Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Infuriating BBC!

Argh! Who allows this sort of thing to go out on air? A woman - Marine Debray - appeared on University Challenge and subsequently received stacks of awful comments and messages on the Internet. The BBC frame it as "is it harder for a woman to be smart?" which is not really the point. It's not her intelligence that made her a target - it's her gender. Women on the Internet - and in real life - get harassed for being ugly, for being attractive, for being smart, for being dumb, for being tall, for being short, for being cheerful, for being angry, etc, etc. Indeed some of the hassle this woman got was from people saying she wasn't smart enough to be on University Challenge - so essentially hassling her for being dumb even though she very obviously isn't.

But then they get their resident "expert" on. I haven't managed to figure out who she is, but she's awful. They ask for her response and she (1) describes the harassment as unsurprising. Well true but that doesn't make it ok and (2) suggests it is the responsibility of Debray herself to "come across" in a way that deters harassment. NO! The responsibility for this lies with the people who posted the abuse. Not the victim. STOP IT! Get the victim-blamers off my screens! And then the BBC turn round and effectively ask Debray to respond to the suggestion that it's all her own fault!

The truth is we should be congratulating Debray on having the gumption to stand up and admit it happens and it's horrid and for drawing attention to the wider issue of sexist abuse on the Internet. Something can be done about it as demonstrated by the jailing of Facebook troll Sean Duffy.

I'll be on BBC Radio Five Live around 11.15pm tonight talking about whether children make our lives complete...!?


Helle Kristine Tumbridge said...

I watched the same thing and fumed. When whoever she is said the age-old line of "Boys will be boys" my head almost exploded.

Kate Rowlands said...

Not the first time: remember Gail Trimble? http://women.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/women/article5793104.ece
It's a bit more than "boys will be boys"!

Unknown said...

What a ridiculous commentator - first time in a while I've been that infuriated. Thanks for pointing it out.