Unless you have been living under a rock, most people by now will have heard of and seen the horrendous abuse and threats that have been sent to Caroline Criado-Perez and others. Not just insults or abusive comments, but physical threats.
In case you are not aware of the background, Caroline had successfully campaigned to maintain female representation on a bank note and appeared on various interviews thereafter. For that she was inundated with threats of rape, assault and murder.
Caroline chose to shout back rather than stay silent and to alert the police rather than be scared into submission. The reaction to those measures by fellow Twitter users, the media and the public has stunned me.
Victim blaming isn’t anything new. It has been going on for years and whilst I thought that in more recent times, people were a little more enlightened, it seems that couldn’t be further from the case.
Comments like “Being on Twitter is like walking down the street naked” which I saw this morning on not what you would presume (The Daily Fail) but in The Times, by people whom you would presume would know better. So by that, if I were to walk down the street naked should I expect threats of rape? Is the commenter saying it would be acceptable behaviour because I was naked?
Other comments such as “if you don’t like what is being said, leave Twitter” have been bandied about by many. Personally, I don’t see why you should be forced off anywhere because of threatening behaviour.
If someone was threatening you in a restaurant with rape or murder, you wouldn’t ignore it, you would report it. It wouldn’t stop you using the restaurant again. If someone was using menacing behaviour against you in the workplace, would you leave work and find another job rather than speak up? Of course you wouldn’t.
Insults and abuse you can ignore, block and indeed feel pity for those who have little else in their lives other than to hurl abuse at others. Because that is trolling. Trolling isn’t illegal. Threats to physically hurt you aren’t trolling, they are illegal.
Those are just some of my thoughts on the matter. I am not a “man hater”. I am not, as I have others been accused of “moaning about every little thing concerning women”. I just believe that everybody, men and women alike have a right not to be physically threatened, be it in the street, in their own home or online. If it happens, it should be reported. Being online does not mean that laws suddenly do not apply.
What are your thoughts?