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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.

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.

LittleAbruzzenBear Wed 23-Jan-13 11:55:06

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.

Bossybritches22 Wed 23-Jan-13 12:43:59

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)

LRDtheFeministDragon Wed 23-Jan-13 13:16:55

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.

LRDtheFeministDragon Wed 23-Jan-13 13:32:32

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.

LRDtheFeministDragon Wed 23-Jan-13 13:32:55

(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

This is what I was thinking of

LRDtheFeministDragon Wed 23-Jan-13 13:50:28

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?

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