Don’t Start Me Off, the website that hosted some of the more unpleasant comments directed at academic Mary Beard following her appearance on BBC1’s Question Time last week, has closed down.
The site, a message board enabling anonymous posters to express their annoyance at public figures, institutions and on various other topics, posted a message on its home page late on Tuesday announcing that it is closing immediately.
“After much thought we have decided to close the site. It’s been great fun but our job is now done. We wish to thank everyone who we’ve had the privilege to know and to banter with. We wish you all the best for the future,” the message stated.
The site was singled out by Beard in a blog for the Times Literary Supplement in which she complained about the torrent of “truly vile” sexual abuse online as well as the “gobsmacking … misogyny” of a kind that would “put many women off appearing in public”.
Beard, a professor of classics at Cambridge University who recently presented the BBC2 programme Meet the Romans with Mary Beard, said that the abuse followed an exchange with an audience member on Question Time on Thursday about the effect of immigration on services in the Lincolnshire town of Boston.
In her blog Beard said that the experience revealed “a side of internet trolling that I haven’t experienced before” and made reference to a photo of her face superimposed onto a picture of female genitalia.
“First, the misogyny here is truly gobsmacking …. the whole ‘cunt’ talk and the kind of stuff represented by the photo … is more than a few steps into sadism. It would be quite enough to put many women off appearing in public, contributing to political debate, especially as all of this comes up on Google.”
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