The last time there was a small debacle concerning Beard's looks she wrote in the Daily Mail that: “Throughout Western history there have always been men like Gill who are frightened of smart women who speak their minds.” You might think that would be enough to shut this particular line of criticism towards Beard down. More people should point out the odd discomfort we seem to have with a woman with highly informed opinions and expertise. Who wants to go to his grave with the fond anecdote: 'he was frit of smart women'.
After appearing on Question Time Beard has received more criticism. This time those criticising are merging their hatred of what she said with how she looked saying it. The crime of casting doubt on an audience member's concern that Boston, Lincolnshire was being overwhelmed by immigrants was apparently all the more infuriating because of what she looked like as she uttered her points.
Like Lady Macbeth she is oddly unsexed and for some reason it does not bring strength
Just because you put yourself in the public eye, aware that you are inviting criticism, should not automatically mean you simply grow a thicker skin. Considering a woman is being let off lightly if she invites speculation and is photographed breathing out -- is she pregnant? Letting it all hang out? Comfort eating? It is no wonder many choose to stay out of the public eye.
What is very interesting is that Beard has escaped one thing. Listen out for this next time a woman is introduced on a panel of experts. You will be informed whether or not she is a wife and/or mother. If she is unattached you will learn she is a dedicated aunt or godmother. What she has trained for or worked towards is secondary to how she functions in relation to others close to her. Sister, mother, wife, aunt. As it happens I can't recall a time when Mary Beard has been introduced with the mother 'disclaimer.' I wonder why she has been separated and I despair at how it is to her disadvantage. Like Lady Macbeth she is oddly unsexed and for some reason it does not bring the strength I, nor Lady Macbeth (or Lady the Scottish Play, if you prefer) imagined.
It is interesting, because what is the biggest problem, or issue, here? Are a set of people up in arms about what Mary Beard said, or how she looked when she said it? Well, we are all talking about either how she looked when she spoke, or what people have commented upon regarding her looks. If the goal was to stop us actually hearing what Mary said then job done. She is silenced.
But Mary Beard is not a Cambridge professor for nothing. How do we confront these trolls that can't stand a woman talking whilst in posession of a potentially ungroomed undercarriage? Take a look at Mary Beard's Twitter feed and you will see her graciously accepting apologies from grovelling people who tweeted "crap on the spur of the moment" shamed after she retweeted them. Even better Beard suggests we "flood the site with comments, or Latin poetry..."
Be public, be fearless, be poetic. And use the retweet function to its full advantage. #silentnomore