This has been an interesting week in the U.K. when it comes to vile, vicious misogyny online. Feminist campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez started receiving a barrage of violent threats on Twitter after she successfully lobbied the Bank of England to ensure that at least one woman (beside the Queen) would be featured on new banknotes. Then MP Stella Creasy was similarly targeted when she supported Criado-Perez in her decision not to ignore the trolls but to report them to police and then lobby Twitter to make it easier to report tweets that violate Twitter’s TOS (as threats of violence and tweets intended to harass do). Then other outspoken women journalists started getting bomb threats because they backed the radical notion that women should not be the ones to leave Twitter in order to avoid abuse any more than women not leaving the house to avoid being raped is a reasonable solution to a the problem of women being raped.
There have been many interesting offshoots of these events (such as a renewed debate about what “freedom of speech” means) — one of the most intriguing to me has been the airing of what these threats actually consist of. When women ignore these threats and don’t speak out against them, they remain hidden, seen only by the intended target. But Criado-Perez and others have been retweeting the abusive tweets they’ve received, so that everyone can see exactly how awful they are. Criado-Perez tweeted this one only this morning, after there have been arrests for similar abuse, which only goes to show just how safe and free men feel to act this way:
So, in the spirit of getting this shit out there:
Have you ever received violent threats online? If so, what was the context? (Was it a seemingly random tweet? Were you playing an online game? Was it in response to a comment or blog post?) How did it make you feel? How did you deal with it?
While I have, fortunately, never received any threats that I thought would be acted on, I am often subjected to gendered abuse from commenters here, almost invariably when I broach matters of feminism and misogyny. It bothers me not one whit to be disagreed with, as long as the disagreement is with my ideas and the expression of them. But for what I say to be dismissed merely because I’m a woman who shouldn’t be speaking at all — because my “rightful” place is in a kitchen, for instance, or on the receiving end of the male speaker’s cock — is infuriating and degrading.
Have at it.
(If you have a suggestion for a Question, feel free to email me.)