Within the setting of Conway Hall, a landmark of London’s independent intellectual, political and cultural thought, Mary Beard and Laurie Penny tackled the question: why are we so afraid of outspoken women?
From the Ancient Roman forum to Twitter, women have long had to fight for freedom of speech. In 2014, women are still fighting for this basic human right. Online abuse directed at women crosses all forums of the internet. Few women writers and campaigners have not had their views or arguments mocked online at some point. More worryingly, women online also regularly face abuse, harassment, intimidation and violent threats. The purpose of this abuse is to silence women and remove them from public debate.
Mary Beard is Britain’s best-known classicist. A professor in classics at Cambridge and classics editor of the Times Literary Supplement, she is also a regular commentator on both the modern and the ancient world via her blog, A Don’s Life. She presented the BBC 2 programme Meet the Romans with Mary Beard and has appeared on BBC Question Time.
Laurie Penny is a blogger, activist and New Statesman columnist who writes on social justice, pop culture and gender issues. She is the author of Meat Market: Female Flesh under Capitalism, Penny Red: Notes from a New Age of Dissent, and Discordia: Six Nights in Crisis Athens. Her latest book, Unspeakable Things: Sex, Lies and Revolution, is out now.
Chairing the event was Helen Lewis, deputy editor of the New Statesman.