Oct 23, 2009

I can has PCC complaint too

On today's Guardian Science Weekly podcast (around minute 30), the presenters read out loud a number of comments that were left by listeners on the web page after last week's podcast.

As part of the podcast concerned the topic of "penisology", a predictable number of the comments had a bawdy tone. Two of the ones read out were directed at last week's presenter of the podcast, Nell Boase.

The first referred to her "giggle" adding "much needed sex appeal" to the podcast, and invited her to look the poster up if she were ever in Vancouver. The second commenter agreed, and added that Ms Boase would make a wonderful "romance novel narrator".

I feel that these comments are not only sexist, objectifying, and down right rude, but that the first one in particular constitutes a case of public (but safely anonymous) sexual harrassement, to which the Guardian is now a party by re-publishing it (without condemnation, and even with the jokey comment that "Nell could not refuse the offer") on a much wider platform than it would have otherwise had.

That the Science Weekly team don't - and should not - exert control over the behaviour of their forum commenters is a given. But to embarrass Ms Boase and legitimise such bullying behaviour by singling the coments out for praise on this week's podcast is not simply inappropriate; it is offensive, and sends the message that far from being valued colleagues and listeners, women are welcome to the otherwise all-male Scence Weekly team only as light sexual relief rather than journalism. To do so on the already sexualised background of the penisology piece, furthermore, creates a hostile, aggressively sexist environment in which female listeners, too, are made to feel threatened and superfluous.

The Guardian newspaper should not be lending its name to such misogynist tactics.

[Under the section asking what part of the code was breached, I put:]

I believe this constitutes sexual harrassement of Ms Boase, as well as a breach of her privacy by her sexuality being discussed in a public forum without her consent or presence.


Join me in slamming the Grauniad for this piece of juvenile violence. Link to the PCC complaint site helpfuly provided. (on a side note: how much are we loving the fact that they had to put a whole separate page in place just for Jan Moir complaints?)


  1. For clarity, this is the same Nell Boase whose job title is Managing Editor of guardian.co.uk?

  2. Enjoying your comments over at Lib Con regarding sex education, good stuff.

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