Mary Beard voiced an opinion...

(275 Posts)
AbigailAdams Mon 21-Jan-13 13:53:16

... and received vicious misogynistic remarks as a reward.

Just in case anyone was in any doubt that women were targetted, specifically because of their sex. Mary Beard was recently on Question Time. She has experienced a horrible backlash for this. Mainly focussed around her sex and her looks, rather than what she said. Also not just her, her children as well.

Mary's hellish misogynistic internet experience

She is not alone. There really is a special type of wrath and insults saved for women. It is desgined to silence us. And this is really just a continutation on from Beachcomber's thread on women's voices being drowned (and kim's thread on MN and misogyny). It really doesn't matter about the subject matter, women aren't supposed to have opinions. Unless they of course they uphold the patriarchy.

It also raises questions about keeping anonymity, when speaking out. We shouldn't have to but when you are threatened with "we know where you live" type comments, it is easy to see why it is necessary.

I haven't really got a question, other than why should we have to put up with this shit? What can we do about it?

I think Mary did a really good thing in highlighting what happened to her and Louise Mensch involved the police and these are probably the ways to go with dealing with it. But god, it is so exhausting. So I suppose this is just a rant really.

I can't read twitter, but I did see some idiot accusing her of saying the 9/11 victims had had it coming (yeah right), and someone had to apologize on twitter for getting her mixed up with someone else and calling her a racist ... is this the same thing?

Some people are idiots, aren't they?

MmeLindor Wed 23-Jan-13 15:42:53

The person who accused her of racism later apologised to Mary, saying that was mistaken.

HL had asked for clarification and then got into a bit of a spat with the aforementioned twitter user and her followers.

There are people on Twitter (well, in life really) who like to argue, and who are delight in RTing dissenting opinions to their followers. I am slowly unfollowing these people and Twitter is becoming much more pleasant.

AbigailAdams Wed 23-Jan-13 15:43:33

Yep I thought someone had apologised for that accusation too LRD.

OneMoreChap Wed 23-Jan-13 15:46:38

Yep, sure are a lot of idiots. It's always a pleasure to have someone on screen who knows their stuff, and the constant pressure on women to look naice is foul.

I quite liked New Tricks for having a lead female who wasn't physically perfect, ate what she wanted a drank as she felt like. Of course, she still had to be a shapely blonde sad

Think it's the same incident - the (female) deputy ed was told off for questioning a WoC about a claim of racism. And then for being right that there hadn't been any racism.

Cue huge laffs from MRA evrywhere - or there would be if they actually followed it...

THERhubarb Wed 23-Jan-13 15:47:56

Yes petitions only do so much but they also help to spread the word as in publicity.

LRD you are in a good position to talk to people about this. Unfortunately I am not as I work from home and don't really get to see or talk to different people during my day. Friends are on the same wavelength as myself so who can I reach out to?

I do things for Amnesty and Change.org because I feel that's something productive that I can do.

How can we successfully put pressure on the government to consider changing the law then? The government is supposed to act on behalf of the people i.e. us and surely if enough of us get together on this then the government would be forced to DO something? Even if it doesn't go anywhere near fulfilling our demands, they would have to be seen to be addressing the issue.

OneMoreChap Wed 23-Jan-13 15:48:49

Yeah, the original accuser, who's unwell, in pain, on medication apologised quite gracefully to @VMaryBeard, Helen Lewis and Twitter in general. It was the followers that astonished me.

rhub - you'll get there! Don't feel down about it. I know I'm really lucky to get to talk to people about this, though. I am very aware of that.

MmeLindor Wed 23-Jan-13 15:50:34

Yes, HL storified the exchange, but seems to have removed it.

MmeLindor Wed 23-Jan-13 15:52:10

ooh, @mumsnettowers have made Twitter names clickable. Clever

Gladtobe Wed 23-Jan-13 15:58:44

I heard Mary Beard on the Radio this morning talking about her experiences and she acknowledged that while she was an older woman with a thick skin, she was aware that she might hesitate taking on a public role if she was younger, in this internet age.
I think this is such a shame but there is something that we can do: we can consider that all verbal abuse like this, aimed at women across social media is challenged by all women not just the one woman who is suffering. Eventually those running the offending websites and media forums will get the message - but only if we shout out on other's behalf, everytime we see it.

MmeLindor Wed 23-Jan-13 16:08:19

This is interesting - a class action lawsuit against the website and also the website hosts.

The problem is that policing and legislating the internet is impossible. The police only have a certain amount of time and resources. Reporting to the police should be a last resort, imo.

Fillybuster Wed 23-Jan-13 16:10:54

This upsets me so much. Imo, MB is a complete goddess and role model (yes yes, not perfect, but a great example of a brilliant, educated, articulate, well balanced and high achieving woman)

<sigh>

kerala Wed 23-Jan-13 16:14:39

Hope Mary realises that the majority - decent people - are horrified by this horrified. I wish I knew the answer agree with the poster above that its education. Also think we need to call this, over and over again, that this is not acceptable and misogynistic hate speech should be just as unacceptable as racism. Am baffled by how it isn't.

I don't know if Mary will come across this thread, but if you read this thread Mary, I think you're wonderful and a good role model.

TigerFeet Wed 23-Jan-13 16:39:15

This is awful, just horrible. I agree with MmeLindor in that the answer is education, although I suppose there are so many people who don't wish to be educated.

I disagreed with some of what Ms Beard said on QT the other night, but I would NEVER wish to see anyone discussed in such a way just because of their views.

Good on her for discussing it in such a dignified manner.

Didn't see QT - have had a look at the link though.

She's right, it's because she's a woman. It doesn't matter what she looks like, what she does with hair/make-up/clothes. Whether she is the most beautiful, well-groomed woman in the world, or the ugliest, scruffiest ever, she will get nasty, abusive, mysogynistic comments re her appearance. Just because she is a woman. That's the first line of attack from stupid men. If they feel threatened by a woman's intelligence/looks/power, or if they want to raise a laugh from their idiot companions, they insult her - not her views, but her appearance.

The internet makes this easier for these losers, and easier unfortunately for others to see, but it's always been there - just see all the threads by women who've been called fat in the street, or had men in pubs make fun of them.

30 years ago I wouldn't have predicted we'd have made so little progress.

SirEdmundFrillary Wed 23-Jan-13 17:28:08

I heard Mary Beard on Woman's Hour today and it made a huge difference to me and I'm glad she's spoken. I haven't read the rest of the posts.

sciencelover Wed 23-Jan-13 18:16:50

I've seen some of the most vile, uneducated, comments on the comment sections following news articles, with nasty racist and misogynist overtones. I think these online forums need to monitor and delete those comments.

It's sad, really. No one deserves that kind of abuse, and I'm concerned about the backlash and infringement on privacy that could hit everyone if these people don't stop.

Quite agree sciencelover. I complained to our local paper (who then removed the comment) when someone had commented on an article with a photo of a young woman, saying they'd like to f**k her confused. Do people not complain on the national ones? Or do they complain but the comments don't get removed? Is there no facility to complain?

TunipTheVegedude Wed 23-Jan-13 18:54:27

They complain but comments often don't get removed. The Guardian's Comment Is Free is notorious. I think a lot of women tend to go into it all gung-ho at first and report stuff but after a while it feels too much like banging your head against a brick wall and you give up and leave the site.
I do think if the mainstream media set a standard on their comments sections by moderating sexist comments as much as they do racist ones it would help define what was acceptable.
Maybe that is something we could campaign for - a voluntary code newspapers could sign up to to have a zero tolerance policy on misogyny.

Pan Wed 23-Jan-13 20:54:47

Yes, MB may well come across this thread as she is an MNer, though active a lot around the time of her tv programmes. Which is no bad thing.

She had been very badly attacked and maligned on this site not so long ago ( about a year?) when she first posted about the Miss World 'pageant' and "voiced an opinion" about how she didn't get riled by it so much these days, and saw it as a symptom, and the direction of action should be structrual, and frankly 'who watches it anyway'. Boy did she get rounded upon by the great and good of the FWR back in the day, like some feeding frenzy. I recall 'irrelevant', 'ultimate handmaid', and 'enemy' shock.

I follow MB on twitter, have a mutual friend ( which I was unaware of for aaages). MB is clever and secure enough to dismiss her attackers, though as someone said upthread, if she was comely and well-groomed then that would be a focus for attack. It';s her ideas and feminist opinions being expressed that lots of people don't like. So I agree. It's being an articulate, successful and serious female advocate that sets her up. Unfortunately.

pan, I think perhaps you are coming at this from a position of (very understandable) ignorance. Mary Beard is actually a full-time don - she's not just 'an MNer' or 'active' with TV programmes.

I remember the issues with her posting - I disagreed with her at the time, as did several people. What perhaps passed you by - and I do understand there's no reason why you'd have understood this at the time - is that she does actually know some people on MN personally. I think you were assuming it was a spat between people who'd never spoken before? And so you maybe thought your point of view was as valid as anyone else's?

I can totally understand that. It must be very difficult when you're doubly unaware of what's going on. I hate feeling I'm in the dark, too.

I'm glad you've a mutual friend with her, though - I'm sure that feels very exciting. I feel excited myself, that she's doing such amazing stuff. I feel deeply privileged to know her PhD students and to have been invited to her book lauch parties. I'm really sad I didn't get to go, as she does amazing work.

funnymum71 Wed 23-Jan-13 21:47:07

Well, like a lot of things MN and FWR move on over a year so I'd hate to think that past gripes would detract from the support given over this issue.

To argue one thing isn't to damn another.

TunipTheVegedude Wed 23-Jan-13 21:49:01

Some of us who disagreed with her over the Miss World broadcast are on this thread now, I think Pan would like us to be in sackcloth and ashes

<dons hair shirt>
<flagellates>

funnymum71 Wed 23-Jan-13 21:49:17

Oh, and what LRD said a million times better than I could. cow grin

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