Mary Beard hailed in the NYT for her campaign against Internet trolling

Historians in the News
tags: mary beard

Mary Beard, silver-haired and red-shod, was seated in front of a packed house at Lincoln Center one recent Thursday morning, addressing an annual conference called the Women in the World Summit.

Ms. Beard, a professor at the University of Cambridge and the author of more than 10 books on the classics and classical era, is an authority on ancient Roman culture, but the line that got the biggest response struck a modern (though by no means exclusively modern) note.

Ms. Beard was recounting her response to a criticism once lobbed at her in print: not of her scholarship, but of her appearance. A few years ago, in response to one of the television documentaries for which she is well known in England, the (male) critic A. A. Gill wrote in The Sunday Times, in London, that she was less fit for a history program than for “The Undateables,” a British reality show for the lovelorn disabled or disfigured.

Rather than mutely accept such barbs, Ms. Beard, with good cheer and a professorial drive to correct error wherever it may cross her path, responded in the pages of The Daily Mail with an essay headlined, “Too Ugly for TV? No, I’m Too Brainy for Men Who Fear Clever Women.” 

Time has not mellowed her take.

“When you look at me on the telly, and say she should be on ‘The Undateables,’” she explained, in retelling, to the crowd, “you are looking at a 59-year-old woman. That is what 59-year-old women who have not had work done look like. Get it?” (In fact, Ms. Beard was 57 at the time, but the point stands.) ...

Read entire article at NYT

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