Sunday, 6 April 2014

Women Are Still Silenced and Excluded from Public Speech in our society

A couple of weeks ago Prof Mary Beard gave this very important and interesting lecture on TV. You can still read it in the LRB and watch it online.
Women are still under huge pressure to KEEP OUT of public affairs and political discourse. A survey shows that on the internet, women are far more likely than men to be targetted by trolls saying, "Shut up, you bitch". One survey found that women were THIRTY times more likely to get that sort of abuse. I find that very believable.
You can still read this lecture on the website of the London Review of Books or watch it on U-Tube.

"It is still the case that when listeners hear a female voice, they don’t hear a voice that connotes authority; or rather they have not learned how to hear authority in it; they don’t hear muthos. And it isn’t just voice: you can add in the craggy or wrinkled faces that signal mature wisdom in the case of a bloke, but ‘past-my-use-by-date’ in the case of a woman.
They don’t tend to hear a voice of expertise either; at least, not outside the traditional spheres of women’s sectional interests. For a female MP to be minister of women (or of education or health) is a very different thing from being chancellor of the exchequer (a post which no woman has ever filled). And, across the board, we still see tremendous resistance to female encroachment onto traditional male discursive territory, whether it’s the abuse hurled at Jacqui Oatley for having the nerve to stray from the netball court to become the first woman commentator on Match of the Day, or what can be meted out to women who appear on Question Time, where the range of topics discussed is usually fairly mainstream ‘male political’. It may not be a surprise that the same commentator who accused me of ‘whining’ claims to run a ‘small light-hearted’ competition for the ‘most stupid woman to appear on Question Time’. More interesting is another cultural connection this reveals: that unpopular, controversial or just plain different views when voiced by a woman are taken as indications of her stupidity. It’s not that you disagree, it’s that she’s stupid. ‘Sorry, love, you just don’t understand.’ I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been called ‘an ignorant moron’."

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