Nicola Vincent-Abnett

Nicola Vincent-Abnett
"Savant" for Solaris, Wild's End, Further Associates of Sherlock Holms, more Wild's End

Friday 6 September 2013

It’s Not Just About Money

I’ve long thought of myself as a feminist, so I’m aware of Caroline Criado-Perez’s work. I know about The Women’s Room and her fight for better representation of women in the media, and we all know about her battle with the Bank of England.

I thought CC-P had won that one. When it was announced that Jane Austen was to be the new face on the back of the ten pound note from 2017, I thought that was another battle won for feminism, and considering the size and power of an organisation like the Bank of England, I was also rather impressed.

It shouldn’t be that way, though, should it? Especially not with the law as it stands.

You might not know it, but, apparently, the Equality Act 2010 commits public institutions to end discrimination. The Bank of England is a public institution, but it conducted its decision making process, with regard to the historic figures who would appear on the backs of the newly designed bank notes, behind closed doors. All of the people chosen were men, suggesting that discrimination might not have been given due consideration.

There was clearly a case to answer, and Caroline Criado-Perez was one of the women who put that case.

This is the twenty-first century, for crying out loud. It’s hard to believe that all the people sitting in the offices of the Bank of England making those design decisions were men, and it’s even harder to believe that no one thought to put forward the names of any women. Personally, I find it hard to believe that of the four bank notes in circulation only one of them is to have the likeness of a woman on its reverse.

That is as nothing compared to what happened next, however.

What happened next is that Caroline Criado-Perez was attacked on Twitter for daring to have a feminist opinion on the subject, and, more particularly for daring to voice it.

The whole debacle with the Bank of England was put to rest on July 24th when Jane Austen was announced as the new face of the tenner. It is now September 6th and CC-P is still being persecuted on Twitter.

And when I say persecuted, Caroline Criado-Perez has received some of the nastiest threats it is possible to squeeze into 140 characters. She has been threatened with death and gang-rape, and with death by gang-rape. Men actually seem to believe that it is acceptable to threaten a woman with some of the most appalling acts of sexual violence simply because she has an opinion and feels empowered to voice it. 

Surely we must all feel empowered to voice our opinions without fearing we will be under threat of anything from anyone. Caroline Criado-Perez was suggesting that the image of a woman appear on the reverse of a bank note. A likeness of Elizabeth Fry is currently on the reverse of the fiver, so all she was asking was for the status quo to be maintained. 

Men want to RAPE her for that! Really?

Caroline Criado-Perez did what we must all do, and she fought back. She took her complaint to Twitter and to the police. It shouldn’t be difficult, should it? Everyone who signs up for Twitter fills in a form, including an e-mail address, and everyone leaves a trail with computer and server addresses and whatnot (and I’m not going to pretend I understand all that stuff, but I do know that it’s not all that difficult to trace people this way). Everyone has a Twitter handle, and the people making these horrendous threats don’t strike me as terribly clever.

Some of the advice Caroline Criado-Perez was given was to close her Twitter account, to lay low, not to bait the trolls, not to say anything too controversial.

Excuse me?

This woman should shut up? Really? This woman with her perfectly valid opinions, with her good sense, with her instincts for fair play and natural justice, with her feminist politics, her education and her professional credentials should quiet down, should not fuss, should shut up?

This woman should be shouted down by unbelievably nasty threats made by the most moronic, violent, abusive men. Really?

Think about the voices you want to listen to in society. Think about what you’re saying. Think about the messages we’re sending to our daughters. 

Caroline Criado-Perez
Shouting Back is about right!
It’s long past time we made some big changes to our society. We shouldn’t be telling women like Caroline Criado-Perez to be quiet... We shouldn’t be telling any woman to keep her mouth shut, just as we shouldn’t be telling her what not to wear or where not to walk, or when not to go out.

We should be educating men. We should be teaching them that women represent their best selves, their greatest allies in the World and half of humanity. We are one society and it’s time we respected one another.

For women to respect men is tough when a percentage of them continue to treat us with such hostility and contempt. They do not despise us for what we say, but only because we exist at all.

We can’t shut up and we won’t shut up. Now is the time to speak out louder, and for those men who believe as we do to speak out too. It’s time for more men and women to be feminists, because if this sort of shit can still happen then the battle for equality is very far from won.


  1. Absolutely. They should prosecute every one of the abusive tweeters.

    1. Based on what law? Will I be prosecuted for calling someone an "asshole" IRL as well? Or will it only be based on what I say on Twitter? Not to mention that most of the people using Twitter aren't even British, so British law won't apply and the entire idea is therefore ridiculous.

      Ultimately it also boils down to the definition of "abusive".

      It would be another elastic law, the definition would be twisted and turned to simply shut down people who voice opinions that those making the definition don't like. We can already observe that with the nonsense about "hate speech" or "offensive" speech and statements. There would also be double standards, of course, and it would be fine to be "abusive" for one group of people, while another group of people would be cracked down upon.

      We can observe that in the entire EUSSR when it comes to so called "hate speech" or "offensive" speech and statements. The perfect examples are Geert Wilders and Susanne Winter. Some groups scream that what they say is hate speech, but the same groups have no issues with other groups spewing actual hatred and calls for violence. The same will happen with "abusive".

      What you're suggesting is more censorship and strangling free speech even more. The EUSSR has enough of that already and free speech is essentially dead on the Euro-peon continent anyway. Voice your opinion and if it doesn't fit into what activists, corrupt politicians and lying media think is proper you might get dragged into court or even into jail. Best example: outlawing Holocaust denial. That now nets you jail time in the EUSSR. I can still deny the Holodomor, I can still deny the mass murder by every Communist dictator on the planet. That is fine and perfectly acceptable. It also shows the absurdity of such ideas and proves that any notion of outlawing and prosecuting "abusive" tweets will go down exactly the same line.

      As for Twitter: Twitter is 140 letters of BS. If you'd go after everyone who steps out of line on Twitter, well... it would be utterly insane and chaotic. The number of prisoners would explode upwards and the courts would be totally overworked. And no, I don't take threats on Twitter seriously. It's Twitter, you gotta be nuts to take it seriously.

      But yes, sure, let's go after some idiot who posts "I'll kill you" on Twitter rather than real criminals. Sounds like a plan. In Absurdistan.

      I'm more amazed by how there's even a discussion over what's printed on a banknote. Seems the "usual suspects" are very active in distracting the British public from the real problems. Whoever is on the 10 Pound note is not one of those. Why even put people onto it anyway.

      PS: Here's another problem. Trials are not about justice but about how a passage of the law can be interpreted.

    2. If you can equate calling someone an 'asshole' with issuing graphic threats of death and rape to someone... I'm not sure there's any common ground for a discussion.

      Of course insulting people shouldn't be a crime, but very specifically threatening to murder someone is something the police should take seriously regardless of the medium used to utter the threat. Ignoring it and brushing it under the carpet by saying "there are more important things to worry about, it doesn't really matter" does a grave disservice to all those who receive such threats on a daily basis, wondering if perhaps the next one will be sent by someone planning to go through with it.

  2. they do it because they're trying to be as offensive as they think they can get. at this point it is quite possible that it's all going on in their head. the idea of what they're doing to them is more important than the actual effects, since they aren't exactly face to face.

    the irony is that in many respects, rape isn't so different in that respect. it's an act designed to deny the target of their ability to act as they'd like, in this case to rip off the attackers nuts, and rightly so. but again, it's all mostly going on upstairs rather than downstairs. sure there are physical cues, but it's the idea that turns on. for such a sick thing to happen, to force yourself sexually on another against their will, I'd have thought it'd be more than just physical pleasure, it's a mental stimulation too, the idea of what they think they're doing to their victim.

    in many respects that's why I think the internet brings these fucks (technical term) out with such nonsense, and so often, is that they're feeding this mental play and mistaking it for (or wilfully ignoring that it's not) reality.

    legal and TOC considerations aside, what these fucks need to do is engage their higher thinking and ask themselves "is it really about my target? or is this really about me? I was reading an interesting article about preferring the nightmare to reality ( and I've long wondered when 'interacting' with some people if that was really the case at all, or if it was pretty much just them and their idea of who I was, some kinda self-pleasing mental masturbation to save them from the actual reality, that they have much less actual influence on.

    but I digress. that these fucks are piping up at all means that someone (CC-P) is doing something right, so more of that please :D

    p.s. it's probably worth noting that you can also find such kinda behaviour in the sub-twittersphere of pop-idolphiles. you want to receive a whole lotta death-threats / hate, just try badmouthing / dating / playing sports with one of the subjects of such idolatry ...

    something is being fed here, but should we be feeding it, or letting it be fed?