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"Mary Beard: I almost didn't feel such generic, violent misogyny was about me"

Professor Mary Beard describes herself as having a thick skin. But over the past 10 days, during which the 58-year-old classicist has been subjected to a stream of vitriolic online abuse after an appearance on Question Time, even she has struggled to keep on an even emotional keel.

Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comment(s); comment here or there.

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(Deleted comment)
No, I'm sure they'd have some specious reason as to why it would be unacceptable for somebody to do that to their mother, but totally OK to do it to Beard. Most men who harass women, after all, have mothers and/or sisters.

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I beg to differ.

Every one of these creatures has a justification prepared, and has convinced himself that he really believes he is Fighting For What Is Good.

Bullies always do. No bully has the mental competence to understand that he started it; the fact that someone said something he disagreed with, so much that he became hysterical with fear that it would be listened to, is what he considers the opening "attack".

By this rationalization, it follows that it is impossible for anyone to do the same thing in response, because the person doing it would have to be just as Good And True And Virtuous as the bully, and of course nobody is.

I pity the fool who does that to my mom. But nobody should be expected to take it.

It would probably also not occur to the person who superimposed her image on female genitalia to do the same to a man with whom he disagreed.

Not just a pretty face

Perhaps I shouldn't state her name, but I always paid attention when I saw a (now retired) female journalist on TV because (1) Her ideas - which I didn't always agree with - were always obviously well thought through and clearly expressed (2) Her appearance made it transparently obvious that she hadn't been picked for her looks.

Yup. As I seem to keep quoting these days, "Never believe in a meritocracy in which no one is funny-looking." (Teresa Nielsen Hayden)

Not that I think Mary Beard is funny-looking anyway (she looks delightful to me), but you know what I mean.

Heh. It's curious what people complain about: I see those teeth, I don't think "ugly woman", I think "British person of a certain age", which I suppose is another form of unfair stereotyping on my part. :)


She has quite a nice series on Rome playing on TVO at the moment. It's concerned with how people other than the upper crust actually lived. I recommend it.

In the second episode she takes us to an actual Roman tenement (suprising that any of these have survived, given how badly they were built, but this was attached to a church). David Wishart's description of these in his novels is pretty accurate. But then he's a classical scholar himself.

And that's one way to look at this. While she has real accomplishments, her critics produce nothing (barring foam coming from their mouths, and we have enough foam).

William Hyde

What gets me is that there wasn't much that Beard said during the programme that was terribly contentious, compared to a lot of these QTs. There was a member of the audience whose experience with immigration in the area did not match Beard's statistics, but there was barely an exchange over that. The only other thing I can remember is Farange getting a bit wild-eyed and frothy, and everyone metaphorically edging away from him. Does every female participant in Question Time get this kind of attention, all the time?

I wonder how much American involvement was involved. That sort of dogpile is a common tactic among the right-wing hate boards of the 101st Chairborne here, and Beard wasn't shy with her opinions after September 11. A few backchannel emails, some phony British diction, and wham!

This is my guess too. Beard was the source of probably the second-most-infamous sound-bite of the era (after Ward Churchill's) for people who were trying to convince themselves of a lefty academics' fifth column. These guys hold grudges.

What, hateful misogynist dogpiling is alien to British culture?

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Watching the QT exchange now on youtube, and it's hilarious; A woman who appears to be on the edge of tears for no readily apparent reason starts talking about how publics services in Boston, Old England, are at breaking point because of all the polish and lithuanians have come over here... and then goes on to mention that she is the half-polish descendant of immigrants who came to Boston, Old England, during ww2 and then asserts that these current polish immigrants are a new generation who are "disrespectful" in some manner that she doesn't elucidate on. XD

Between this and the BigotGate woman's whole "Where are all these eastern european immigrants coming from?", we've turned immigration in the public discourse into this wonderful rorschasch test that distinguishes mere partial idiots from the complete idiots.

Does every female participant in Question Time get this kind of attention, all the time?

Pretty much any female public figure who appears on TV gets this sort of abuse on twitter and in the more mainstream media atm; Somehow the newspaper culture in the UK has legitimised griefing to a degree that has not intersected well with our culture's normative misogyny and the second great september of the internet that facebook and twitter has produced.

...and the second great september of the internet that facebook and twitter has produced.

I just want to admire this for a while.

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