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 want to know what we can do about it.

I've said this on Beach's thread but I think it bears repeating - if you go to google, type in 'Guardian' and a common misogynistic word like 'bitch', there are over ten million hits, and you'll see pages of articles casually using that word. None of them got deleted - hate speech against women just doesn't even seem to register.

I am ranting too, and feel as if I'm very boring doing so, but people still don't see to notice/get it.

stargirl1701 Mon 21-Jan-13 14:00:30

I read your link. Bloody shocking.

TunipTheVegedude Mon 21-Jan-13 14:58:23

The denial depresses me. That bloke on the blog thread who is convinced it is women saying it because men aren't interested in women's appearance. The fact that whenever this is discussed in the mainstream there will be loads of people saying it's just normal and happens to anyone online. (Which it doesn't. Women get it far worse.)

Yes, because it would make all the difference if it's just women having a go at each other, right? hmm

After all, what with the patriarchy being a distant memory, women only ever have a go at other women out of sheer uncircumscribed free will, don't they?

I don't think 'Vince' is short for a girl's name, somehow.

drjohnsonscat Mon 21-Jan-13 15:14:19


There was a piece in the Times at the weekend about women whose children have been murdered by their partners. It was very sensitive and personal to the individuals, and also heartbreaking obviously. Cue the usual moronic online post banging on about how feminists are trying to do away with fathers and how the article was misleading and dangerous. No thought for the subjects of the article whose children had been slaughtered. This need to deny feminist thought or women's thought or women's experience even transcends the need to shut the F up when a woman is talking about her murdered children.

Oh, no. That's awful. I can't see the Times behind the pay wall, but it sounds as if I'm not missing much!

Poor women, and poor children, that is heartbreaking.

AbigailAdams Mon 21-Jan-13 15:42:32

It is shocking stargirl and I don't know why it shocks me every time I see this kind of misogyny in black and white but it does. It's like a depressing jolt that jerks me back to remind me where my place in the world is.

Tunip, if I put this in AIBU we would get loads of posts about how it isn't gendered. Some people just don't want to see it. Some people, such as Vince are invested in ensuring that it isn't seen as a gendered problem.

"This need to deny feminist thought or women's thought or women's experience even transcends the need to shut the F up when a woman is talking about her murdered children. " Yep, denying women's experiences is a big part of it.

kim147 Mon 21-Jan-13 15:52:35

It's crap - when women are in the media and express an opinion some people don't like, the comments can be awful and are not the comments that a man would receive.

Louise Mensch - I don't agree with her politics but I know some of the vitriol and incredibly offensive comments she received on Twitter and other online media.

I don't know how you stop it. It's just part of the wider way in which women are judged and thought of - especially in the media but it runs deeper than that.

Right with kim here.

kim147 Mon 21-Jan-13 15:57:20

This was on the BBC. How women are perceived in the media

No surprise to most people on here.

Thanks, will look.

Sunnywithshowers Mon 21-Jan-13 16:07:16

I'm saddened but not the slightest bit surprised. I've heard before about women being bullied in a misogynistic way on the internet.

StewieGriffinsMom Mon 21-Jan-13 16:30:57

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SaskiaRembrandtVampireHunter Mon 21-Jan-13 17:19:19

"I've said this on Beach's thread but I think it bears repeating - if you go to google, type in 'Guardian' and a common misogynistic word like 'bitch', there are over ten million hits, and you'll see pages of articles casually using that word. None of them got deleted - hate speech against women just doesn't even seem to register."

This is true! A couple of years ago I (naively) thought the moderators weren't noticing these remarks when they appeared in the comments on CiF, so I reported each one I saw. Almost none were deleted. Apparently, it's perfectly ok to say this kind of thing about women.

I no longer buy that newspaper.

Solopower1 Mon 21-Jan-13 17:35:41

I think the Guardian's policy is free speech at any price - I heard Toby Young say as much on the radio.

But it seems to work out that we all get the freedom, but women pay more of the price.

Mary Beard's blog is sickening. I have a colleague (male) who calls it fascism - the way we as a society absolutely insist on everyone looking as near to the norm as possible. If someone looks or behaves differently to us we feel threatened and lash out.

TunipTheVegedude Mon 21-Jan-13 18:03:28

But the Observer pulled the Julie Burchill article, so it's not consistently applied.

Hate speech against other groups is not allowed, only against women, it would seem.

Solopower1 Mon 21-Jan-13 18:15:32

True, Turnip.

Solopower1 Mon 21-Jan-13 18:16:00

Tunip! blush

AbigailAdams Tue 22-Jan-13 10:56:30

Another good article about online misogyny:
Online bullying

StewieGriffinsMom Tue 22-Jan-13 11:04:20

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AbigailAdams Tue 22-Jan-13 11:11:07

It is really good women are finding the courage to speak out about this. Maybe the papers such as the Guardian will take notice and start removing the hate speech. Maybe Twitter/Facebook will also start reacting to pressure.

I live in hope anyway.

AbigailAdams Tue 22-Jan-13 23:13:27

Mary will be on Woman's Hour tomorrow talking about this.

duchesse Wed 23-Jan-13 01:43:53

What makes me so angry is that these so-called men feel that they have a perfect right (in the name of "free speech") to publish vile gender-based insults about a person speaking her mind. Proof (if ever we needed it) that there is no equality of any sort yet.

Hoping these dinosaurs are feeling the cold winds of change whistling and are reacting like this because they're just so damned confused and the messages are taking so long to reach their brains.

blondieminx Wed 23-Jan-13 02:15:06

Mary is on twitter and posted earlier that the website making threats has been shut down, she doesn't want anyone to be charged (she's more zen than i would be!) but just for people who make vile comments to hear a resounding "NO" from everyone.

If sexist tweets were dealt with in the same way by the police as racist or homophobic ones, then I think we'd see the idiots wind their necks in a bit...

Abitwobblynow Wed 23-Jan-13 08:56:22

The thing about Mary Beard that I found annoying, is that being a progressive, she makes Enlightened statements of Good Intentions as though they are a manifestation of the absolute truth. (Read: The Vision of the Anointed (Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy) by Thomas Sowell, about exactly how destructive liberal left social theories actually are).

So I (and I suppose the silent majority) get irritated. And then, I have to admit, I look at her bad grooming and think she should get a bloody hair cut.

But of course that is as far as it goes. The way she thinks irritates me, full stop. I am not too sure why being a classicist gives you the moral authority to harp on about political social theory, and why she is deferred to in this way. Hell, if she knows that much about the Roman Empire she should know that the West is showing all the hallmarks of it's decline. I personally have never heard her utter a word about growing centralised bureaucracy, declining production and ever-increasing taxation that marked its end! The centre cannot hold, folks.

The misogyny that she arouses is a deeper and darker matter (and should be combatted severely). But I have no doubt it is originally sparked off by the oblivious right-on BS that she spouts.

Catriona100 Wed 23-Jan-13 08:59:22

There may well have been some stupid remarks about her appearance, but I think the issue was what she did (or at least tried to do) on question time. A man who did the same would have recieved equal treatment (and if he had unusual looks, then he'd have had that pointed out in a rather nasty way too).

sieglinde Wed 23-Jan-13 09:02:23

I still think her views are a red herring. Hell, I don't generally agree with her academically either, and tbh the one time I met her I was irritated by her, but I wouldn't rant on about her hair or her lower body parts to make a point about the decline of Rome.

GirlOutNumbered Wed 23-Jan-13 09:05:29

It's unfair to suggest that only women face Internet abuse.
James cordon on the same website has a picture of the marshmallow man and people call him things from a salad dodger to a fat cunt.
That's just one example, there are plenty more.

Abitwobblynow Wed 23-Jan-13 09:09:56

No, and you notice I didn't.

The point I am making is that once the irritation is sparked off, the ugly and vile things come out.

I am an absolute scruff, fat and not very attractive. It (my appearance) definitely affects the way I am perceived. Without a doubt.

So even in an abusive situation like this, there is a dynamic. If I want to be taken more seriously, I should lose weight and dress better. I have that choice and that option to take. Perhaps Mary could address how she comes across.

TunipTheVegedude Wed 23-Jan-13 09:19:14

It's not a personal choice to be an older woman. I can guarantee that even if she cut her hair and dyed it blonde a la Ann Widdecombe, the misogyny would not stop.
The only personal choice she can exercise here that would protect her from this is to shut up. And I would rather society had a go at fixing the awful behaviour than blamed the victims for not dressing right.

fromparistoberlin Wed 23-Jan-13 09:21:47

its thoroughly depressing

and it IS sexist, as she does not look like the usual dollied up woman (and she is perfectly respectable looking) she gets an incredible level of spite

Vile vile vile

and it would put me off, for sure

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

sieglinde Wed 23-Jan-13 09:51:58

Yy to Tunip and BeerTricks. The point is that there's a way in which the abuse is MEANT to silence her, as if a bit of the world is saying that middle-aged women shouldn't have a voice. Agree too that ageism is part of this, but so too is a very particular loathing of middle-aged women.

GirlOutNumbered Wed 23-Jan-13 09:52:30

The fact that she is actually on the television and a well known public figure means that we can't all think that women should be dolled up.... Doesn't it?

AbigailAdams Wed 23-Jan-13 09:52:40

"It's unfair to suggest that only women face Internet abuse." Who has suggested that? In fact both links I have posted have stressed that men get abuse as well. But they don't get their abuse with a heavy dose of misogyny. They tend not to get threatened with rape, for example.

And well said BeerTricks. It is incredibly patriarchal (and misogynistic) to judge a woman on her looks.

melika Wed 23-Jan-13 09:52:56

I have just looked up Mary Beard on youtube and found her explaining roman numerals.
She is such a wonderful teacher. I wish I had her for my teacher, I would have learned a lot more. I cannot understand how anyone could be critical when we have men on tv who are less 'finished' than her.

I do hope she ignores it and wish her all the best.

Treats Wed 23-Jan-13 10:01:19

o/t a bit but someone mentioned Saturday's Times upthread. In its defence, it also included a column from the chair of the Muslim Institute reflecting on the gang rape in India. Quote below (can't link):

"It is not women but men who need to change. Violence against women is not a “problem of women”. It is a problem of men. To describe atrocious behaviour by men as a “women’s issue” is a category mistake that places the emphasis on the powerlessness of the victims and potential victims. Theology and tradition are nourishing a kind of misogynist man who sees women as inherently weak, agents of immorality, commodities to be exploited and unsuitable for religious office. The sooner the terminology accurately locates the root of the problem the better.

In all religions men are the model of behaviour and action. Rabbis, bishops and mullahs are all men; scripture is interpreted exclusively by men. Men define virtue, propriety and rectitude. What is said about women is inferred from this model. In essence all religion is implicitly about man because it deals with “mankind”. This is why the role, status and participation of women in organised religion is problematic across all religious traditions."

It was really inspiring - and surprising - to read such a straightforwardly feminist piece by such a prominent Muslim.

Sorry for slight thread hijack, but I'd meant to post about it here at the weekend and forgot, and reading this post has reminded me.

CaptainVonTrapp Wed 23-Jan-13 10:02:03

I dsiagree abitwobbly.

I think if she was young, well groomed, pretty then her credibility would be called into question for other reasons...

Along the lines of "What is this bimbo doing having an opinion / telling us about immigration" (or whatever the topic was)

TunipTheVegedude Wed 23-Jan-13 10:02:34

GirlOutNumbered - yes, absolutely. When the A.A. Gill stuff happened (he slagged off her appearance in a review of her tv prog) the vast outpouring of support for her from all ages and sexes showed that actually most people ARE more interested in what someone has to say than what they look like. It was quite a hopeful moment in that respect.
I believe the nasty comments are only from a minority, but when the minority is doing really intimidating things like rape threats and 'I know where you live' and making comments about someone's children, it can become silencing out of proportion to how widespread it is.

GirlOutNumbered Wed 23-Jan-13 10:06:59

Yes tunip and all of these comments made more public by the few because of places such as twitter etc.

TunipTheVegedude Wed 23-Jan-13 10:13:35

Melika - read her Pompeii book, it's great.

I was lucky enough to have her as my PhD supervisor <waves to Mary in case she's self-Googling today> and yes she is a wonderful teacher.

zamantha Wed 23-Jan-13 10:17:29

I think if people are really vile on twitter - they should be prosecuted to stop these unsorted people going mad online. It is not funny, offenisve adn anti-social behaviour which would not be allowed on the street. Society should put a stop to people being so offensive before it becomes normal!! sad

Thanks MB for being a woman, out there, giving us your views - which I for one enjoy! smile I wish you would have some prosecuted but I prsume you fear it is an overreaction. Someone has to say no to this.

WhatKindofFool Wed 23-Jan-13 10:20:06

If sexist tweets were dealt with in the same way by the police as racist or homophobic ones, then I think we'd see the idiots wind their necks in a bit...

I like that idea.

ArtemisTheHunter Wed 23-Jan-13 10:21:03

Hi all

I'm glad this is being discussed on here because I think it affects us all.

I'm really horrified by the vitriol that's been thrown at Mary Beard, and not for the first time. The similar kind of venom flung at women like Louise Mensch and Laurie Penny suggests that, even if Mary was young and attractive, she'd still get abuse based on her looks and the fact that she's female. Women in public life can't win. If you're old and unattractive, that means you have no right to speak. If you're young and attractive, well you must have used your looks to get where you are so you have no right to speak. It doesn't matter what kind of opinion women are proposing, where they are along the political divide, or what the basis is for their being in public life, they will get abuse based on the way they look rather than what they say. Whatever you think of the politics of people like Ann Widdecombe and Louise Mensch (and I can't bear either of them), they have been elected into public office and they should be able to actively participate in public debate without having to contend with personal abuse directed at them because of their looks. I honestly can't think of a woman in public life who hasn't been criticised for the way she looks. Thatcher, maybe. She'd have nuked anyone who tried grin

I agree men get abuse too, but I would argue to nowhere near the same extent and without the level of personal threat or sexual insults/threats that women have to contend with. Think of the kind of ribbing Clarkson and May get for having bad hair and bad jeans. It just doesn't have the same level of vitriol or personal bile, and it doesn't get in the way of Clarkson spouting his opinions on political matters that he arguably has less qualification to be airing in public than someone like Mary Beard does. By all means argue with her opinions, the basis on which she's invited on shows like QT, and the arguments she uses in support of her views. But it's not valid to dismiss someone's (anyone's) opinions based on the way they look. It poisons the conversation while bringing nothing at all to the debate.

This wouldn't be tolerated if it happened in the same way to men. Imagine it. Paxman, Dimbleby, Jon Snow. What are they doing on TV? Get them a haircut, a dye job and a facelift immediately or get them off the screen. You wouldn't buy it, would you? Or if Mary Beard was being slagged off for her race rather than her gender. Transpose the insults she's been getting as if they were targeted at a man, or at someone from a non-white background, and they would be widely deemed unacceptable. Misogyny is so deeply ingrained in our society we just don't see it for what it is.

I'm sorry, I'm going off on a rant, this is a subject that has riled me for as long as I can remember. But I'm interested in the OP's second question: what can we do about it? i don't know. I follow a number of women like Mary on twitter who often RT foul comments they've received and I will sometimes talk back to the abuser but I don't know if it does anything (other than attract abuse back at me). Speak out, or keep quiet and ignore it? There are no clear answers either way.

AbigailAdams Wed 23-Jan-13 10:22:03

Another good blog post about it.

"It is not women but men who need to change. Violence against women is not a “problem of women”. It is a problem of men. To describe atrocious behaviour by men as a “women’s issue” is a category mistake that places the emphasis on the powerlessness of the victims and potential victims. " << That!

This type of abuse comes from the same root as male violence. And the reaction is still the same as to male violence. Women should modify their behaviour.

WowOoo Wed 23-Jan-13 10:28:52

Me too, WhatKind of fool and Zamantha.

Wow, Tunip - you were lucky. I saw her Roman programmes and thought she was superb.

Thanks for all these links and threads.

rainbowrainbowrainbow Wed 23-Jan-13 11:02:50
rainbowrainbowrainbow Wed 23-Jan-13 11:05:10

Your last post at 1022

I'm shocked. How can people sink so low? DH and I enjoy her programmes. Hope Mary keeps up the fight against these idiots. There are some seriously unattractive men on the television, but nobody berates or bullies them (quite rightly), however, women are seen as fair game.

AbigailAdams Wed 23-Jan-13 11:20:06

This is not unusual, LittleAbruzzenBear but women are just beginning to talk about it now.

I'm just going to quote LapsedPacifist on the thread in AIBU that seeker started "It's the blatant lack of approval-seeking behaviour that so deeply offends men, the flagrant breaching of codes of accepted female behaviour that terrifies women."

I really think that nails it.

ArtfulAardvark Wed 23-Jan-13 11:27:03

I think anyone in the public eye will attract abuse, its the nature of the beast these days - just look at the vitriol aimed at Justin Bieber. I think it should be OK to criticise people but if the words used to do so are not responsible then they should be edited or removed, people would very soon learn what words are acceptable to get their view across.

I watched question time, I dont doubt Mary Beard is possibly a nice (but idealistic) person but I have to say she annoyed the hell out of me - her connection to the real world seems to be tenuous at best, often a problem with academics. She quoted a report on an area which had high levels of immigration as though it were gospel, the audience member who was almost in tears was telling a very different story. My history teacher always told us to consider the bias of the author when reading anything.

seeker Wed 23-Jan-13 11:29:35

"So even in an abusive situation like this, there is a dynamic. If I want to be taken more seriously, I should lose weight and dress better. I have that choice and that option to take. Perhaps Mary could address how she comes across."

Jesus wept. I can't believe somebody is putting this forward as a reasonable thing to say! How do you feel about women in short skirts, abitwobblynow? Fair game for rapists?

ArtemisTheHunter Wed 23-Jan-13 11:43:27

"her connection to the real world seems to be tenuous at best, often a problem with academics. She quoted a report on an area which had high levels of immigration as though it were gospel, the audience member who was almost in tears was telling a very different story. My history teacher always told us to consider the bias of the author when reading anything"

That's absolutely fair enough Artful, and a good reason to take issue with someone's opinions. But what's not OK is to slag off how that person looks, call them a c*nt, or threaten them and their children, which is exactly what's been happening.

Seeker absolutely agree. The abuser should modify their behaviour, not the person being abused.

WoTmania Wed 23-Jan-13 11:50:12

Mary Beard was on woman's hour this morning discussing the abuse she got and her response. It's well worth a listen.
They mentioned that women, when asked to do TV or radio shows, tend to decline more often than men because they know that they will be judged more harshly than male counterparts voicing the same opinions. So clearly this is another factor in the fact that fewer women take part in media discussion (be it radio/TV/newspapers).

TunipTheVegedude Wed 23-Jan-13 11:52:16

just listened to the Woman's Hour thing, it's well worth hearing. Here's the link

ArtfulAardvark Wed 23-Jan-13 11:53:07

The problem with, and the joy of, the internet is it connects people who may never cross paths in real life. How many times have you read a news report about an abusive person and seen the words "spent all their time on the internet" its a tool which sad and cowardly people can inflict pain and abuse on other people whilst being anonymous and in no danger of retribution. I do think websites have a responsibility to remove abusive material - Mumsnet manage it so why does everyone else find it so difficult.

I know I am in the wrong section but I really dont see it as just a feminine problem - it should be wrong to abuse someone online regardless of gender.

My son had a Justin Bieber facebook thing which said vote for something like "love" or "Kill" when we were growing up we just used to "ignore" things we didnt like.

Yes, that quote does sum it up very well Abigail. What a sad world we live in. I personally don't think there is anything wrong with the way Mary looks, but I look at a person as a whole, not just by clothing choices. DH and I get told frequently by a shallow couple we know that 'you have a weird mixed bunch of friends'. We do and we love them all. We don't have a dress code or attractiveness rating to 'qualify' and our friends are all quite different to each other, but when we get them all together they get on well because they are not shallow, but funny, kind and interesting. It's a shame more people don't have these values. It wouldn't even enter my head to think of the things said to Mary. Perhaps I am naïve.

AbigailAdams Wed 23-Jan-13 12:12:35

Of course it is wrong to abuse someone online regardless of their gender. But a special kind of vitriol is saved for women.

I am going to post another link now to a video of Anita Sarkeesian. That level of vitriol and sexual violence for starting a fundraiser to look at how women are portrayed in video games is absolutely horrific. She hadn't done anything at that stage (not that it would have been acceptable if she had) so really women do not have to do very much before the threats, the sexual connotations, the violence ramps up.

Acinonyx Wed 23-Jan-13 12:22:56

"So even in an abusive situation like this, there is a dynamic. If I want to be taken more seriously, I should lose weight and dress better. I have that choice and that option to take. Perhaps Mary could address how she comes across."

Good grief - Mary is very successful and taken very seriously in her field TYVM.

<< absolutely fuming>>

Carry on Mary.

Remarks about not being in touch with reality as it is for a lot of people - fair enough but separate issue as pp notes.

THERhubarb Wed 23-Jan-13 12:26:54

Rather than discuss this, I actually want to DO something about it.

I have a 12yr old daughter and a 9yo son. They have to grow up in this world. I fear most of all for my 12yo dd since easy access to hard core porn has allegedly affected the way some young men think about relationships and sex. As my young neighbour once told me, her bf watches hard core porn most nights and then expects her to emulate what he has seen.

So if anyone has any ideas on what we can do to make this illegal/shut down these vile websites/campaign publicly/take it to the government then count me in.

Hobbitation Wed 23-Jan-13 12:32:38

I don't get this latest round of abuse as most of the messages I read on Twitter were either disagreeing with her but not being personal, or being supportive. But fair enough, I hadn't perused the @Marybeard replies, just the #bbcqt hashtag. I agree with the general point about women being judged more harshly than men. Though I have read a lot of personal comments re men on QT too, and probably made some myself in my time...not proud of that but certain politicians are easy to hate...

I actually didn't think she did very well on QT the other day, though I still like her immensely.

I'm not saying this as a criticism of Mary Beard, but certain celebrities (and indeed non-celebs) on Twitter need to distinguish a) people criticising their work, or even just disagreeing with them, which is fair comment b) people having a go at them personally.

Some people take disagreement very personally. Someone I quite liked stopped following me because I disagreed with her. Personally I quite like having my views challenged!

TunipTheVegedude Wed 23-Jan-13 12:34:20

Was that on the right thread Rhubarb? I don't think the attacks on MB were on porn websites, they were on 'unpleasant men ranting offensively and thinking they are being terrifically subversive because they are politically incorrect' websites.

Hobbitation Wed 23-Jan-13 12:37:12

Seems we are getting a bit side tracked going into talking about porn, but I thought what Diane Abbott had to say about having to "opt in" to porn, i.e. being blocked by default on the internet was interesting. Though of course you can't block everything. And of course you can kind of do this yourself with search settings on the computer, but I bet 80% of people don't know how to do that.

After all, you had to "opt in" to go into a sex shop or buy a certain magazine. Why should it be the "default" that it is available on our devices? Devices being the operative word, with so many young kids having phones or tablets.

Hobbitation Wed 23-Jan-13 12:39:47

And I don't think "It's a very sad world that we live in". It's a beautiful, horrible, mixed up world where we face new challenges in how to deal with things all the time. As we always have, though advancing technology makes it that some of those challenges need dealing with quicker than we used to react.

THERhubarb Wed 23-Jan-13 12:42:07

Sorry Turnip, I was talking about misogynistic attitudes in general, from abusive troll attacks on Mary Beard to extreme porn contaminating our young people.

Is there a correlation between the availability of hard core porn (and the demand for more extreme porn) and these misogynistic attacks on women? It would be interesting to find out.

I can't add to the discussion as I agree with everything being said. I am just so frustrated by this and want to act, do physically DO something to change this sorry state of affairs.

I'm in on the "something must be done, but haven't a clue where to start" bench.

It saddens me so much to read of the vile abuse directed at MB &others (male AND female) on the web just because the bullies can hide behind words.
The venom and vitriol that drips off their posts, totally unconnected with the actual disagreement/pov that originated the spat is abusive in the extreme and we should have the option to pull the plug on these sites although I suspect like a Hydra they will spring up again elsewhere.

We teach our children to agree to disagree, why can't these ignoramuses- they wouldn't speak to or about their mothers like that I'm sure. (well some might but I bet most wouldn't in rl)

I think what MB is doing by speaking out is a very powerful thing. Her blog is getting a lot of hits, and it's letting people who perhaps otherwise wouldn't see this sort of thing, see it.

Maybe what we can do is keep speaking out when people use this sort of language to shut women up.

I thought the thread on MN about the woman who presents Countdown was quite nasty too (and I know this is a thread about a thread). If we all stepped away from that sort of thing maybe it would become clearer it's not ok?

THERhubarb Wed 23-Jan-13 13:23:03

LRD, did this not happen to another blogger? I seem to recall a previous Mumsnet thread on this very topic.

Yes of course women should speak out but does that reach the right people?

I would like to see misogyny treated the same as racism.
I would like such hate-filled sites to be banned.
I would like all iPods, phones and laptops to come with parental controls that require the parent to opt out of. If they don't know how to do this then perhaps they shouldn't be buying such technology in the first sodding place.
I would like these trolls brought to justice just as people on Twitter are for making racist remarks.

To get any of this we need a hell of a lot of people on board.
Perhaps an online petition stating what it is we want changed so that it is at least discussed in Parliament.
We need rallies and demonstrations demanding that the government DO something about this.

Words are good. Discussions are good. But sometimes action is also needed.

I think it's happened to thousands of bloggers, hasn't it?

I do hope that eventually, speaking out reaches the right people.

Obviously 'words' like an online petition would be great - I'm sure everyone would want to sign.

(Sorry - 'words' in inverted commas because I'd say that all of these words are action too.)

THERhubarb Wed 23-Jan-13 13:45:55

No no I mean a high profile one LRD that also made the news in papers like The Guardian. I will have a Google later.

I think you need 50,000 signatures (don't quote me) on a petition and then it HAS to be discussed in Parliament.

If anyone can help with the wording of what it is we are asking for then I'm happy to set one up.

THERhubarb Wed 23-Jan-13 13:47:53

I assumed that was what you meant.

I'd not seen the Guardian piece but know what happened with those writers.

Seriously - please do do the petition, I think it would be brilliant.

THERhubarb Wed 23-Jan-13 13:51:46

That was in Nov 2011. This latest attack is in 2013. Nothing has changed. In another 2 years we may well get yet another female blogger/columnist complaining of misogynistic attacks and yet again we'll discuss it and ask what can be done but then that's as far as it will go.

That's not enough for me. I want to shout about this, not just on Mumsnet but in the UK. I want governments to listen, internet companies to listen, men to listen. The kind of people who read about this on The Guardian and Mumsnet are not the target audience. This won't even be featured in The Mail or The Sun. The right people are not reading about this.

Can we have a call to action?

THERhubarb Wed 23-Jan-13 13:52:29

LRD and others - help me. I'll do the petition. What is it we are calling for? What do we want done?

Sorry, I've got my hands full right now - there's so much activism going on in this area, which is brilliant. I'm definitely happy to sign when you get it up and running though - maybe a new thread for it would be good?

TunipTheVegedude Wed 23-Jan-13 13:58:53

I think what you are suggesting looks rather diffuse, Rhubarb. There are a number of different issues involved in that. Are you proposing separate petitions for each one? There's so much activism already in these areas; you might have more impact putting your energies into existing campaigns that are more advanced rather than starting another one without any infrastructure. Maybe a new thread to discuss it?

Can we have another thread? I like the idea of petitions with enough signatures to really make an impact, it would be great.

THERhubarb Wed 23-Jan-13 14:02:16

Shall I do a new thread?

Hang on

THERhubarb Wed 23-Jan-13 14:16:04

Ok, call to action thread

Sorry OP, didn't want to hijack your thread.

FairPhyllis Wed 23-Jan-13 14:17:27

Hate speech against women should be criminalised, and domestic violence against women should be classed as a hate crime. That would go some way towards establishing the link between misogyny and these behaviours in many people's minds.

GrumpyOldHorsewoman Wed 23-Jan-13 14:17:43

I don't think we live in a more mysoginistic society - these cretins just have more outlets to express their dim-witted views and as such we all get to hear them. Our society has always been mysoginistic.
Women definitely need greater recourse to legal retribution - the same as if the abuse were racially or homophobically motivated. Hate is hate, regardless of the subject matter and while disagreement should always be tolerated, abuse should never be.
Unfortunately, general society will always consider us humourless or a bit hysterical for even asking for this.

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 23-Jan-13 14:18:12

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

THERhubarb Wed 23-Jan-13 14:28:26

There have been people on Twitter who have been arrested and charged due to racist or threatening tweets. So this is possible. A few years ago nobody thought it possible that a joke on twitter about blowing up an airport would result in a prosecution but it did and now it's changed the way people tweet. It just goes to show that this is possible.

I appreciate other feminist groups may be doing this but really I want to step away from labelling this as a feminist issue. It isn't. It's an issue that affects us all and one which runs deep in our society. In order to bring about change you have to make society realise that this does not just affect one particular group but the whole of society.

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 23-Jan-13 14:32:18

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

torychicetc Wed 23-Jan-13 14:38:45

Mary Beard is very impressive on her own subjects.

I know it's boring when I say this, but: 'cretin' is a word that means someone born with severe learning disabilities. I know lots of people don't know the origins of the word, but that's what they are.

THERhubarb Wed 23-Jan-13 14:41:54

But Stewie. Racism affects black people yet white people were able to get involved and support their cause largely because campaigners like Martin Luther King were keen to get them on board.

I don't want to exclude men in this. There are men disgusted by these misogynistic views and who would happily give their time to help support a campaign to make such abuse illegal. I'm just worried that labelling it a feminist cause might deter that help and support, not just from men but from other women who don't see themselves as feminists and yet support the cause.

I'm not sure that such a campaign needs a label?

MmeLindor Wed 23-Jan-13 14:42:50

I am appalled by this, but I am sorry. I don't think a petition is the answer. Or a campaign.

In my opinion petitions are easy to start, and easy to ignore. I haven't seen many online petitions actually bring about a change in policy or law.

I don't know the answer, other than challenging this each and every time we come across it.

If you close down one website, five others will spring up to take their place. I don't think that regulation is the answer. I think that education is more important.

We need to be talking to our kids about cyberbullying, and we need to understand it ourselves. Users of fora such as MN are more internet savvy, but many parents aren't. It is left to the schools, and that depends on how interested the teachers, and how well they know Social Media.

That is the online side of it, anyway. The sheer horror of the misogyny is another matter.

rhubarb - why couldn't we involve men in a feminist campaign, though? I agree it's important to have men involved if they want to be involved, but I'd have to say, I do think this is a feminist issue, myself.

I agree with mme too that ultimately, education is the answer.

MmeLindor Wed 23-Jan-13 14:47:59

Rhubarb. How can this not be a feminist issue?

Yes, men are trolled, but this thread was discussing this particular instance in which a woman was subjected to horrible misogynistic abuse.

I agree with Mme that this issue needs to start being addressed in education. I have two boys and although they are only 6MO and 4YO, I will be bringing them up to respect women. Thankfully DH does and I believe that, along with education, goes a long way with boys in their attitude to women. I stopped buying women's mags a while ago and feel quite liberated from all the must have this, must look like that, look at that celeb with a spot, rubbish.

THERhubarb Wed 23-Jan-13 14:59:27

Fair enough, I take your points on board.

Petitions do work, lists some petition victories

Yes we need to educate and every single person on this thread is probably already doing that. But then every single person on this thread does not need the message that misogynistic attitudes are wrong. We already know that. Unfortunately there is a good percentage of people who don't think that or know that.

We are preaching to the converted. We need to widen the message. A petition was just one idea. I'm open to others and would love to get involved.

CelineMcBean Wed 23-Jan-13 15:01:10

Just wanted to say the previous comment about Fascism was spot on. I'd never thought of it like that before but it's really true.

I tell my 4yo we judge others on their words and actions, not how they look. I think a few adults would do well to learn this. I'm still agog at the idea Mary should change to fit in with some sort of irrational ideal. Disagree with her words if you must but use a cohesive argument to do so, not personal insults.

I fear for my daughter's childhood and adolescence - will she even get one with the rampant and unchallenged sexism that seems to be getting worse? And my son's adolescence and adulthood - will he have unrealistic expectations due to porn? Will he be at risk of becoming an accidental rapist because he believes rape myths and doesn't understand that incapacitated women cannot give consent? Will he behave as an entitled man child due to the sexist attitudes that are pervasive? Will either of them understand what a healthy relationship is and why they deserve one? << Those are my fears and why we need to challenge hateful comments against women. Parental role modelling and education are not enough. Society needs to change too.

I don't think we are preaching to the converted - or rather, I expect I am a lot of the time, but I don't think that's true of people on this thread who blog about this issue, or write for the newspapers.

And I don't know to what extent it helps, but I certainly don't only talk about this on MN - I talk to my students too, and I try to reach out to people who wouldn't be likely to go on a feminist section on a woman-dominated website.

It's probably true that MN FWR is full of people who've already got the message, but why should we assume we never talk outside of it?

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

I can't seem to view that on my ohone Rhubarb, but in my opinion when petitions work they are a sign of activism and pressure by a strong movement. The success of the campaign is not brought about by the petition but by the attendant lobbying going on. Writing to MPs is much more effective, in my experience.

390.000 signatures to the Gov of India to change their laws on rape - admirable but does anyone think that the petition would change anything? Or would it be the national and International pressure?

One click activism - easy to click <like> on FB but the attitudes and responses to RL misogyny is more important. And educating our kids about this.

I hadn't thought of that, Mme.

Writing to MPs could be good, though. Mine is a woman and in theory ought to 'get' this, though I've not seen the slightest sign she does.

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 23-Jan-13 15:27:58

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

OneMoreChap Wed 23-Jan-13 15:28:49

Did you notice that Mary Beard was later accused of racism?

When the deputy ed of the New Statesman asked where she'd said that, it ended with her being accused of speaking from privilege herself, and always taking the white cis side in feminist arguments.

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 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)


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>

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

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

Oi, funny! grin

No - but I think she took the disagreement on the chin. Having read her blog for ages, it's pretty clear she knows how to disagree and put her point across.

It seems to me very telling that we're back discussing the substance of what she said (and whether or not anyone disagreed), rather than objecting to the point in hand, which is that no matter what she said, that kind of treatment was out of line.

TunipTheVegedude Wed 23-Jan-13 21:59:45

I was v pleased to hear they covered this on the Six O'Clock News today. It is almost, like, actually taking it seriously! grin

Ooh! I didn't know they had. That is good. smile

AbigailAdams Wed 23-Jan-13 22:08:49

Pan, stop stirring. Yes a number of current posters took issue with what she had said about Miss World. There was no "maligning" or "feeding frenzy". There was a long and sometimes heated discussion. In fact part of that discussion was about anonymity on the net and why people are anonymous to avoid targeting by trolls and threats to their home life. Rather topical.

Just because people disagree on one point does not mean that we wouldn't support her on this. Why on earth would you think we wouldn't support her? I cannot imagine any of the posters on that thread last year who wouldn't support her now. You obviously can and that says more about you tbh.

AbigailAdams Wed 23-Jan-13 22:11:03

Sorry x-post there with a number of posters! Did not know it was on the 6 o'clock news. That is really good!

I don't think pan is stirring. He's just out of the loop. He quite likely didn't read the thread in question (or he'd not have got it all wrong). People get mixed messages all the time.

Something I liked very much was Prof Beard inviting the person who disagreed with her most strongly, to comment on her blog and get her comments published. It's clear she knew exactly what she was doing.

AnyFucker Wed 23-Jan-13 22:16:59

I don't recall any MN'ers using sexual violence as a threat when they disagreed with MB last year. Nor photoshopping her face onto a vulva.

The funny thing is, feminists don't always agree with each other. They can not support someone on one point, but defend them mightily on another. They are not an homogenous mass against the rest of the world.

LesBOFerables Wed 23-Jan-13 22:18:06

Yes, there is a big difference with disagreeing with what someone says (I didn't, personally, on that occasion), and pulling them to pieces with vile and threatening language based on their looks and gender. It's a bit disingenuous to equate them, and to imply that feminists on MN would be hypocritical somehow to defend her now.

Pan Wed 23-Jan-13 22:31:13

Crumbs, LRD, just read your post. Did you mean all of that? An attempt at personal point scoring? For what reason? Any?

It must be awful to have to assume someone else's ignorance in order to v cheaply try to 'make a point'. Debate must be easy for you, then.

I'd posted in support of MB, and any other well-informed, articulate woman who gets 'attacked' for not looking 'right' or dressing 'right'. You appear to have subverted that into something else, for your own reason. That really is up to you, of course. But it seems an odd thing to do on this thread. That's your judgement tho'.

vesuvia Wed 23-Jan-13 22:33:11

I enjoy watching Mary Beard's TV programmes about the ancient world, especially the Romans, and I think her books about Rome are very good indeed.

It's wonderful that her knowledge and passion for her subject are also inspiring the next generation of classicists, historians and archaeologists.

I'm appalled at the awful treatment she has received following her recent appearance on "Question Time".


pan, I do apologize if I upset you in some way. I can't understand what 'points' I could possibly score in this context?

Can you explain what you mean by that?

I'm very pleased you have decided you do support Prof Beard. I think it is great. I thought this was clear from my post, and I am very sorry if it was not. I can't help feeling you may have misread something ... I did try to explain to you that I and many others have thought very highly of her for a long time. I don't think it is any reflection on you that you didn't know that, and I certainly didn't mean to imply that your support was any less sincere for being less well informed.

I would suggest, by the way, that you might consider extending your support to women who are not 'articulate' or 'well-informed' - surely you didn't meant o imply they deserve to be judged for their appearances? confused

I am finding your posts very difficult to follow this evening, and you are usually quite clear.

LesBOFerables Wed 23-Jan-13 22:44:07

God, I feel like hiding behind the couch when mum and dad are about to start fighting...Pan- how about you de-escalate by acknowledging that the two situations are in no way alike, and LRD can stop digging you up for pissing her off sounding like you've misunderstood?

vesuvia Wed 23-Jan-13 22:48:31

Pan wrote - "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'"

I did not participate in that Miss World thread, but I did read it.

As far as I can tell, the words "irrelevant" and "ultimate handmaid" do not occur in that thread. Pan, they appear to be your recollection/opinion of what you think was said on that thread, not quotes.

As far as "enemy" is concerned, on the Miss World thread, Mary Beard is quoted as saying in her Radio 4 broadcast, which triggered that thread,"I don't any longer feel that Miss Venezuela is much of an enemy".

FWR posters were not calling Mary Beard the enemy. They criticised her for having felt that Miss Venezuela was her enemy in the past.

Bof - I am the very essence of zen-like calm, I assure you. smile

Pan Wed 23-Jan-13 22:54:46

Yes, shall we leave it here? I was a bit shock at your reaction to my post LRD, but this thread isn't about the subsequent exchanges, it's about more important stuff. BOF - the situations are a bit a like i.e. an expression of an opinion being maliciously and insultingly attacked, but of course there are differences.

fwiw am still a bit shock but we live on.

It's fine, pan - I think you just misread what was going on, it does happen.

Don't let it worry you. At least we're all now on the same page.

Pan Wed 23-Jan-13 22:59:34

vesuvia - which is why rightly I didn't use "quotes". It was a long time ago, so I was careful not to.


I think MB has coped very well with what was thrown at her. She has used the abuse thrown at her as an opportunity to highlight and shine a bright light on some very unattractive behaviours and ideas. My view is this is a good awareness raising issue but probably won't change things much on its own. However, it makes it a bit harder for people to deny that these attitudes exist.

I know it feels very frustrating at times and that progress is glacial in pace but I have seen changes in the last decade. For example, I work in the City and was involved in a cross institution committee. When I joined there were 40 members of which 2 of us were women. Within a 12-18 months the number was probably closer to 15. The City has a long way to go but there are more and more women challenging the stereotypes.

I suspect there are quite a few people who don't like that stereotype being challenged hence the reaction to MB. I think pissing off people like that shows you are doing something right.

Well said, chaz!

AbigailAdams Wed 23-Jan-13 23:10:13

"an expression of an opinion being maliciously and insultingly attacked" is not what happened on that thread. Stop deliberately misrepresenting it, Pan.

vesuvia Wed 23-Jan-13 23:16:29

Pan wrote - I recall 'irrelevant', 'ultimate handmaid', and 'enemy'
Pan wrote - which is why rightly I didn't use "quotes".

If your ' ' symbols aren't quote marks, why did you use them?

mathanxiety Thu 24-Jan-13 00:09:27

The key to stopping it is alerting advertisers in newspapers and online that they are supporting hate speech.

marybeard Thu 24-Jan-13 00:45:17

Hi friends. Can I just add two little things.. well confessions in part.

First, I had always sympathised with people (largely but not only women) who got this treatment, but had never quite seen what it really was. Now I see that that is partly because it is SO VILE that it is never reprinted.. hence they say that my objections were to remarks about my appearance. No they weren't, they were to people suggesting shoving things up my vagina.

Second.. a year or so ago I had a bit of a run in with some on this site about anonymous comments and people using that to say things they woudnt say to someone's face. Can I now say that I really hadnt got my priorities right. If I went at you, as I did a bit, that was a real nix up of priorities on my part. I still feel that there is an anonymity issue, but the idea that I was firing at you (who were arguing cogently, albeit under sobriquets..). err I look a bit dumb.

Finally .. it was a tough call for me, but I decide to face up to this and am pleased I did, and I'm pleased that the guys running the site saw sense.

LesBOFerables Thu 24-Jan-13 01:22:26

I think you've handled yourself admirably, Mary, and I admire you speaking out and raising this as an issue. I wish you all the very best in the future, and think you've been inspirational to all of us in your bravery through all this. I hope it encourages other women to say 'Enough' when it comes to misogynistic online abuse.

Bloody good for you thanks

Darkesteyes Thu 24-Jan-13 01:34:09

I too think youve handled this brilliantly Mary. And Les is right its an inspiration to us. Thanks for posting thanks

Afrodizzywonders Thu 24-Jan-13 07:30:40

I just read this thread Mary, good for you speaking out on this and popping on here to see us....I think most woen have experienced this misogynistic abuse in varying levels, it's good you're standing up to it.

flowers love your progs btw! Hopefully lots more in the pipeline....

Afrodizzywonders Thu 24-Jan-13 07:31:59

Woen - women (one handed typing whilst breastfeeding newborn)

AnyFucker Thu 24-Jan-13 07:35:58

Thanks for adding to this thread, Mary. I am sorry you came in for such vitriol from braindead misogynists. I hope it will not stop you from expressing your opinion as and when you wish.

Abitwobblynow Thu 24-Jan-13 07:55:20

I hope you found my comments thoughtful and measured Mary.

I was trying to own 'the dark side' but not make excuses for the impulses that wish violence (verbal included) against women.

Lundy Bancroft talks about this, the thinking processes of abusive men. That they really do believe in the marrow of their bones that women should be around to serve them and make them happy, and any information that challenges this will result in viciousness to get 'their' reality back in place.

[And I would be very pleased if you found time to read Thomas Sowell! It is a bit heavy going, full of statistics, but it does challenge the thinking smile ]

StewieGriffinsMom Thu 24-Jan-13 08:29:12

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

StewieGriffinsMom Thu 24-Jan-13 08:29:37

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

drizzlecake Thu 24-Jan-13 09:05:52

Sorry didn't hear Question Time.
The reason is that I don't want to hear a load of biased MPs spouting the party line. So, much as I like debate progs on TV and Radio, Question Time gets a miss.
Had I known Mary Beard was on it I might have watched.
I love to hear from intellectuals rather than politicians even if I disagree with their view.

My take is that this type of horrendous villification will peter out over the next few years because it will come to the point where we have all heard it before and we won't waste our time reading. If a few nutters can let off steam on these boards, only to be read by a few other nutters, then it will continue but in a meaningless way.

Messageboards when they first started in the mid 90s were a total battlefield. Seething arguments used to erupt daily. Now people know that a meaningless rant is just that and unless you can put yourself over coherently you are largely wasting your time and posts are mostly politer now.

But I do think threats of harm or attack should be taken up by the police. If you were the mother of small children, threats that someone will come round and sort you out or whatever is really not ok. It would terrify me that some nutter might harm me and my children, break in just to scare me, they might even set light to my house. It doesn't bear thinking about. People can be traced and this shouldn't be allowed.

fromparistoberlin Thu 24-Jan-13 09:10:43

wow Mary Beard IS ON THIS THREAD!!!!!!!!!!!

another to say its disgusting, upsetting

mary, I kind of feel like it could have been my mother that got this abuse (font ttake this as agesist haha, m,y mum is also an academic) and its right pissded me off

As SGM said - thank you for taking a stand. It's brilliant. smile

AbigailAdams Thu 24-Jan-13 09:24:24

Mary, thank you very much for coming on the thread. Just another voice to say how well you have handled this and thank you for speaking out. It was very brave.


fromparistoberlin Thu 24-Jan-13 09:26:56

I am ashamed at my poor spelling in front of such a distinguished academic

anyway this is a serious topic and I am being all star struck like a muppet

larrygrylls Thu 24-Jan-13 09:40:46

I think that anyone who makes cowardly anonymous threats should have their anonymity pierced and it should be treated as a police matter. Anything that is actually libellous can be dealt with in the courts and Mary has the intellectual and financial ability to make them pay. On the other hand, anyone who, on the internet, makes stupid personal comments of whatever nature, with no implied threat or libel, should just be ignored. The mainstream media, however, even on the internet, should censor their "comments" pages and not allow bile on them, of any nature.

Mary, you are intelligent enough to know what the outer fringes of the internet represent and you do not have to pay them any attention. I do think that, on QT, you came across as speaking from a comfortable Cambridge college set and somewhat de haut en bas. Again, you have to know that this will cause resentment, especially among those who feel that they have been personally affected by issues that you airily dismiss. Unfortunately, the less well educated cannot verbalise their disagreement in academic terms and so attack ad hominem (or should that be "ad feminam"?). It is not right but it is understandable.

Personally I am not on FB or Twitter and I do think these two give a public voice to those who really should not have one. The celeb culture, these days, is a double edged sword. I am not sure what the answer to this but I do think that those who use the "social" media should realise the Faustian pact that they are making.

THERhubarb Thu 24-Jan-13 09:46:26

I think the point about anonymity is a good one. There ARE posters, both men and women, who hide behind their cloak of anonymity to direct personal insults at people that they may well never have said to their face.

Do feminists not used gender based insults to strike out at posters they disagree with? I'm not so sure about that. I have been called a rape apologist on Mumsnet during disagreements with feminists and my role as a mother has been called into question. If these comments are not meant to strike at the very heart of a person then I don't know what is.

That is the thing with debate, if it gets heated then the point is lost and some will take advantage of an anonymous forum to attack the person rather than the point being made.

I did not watch Question Time and will not go back to do so now, therefore I have no idea what points Mary Beard made or if I would agree with them. The reason this thread struck a chord with me is because it did remind me of The Guardian piece about women bloggers being attacked not because of any point they were making, but purely because they had a voice and weren't afraid to use it. They were being threated with rape and were told of all the sexually depraved things the trolls would do to them. Funny how it all boils down to sex sooner or later isn't it? This is why my first post on this thread touched upon porn. I do think there is a correlation between easily accessible hard core pornography and the increase in misogyny that we are seeing now.

It could be argued that there is no real increase, that this abuse has merely come to the forefront because the perpetrators can hide under anonymity and the freedom of speech. Perhaps this is right, however many trolls are not that clever. Mary Beard herself said that she was able to contact a few of them and Twitter has been forced to disclose users identities by the law before now.

If racist and homophobic tweets can result in arrests then so should misogynistic tweets and posts. I'm not talking about people calling women a 'bitch' or a 'slut' I'm talking about the threat of sexual violence. That is hateful and frankly disturbing and until society sends out a very clear message that this will not be tolerated then I fear that a generation of children, growing up with free and easy access to online hard core porn, will find this a very different world to live in.

But that's constantly the message, isn't it? 'You should just ignore them, dear'. Why should she? And why should any of us?

If you want to ignore this stuff, and it's happening to you, then that's your choice. But I think it's perfectly valid to show up this bullying for what it is.

It is, by the way, utter bollocks to claim that the 'less well educated' are incapable of anything except photoshopping faces onto vulvas. Come on. Do you not notice how many MNers have bugger all by way of qualifications and still manage to be perfectly coherent?

FWIW: Faust sold his soul to the devil. What that has to do with social media, I am not certain? Or double-edged swords? It sounds like a very exciting stage play you have in mind, but it's not really an illuminating metaphor.

larrygrylls Thu 24-Jan-13 09:48:53

"If racist and homophobic tweets can result in arrests then so should misogynistic tweets and posts. I'm not talking about people calling women a 'bitch' or a 'slut' I'm talking about the threat of sexual violence. That is hateful and frankly disturbing and until society sends out a very clear message that this will not be tolerated then I fear that a generation of children, growing up with free and easy access to online hard core porn, will find this a very different world to live in. "

This I totally agree with. There needs to be a clear distinction between use of hateful and intolerant language (which I think should be allowed under freedom of speech, or what is the point of it?) and a real threat of sexual violence, which should never be allowed to go unchallenged by the police.

rhubarb - Gail Dines has certainly been saying that for years, and I find her convincing (about pornography/misogyny).

TunipTheVegedude Thu 24-Jan-13 09:52:43

Rhubarb/LRD- yes, me too, convincing but very difficult to prove. So IMO we have to avoid tying our activism to this connection or the whole thing is undermined by opponents saying 'ah well you can't PROVE it therefore everything you are asking for is invalid'.

TunipTheVegedude Thu 24-Jan-13 09:54:07

Larry - trolls often are educated and articulate. It's not confined to a particular section of society.

larrygrylls Thu 24-Jan-13 09:58:41

"FWIW: Faust sold his soul to the devil. What that has to do with social media, I am not certain? Or double-edged swords? It sounds like a very exciting stage play you have in mind, but it's not really an illuminating metaphor."

Well, apologies if it does not work for you but I am not sure you can speak for everyone. Faust traded a moment in the sun for pain for eternity. A double edged sword is one you can both cut with and can cut you. I think both act as metaphors for the "social" media in that they give one an ephemeral feeling of power and connectedness bu ultimately expose one to forces outside one's control.

When I say "less well educated" I am using the word educated in its rounder meaning. Some people have no qualifications but are amazingly well self-educated. Many of the Mnetters you allude to probably fall into that category. Sadly, however, there are many people who cannot construct a coherent argument. I would describe those people (politely) as "less well educated".

TunipTheVegedude Thu 24-Jan-13 10:00:04

Mary, thanks for popping in.

You didn't look dumb. Idealistic perhaps? But that's good.
There are two intersecting issues, wider toleration of misogyny, and how people behave on the internet. The point you made then about how people shouldn't say anything on the internet they wouldn't say to someone's face is still a good one. I'm glad you said that and I have tried and only occasionally failed to change the way I behave online as a result. (Anyway you're never going to look half as dumb as I looked when I posted my unedited gut reaction to the Miss World thing forgetting you were probably going to see the thread.)

Thank you for the way you have taken a stand on this. You were absolutely splendid on the Woman's Hour interview; standing up and saying firmly 'Guys, this has got to stop' was very powerful. Hearing it had been on the news made me feel for the first time like we are really getting somewhere with this.


THERhubarb Thu 24-Jan-13 10:09:05

If we are to argue about what kind of person makes a troll then we are losing the point.

I don't give a monkey's arse who is writing these things, what class they are from, what qualifications they have or where they live. I am concerned only with the content of what they are posting online for the world to see. The internet has become a free publicity tool for all who want it, it allows the most closed-minded and hateful of people to have a public voice, to have a podium and to gain support. And our children are reading all of this.

I see, larry. I think maybe we disagree about what constitutes 'education' and what are merely the trappings of it. But that doesn't matter: the point stands that if someone is capable of photoshopping a face onto a vulva, they are also capable of realizing that is a shitty thing to do. IMHO.

AbigailAdams Thu 24-Jan-13 10:15:10

Of course they know it is a shitty thing to do. That is why they do it. As with Rhubarb, I couldn't give a flying fart how educated they are (and nor does it matter). They should just stop doing it!

larrygrylls Thu 24-Jan-13 10:16:09


But what are you saying? Everything you say is entirely true. But other than people who write illegal/libellous posts being prosecuted/sued via losing their anonymity (which I am 100% in favour of), what else would you like to see? There is an important U.S Supreme Court decision (I could try and dig it up if people want me to) which basically says that the right to free speech cannot be reserved for those whose speech is reasonable and people have to be allowed to be vile (basically, they put it far more eloquently!).

The only country which successfully polices the internet (as far as I know) is China and I am not sure we want to go down that road.

AA - exactly.

I think the education thing is a red herring.

larrygrylls Thu 24-Jan-13 10:18:23

"But that doesn't matter: the point stands that if someone is capable of photoshopping a face onto a vulva, they are also capable of realizing that is a shitty thing to do."

There are a lot of shitty people around who resent people who are better educated and more successful than themselves. Not sure that idealism will ever change that. The question is what to do (if anything) about them being given the oxygen of a public platform.

Mary, thanks for posting and thank you for being prepared to expose the abuse directed at you, I do think some of the people responsible would not dare to express these opinions without anonymity.

Its one thing to disagree with someone's opinion, its another to threaten them with violence for expressing an opinion they disagreed with or expressing an opinion at all.

Its very easy to focus on these more extreme examples and it is right to highlight that they exist. However, it needs to be in the context of also looking at the more subtle prejudice against women that still exists.

I'm not proposing idealism, though. smile I don't think what MB did was idealistic, either - it was just the right thing to do, and very brave.

seeker Thu 24-Jan-13 10:22:52

"Unfortunately, the less well educated cannot verbalise their disagreement in academic terms and so attack ad hominem (or should that be "ad feminam"?). It is not right but it is understandable."

So why aren't men attacked in the same way?

Btw, larry, the reason I disagree with you is that I think the internet is a brilliant way of giving people who don't otherwise have much of an equal platform, a bit of space to speak. It is really fascinating. And it does have to do with anonymity - people don't automatically talk over you because they see you're female, people can't see what you look like or how you sound.

THERhubarb Thu 24-Jan-13 10:25:49

larry, we are capable of having freedom of speech and not tolerating hate. For instance, racist tweets are now removed and the police can get involved. That is the law. Racism targets people based on their race. Misogyny targets women based on their gender.

Telling a woman that she will be raped or that someone would like to stick a cock in her mouth is incitement to hatred and should be treated as a hate crime.

These are not "opinions" or "views" these are malicious and vile personal attacks.

We do it for racism, we do it for terrorism, we do it for homophobia so why not do it for misogyny? What is the difference?

Flickstix Thu 24-Jan-13 10:28:29

Who would you report this hate crime to though? Perhaps someone should do this, take it to court if needs be!

larrygrylls Thu 24-Jan-13 10:28:45


I was in the top sets at school, went to Cambridge and am reasonably well spoken.

During my life, I have put up with any number of insults such as "stuck up cunt", "gay" (not that I personally consider it an insult), "short fucker", "dwarf" (I am 5'5) etc. There were also a lot of "town vs gown" violence incidents when I was studying at Cambridge. Then, more recently, "rich cunt, how would you feel if I kicked your head in".

As I said, shitty people just resent those better educated and better off. The only difference is when I was growing up, it could only be face to face as there was no social media. Not sure which is better really. I think bullies pick a victim and then choose their method of bullying. For Mary Beard the easy way in was looks-directed misogyny. Absolutely disgusting but, from the perspective of someone being bullied, it is always disgusting.

larrygrylls Thu 24-Jan-13 10:32:13


"Telling a woman that she will be raped or that someone would like to stick a cock in her mouth is incitement to hatred and should be treated as a hate crime.

These are not "opinions" or "views" these are malicious and vile personal attacks."

Totally agree with you. These are not opinions and are actionable.

"For instance, racist tweets are now removed and the police can get involved. That is the law. Racism targets people based on their race. Misogyny targets women based on their gender."

That is the law but not sure I agree with it. I do think stupid opinions are best dealt with by force of argument, not force of law. And, I say that as a Jewish looking person who reads plenty of anti semitism, so I am not entirely speaking from a position of privilege. I prefer to let idiots say their worst and then deal with it, not censor them. I do think censorship allows the oppressors to believe that they are the oppressed. JMO.

seeker Thu 24-Jan-13 10:32:15

Larry- that is not exactly the same, is it? The issue here is that women get this particular sort of violent sex related abuse simply for expressing an opinion.

I don't see what education/privilege has to do with it. Sure, Prof Beard is privileged in terms of education, and by your own admission, so are you, larry. But misogyny isn't reserved for women who're successful or well educated. The language used towards you - it's interesting you single out 'gay' as a word you wouldn't see as an insult, but not 'cunt' - is really telling of what people think would most insult a man. Oh yes: it's comparing him to female genitalia.

As rhubarb says, we don't have a hate crime law that protects against gendered insults, and we need one.

seeker Thu 24-Jan-13 10:33:49

Sorry, posted too soon- from your description, the media is full of men like you. Are they threatened with sexual violence on a regular basis?

kim147 Thu 24-Jan-13 10:35:27

LRD Exactly - should women be a protected characteristic (if that's the appropriate word) when it comes to hate crime?

larrygrylls Thu 24-Jan-13 10:36:08


You do like picking up semantic points. I know some women want to reclaim "cunt" as a positive word. However, I think that being called a "cunt" is not the same as being called a vagina. If someone called me a vagina, I would look faintly bemused but certainly not regard it as an insult. Cunt has evolved from its original meaning to be just a nasty word for someone you despise. Same as prick, really. All insults are a bit silly if analysed semantically, they have force because of their common usage.

seeker Thu 24-Jan-13 10:40:51

I am a little uncomfortable posting here now I am aware that Prof Beard is around, but I am even more uncomfortable about the undercurrent of "victim blaming" that is emerging. As if her views as expressed courted abuse.

Yes, I think semantics are fascinating. The point I am making is that 'cunt' has evolved to be 'a nasty word'. But I don't think anyone has forgotten it also means 'female genitalia'.

You'd note, too, that 'prick' isn't remotely as offensive as 'cunt'.

There are reasons for this, you know.

kim - I don't know enough about what that would mean, sorry.

seeker - spot on. And me too.

THERhubarb Thu 24-Jan-13 10:46:08

Once it is made law Larry then websites that are set up solely for the purposes of spouting hatred towards women (yes I found it unbelievable that they exist but they do) could be reported and shut down. If it is illegal I think you will find that a lot of people will think twice before opening their ignorant mouths.

I agree that a lot of these racist tweets that thick footballers throw at each other which then lands up in court at the expense of the tax payer might seem like a complete waste of money and energy. But look at it another way, ever since that man got arrested for making a jokey comment about blowing up an airport people have been thinking twice before posting. And now that they realise the police have powers to trace them and arrest them for hate speech, they are bloody careful too.

You only need a couple of examples to change the way people tweet and make them think about what they are saying and who it might affect.

Didn't someone target Tom Daley and say something about his dad? The media certainly picked up on that didn't they? Yet a woman suffers hateful abuse and threats and the papers are suddenly very quiet.

Look, this is not an ideal world and there is a fine line between allowing freedom of speech and policing hate crimes. There is no perfect solution but I think we agree that women are being targeted not because of their education or background or opinions but because they are women. That is the bottom line here. The insults make that very clear.

I was also bullied for being stick thin and I have people assume I am ignorant and thick because I have a Northern accent and live in an ex-council house. People make shit judgements every day and as a society we will never win the war against bullying but we can fight against hatred. Hatred of certain sections of society, whether they be Jewish, gay, Muslim, black or female must not be tolerated. Not in any shape or form.

We cannot afford to ignore this in the hope that it will go away. It won't.

larrygrylls Thu 24-Jan-13 10:47:30

I think Professor Beard would actually enjoy the debate and may well join in. She could certainly enlighten us on the etymology of the word "education"!

I don't think she would in any way want to censor a reasonable discussion of what should or should not be allowed to be said. I am a great admirer of hers, although I do feel that she is far better within the area of her expertise and rather strayed beyond it on QT.

I feel kinda uncomfortable speculating about what she would/wouldn't do, since she's already popped onto the thread.

FWIW, if you google, you can usually get a decent etymology (but you surely know it? confused).

THERhubarb Thu 24-Jan-13 10:50:16

And yes, so what if Mary Beard is upper class with a priviledged background? I couldn't give a baboon's arsehole if she lived in a Chateau and ate swans all day, she is entitled to her opinions and views just as much as if she lived in a tent and ate worms at the bottom of your garden.

I do not base my judgement on where people come from or what their background is. I base my judgement on what comes out of their mouths.

Now let's stick to the point in question shall we and not make this about how well the ignorant judge each other.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

seeker Thu 24-Jan-13 10:52:22

Because obviously, Question Time participants are usually experts in all the fields raised by the questions.

Or is it just that generally men have a better grasp of politics and current affairs, and so are better qualified to comment on a wider range of topics?

THERhubarb Thu 24-Jan-13 10:52:32

Oh Larry fgs get a grip. Did I not see Johnny Rotten on QT? Perhaps he should stay within his 'field' too and not stray into voicing an opinion either? As it turns out he had quite a lot to say.

EVERYONE is entitled to an opinion and that is what QT is all about. Giving people an opinion. If everyone stuck to their 'roles' then I wouldn't be on Mumsnet talking about this.

larrygrylls Thu 24-Jan-13 10:55:49

"FWIW, if you google, you can usually get a decent etymology (but you surely know it? ). "

I have and two different ones are given. E-ducere (to lead out) and E-ducare (bring up, rear). Prof Beard would be able to expand intelligently on the differences. And, no, sadly, with my rusty O level latin, I couldn't.

And, of course Prof Beard can speak for herself. So, why are at least two posters using the dog-whistle word "victim blaming" to try to shut down discussion?

seeker - touche (no, I don't know how to do the accent thing grin).

mindosa Thu 24-Jan-13 10:59:05

Its like the furore over Hilary Clintons hair, lack of make up and glasses. She is Hilary Clinton fgs, the least interesting thing about her is her looks.

I am Irish and was in school around the time Mary Robinson was elected president. The vitriol around her status as a working mother and her lack of interest in clothes and make up was astounding.

larrygrylls Thu 24-Jan-13 11:01:03

"Oh Larry fgs get a grip. Did I not see Johnny Rotten on QT? Perhaps he should stay within his 'field' too and not stray into voicing an opinion either? As it turns out he had quite a lot to say."

Sadly, you did. And what a travesty it was.

That is not what QT is about (or certainly wasn't originally under the wonderful chairmanship of Sir Robin Day). It is the only popular politics programme on television and I think it terribly sad that they have increased the number of panellists so no-one gets a proper say and invited more "popular" panellists. And I am not saying that Mary Beard should not have been on there (she certainly had 10x the claim than Johnny Rotten), in many areas she is the go-to expert. However, IMO, she spoke authoritatively in areas in which she had no authority. I know that is the norm these days but I expected better of her given her credentials.

kim147 Thu 24-Jan-13 11:01:14

Look at Julie Gillard - the Australian PM

Unmarried, no children and living with a partner.
And she has had a lot of abuse - or even just people commenting on that aspect of her life as opposed to her politics which are the issues.

drizzlecake Thu 24-Jan-13 11:01:54

I think that part of the problem, part of Prof Beard's crime, was to look confident, assured and happy.

People who aren't rich, good looking or famous aren't entitled to be confident and assured and happy in UK society. Perhaps I should have said Women rather than People.

So you get the 'who does she think she is?' attitude.

Also in the uk older people ie grey haired ones, are expected to be, basically, seen and not heard. I live part of the year in California, long grey hair, male and female is v common. It is envy and thus resentment of anyone who stands out from the norm which is another trait here.

larry, you disagreed with her. I didn't know you were also an immigration expert, but perhaps that explains why you feel so strongly about this.

My impression of QT (and I'm young and wet behind the ears, remember) is that the whole point is for reasonably intelligent people to debate stuff so that non-experts can understand it.

Naturally, in that situation, sometimes an expert will disagree. God knows, I can't watch Braveheart without wittering on about anachronisms and, as you note, I struggle not to pick you up on misplaced Lit references. But so it goes. It says more about pedantry amongst people who're talking about their own subjects than anything else.

I do honestly think you're sidetracking by focussing on your disagreement with what Mary said, rather than on the topic in hand, which is, why do some people think it's ok to respond like this when they disagree with a woman?

THERhubarb Thu 24-Jan-13 11:08:36

There is still a belief that women should go back to looking pretty and taking care of children and men. Let's face it, men ruled the roost for many years and women were seen merely as property, which is why she takes his name in marriage and promises to love and "obey" him.

This attitude has existed for thousands of years. Women's equality only became an issue around 100 years ago and even then it wasn't until the first and second world wars that women started to play a major role in defending the country and taking on jobs that were previously seen as "men's jobs".

It's not surprising that there is still an undercurrent of sexism around or that hate crimes towards women are still not taken as seriously as some other hate crimes.

I genuinely feel that society is going backwards rather than forwards. You only have to watch MTV videos to realise that young people are still being given the message that women are owned and controlled by men.

Fifty Shades of Grey, what a fucking awful book, it was a bestseller and it's all about domination and control of a woman by a man. I also noticed that a man had criminal charges pressed against him for re-enacting a scene from the book and beating his wife with a rope.

Sometimes I just despair and wish I told take dd and ds and run off with them somewhere were they won't be exposed to such cavemen attitudes. But I can't so I have to live here, bring them up as best I can and try hard to be involved with anything that calls for change.

mindosa Thu 24-Jan-13 11:10:10

TheRhubarb Fifty Shades was written by a woman and read by women. I cannot fathom why readers of this book cannot understand that it is deeply misogynistic

THERhubarb Thu 24-Jan-13 11:11:55

And I agree with LRD. Larry you are missing the point and I'm getting rather tired of repeating this. I did not watch QT. I have no idea what she said. I do not care. This is not about what she said or how she said it or if she should have been on QT, this is about the vitrolic abuse directed towards her for daring to have an opinion, for daring to be in the public eye and not live up to the expectations of how women should dress, look and behave.

Why are you finding it so hard to grasp that? Why do you keep coming back to the same old point that you didn't like her being on QT and you disagreed with her points. Whoopee for you.

Now can we please get back to the original point?

AbigailAdams Thu 24-Jan-13 11:12:55

"I was in the top sets at school, went to Cambridge and am reasonably well spoken." I honestly would never have guessed that. Ever.

Thank you for your input larry, but whether Mary's opinion was correct or not, whether she should have been "allowed" to talk about things that perhaps weren't in her immediate expert zone isn't the point of the thread. But you have illustrated, nicely, where the sense of entitlement comes from with these misogynistic trolls.

You're kicking arse here, rhubarb, but I die a bit inside when you say women's equality has only been an issue for 100 years. And so does Christine de Pizan

I do take your point though.

The shades of grey thing is properly creepy.

THERhubarb Thu 24-Jan-13 11:14:00

mindosa because this is what society tells women they should like. It's sexual liberation don't you know? Women are apparently choosing to be controlled and dominated.

I shudder to think of the green light that book has given dominant and controlling men to carry on abusing their wives/girlfriends.

THERhubarb Thu 24-Jan-13 11:16:01

Sorry LRD, was thinking back to Emmeline Pankhurst and should have said that women's equality has only been an issue in law and brought to the forefront by the Suffragettes. Of course women have been fighting their battle for much longer but as far as publicity goes, the suffragettes probably had the most success.

larrygrylls Thu 24-Jan-13 11:16:23


""I was in the top sets at school, went to Cambridge and am reasonably well spoken." I honestly would never have guessed that. Ever.

Thank you for your input larry, but whether Mary's opinion was correct or not, whether she should have been "allowed" to talk about things that perhaps weren't in her immediate expert zone isn't the point of the thread. But you have illustrated, nicely, where the sense of entitlement comes from with these misogynistic trolls."

You take them out of contect and use them for ad hominem abuse. You attack me rather than the thrust of my argument. Any similarity with the trolling that MB received?

I know ... I'm just a propagandist for my medieval women. blush

kim147 Thu 24-Jan-13 11:17:23

What is your argument, Larry?

larry, that is really offensive.

AA disagreed with you, perfectly polite as far as I can see. And you're comparing her to the trolling MB received? What on earth is the similarity? Do you really believe that it's so heinous for you to be disagreed with politely, that it compares to that?

If you didn't understand the context of AA's remarks, you could simply have asked. You didn't need to assume there wasn't a context.

AbigailAdams Thu 24-Jan-13 11:22:35

No, no similarity larry. HTH.

larrygrylls Thu 24-Jan-13 11:23:20


Thank you for at least asking!

Fundamentally, successful intelligent people will always be resented and bullied by those jealous of them. Bullies always seek people's weak points. MB was the subject of horrific bullying but I am not sure if it was BECAUSE she was a woman, I suspect more because she was an intelligent well educated person saying some unpalatable things on QT. Eric Pickles gets bullied BECAUSE he is a self-satisfied Conservative but the form it takes is frequently related to his adiposity rather than his views.

Can we stop people attacking people for who they are rather than what they say? Not sure we can or even should unless they get into libel or threats of violence.

Curious as to your take, actually?

THERhubarb Thu 24-Jan-13 11:24:58

larry, I take it you do not see the irony there?

You are focusing on MB's background, qualifications, area of expertise and opinions rather than the point in hand, which is that no women should ever have to put up with misogynistic abuse.

I have tried as have other posters to set this thread back on the right tracks but you have insisted on trying to derail it by harping on about how MB should not have been on QT, how she does not speak for the common person and how much you disagreed with her.

You now accuse someone of focusing on your own background rather than your argument.


May I politely suggest that if you want to discuss QT and Mary Beard's opinions on there that you start a new thread because this one is clearly about women having the right to be heard without being subjected to hateful abuse.

If you can contribute to that specific topic in an intelligent fashion then feel free. Otherwise your points are merely lost.

I have some paid work I need to be doing now so I shall leave this for a few hours and will look back in later.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

larry, it was because she is a woman. You would like to think it isn't, I know. But it is quite clear: the language that was used was deeply misogynistic, as was that picture. And MB isn't the only woman who is speaking out about this, as has been pointed out.

Why are you so resistant to the idea that misogyny is relevant here?

I don't understand it.

larrygrylls Thu 24-Jan-13 11:27:29


"AA disagreed with you, perfectly polite as far as I can see. And you're comparing her to the trolling MB received? What on earth is the similarity? Do you really believe that it's so heinous for you to be disagreed with politely, that it compares to that? "

Did we read the same posts? She firstly implied that I was boasting, quoting the first line of a previous post without adding any context. Then she spoke about how my post illustrated "my sense of entitlement".

How is she disagreeing with me politely? In what sense is what she says not a personal attack on me?

You have politely disagreed with me and I have enjoyed our conversation. AA has personally attacked me and not engaged with my arguments at all.

THERhubarb Thu 24-Jan-13 11:28:02

Eric Pickles does not get threatened with rape as other women bloggers have. He is not subject to sexual threats, he does not have people telling him they know where he lives, he does not have his face photoshopped onto a dick and balls, his own anatomy is not under discussion.

There is huge difference between the insults that might be directed towards Eric Pickles and the insults that are directed at opinionated women.

I'm sorry you seem blind to this.

AbigailAdams Thu 24-Jan-13 11:29:43

Nope larry you are wrong. The type and level of abuse Mary received was because she was a woman. Absolutely no doubt about that. And all women in the public domain are subject to that type of abuse whether they are intelligent or not. (however measuring intelligence is a pretty subjective and generally patriarchal).

And I wasn't inferring that your Cambridge qualification illustrated a sense of entitlement, although I can see why you would think that, re-reading. They were in fact two separate comments. I think your speech as to why Mary Beard shouldn't have spoken authoritatively on QT was more of an illustration.

THERhubarb Thu 24-Jan-13 11:31:11

I sincerely hope this thread is not derailed now.
Larry, go report her then. You are being deliberately obtuse as far as I can see and since you have failed to win your point you are stooping to calling victim.

Yet you yourself criticised MB for her background.

I see this as deliberate derailment now. I really do have to go, I hope the other posters can get it back on track and ignore further attempts.

AbigailAdams Thu 24-Jan-13 11:31:19

And you were boasting.

StewieGriffinsMom Thu 24-Jan-13 11:32:18

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

larrygrylls Thu 24-Jan-13 11:32:53


I am not so resistant to it and clearly, if there were not at heart a level of misogyny, the bullying would not have been framed as it was. I don't think misogyny was the cause but clearly it framed the result. Maybe I am not making myself clear and feel I am being drawn into side alleys which are not really reflecting how I feel.

I guess I am actually shocked by the level of misogyny in some people and maybe, at some level, don't want to believe it. So, that last post was fair and made me question myself.

The separate issue of what should be allowed and whether/how it should be dealt with is maybe more of what I wanted to say and somehow should have been more clear in separating the two.

AbigailAdams Thu 24-Jan-13 11:35:31

Yes he is derailing. That's why I said your arguments were irrelevant, larry. Not you, your arguments.

Well, I am glad to hear that clarification, larry.

I do think it's a pity this thread has got so sidetracked, but it's good of you to admit you do realize you'd perhaps got a bit tangled up in a separate point.

MmeLindor Thu 24-Jan-13 11:38:39

This seems to have gone slightly off topic, which is a shame as it is an interesting thread.

I don't see that abuse aimed at Pickles or any other male politician is in any way similar to the abuse that Mary and blogger Cath Elliot received at the hands of that awful website. To name just two of their targets.

IMO, the key issues are

1. Should we view and legally challenge misogynistic abuse in the same way that we would racist or anti-Semitic commens?

2. Should we legally challenge hate crime on Social Media?

3. How to educate the next generation of Social Media users so that they see that a) hate speech and bullying is unacceptable and may lead to prosecution and b) what you post today online may come back and kick your arse in ten years time

Thank you for commenting on this thread, and for giving women a voice. I hope that your courage will help other women speak out against such abuse.

Btw, no, AA's post isn't a personal attack. I can't see how you'd get to that.

She just disagrees. She thinks you're wrong. That's not an attack and it is ludicrous to compare it to what MB had to put up with.

AbigailAdams Thu 24-Jan-13 11:39:05

I really like that idea SGM. Would we have a standard letter that could either be sent as is or elaborated on, or everyone just write their own. With the former we would probably get more people involved but the latter might have a better effect.

Twitter campaigns are always good for this type of stuff.

MmeLindor Thu 24-Jan-13 11:40:23

Took so long to post that, and everyone else has made similar points.

I like that idea

I would like to be in on this too, please. I'm really sick of CiF - even on a good day you can glance over the comments and feel your blood pressure go through the roof.

StewieGriffinsMom Thu 24-Jan-13 11:45:20

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AbigailAdams Thu 24-Jan-13 11:46:37

Anything remotely related to women on CiF seems to attract the misogynistic comments. It is depressing.

TunipTheVegedude Thu 24-Jan-13 11:47:51

I think CiF would be an excellent place to start.

Ideally all the online publications would be onto this but the Guardian would be a good one first because 1. Ironically it's worse than the others 2. Politically it's meant to be leftwing so it ought to put its money where its mouth is.

A series of blogs on this would work well.

MmeLindor Thu 24-Jan-13 11:49:16

It would be great if it could come from women writers, journalists, academics, bloggers, readers... so that it can't be dismissed as a bunch of mums from MN moaning cause someone got called names.

Cath Elliot might be a good person to approach. And those who were in the article that Rhubs linked to earlier.

StewieGriffinsMom Thu 24-Jan-13 11:53:47

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TunipTheVegedude Thu 24-Jan-13 11:54:24

Maybe MN could get the CiF Chief Deleter (or whatever his/her job title is) on for a webchat....

StewieGriffinsMom Thu 24-Jan-13 11:58:53

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Ooh, I would love to see that, tunip. I would be really interested to know how they do it.

Greythorne Thu 24-Jan-13 12:03:22

"It's the blatant lack of approval-seeking behaviour that so deeply offends men, the flagrant breaching of codes of accepted female behaviour that terrifies women."
Committing that one to memory.

MmeLindor Thu 24-Jan-13 12:25:39

Brilliant idea, T.

I have been thinking of the education / role model side of this. 18% of Guardian readers are 15 to 24yo.

They read the comments, and learn that while racist remarks are deleted, nasty comments about women are not deleted.

This is not good.

THERhubarb Thu 24-Jan-13 12:37:39

<snatches 5 mins from copy brief> Count me in!

tiktok Thu 24-Jan-13 13:45:13

Have we linked to Cristina Odone's spectacular exercise in missing the point, yet?

I don't think MB was all that bothered about stupid jibes concerning her appearance (which is a fine appearance, IMO!), but she was justifiably angry about the vile woman-hating abuse and threats that came her way...and which she linked to a visible, audible and ever-present nastiness in our world.

AbigailAdams Thu 24-Jan-13 13:53:47

Yes tiktok that is pretty lacking in critical thinking (and atrocious journalism).

Here is glosswatch's rebuttal of it

Sanity restored once more

CelineMcBean Thu 24-Jan-13 14:33:21

A small point but insults like "bitch" and "slut" are actually important too in that they perpetuate the idea of an acceptable level of misogyny. Places like CiF delete words like "nigger" or "fudge-packer" or other equally disgusting terms relating to protected characteristics but allow misogynistic comments to stand.

Maybe online publications should have a code of conduct? A very simple test of...

1. Does the posting contain a misogynistic word? Yes/No - if yes delete.

2. Does the posting reference a misogynistic act? Yes/No - if yes delete

3. Where you are unsure if a post is offensive, exchange the words relating to women or women's parts or characteristics with an equivalent word relating to race or sexual orientation make it offensive? Yes/No - if yes delete. e.g. You don't know anything you stupid bitch substitute bitch for "nigger" = clearly deletable but you are talking out of your arse, substitute arse for an equivalent word and there isn't one. Arse is not common to one particular protected characteristic so it can stay. Although we'd all agree the poster was rather inarticulate.

Of course censorship and deletions are just fire-fighting - they don't immediately tackle the root cause but they do have an effect over time. Those who have become desensitised to the language become re-sensitised and those who want to be heard have to form an argument or opinion instead of throwing out a cheap insult. It's the pernicious patriarchy that we tackle by eliminating some of the symptoms of it and tackling symptoms is easier than going straight for mind sets and ingrained mis-education.

Greythorne Thu 24-Jan-13 14:34:37

Sorry, not meaning to derail, but given this is an all-purpose feminism thread smile

Just been looking for a hotel in Brussels and came across the Hotel Thon. This is what it reads on their home page:

Avec sa situation privilégiée sur l’Avenue Louise, l’avenue la plus à la mode de Bruxelles en termes de shopping et d’affaires, le Thon Hotel Bristol Stephanie (hôtel 4 étoiles de luxe) est idéal, à la fois pour les hommes d’affaires et les touristes. Il offre les plus grandes chambres d'hôtel de Bruxelles et combine élégance et confort. La Place du Sablon connue pour ses antiquaires et le centre historique sont facilement accessibles.

It's apparently idea for business men and tourists.

It's everywhere.

CelineMcBean Thu 24-Jan-13 14:45:47

Hmm. I bet if that hotel had enquiries every day about whether business women were also welcome they'd soon update their website because of the sheer hassle and then next time they would think.

Tackling the small stuff is sometimes just as important. Although I cannot get worked up about "chairman" vs "chair person" and I loathe "mangeress", "murderess" or even "actress". So unnecessary to make it gendered.

StewieGriffinsMom Thu 24-Jan-13 14:49:14

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Susan2kids Thu 24-Jan-13 15:53:11

"If sexist tweets were dealt with in the same way by the police as racist or homophobic ones."

Threats of rape are infact more serious had Mar Chosen to pursue prosecution.

Perriwinkle Thu 24-Jan-13 20:47:58

Had a look at the site she mentions in her article, just out of interest.

A quick perusal of the content suggests that there is just as much abuse and vitriol directed towards men as women.

I therefore agree with the earlier comment that it's more misanthropic than misogynistic.

Whether it's acceptable to be able to write what the hell you like about other people on the internet is a whole other debate of course.

kim147 Thu 24-Jan-13 20:52:47

Good article about someone who is disabled and the abuse they got.

But totally agree about abuse and comments women get in the media.

Remember this student on University Challenge and the abuse she got.

MmeLindor Thu 24-Jan-13 22:48:52

How did you manage that? It has been taken down.

seeker Thu 24-Jan-13 23:28:40

Clever of you periwinkle! Could you link to the pictures of men's face superimposed on a cock and balls? And the references to shutting a man up by sticking a dick into his mouth?

FastidiaBlueberry Fri 25-Jan-13 09:14:13

Men get insulted because of what they say and when people are being stupid, because of what they look like.

They don't get insulted because they are*men*.

Mary Beard was insulted because she is a woman. And she is a woman who fails to meet patriarchally approved woman standards. It's notable that most of the insults were about her not meeting patriarchal beauty standards - all her knowledge, expertise, intelligence, are all utterly irrelevant because she doesn't meet beauty standards which is the most important thing a woman can do.

It's really simple.

tiktok Fri 25-Jan-13 09:56:39

This is true, Fastidia but in fact it is worse than you say.

Women can be conventionally attractive (like Louise Mensch) but can still have their appearance and body ripped to shreds in sexual, hateful ways. Even, the fact that they are conventionally attractive can end up being used to denigrate them (they become 'bimbos' or 'airheads').

In addition, patriarchal beauty standards are not fixed. The 'favoured' body shapes come in and out of 'fashion' - with the one constant, that the aging face and figure is always up for more criticism (and there is very little anyone can do about getting, and looking, older!).

The point is, MB (and LM and all the others) are not insulted and threatened because of their looks. Whatever women look like, it can happen...because of the still-alive-and-kicking women hatred that's around us sad

OneMoreChap Fri 25-Jan-13 12:17:57

People get insulted for whatever reason the creep doing it has; the insult will usually be based on whatever can be most hurtful.

In this society, where there is a ridiculous focus on what people (largely women, but increasingly men) look like appearance can be one focus. [Hello, fashion magazines, I hate you].

In this society women are still valued far more for their appearance, "sexual attractiveness" and so on - hence the vile behaviour attacking MB - because that's what the idiots think will be most offensive to her.

This is why men are called gay - or other homosexual epithets - as that's what the insecure morons would be most offended by themselves. I've been insulted for the putative size of my genitalia "How big's your dick, nancy?" I got a laugh when I told the arse it was big enough to fill a pram.

A lot of these poltroons are offended that women can be as smart, clever, rich, capable as any man - and don't need to be some man's adjunct. Who the fuck sleeps with them to give them this exaggerated idea of their own importance - or even relevance.

MmeLindor Fri 25-Jan-13 14:22:09

I was looking to see if there were any blog posts or articles about CIF and misogynistic comments and found this one. It is rather amusing.

AbigailAdams Fri 25-Jan-13 20:27:31

Nice blaming of men's behaviour on women there, OneMoreChap.

LesBOFerables Fri 25-Jan-13 20:42:20

I love that blog, MmeL. It's our RowanMumsnet's, isn't it?

I didn't know Rowan MN had a blog. No surprise, though. smile

TunipTheVegedude Fri 25-Jan-13 20:47:22

Oh that blog is very funny! (Good old Rowan smile)

Beachcomber Fri 25-Jan-13 21:13:27

It is the backlash (which seems to have been going on for ages now).

Putting women (uppity or not) back in their place.

And warning other women not to get above their station.

MmeLindor Fri 25-Jan-13 21:56:48

yes, tis RowanMN. It is a great blog.

Funnily enough, I googled 'CIF misogyny' and it was one of the first hits.

LaraInTheSky Sun 27-Jan-13 14:01:27

OP, unfortunately, we still live in a society where the mere fact of being a woman makes you a target for abuse.

It is designed to silence women, to put them down, to understimate their views, their experiences, their lives. In one word: women are of no value.

Whenever I see a woman in a discussion panel like Question Time, I sort of cringe. Not because tthey're not clever, articulate or they're not capable of expressing themselves, but because of the silent judgements they have to challenge in order to be there.

Sometimes those judgements come into the surface and we have seen the results. Misogyny is everywhere, it's so engrained in our society that to many it seems normal.

I've always loved Mary Beard. She's intellegent, highly educated, a perfect role model for any girl today. And what does she get back from some sectors of society? Degrading comments about her sex, just because of one single reason: she's a woman.

AbigailAdams Sun 27-Jan-13 14:37:48

You are right Lara. As women, we have to get past being women before our voices are heard and respected.

OneMoreChap Mon 28-Jan-13 11:19:56

AbigailAdams Fri 25-Jan-13 20:27:31

Nice blaming of men's behaviour on women there, OneMoreChap.

Re-read, didn't see where I did that, but apologies anyway.

AbigailAdams Mon 28-Jan-13 14:16:07

" A lot of these poltroons are offended that women can be as smart, clever, rich, capable as any man -and don't need to be some man's adjunct. Who the fuck sleeps with them to give them this exaggerated idea of their own importance - or even relevance."

There. Men's sense of entitlement has nothing to do with the women that sleep with them. Women don't give men an "exaggerated idea of their own importance".

OneMoreChap Mon 28-Jan-13 15:03:33

OK - got it thanks.

Poorly phrased on my part.

Wasn't intended to suggest women were to blame, more disbelief that anyone would get close to someone who thought like that.

FastidiaBlueberry Mon 28-Jan-13 18:23:50

Ah, they don't tell you they think that at first.

Or they pretend they're being ironic about it and it's all a big joke and if you challenge on them, it's your deficiency for being humorless, rather than their's for being a misogynist poltroon.

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