When lockdown began in March 2020, students were forced to complete their year’s study from inside their houses. This meant final year students were writing dissertations and finishing their time at university away from their teachers and friends. Considering how the end of the year went many final year students took to social media to post about finishing their dissertations under the difficult circumstances. What was posted in excitement and pride was met with unprecedented backlash, with many girls being critiqued on the topics they chose for their essays. Three Twitter accounts that received backlash to their tweets were @bevanyworth, @_KarishmaH and @OliviaMurphyx_. Their dissertations were all in fulfillment of completely different degrees, but the one thing they had in common was that they were in one way or another in critique of men.
Butterworth’s dissertation was a look into the ‘oversexualisation and objectification of female characters in early 2000’s ‘teenage dramas” relevantly, and hilariously, entitled ‘The Prude, The Whore, and The Girl Next Door’.
Some Twitter users claimed that the dissertation was ‘trashy beyond belief’ and Butterworth was being ‘hypocritical’ for writing on oversexualization and then wearing a dress, putting on makeup, and posting a posed photo. Without seeing the irony in it, of course. Some petty people commented on Butterworth’s nail varnish, overlooking her accomplishment.
In a later tweet, Butterworth posted a picture of herself in a new dress and referenced the hate she received. The tweet read ‘you can’t see my nips or fingernails so this one shouldn’t offend too many middle-aged men’. She also updated all the trolls that she achieved a first on the work that many of them disregarded.
“He was trying to flirt’. For her degree in Criminology and Sociology, Karishma explored male students’ understanding of Sexual Harassment. One response claimed that the topic choice wouldn’t have been accepted at this separate university. Another twitter user rudely tweeted that they would ‘use it as paper for the cat litter tray’.
Karishma responded to the abuse by saying ‘Very proud of the disso I wrote during a pandemic & the uni strikes! Once it’s graded I’ll let ya read it!!!!’
For Murphy’s degree in Media, Communications, and Culture, she wrote her dissertation on ‘Twitter user’s perceptions of PostModern online Sex Work on OnlyFans.’ This work was entitled ‘LonelyMans, PhoneyScams, HornyMans’. ‘So so so embarrassing’ was one of the critical responses to Murphy’s tweet. Another twitter user graded the work that he had not even read ‘defo a 3:1’.
Murphy also updated twitter on her dissertation, quoting her original tweet and adding ‘I received an 80 !!!!!!!! I cannot believe I achieved a first outstanding writing about bullies on twitter’
While most of the responses to these girls’ tweets were of congratulations and encouragement, the cruellest tweets were posted by men. In Mary Beard’s Woman and Power, she states that ‘it is clear that many more men than women are the perpetrators of (twitter trolling), and they attack women far more than they attack men.’ Beard later states that ‘more are sad than are villainous’. This suggests that the men were most likely lashing out at the women because they felt attacked by the dissertation topics. Although this gives us an insight into why these men could have been trolling, this does not in any way justify their behaviour.
If you’re wondering what you can do to help, twitter has a very easy to use report function. When researching this article, I made sure to report many of the abusive tweets. All of the girls worked incredibly hard and should not have been verbally abused for posting about their accomplishments.