Dr Brooke Magnanti, a journalist and former scientist, has been accused of creating a fake pseudonymous Twitter account with which to ridicule, criticise and insult other female journalists and promote her own articles and opinions.
Magnanti, a former regular for the Telegraph‘s online women’s section and a regular contributor to the Guardian, is a former sex worker who achieved notoriety in 2009 when she revealed herself as Belle du Jour, a prostitute blogger.
Writing as Belle de Jour, Magnanti published The Intimate Adventures of a London Call-Girl, a book later adapted into a television programme starring Billie Piper. At the time of her prostitution, Magnanti was a child health scientist. She revealed her identity in 2009, fearing she was about to be exposed.
In a long, clinical, point-by-point analysis of the language used by Magnanti’s own, now-deleted Twitter account and that of a supposedly third party, “@Bea_Attitude,” and side-by-side comparisons of the content from each account, this Storify by a Twitter user understood to be London barrister Anya Palmer reveals what Magnanti really thinks about some of her fellow feminist journalists.
Magnanti is alleged to have called New Statesman deputy editor Helen Lewis a “c–t,” accused feminist critic Julie Bindel of “70s… pseudointellectual bullshit” and suggests that Times columnist Caitlin Moran was “emotionally stunted at age 14.”
She criticised controversial feminist campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez, tweeting: “Who gives a steaming shite what’s on banknotes anyway.” She called another prominent feminist, who goes by the name Glosswitch online, “Glossbitch.”
About Sarah Ditum, she said: “Guess Ditum figured out which side of the issue would further her career in the end.” And about feminist Marina Strinkovsky, she wrote: “don’t want to shame anyone else’s personal development path but omg, marstr*na’s in her 40s!??? … sometimes i wonder if marstrina is an elaborately constructed parody of a white feminist.”
Via a comparative analysis of content from @Bea_Attitude’s 3,100 tweets and postings from Magnanti’s page, Palmer shows how the accounts are related. Both claim to be sex workers and former biologists. Neither identifies as feminist, for strikingly similar reasons. Palmer’s investigation reveals at length how both accounts tweet about the same people and subjects at the same time and in identical language.
A linguistic comparison shows how similar the phrases used by each woman are, including the unusual insult “dripping with oil of serpent,” which occurs nowhere else on the entire social network and nowhere on Google.
Magnanti regularly used the @Bea_Attitude account, says Palmer, to criticise “white feminists,” despite being a white feminist herself. Often, her targets were bloggers, unlike Magnanti, who had a column in a national newspaper. And often, her targets had much smaller platforms than Magnanti herself.
In September 2013, Magnanti wrote in the Telegraph that women need online anonymity as “a pressure valve.” That is the time the @Bea_Attitude account appeared. Both accounts tweet complaints about Google searches by employers and both reported a job loss at identical times.
Magnanti’s literary agent had not returned a request for comment as we went to press. Anya Palmer declined to comment.