Last year, Rod Liddle waded into the Mary Beard ‘misogyny’ row. You may recall that Beard appeared on Question Time, and then complained about the ‘misogynistic’ abuse she received on Twitter when people disagreed with her. ‘The misogyny here is truly gob-smacking,’ whined Prof Beard. The abuse would be ‘quite enough to put many women off appearing in public’.
Nonsense, said Rod. ‘It is nothing to do with misogyny – it is just what people reach for when they, perhaps temporarily, hate someone’. Beard had, Rod said, managed to make ‘what can be politely described as an utter fool of herself’. Rod detailed the insults she suffered in consequence: some were ‘accurate refutations of her vacuous argument’, others were ‘expressions of annoyance at her middle-class, metropolitan insouciance’ and others ‘ridiculed her appearance’. The last was most important, Rod said, because Mary only ends up on TV because of the way she looks:
‘They think she looks like a loony. And the TV companies, the producers, love that. If they can’t get a hunk or a fox, they like an eccentric. It generates a reaction, not always entirely pleasant. And if Mary doesn’t grasp that her appearance is precisely why she — along with Grayson Perry — gets to be on TV, then she had best not look at what the genuine loonies have to say on Twitter.’
‘My point was pretty simple: the abuse was not motivated by her gender, but by her insouciance and stupidity.’
Mary hasn’t been put off the media either by Rod’s advice or the abuse of others: she’s on Any Questions tonight, alongside – and this tickles Mr S pink – Rod Liddle himself.
Oh to be a fly on the wall in that particular green room.
More Spectator for less. Subscribe and receive 12 issues delivered for just £12, with full web and app access. Join us.