Why do women columnists attract so much more hatred than men?

Why do women columnists attract so much more hatred than men?

It’s mysterious how few people on Twitter have commented on Melanie Phillips’ latest article. She writes:

For during the past seven days, I have been ­subjected to an ­extraordinarily vicious outpouring of hate and incitement to violence, via email, the internet and in the mainstream media, and much worse besides.

Apologies if the hideous and obscene ­language shocks some readers, but examples of such tweets included: ‘Someone just kill Melanie Phillips please’; ‘your homo­phobic rant equals that which comes out of a dog’s rectum. Kill yourself you ****’; and ‘throw her in the Thames’.

And emails to me included such epithets as ‘vile, poisonous, horrible old woman’, and ‘people like you should be silenced as you insight (sic) bigotry and fear. Go and suck a tail pipe, get cancer, GET RAN OVER BY A TRAIN. I hope your ******* house burns down’.

Maybe the Twitteriti are too ashamed. I reckon about 0.01 per cent of people tweeting their outrage over Phillips column about “gay McCarthyism” were actually offended, that is upset rather than just in disagreement or confused that someone could see the world so differently to them. Another 1 per cent pretended to be in order to have something to write about or to promote their own financial wellbeing: “This article shows that the battle against prejudice is far from over, a battle that’s can only be won with more resources for.. [insert name of fake charity]”. The remaining 98.99 per cent just wanted an excuse to get angry about something; almost no one said anything when, the following day, the Guardian ran a comment piece by a leading figure in Hamas, which is hardly at the vanguard of LGBT rights.

The most remarkable thing about the response was the use of the word “hate” in regards to Phillips article, often from people expressing a wish to actually kill her for her opinion. (And I’ve given up trying to argue with people that defending her right to speak without such moronic abuse or threats does not entail agreement with her.)

In contrast Tory councilor Gareth Compton’s joke about stoning Yasmin Alibhai-Brown was ludicrously inoffensive. Compton was told this week he would not be prosecuted after Alibhai-Brown, another Daily Mail regular, did not press charges. She had initially been upset by the misfired joke, which is understandable considering the huge amount of personal vitriol she attracts.

All comment writers attract hate, which I blame on the increased prominence of head-shots. Comment writers were once anonymous, but for many years afterwards they were just a name. Then byline photos began to appear, at first tiny and then, inexplicably, larger and larger. This inevitably makes people hate the columnist. Sometimes just looking at a byline shot is enough to make me want to punch the person writing something I disagree with. In fact even now I bet many of you are thinking what’s this tool on about now? And most people who write comment pieces are not necessarily very attractive either; someone below the line called me “a morose vampire” the other day and that seems a pretty accurate description.

But the strange thing is that women columnists seem to attract much more hate, Alibhai-Brown and Phillips being prime examples. Of the Guardianistas Polly Toynbee gets far, far more nasty comments than, say, George Monbiot, from readers of that and other papers, yet the latter has much more daft ideas. If Polly was in charge Britain would be just a slightly worse version of Britain now; if Monbiot were there’d probably be a famine, while I’d end up in a gulag in Scotland along with various other carbon criminals and enemies of social justice while my children were force-fed Marxist propaganda at schools (so what’s new?). God knows what would happen to Delingpole.

Even at the Telegraph the same rule applies. Telegraph blogs has two known lefties, Mary Riddell and Tom Chivers (I have my suspicions about a couple of others but Damian has vetoed my idea of an investigation). Merely for having a different political opinion to the readers, Mary attracts the most vile comments imaginable, many of which would raise an eyebrow in the canteen of the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane. Tom gets away with the odd “libtard” thrown his way. Is there a reason why women writers attract so much more bile? Answers on a postcard, addressed to “Ed West, Daily Telegraph, London SW1 PS I HOPE YOU GET RUN OVER BY A TRAIN”.

This article was published at Telegraph Blogs

What do you think?