image by Alex Welsh for The New York Times
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.)
Well I just cleared the house of Mr A. A. Gill’s work and will not be buying or reading him anymore. Enough.
I have gathered several links about this fabulous woman and the way she has dealt with these misogynist slights see below…….
“This is exactly what we need more of in American feminism: wry humor,” Ms. Brown said. “The outrage meter is getting out of control.”
“It’s about talking about it,” Ms. Beard said. “It’s not being fazed. It’s about having a laugh about it. A bit of outrage is good, but having your only rhetorical register as outrage is always going to be unsuccessful. You’ve got to vary it. Sometimes, some of the things that sexist men do just deserve to be laughed at.”
She chuckled and issued a directive at any of her more laughable antagonists.
“Go back home to mummy,” she said. “She’ll smack your bottom.”
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