English-banknote-Jane-Austen

Apparently, putting novelist Jane Austen on the British £10 banknote is a BIG FUCKING DEAL, YOU GUYS.

First, of course, there’s the casual sexism in response to the new bill featuring the Pride and Prejudice author, which is slated to debut sometime in 2017. This is the lede from a story in the Daily Mail (so, GIANT GRAIN of salt):

So Jane Austen is to replace Charles Darwin as the new face on the £10 note. The man who discovered evolution has been traded for a bitchy marriage-broker who never married.

(Translation: Darwin is an IMPORTANT MAN, and only IMPORTANT MEN deserve their faces on money.)

And then there’s another, more disturbing response. Turns out, the bill has spawned a torrential shitstorm of rape threats.

Let that really sink in for a moment.

A change to a fucking BANKNOTE is cause for threatening someone with rape. This is the world we live in, folks.

That someone is Caroline Criado-Perez, a journalist and feminist (hey, like me!) who has been righteously campaigning to get more female faces on England’s currency — you know, other than the Queen. The Jane Austen note is her first victory on this front, much to the outrage of misogynistic currency purists everywhere.

Criado-Perez reportedly received 50 (!!!) rape threats in one hour from these shitheads. And when British MP Stella Creasy stood up for Criado-Perez, a deluge of abuse came her way, too.

Sample tweet: “Hi slut… im going to cut off your head and then FACEFUCK your silly little head.” (GEE LOOKS LIKE SOMEONE’S BEEN READING AMERICAN PSYCHO!)

There’s an encouraging bright spot in this mouldy garbage festival of a story.

Criado-Perez/Creasy supporters have been levelling their outrage at Twitter for really dropping the ball when it comes to online threats on its site. At the time of this post, nearly 100,000 people have signed a change.org petition to add a ‘Report Abuse’ button to every tweet sent.

And it’s about fucking time.

How many women need to get threatened with rape on Twitter before Twitter takes action and acknowledges that abuse is something that happens every minute of every day on its site?

I hope this move will also expose the well-worn advice of  ‘don’t feed the trolls’ for the steaming pile of silencing, victim-blaming bullshit that it is.

As Creasy points out in this interview with the London Evening Standard, every time we trot out that line, we place the onus on the victim, not the perpetrator (hmmm … sound familiar?).

“It’s not for me to change what I do, it’s for them to stop. And it’s not about me — it’s about women,” she’s quoted as saying. “If I block them, they’ll find somebody else to bother.”

‘Don’t feed the trolls’ is the direct result of the whole But It’s Just One Guy On The Internet! phenomenon. Even the designation of ‘troll’ has mythic quality, as though these are fictional, below-bridge-dwelling subhumans and not, in fact, REAL PEOPLE THAT EXIST IN REAL LIFE. It’s not one guy on the Internet; it’s thousands of guys on the Internet. Guys that need to be called out and held accountable for their behaviour.

Also, in case you hadn’t noticed: the Internet is actually a place where A LOT OF PEOPLE HANG OUT NOWADAYS. It’s a public place — very much like any other — and people need to realize this and act accordingly. Would you walk up to someone in the mall and threaten to facefuck her? No? THEN CUT THAT SHIT OUT ONLINE.

And as for the inane But free speech! argument, get a load of this truthbomb from Creasy:

These people are compromising the free speech of others by trying to shut down the voices of women, because they hate them. If we allow an ‘if you can’t take the heat, you need to get out of the kitchen’ culture, you exclude people by default, and you particularly exclude women.

Mic drop.