Why so fussed

So they do it to Mary Beard, too. Mary Beard! A classics don! Makes me want to get my friend Euripides to give them a dam’ good scolding.

But why, you might say, am I so fussed by this. One tv programme of no moment, a bit of flak, and some great waves of support on twitter (thank you all…Tony Law even, bizarrely, got Sulla martialed in the fight last night…). Why not just “move on”?

One reason, it has introduced me to a side on internet trolling that I haven’t experienced before, and is worth thinking about. My appearance on Question Time prompted a web post that has in the last few days discussed my pubic hair (do I brush the floor with it), whether I need rogering (that comment was taken down, as was the speculation about the capaciousness of my vagina, and the plan to plant a d*** in my mouth).

It is headed with the picture above (that’s me….or in the words of one contributor:” A vile, spiteful excuse for a woman, who eats too much cabbage and has cheese straws for teeth.”)

There’s worse to come.

Of course there is. That’s barely noticeable.

The stuff about me is predictable enough, as a further sample will show:

“Undergrowth, like a mound, ladyshave free, a womble, a Cambridge Don, common ain’t she.”

“Hello Mary, we dont fear you and you’re not intelligent. All in all, a complete failure of a sentence/ Top tip: Try looking closer to home for the reason people dislike you, you arrogant twat”

” She’s an idiot who’s a disgrace to Cambridge Uni and Woman-kind. We let her get away with it by calling her a Lezzie which she obviously isn’t as she’s married.”

“Fucking hell, she’s only 57. She looks at least 70.”

“Mary, Mary quite Clunge-hairy, how does your Lady Garden grow?”

“Hairy Beard, Professor of Farts at Cunstsford University, living the dream.”

“An ignorant cunt.”

“Being a cunt transcends gender, Mary.”

Ths is interspersed with quotes from all kinds of things I’ve written, jibes at my kids (one of whomMoEmkZlintervened, independently, to my defence) and husband. The photo on the right (also now taken down) gives you the flavour (there’s an X certificate on clicking on the pop up — but I think it’s important for people to see what the bottom line is).Another one shows a pair of really hairy legs, as if they were mine.

All the same, you may say … why pay it any attention, still less give it publicity?

Several reasons. First, the misogyny here is truly gobsmacking. The whole site is pretty hateful (and what some of the comments say about Andrew Marr since he’s been ill are almost worse than anything).. but the whole “cunt” talk and the kind of stuff represented by the photo on right is more than a few steps into sadism.  It would be quite enough to put many women off appearing in public, contributing to political debate, especially as all of this comes up on google..

Yes it god damn well would, and does, and is. Michael Shermer please note. Get this kind of shit every day for going on two years and it becomes very tempting to stop appearing in public and contributing to political debate – which is the goal.

Oh no, it’s all just a joke, isn’t it? Can’t you take one? Or a hundred, or ten thousand?

But reading through it (and yes you get tipped off about it whether you search or not.. and no you cant resist looking at it), it is absolutely plain as day that this is meant to hurt and wound (“If all else, we got to her” as one commenter says). It shows the classic signs of vile playground bullying — claiming to know about the victim, sneering at things they could not possibly know but claim they do, destabilising by using names in the thread that are those of your friends or even anagrams of your own, suggesting that they are watching you… that’s all part of the bullying repertoire.

Check check check check.

So how to stop it? I am sure that there is some clever way if we put our heads together.Could we flood the site with comments, or Latin poetry…so they went behind a wall (if they want to chat like this on their own, well fine.. or at least better). Or does anyone reading this post know anyone involved in this and can just say ‘no’?

Nobody’s been able to think of a clever way yet.