I do not share Laurie Penny’s politics. I am not a regular reader of her material, and I strongly dislike some of her assertions, such as comparing housing benefit reforms to the murder of six millions Jews. From what I have read, there is plenty to criticise in her writings, and she should be held to the same standards as everybody else. But she isn’t.
Ms. Penny, more than any other writer, attracts a tidal wave of hate-filled abuse. In the comments on one critical post, her death is called for, her looks are dissected and scorned, she is called a ‘cow’ and ‘bitch‘ various times and attracts other comments too unpleasant to link to.
And that is just under one post. Posts frequently emerge attacking her, often leading to a plentiful supply of hateful comments, especially those focusing on her appearance. Much of the abuse is sexual/gendered in nature, and I can’t see a male blogger attracting the same sort of vitriol.
The other frequent criticism of Ms. Penny is due to her privileged background. She is quite open about this, and it is unclear why having a privileged background should stop an individual from taking the stances that Ms. Penny does (as long as she practices what she preaches). Would her critics prefer that she ignores the issues she cares about and instead revels in the advantages her upbringing has given her?
Some people manage to criticise Ms. Penny without resorting to either of these tactics, as they should. Those who can’t manage to criticise Ms. Penny in a civil way should hold their tongues, as they are nothing more than bullies.
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Filed in: Media,Sex equality