Who is she?
In 2014, Mary gave a memorable speech at the British Museum, titled “Oh Do Shut Up, Dear”, which outlined the ways throughout history, from ancient times to today, women have been discouraged from speaking publicly, and the cost when they do. She finished the speech with the modern version of this phenomenon – the very real and hideous abuse women commentators receive from online trolls, including rape and death threats.
Mary is known for engaging her critics, both online and in general media and has famously named and shamed Twitter abusers.
British TV critic A.A Gill, when reviewing one of her history programs, said ““Beard coos over corpses’ teeth without apparently noticing she is wearing them. . . . From behind she is 16; from the front, 60. The hair is a disaster, the outfit an embarrassment.”
She responded: “Throughout Western history there have always been men like Gill who are frightened of smart women who speak their minds, and I guess, as a professor of Classics at Cambridge University, I’m one of them.”
Why should we thank her?
Mary stands up to her sexist online trolls and exposes their behaviour. She’s also reminded us all that women who speak their minds have been derided and abused throughout history.
“It doesn’t much matter what line of argument you take as a woman. If you venture into traditional male territory, the abuse comes anyway. It’s not what you say that prompts it—it’s the fact that you are saying it.”