After successfully leading a campaign for a woman's image to be used on a new banknote (Jane Austen will replace Charles Darwin on the £10 Bank of England note in 2017), UK feminist activist and co-founder of thewomensroom.org.uk and the Week Woman blog Caroline Criado-Perez has received a deluge of rape and death threats from Twitter users, mostly male, over the last five days.
Despite entreaties for Twitter to intervene, the threats, as well as the publishing of her home address and personal information, had continued unbridled. Responses by and on behalf of Criado-Perez have included a popular hashtag campaign (#ShoutBack / #SHOUTINGBACK) aimed at calling out abusers, a nearly 50,ooo signature strong petition for Twitter to provide a one-click "report abuse" feature, and support from MPs and celebrities, including a public letter to Twitter from shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, yesterday.
Yet nothing much transpired until today, when a 21-year-old Manchester man was arrested "on suspicion of harassment offences," after Criado-Perez reported "malicious communications" of "about 50 abusive tweets an hour for about 12 hours" to local police last Thursday.
A boycott of Twitter is planned for 4 August to draw attention to the issue.
Edit: "The Bank [of England] regularly changes the design of its banknotes to address issues such as counterfeiting and quality." The Queen appears on the front, while a national "character," as the bank terms it, is featured on the back. When the Charles Darwin series naturally comes to its end, there existed the possibility that, excepting the Queen, no women would be represented on the banknote, hence the push for Austen and other women. In a Guardian article by Belinda Webb (shared by Hermione Stranger), here are six feminist alternatives to Jane Austen. Boudicca was/is one popular choice. Here she is featured on a now rare Victorian banknote issued by the private Bolton Bank.
- The Guardian reported today (29 June) that Labour MP (member of parliament) and Criado-Perez supporter Stella Creasy is now also receiving rape threats, which she has reported to the police. Knope shares that Creasy's story is now on the front page of the Evening Standard.
- As reported by rybpierce, Anita Sarkeesian of the video web series Feminist Frequency is experiencing a similar onslaught, with Twitter refusing to take action.
- foxforcefive also reports that today (29 June) the Telegraph published a story by their Women's Editor, Emma Barnett, who spoke with "two internet trolls about why they think women 'deserve' this type of abuse."
Troll 1, Peter:
“She was asking for it,” he told me. According to this nitwit, if you campaign about issues such as keeping a woman on English banknotes, you should “expect to receive rape threats”. I delved further.
“If you put your head above the parapet, like she has, then you deserve this type of abuse. It’s what you get when you are a woman shouting about something,” Peter told me, starting to get a little irate.
Troll 2, Gary:
Gary, a deep-voiced menacing-sounding man, sat in an eerily quiet home, told me in no uncertain terms that “feminists like Caroline were undermining what it is to be a man” and needed “sorting out”.
“Men are predators,” he explained calmly. “And this [rape threats] is what we do.” I was almost stunned into silence – which is after all what blokes like Gary get off on.
Regrouping, I then asked him how he would feel if, like Criado-Perez, his mother (you hope the one woman he may respect for creating him, so he could you know, fulfill his male predatory purpose on earth and all that) received 50 rape threats an hour?
His first answer was genius: “She wouldn’t because my mum’s not a feminist.” Right. I asked the question again and his reply defied belief: “She would know these men wouldn’t actually come and rape her. They don’t mean it. Rape is a metaphor.”
No Gary, rape ain’t a metaphor mate. Metaphor for what exactly, I asked.
Gary, I think a little trolled out by himself, couldn’t even answer that one and I duly decided airtime needed to go back to the majority of mankind, who deplore this kind of mentality.
Brilliantly, as if on cue, a great bloke, Abbas from Redbridge, rang in just to remind me that “real men don’t think threatening women with rape is a metaphor or ever ok, online or off”, and my Twitter feed began fizzing in time with the non-stop ringing of the studio phones.