Wednesday, 14 August 2013

I wasn't a feminist until...

I'm not a feminist by nature. When I read feminist articles I tend to feel removed from the author, as though she's speaking a different language that I don't understand. I have my interests and causes that I feel passionately about, including LGBT rights, and I have an academic interest in religion. Both of those keep the passion rising.

As I have said before, I'm not a feminist until confronted by a bunch of middle-aged men taking the piss out of women on Mock the Week, or someone telling me I can't write a subject because I don't have a dick. Or this...

If you are British and/or read the media, I'm sure you will have tripped over these gems.

Twitter under fire after bank note campaigner is target of rape threats

Twitter threats: Man arrested over rape-threat tweets against campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez

Criado-Perez said she received 'about 50 abusive tweets an hour for about 12 hours'

The brief story is that after it was announced that Jane Austen would replace Charles Darwin on the British ten pound note, a concerted group of men targeted campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez with abusive threats, including rape. Initially Twitter were dismissive of Ms Criado-Perez's requests for help, going so far as one member of staff locking their account so she couldn't contact them. Then the story went viral...

I'm not going to post any more links, it's all on Google, including the threats and the arguments for and against limiting 'free speech'. Since when are threats of violence against anyone anything other than hate speech? However many don't think like me. Read the comments to see the snide remarks about 'hurt feelings'.

I've spent enough time reading LGBT articles to know how 'free speech' is used to demean minority groups. You only have to Google Westboro Baptist Church, Pat Robertson, and Bryan Fischer to see how they use free speech to sub-humanise LGBT people. I refuse to have links to them on here.

Even on Twitter last weekend the hashtag “gays must die” became the most popular topic to trend in France. According to this article Twitter didn't delete a single homophobic hashtag or tweet. Is it more acceptable to attack LGBT people than women? Was it that the campaign against individual (white) women made it more unacceptable? Did the #shoutingback and retweeting work in the women's favour?

It occurred to me as I watched this unfold, that the only time I've been trolled is reposting an article on Google + about the lack of reviews for women among the top reviewers. I was told by a man who rapidly became obnoxious that there is no such thing as sexism in the literary world, women obviously wrote books that weren't worthy of reviews, yada yada. Goodbye, sir, may you have a good week talking out of your tin hat. See, I can do free speech too. Or is tin hat rude?

Do I believe in free speech? You bet I do. You have the freedom to tell me you hate my books or Jane Austen is not a worthy replacement for Charles Darwin, or women are lousy at football, as I have the freedom to think you're an idiot. But when that spills over into threatening my person, my family or my home, that's a different ballgame. Would I report you to the police? Like a shot. Bollocks to anonymity behind the keyboard. I respect every person who takes these threats seriously. My view is I hope Twitter, Facebook and other social media start to realise that they have their part to play in changing cultural views, and are not there as a conduit to target and hurt individuals and groups.


  1. 100% agree. The social media sites need to take responsibility and make these people understand that they and their posts, tweets, etc. will not be tolerated.

    1. I wait to see if that happens. I won't hold my breath.

  2. Here here

    what I don't understand is why they can't be caught, isn't their IP addresses used and can't they be used to trace these trolls

    1. Hey you *hugs*. I think that is what's happened in a lot of cases.