In recent weeks, the online abuse of feminists has made headlines with the bomb, rape and murder threats received by figures such as historian Mary Beard, activist Caroline Criado-Perez, and several female journalists, including Time magazine’s Europe editor Catherine Mayer, Guardian columnist Hadley Freemam and Grace Dent from the Independent. In response, liberal white feminist Caitlin Moran has been campaigning for “all pleasant people”, as she calls them, to refrain from tweeting today, August 4, 2013, as an act of protest against this abuse.
We have many qualms with Ms. Moran’s particular brand of feminism – namely, that it is ablist, transmisogynist and silencing of women of colour. However, our refusal to participate in the #twittersilence campaign is not motivated by personal dislike, but on principle. As many tweeters have said in the past couple of days, our silence is exactly what the trolls – including members of the otherwise anti-establishment organization Anonymous – want. Their hateful abuse is flak directed at feminists and women speaking out against the sexism they are experiencing and observing in the world around them. As explained by Rhiannon and Holly at the New Statesman, rape threats in particular say “shut up, because you’re a woman” to women who have spoken, and “don’t speak, because you’re a woman” to women who might want to speak in the future. [Trigger warning for that link.] But we will not be silenced.
Online as in real life, our ability to speak out and indeed, our commitment to #shoutingback is one of our most powerful weapons, and we will not have it taken from us.
For more info, including news of Twitter’s pledge to address abuse with a “Report Tweet” button as petitioners have requested, check out this article: http://www.heavy.com/tech/2013/08/twitter-abuse-reporting-bomb-threat-silenc/