BBC Radio Two interviewed the Historian Mary Beard today as part of a piece about the abuse women get on Twitter, particularly that received by Caroline Criado-Perez after her successful campaign to keep women on UK banknotes. Mary is no stranger to abuse, notably that which criticises her appearance. As the piece went out a man decided to tweet the following to Mary Beard and Jeremy Vine
His tweet was quickly circulated, retweeted and challenged and because his Facebook profile is open and his Internet trail there for all to see some people commented that if they wanted could pass the tweet onto his mother. Mary Beard responded by saying she would give him a few hours to respond. The every day sexism project responded with a big discussion on their Facebook page, retweeting and challenging him. Shortly after he apologised by posting
His apology seems heartfelt, though possibly also because he is worried about what his parents will say as well as being mindful of the other people who have fallen foul of the media and lost their jobs because of things they have said on twitter.
Some hours later the young man updated his facebook page to say
Which to me makes his heartfelt apology appear to be nothing more than damage limitation. After all, what kind of special stupidity does it take to think that you are championing freedom of speech by calling someone a slut and their vagina disgusting? Explaining it away as being 'taken out of context' is just bizarre. What could he have said with more than 140 characters that would have made it less offensive? Well, we do indeed know what else he would have said as he followed his original Tweet with "I'm not sad twitter is my voice. And I would say it to your face too. Look at my face? What do you think?" [sic]
I would love to see/hear him say it to Mary Beard's face, or to Jeremy Vine's face. Perhaps Jeremy Vine could have him on his show to explain why he wrote what he did. Since this all happened his Facebook has been locked and he's now going under a more simple Oliver Rawlings. Perhaps because he's scared of the attention. Oh the irony.
The sickening thing about this is how easy this kind of abuse seems to slip out of some minds and onto Twitter and how spectacularly it misses the point. The point being that people who have spoken up about misogyny and sexism in recent weeks have been threatened with rape and murder by people who fail to see that by being white and male they have the most privilege of all and should be afraid of neither feminism nor women.
"there is some truth in the view that misogyny rears its repulsive head when women make collective advances, and that, thus, it is more an action of weakness than strength. If there is any comfort in any of this sad, pathetic, and unpleasant male behaviour, it is that more men always abhor it."