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Daily’s new columnist hits out over sexist abuse from readers

Lennie PennieA daily newspaper’s new columnist has hit out after being “sexualised and infantalised” by abusive readers.

Lennie Pennie, who writes for Glasgow-based daily The Herald, has opened up about the misogyny she faces in her work after receiving one particular comment describing her as an “immature little girl”.

The remark has prompted Lennie, pictured, to take the abusers of female writers to task for their attempts to “discredit our contributions and silence our voices”.

In her latest column for The Herald, which she joined last month, she revealed she receives similar abuse “all the time”.

Lennie, who is also a poet and Scots language advocate, wrote: “Sometimes I wish I could publish a few articles under a male pseudonym, with a man’s picture just to see if the reaction would be different.

“I have male peers who do exactly the same thing I do, make the same points with a similar level of salience and clarity and the difference in response is staggering.

“Having been sexualised, infantalised, my work and contributions discredited simply for being a woman, my resolve gradually worn-down day after day as people refuse to acknowledge that their words have consequences, it takes a toll.

“We tell our little girls that they can do anything, be anything, but we do not tell them how much harder it will be to be taken seriously, and maybe that’s for the best. If I’d known everything I know now, seen the things I would have to endure, I might have chosen a different path.”

Lennie, who dreamed of being a writer from childhood, went on: “I know so many little girls whose hopes and ambitions for life were slowly eroded to the point they stopped dreaming. I write for the little girl I was, to the little girls I’ve met and continue to meet, and to the little girl I will always be in the eyes of those who refuse to respect me as the woman I am.

“Every time I speak about the misogyny I’ve faced, I receive the criticism that I am thin-skinned, and need to simply ignore it as if doing so will solve the problem. People tell us to let the misogyny that we face go but don’t tell us where to put it down, so we are left carrying it, like a responsibility, or a chore, or a child.

“Misogyny is not a graze to be left alone to heal, it is a festering wound that needs all the attention it takes to stop the rot before it continues to spread.

“If you are bored of hearing women discussing misogyny, helping to create a safer, more inclusive society will be a much more effective solution. When you hear someone shouting fire, help to put it out, don’t just complain about the noise.”

Speaking to HTFP about the issue, Herald editor Catherine Salmond told HTFP: “Lennie Pennie is a smart, intelligent, opinionated, informed and entertaining writer. I am privileged to have her in my team at The Herald and will support her and her work at every turn.

“She is one of our best-read columnists and has been welcomed aboard by the vast majority of readers. Sadly, it is of no surprise to me that she receives some negative comments, amid a huge amount of praise, because articulate, strong, talented women like her so often do.

“But will she let this grind her down? No. Will she continue to strive to be the very best she can? Yes. Will I, also once ‘a little girl with a dream’ always champion her? Definitely.

“Will she help eradicate such tedious and damaging social attitudes towards women? Yes, I believe she will, and The Herald will be behind her all the way.”