys and they’ll be reviewing the boys hand-written apology notes before they are sent to Jessica.

The main troll had already reached out to let Jessica know that they had been suspended, and lost their phone privileges. According to Jessica:

“More importantly, he was so apologetic. And I got this email from him basically telling me he is so ashamed of himself. He is so ashamed that he has done this to his parents, to his friends, that he doesn’t do this normally, and that he’s learned his lesson.”

This is the best possible outcome.  Unfortunately we can’t force internet trolls to grow a conscience, or behave with basic human respect.  One thing we can do, if we choose, is to help them experience the consequences of their actions, thus giving them the opportunity to make better choices moving forward.

For her part, Jessica is committed to helping trolls experience “the army of feminist flying monkeys who descended upon him like a glittery wave of retribution.” She says:

We have to start opening up, because these people who do it generally have private pages and you can’t imagine them sitting down at dinner with their parents and their spouses or their girlfriends and saying, ‘Well, what did you do today honey?’ ‘Well, today I told someone to kill themselves on the internet. Pass the peas, please.’ So we need to take it to their world. We need to make it something they have to own. Not just us.

“I’m probably going to keep getting [abusive messages], and I’m probably going to keep posting and I’m probably going to keep finding their mothers.

If you enjoy this blog, consider becoming a member or making a contribution.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support fat activism and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you.  Click here for details

Book and Dance Class Sale!  I’m on a journey to complete an IRONMAN triathlon, and I’m having a sale on all my books, DVDs, and digital downloads to help pay for it. You get books and dance classes, I get spandex clothes and bike parts. Everybody wins! If you want, you can check it out here!

Book Me!  I’d love to speak to your organization. You can get more information here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!

31 thoughts on “Hero Burlesque Dancer Names and Shames Her Trolls

  1. “The dad started off apologetic and then later claimed his son wasn’t involved…”

    He probably came to the realization that his son had done something that might not be legally assuaged by a mere apology. The kind of trolling these people like to do is NOT LEGAL in most states. At best, it’s harassment. A simple “please don’t post any more on my site” can magically turn a “kids will be kids” troll into a misdemeanor criminal if they keep it up.

    1. If it’s Westminster school, then it sounds like it’s UK, and they have laws against online bullying, as well. So, yeah, I’d say that’s a spot-on reason for the father to deny, deny, deny.

        1. I’d be hitting “like” all over the places on this blog, and on the comments. I always love the comments.

          I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that Ragen protects us from the trolls, and it’s a safe space. But also the fact that the commenters are so smart, and give so much food for thought.

          It’s like a thought banquet, here.

  2. I stopped blogging on my original blog which I created back in 2006 because of a particularly odious troll. He knew that I had been a victim of sexual assault, and it brought him perverse pleasure to say sexualized things to me. He is probably the most persistent troll I have ever encountered. Of course everyone gave me the old “don’t feed the trolls” advice, which is basically the same as “sticks and stones.”
    I briefly had a size positive blog when I was first starting with size acceptance. I didn’t have the spoons to deal with a hateful troll calling himself Fat Bastard. I shut that blog down too. 😦

    1. I want to hug you, Cara. That just totally sucks beach balls, and it’s not right.

      The internet loses so much good stuff this way, and the trolls don’t just hurt their direct targets, but all the readers, as well.

  3. Good for her. As a society, we need to teach respect and compassion, and people need to be held accountable for their actions. These cowards bully others in anonymity so they need to be brought to light and have a big mirror placed right in front of them with EVERYONE to see and yeah after that, you bet they’ll have regret. They need to learn to feel ASHAMED when they do shit like this and the only way to do that is to bring them out of anonymity.

  4. I left the following review on the school’s FB page.

    I applaud the headmaster for taking a stand against Internet bullying. Those of us who have suffered at the hands of bullies and trolls thank you for your efforts to make the world kinder and safer for the next generation, online and otherwise.

  5. Yes, the ‘turn the other cheek’ crap doesn’t usually works. Sure, the trolls get more worked up if you give them visible evidence you are upset, but it certainly doesn’t stop them if you don’t react.

    I’m glad Jessica had such a good outcome. I do believe if you can teach young people better behavior when they are young, they are more likely to hold onto it as adults.

    And good behavior does have to be taught. I don’t understand why more people don’t realize that.

    1. I think it depends on the type of bully. IF they are the young, unformed bully who does not realize the consequences of his actions, or that he’s hurting a real human being, it sometimes happens that he just gets bored or distracted, and goes off to play ball. However, if you’re dealing with a hardened bully (young or old), who realizes he’s hurting a real person and relishes it, then turning the other cheek tends to just enrage them, or at the very least, weird them out.

      My brother once used the “ignore them” technique to good effect, because he really was dealing with bored young twits, who went off to play ball, because their “toy” was “broken.” Then we moved. I have no idea how those guys grew up.

      But really, once you reach young adult age (and with certain youngsters), they know what they’re doing, and take pride in it. Some online trolls use their real names! For them, turning the other cheek will NOT work, at all. Neither will showing a reaction at the time. Naming and shaming won’t work, because they’re already named, and not ashamed. But legal penalties and fines – that can work! That’s one reason I am so glad that laws against online bullying are finally starting to be issued and enforced. Also, we need people, in general, to take back the shunning – that is, when they discover that someone is a troll (named and shamed or out and proud), they can shun him, and make him be alone in his pile of feces, and let loneliness be his punishment. As long as the out and proud trolls have friends who allow and/or support it, they will continue, even with legal sanctions. So, we need more feminist flying monkeys, shaking their glittering wings, to scare the friends away from the trolls, and tell them, “If they do this to one person, eventually, they’ll do it to YOU. Don’t stick around to be fodder for this troll’s future abuse.”

      A year or so ago, I got great satisfaction in watching an online implosion of friendship between two trolls, who had worked together for so long, and then turned on each other, because their other targets had shielded themselves too well to be effectively bullied, and they turned to closer, and easier targets: their friends. I don’t think they actually learned anything by it, but “Schadenfreude ist der schoenste freude,” as my sister says.

      For those of you who don’t read German, that means, “Schadenfreude is the prettiest joy.” I don’t think there actually is an English word equivalent of Schadenfreude. The nearest I can get is “Taking delight in witnessing someone getting a well-deserved comeuppance.”

      You’re absolutely right about good behavior having to be taught. For goodness’ sake, that’s what kindergarten is FOR: It’s not about learning the ABC’s or how to count to 10 (although that is usually a result of Kindergarten, and the processes they use). What it is FOR is training the young children to behave properly for a full day of school, and to teach them how to learn in a school setting. The ABCs and numbers are really just practice for the actual lesson of behavior and learning styles.

  6. Uber. Jessica owned it. i think the fact it was children is both said and inevitable. It was probably the only reason it was a teachable moment. Grow up playground bullies are another ilk. Same form, same words, same intent, same background less recourse to punishment unless they have broken the law. An very angry upset man who feels threatened by a woman bigger than him is not likely gonna own up to being a jackass and ask forgiveness, not even if you threaten to take away his video game privileges.

  7. I have always hated the “ignore them and they’ll stop/go away.” it’s what my mother told me my entire life, and it’s absolute bullshit (not that I don’t love my mom). When I confronted her about the fact that they continued to torment me, she insisted she’d never said they’d stop, only I just needed to continue to ignore them. It’s hard to ignore the fact that every day, you’re treated like shit and torn down piece by piece so much that decades later I’m still putting myself back together. Props to this burlesque dancer for calling them out.

    1. Have you ever read “Komarr,” by Lois McMaster Bujold? The female lead in the book was brought up with big brothers, cousins, etc., who would tease her mercilessly, and when she complained to the adults about it, she was told, by her “loving grandmother,” IIRC, that she should just pretend she is a statue, made of stone, and unable to be hurt by their bullying.

      The result was not that she stopped being bullied, or that she stopped being hurt by it. The result was that she knew that she could not rely on her parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, or basically any other authority figure to protect her, and she wound up marrying an abusive @$$#%!&, thinking that was the best she could do, and that she deserved no better.

      BTW, “Komarr” is an absolutely wonderful book, and the next in line, “A Civil Campaign,” is even better, and I just bounce around in joy for Ekaterina by the end, so I highly recommend it for any Sci-Fi fans. Watching her come into her own, and stand up to the bullies is absolutely FANTASTIC!!!! Sometimes, I pick up the book, and just go back to that chapter, just to enjoy it alone. Usually, when I need a bit of inspiration after seeing trolls all over the place.

      However, I’d like to point out that, although the strength did come from inside herself, she did need some outside support to unlock it.

      Feminist flying monkeys, UNITE! Unlock the power within each other, and we can all stand up for ourselves!

      1. I’m adding this to my reading list. Thank you so much for the recommendation. This is exactly how I feel. All being told that taught me was there must be something wrong with me because I was always hurt by the bullying (I was also bullied by family who now try to say “it was out of love.” Bullshit.). I was also called “too sensitive” as though that was my fault or something I could control.

        It looks like the blurb on Goodreads is in Swedish (I could be utterly off), but it says the version is in English. Again thank you so much for the recommendation!

        1. You’re welcome. There’s a whole series of books about the Vorkosigan family, and although it’s best to read the series as a series, it is possible to pick up one in the middle (or toward the end, with Komarr) and understand it.

          Lois McMaster Bujold is very good at that.

          And yeah, I hate the “too sensitive” argument. I once went to confront someone who had bullied me, mercilessly, and somehow he managed to manipulate me into apologizing for bleeding. You see, if I hadn’t responded the way I had (by crying and bleeding and trying to get away), he wouldn’t have ‘teased” me in the first place.


          1. Oh the “You’re giving him a response. If you don’t give him a response, blah blah blah…” Gaslighting is one of the most if not most virulent forms of abuse out there. I truly believe everyone has experienced it and committed it to some degree because it’s just been woven into the fiber of our society. I read this great article about victim blaming and why we (as a culture) tend to do it. A lot of it has to do with the “just world” hypothesis, the idea that if something bad happens to someone they deserve it, and bad things don’t happen to people who don’t. The American Dream Myth fits so nicely into this, too. The idea that if you work hard you’ll succeed, and if you don’t succeed, it means you’re not working hard enough 😡

            1. Agree on the blame the victim as sport in America. Some of it has got to be animal instinct the weak are scapegoated and removed from the herd or eaten. Then we reward the bully by congratulating them for not being a “loser.”

            2. Haha. This is the third mention of gas lighting I’ve seen today. One in a recommendation for editing my book, one in a conversation about “Dipshit #1” (my friend’s first husband, yes that is literally what she calls him), and now this.

              It’s almost as if it’s a real thing, or something. I need to research this, so I can 1) better understand how to write it and 2) never fall for it, myself, ever, ever again!

  8. See, I read “he is so ashamed of himself. He is so ashamed that he has done this to his parents, to his friends, that he doesn’t do this normally, and that he’s learned his lesson” as he’s ashamed that he got caught, not of what he actually did. Maybe I’m a bit overly cynical …

    1. Yeah, it is interesting that he says he did this “to his parents, to his friends,” and not TO HER.

      He brought shame on the family, by getting caught. But it’s still a step in the right direction, I think.

      I hope the lesson he learned is “Don’t do this,” as opposed to “Don’t get caught.”

    2. I had the same thought. This is start, but I did not get the impression that the troll learned he hurt a *person* an actual living human as important as his personal friends and family. Hopefully that lesson will still sink in.

  9. Several members of the Triahtlon club for fat people that I helped found (who has sane kicked me out) post and read on those Internet forums you talked about. It’s so sad because they are all progressive people who are feminists, stand against racism and sexism. The lady who talk me and said I was not welcome anymore is an immigrant from Sonora who had to fight against racism, low expectations in California for Mexican women; English being her second language, her children being bi-racial discrimination and being fat but she could not accept me talking about Ragen as a role model and got with the other members to ensure I was not welcome in my own fitness club. It’s so sad all the way around you know. What these trolls do.

  10. Denny that is sick! Yes tolerance and acceptance are in such short supply we have to piecemeal them out, there just isn’t enough to go around!
    One of the books was it Shadow on a Tightrope or The Invisible Woman had a quote that said something along the lines of tolerance isn’t expanding it is changing targets. Where people would never think to insult such and such it has become open season of others… It seems like people have to have someone to point and laugh at in life or they don’t know who they are.

  11. RE: turn the other cheek

    I got this jive when I was a kid as well. Made me believe that I somehow deserved to be bullied because no one ever thought to punish the bully. And, all I ever heard was that they can’t make the bully stop with the hurtful words.

    Why does it never occur to parents (and the like) to punish those who bully others? If someone stole your lunch they’d be punished for that. What’s the difference?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.