Following a campaign in opposition to the removal of all female faces* from British bank notes, the Bank of England recently announced that they had listened to the 35,000 strong petition, and author Jane Austen will grace our ten pound notes from 2017. In a country where only 22.5% of MPs are female, it is a seemingly harmless enough gesture to feature more women in public life – but it is a victory that has taken a nasty turn for leader of the campaign, Caroline Criado-Perez.
The freelance journalist and feminist campaigner has fallen victim to a vitriolic twitter campaign of rape threats from misogynist idiots. Idiots whose masculinity is apparently so threatened by the concept of Austen’s face appearing on every tenner in their wallets, that a few were even provoked into tweeting what they thought was her home address. This goes beyond far beyond ‘trolling’ or even gender politics. There is no excuse for one human to treat another in this way.
A constant stream of ‘I will find you and I will rape you’ (to give one of the tamer responses) is “not only disgusting”, as Labour MP for Walthamstow, Stella Creasey put it, “but criminal.”
Indeed, Scotland Yard have announced that a 21 year old from Manchester has been arrested for harassment in connection with the case. Yet still, there is the usual crowd of proponents of ‘free speech’, who apparently never got the memo that hate speech and threats do not come under that banner. The concept of defending someone’s right to threaten innocent people with rape and violence is absolutely baffling. Even more so that they must have had to think at least somewhat logically about it… thought about the right to feel safe, to not be threatened with sexual violence and decided, nope, that one doesn’t trump my basic human right to threaten women with the most hideous rape fantasy I can get into 140 characters or less. ‘It’s CENSORSHIP!’ they cry. I imagine these defendants are the same sort of people whose first reaction to the concept of feminism is ‘Well if women want to be equal, then it shouldn’t be so taboo for us to hit them.’ Always be wary of these people.
A new campaign has been launched in support of Ms. Criado-Perez, urging Twitter to develop a button to report abuse, reaching 55,000 signatures in two days, and I would urge you to sign it too (Link ).
As Criado-Perez says, ‘By standing together we can make a real difference. We made the Bank of England change its mind; we can do the same with Twitter.’
*Yes, yes, the Queen is a woman. But as she is there as our Head of State, rather than for her achievements, it’s obvious why she isn’t being counted here.