Women’s hour

Maureen Brian alerted me to Mary Beard’s appearance (there should be a hearing-word version of “appearance” for radio and podcasts – can’t be audience, that’s taken, and I can’t think of what else it could be) on Women’s Hour to talk about verbal abuse online.

She reports that the guys who run the repellent website that zoomed in on her actually took it down. Gee. I wish that happened more often. “Oh – this is vicious and horrible?” Pause for thought. “Why I guess you’re right, it is. That’s the end of that then. Thank you for letting us know.”

She and the presenter Jenni Murray talk about whether misogynist verbal abuse discourages women from speaking up (and writing) in public. “D’you think it does?” “Ooooooooh I don’t know, what d’you think?” “Oooooooh hard to say really.” No that’s not how it went. Mary Beard said of course it does.


  1. athyco says

    I nodded as she expressed the analogy of popping one’s head over a parapet and then ducking back down as being not useful. That stand can allow the more vulnerable to pop up in defense–as did the many on Twitter, her site, and the vicious and horrible site–even if circumstances would force them to duck back down if they stood alone.

    And would “discussion” be a good enough term for just audio?

  2. says

    Yes, I’m still getting a lot of people popping up in defense on Twitter.

    “Discussion” wouldn’t be quite parallel to “appearance.” I could have said (slangily) “gig” – I forgot about that word at the time. Still there should be an auditory equivalent of appearance! Most sloppy of the language not to have one.

  3. peterh says

    I should think “appearance” would do just fine; it’s quite readily understood in your context. Or, one could say, “Person X spoke on the YYY-Show yesterday.”

  4. athyco says

    Aw, I’ll cut the language a little slack for the many years that one would have to make an appearance in order to be heard at all. We may have to push a word into usage. hearance? verbalance? vocalance?

    *rolling eyes at self silliness*

  5. A. Noyd says

    Well, I don’t think avoiding “appearance” is necessary any more than we must substitute other words for “say” when communicating in writing, but you could perhaps use “engagement.”

  6. Maureen Brian says

    They really don’t like it when it happens to them!

    The website owner is deeply upset that people – all of whom must be in a vast conspiracy, of course – tried to dilute the garbage on his site with Latin poetry.


    That’s about as credible as Mr Armstrong’s claim that after decades of lying, cheating and bullying his lifetime ban from competitive sport is “equivalent to a life sentence” – his own words.

  7. says

    @Maureen, “trolling” his site! That is a joke, at least it was poetry not bigotry. There is a fuckwit on the Rod Liddle article condescendingly telling everyone it is “just trolling”… They are not “real” racists, homophobes or misogynists they just use the language to get a rise of out people. Lets say Mary Beards’ fans trolled that site and posted horribly bigoted posts on there, not latin poetry, how could they do that if they really thought bigotry unacceptable? Anyone that finds bigotry unacceptable would not bring themselves to write sentiments like that, unless they have some psychopathic traits and are able to short circuit any morality they possess. Even if they did somehow manage it, the forum is public and you are spreading bigoted attitudes and creating an environment in which the bigots thrive. So I’d argue they would be being misogynist, racist or whatever regardless of intent…

    At least the site owner acted on the complaints, even if it took “troll” posts of latin poetry to force it. Maybe the pitters could start posting poetry to symbolise their “dissent”, might be more appreciated. Actually I take that back as I’d imagine their idea of poetry probably starts “There was a young lady from…”

  8. Rodney Nelson says

    Maureen Brian #12

    I was less than impressed by White’s notpology to Beard:

    If she is genuinely hurt I am sorry because we never try to hurt people’s feelings.

    An apology does not start off with “if”.

  9. AsqJames says

    That first paragraph in the Grauniad article…

    The co-owner and moderator of the website that published abusive comments about Mary Beard has accused the Cambridge academic of using the row to deflect from her own comments about immigration on Question Time.

    That’s White trolling some more right? I didn’t watch QT, so i have no idea what Beard’s comments on immigration were, but if White thought they were so wrong-headed perhaps he should have focused on taking criticising the substance of what she said rather than her gender, age and appearance.

  10. says

    It’s amazing how many people apparently genuinely don’t grasp that “X said something I really really really disagree with” does not justify calling X an ugly fat smelly old cunt.

  11. Matt Penfold says

    They did a follow up today with some listener’s comments. They were universally in praise of Mary Beard and her courage in speaking out.

  12. says

    I was sorry to hear Mary Beard letting her tormenters off the hook by focusing more on civility and tone than on the rank misogyny.

  13. Anthony K says

    They are not “real” racists, homophobes or misogynists they just use the language to get a rise of out people.

    This ‘I’m not really an X, I just talk like one to get a rise out of’ line is such a bullshit euphemism. Why don’t these brave types call it what it is: lying to people for the sole purpose of hurting them and making them angry.

  14. says

    Well the arse calling women “dear” and “deary” in the comments on the Rod Liddle piece and arguing the trolls are not really misogynist surprisingly turned out to be a racist! I was so shocked!

  15. alqpr says

    On the main point I would say that if the perps actually admitted and regretted their wrongdoing and discouraged their defenders from arguing against the take-down then the overall outcome might be positive.

    But I can’t resist contributing also to the linguistic digression.
    If “audience” is “taken”, then isn’t also “appearance”?
    When I make an appearance I also have one in a very different sense, just as much as the audience I give is different from the one that is listening to me (or curiously also just watching!) .

    In early times the audience to a performance might have been there mainly to listen – either to music or to the words of a play – but for mimes and silent movies the term really does not make sense. But while an audience with the pope is, I believe, usually face2face, the Wizard of Oz gave his from behind a screen.

    But if it’s ok for a mime or silent movie to have an audience, then I guess it’s also ok for a speaker to make an appearance on the radio.

  16. iainr says

    The audience are the people who listen so it’s taken but it would be wrong to use it for the people who speak even if it wasn’t.

    Since audience comes from audiere something from oriere might be appropriate. Orience maybe?

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