I have a new hera, Mary Beard, who is a Professor at the University of Cambridge. She is a delightfully accomplished woman who is fearlessly outspoken against trolls and cyberstalkers, deftly pointing out their misogyny. A few good links:
- Mary Beard and Her ‘Battle Cry’ Against Internet Trolling
“The gloomiest way of describing the ancient world is it is misogyny from A to Z, really,” she said. But even in the present, she added, “we have never escaped a certain male cultural desire for women’s silence.”
- The Troll Slayer: A Cambridge classicist takes on her sexist detractors
“The more I’ve looked at the details of the threats and the insults that women are on the receiving end of, the more some of them seem to fit into the old patterns of prejudice and assumption that I have been talking about,” she said. “It doesn’t much matter what line of argument you take as a woman. If you venture into traditional male territory, the abuse comes anyway. It’s not what you say that prompts it—it’s the fact that you are saying it.” Such online interjections—” ‘Shut up you bitch’ is a fairly common refrain”—often contain threats of violence, a “predictable menu of rape, bombing, murder, and so forth.” She mildly reported one tweet that had been directed at her: “I’m going to cut off your head and rape it.”
- Mary Beard: I almost didn’t feel such generic, violent misogyny was about me: Professor Mary Beard tells of her shock at the horrific abuse she suffered from internet trolls after her Question Time appearance, and the support she’s had from colleagues and strangers alike
It all started when Beard appeared as a panellist on the BBC1 programme, filmed in Lincoln. In response to a question about whether the UK could cope with more immigration, she cited a recent report claiming that immigration had actually brought some benefits to the local area. A perfectly reasonable thing to say, or so you might have thought.
But the next day, commenters on the now closed Don’t Start Me Off website, which encouraged anonymous posters to vent their anger on targets chosen by the administrator, launched a vicious and sustained attack on Beard. The internet trolls posted dozens of horrifying sexual taunts, in language too offensive to reprint. The level of the abuse was so shocking that even those accustomed to the cut-and-thrust of online debate were appalled.
- How misogyny in Ancient Rome shaped modern cyberstalking