Young woman, know your place

Greta Thunberg, the young woman at the centre of the current climate change protests, has been vilified by the usual suspects on social media.

Brendan O’Neill of Spiked, reliably wrong about everything all the time and editor of a magazine funded at least in part by the climate change-denying Koch brothers, mocked her voice (she has Aspergers and is speaking a second language).

Toby Young retweeted an article accusing her of privilege (he’s the son of a baron, a man whose academic career was saved by a phone call from his father and whose media career seems to be built entirely on connections because, God knows, it wasn’t built on writing talent).

Douglas Carswell, a political lightweight, attacked her as the “Child messiah” head of a cult.

What’s notable about the attacks is that the vast majority of them are not about what she said; they’re about who she is: a young, articulate woman.

Jane McCallion, writer and editor:

The reaction of the likes of Toby Young and others on the right in particular to Greta Thunberg reminds me of how the same general group of people reacted to Malala Yousafazi. Young politically active women whom they see as uppity and in need of being put in their place.

Through any attempt to take down a young woman or girl who is making herself heard on an important issue there runs a deep vein of misogyny that shouldn’t be underestimated or overlooked.

The reaction underlines something that’s a real problem in the UK media and political establishments: they’re dominated by the voices of mediocre, reactionary men. They’re not clutching their pearls because she says something they disagree with; they’re doing it because she has the temerity to say anything at all.