No she did not say young women “shouldn’t speak out”

The Telegraph goes out of its way to misrepresent a column Kate Smurthwaite wrote for The Teacher. I know this because I saw Kate’s correction of the Telegraph’s misrepresentation on Facebook.

The correction first:

For the benefit of those asking – no I did not say young women “shouldn’t speak out”, I said if we want them to rather than dishing out pep talks we should be making it safe for them to do so online. Otherwise this piece is fairly accurate.

Other than misrepresenting her core point, it’s fairly accurate.

Now Javier Espinoza’s Telegraph piece:

A BBC writer and comedian who is paid by private schools to give motivational talks says girls should “not speak up” as they will get bullied online.

Kate gently points out that it’s not all that odd to be paid for one’s work. It seems quite likely that Javier Espinoza doesn’t write for the Telegraph for nothing.

Writing in the Teacher magazine, Ms Smurthwaite said: “As a woman with a public profile I am often asked to go into schools and talk to students. My enthusiasm for eating food and living in my home means, sadly, I say yes much more often to private schools than state schools – they do tend to pay more after all.

“Typically they want me to talk to the girls. They engineer something relating to politics week or careers day and ask me to encourage the girls to speak up about issues that matter to them. A noble cause, but one that utterly misses the point.”

She goes on to say that girls are not stupid, and it’s cynical to attribute their reluctance to speak up to hormones and biological bashfulness. Girls know that speaking up has consequences. “We need to stop telling girls to speak up and instead start building a world in which they can do so safely.”

Here’s the column:

Espinoza, or the Telegraph through Espinoza, fundamentally distorted her meaning. How obnoxious is that?


  1. themann1086 says

    Was it deliberate, or did they just unintentionally misread the piece and write based on their misunderstanding?

  2. says

    Was it deliberate, or did they just unintentionally misread the piece and write based on their misunderstanding?

    Whether malice or poor comprehension, it’s pretty sloppy journalism either way.

  3. EigenSprocketUK says

    I read Smurthwaite’s article and had thought it was very clearly and succinctly making a rather important point. Turns out that I was completely wrong and I needed Mr Espinoza to explain its real message to me. I must need a narrow-minded conservative mindset to be able to … oh, I give up: what is wrong with everyone at the Telegraph?

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