Tuesday, 13 August 2013

After the Jane Austen announcement I suffered rape threats for 48 hours - CAROLINE CRIADO-PEREZ

Accessed 13th August 2013

After the Jane Austen announcement I suffered rape threats for 48 hours, but I'm still confident the trolls won't winLet's start feeding the trolls.

PUBLISHED 27 JULY 2013 14:10

Caroline Criado-Perez (right) with Mary Macleod, Mark Carney and Stella Creasy unveiling the new Jane Austen £10 note. Photograph: Getty.
On Wednesday the 24 July, the Bank of England made the historic announcement that, in response to over 35,000 people signing a petition, they were confirming Jane Austen as the next historical figure on banknotes.
“this Perez one just needs a good smashing up the arse and she’ll be fine”
Even better from my perspective, the Bank of England also agreed to institute a review of its criteria and procedures, admitting that its current processes were inadequate if they wanted to live up to promote equality.
“Everyone jump on the rape train > @CCriadoPerez is conductor”; “Ain’t no brakes where we’re going”
The day was overwhelming. Press from all over the world were getting in touch, wanting to talk about the power of social media, and how ordinary people could take on a huge institution and win.
“Wouldn’t mind tying this bitch to my stove. Hey sweetheart, give me a shout when you’re ready to be put in your place”
This has been my life for the past three days: a mixture of overwhelming pride at what we can achieve when we stick together – and overwhelming horror at the vehement hatred some men still feel for women who don’t “know their place”.
The rape threats started on Thursday, and have continued for the past forty-eight hours. And this experience is by no means unique to me. Amid the abuse, I have received countless messages from women telling me of their experiences. The head of WHO called violence against women a “global health problem of epidemic proportions”; she should take a look at twitter, where we have our own nasty little epidemic: an epidemic of misogynistic men who feel so threatened by any woman speaking up, that they feel they must immediately silence her with a threat of sexual violence.
There are those who tell me that I shouldn’t feed the trolls. Ignore them, they’ll get bored and go away. They’re just looking for attention.
Except these ones are different. They’re not looking for attention. They are purely and simply looking to shut me, and any other woman who dares use her voice in public, “the fuck up”. And we shouldn’t give them what they want. We shouldn’t give them what they want because we have a right to speak and be heard. And we shouldn’t give them what they want because, when we don’t, we are stronger than them.
The don’t feed the trolls adage is one that suggests they have the power. But if my experience from the last 48 hours does anything, it is to give the lie to this impression. Troll accounts have been going private left right and centre. My twitter mentions are now overflowing with messages of support, messages from people saying that they want to shout back too. Messages from people realising that if we use our voice in unison, we are legion.
While Twitter’s manager of News and Journalism, Mark S. Luckie, locked his account when a people started tweeting him to tell him about the hours of rape threats I had been receiving, countless more have stood with me. One person, Kim Graham, set up a petition asking twitter to put a “report abuse” button on each tweet; it’s received over 6,000 signatures in about an hour. And it will only continue to grow.
Over the past few days I have been overwhelmed by abuse, and I have been overwhelmed by support. I have felt elated – and I have felt close to defeat. But as I watch my timeline, it is clear which group is bigger. It is clear which group is louder. It is clear which group is stronger.
Let’s remember this. Let’s start feeding the trolls. Let’s start shouting back, and show them that we’re not going away, that we won’t be defeated. Let’s take them on. And let’s win.

Joining the struggle against sexism won't make you less of a man by Jonathan Freedland

Accessed 13th August 2013

Joining the struggle against sexism won't make you less of a man

From Twitter rape threats to lads' mags, women are confronting misogyny – but until more men join them, the battle can't be won
The Guardian, 

'Men worry they cannot speak about this subject authentically, that their perspective is of less value than a woman's. Others fret they'll get it wrong, that they'll inadvertently say something that is itself sexist.' Photograph: Sarah Lee for the Guardian
The way I remember it, we sat for at least 10 minutes in silence. No one wanted to be the first to speak, for fear that would look too domineering. Even the people who'd organised the group stayed quiet, each of them reluctant to play the role of "leader", with its dread, patriarchal associations. So we stayed seated in our circle of wooden chairs, earnestly mute. When one man did finally start talking, it was in a whispered mumble, lest he be deemed excessively assertive.
Ah, happy memories of student life, specifically my first (and, I fear, last) meeting of the Wadham College men's group at Oxford in the autumn of 1986. Hard to recall now whether I went along out of simple curiosity or because I'd heard that the fastest way to a Wadham woman's heart was via an anti-sexist discussion forum, but it didn't seem so outlandish back then. This was the era when Andrea Dworkin was a disapproving presence on every female student's bookshelf and when a French guidebook directed tourists to Wadham to gaze at the "beautiful feminists" reclining on the lawns. So embedded were the new anti-sexist mores, college rumour told of a third-year who had trained himself not to get an erection with his girlfriend, thereby avoiding a physical state that was irredeemably aggressive.
It wasn't nostalgia that brought back these memories, but rather a glimpsed photograph of Alastair Campbell wearing an 80s-style T-shirt bearing, in bold capital letters, the slogan No More Page Three. Good for him and good for that campaign, which advanced this week with the decision by the Irish edition of the Sun to drop the famous topless picture in deference to what it called "cultural differences". But the Campbell snap and the response – tweeted jokes about the former spin guru's chest or urging him to get the rest of his kit off – confirmed both how rare and how open to ridicule are forays by men into the war against sexism.
That there is a battle to be fought is surely beyond doubt. Whether it's a prosecuting barrister branding a 13-year-old female victim of sexual abuse "predatory", or the ongoing death and rape threats against women who speak out on social media, all those who care about even basic notions of fairness or justice can see there is a momentous struggle to be joined. Yet men hesitate. Register the voices who rise up to object to these or any of the other instances, constant and ubiquitous, of sexism and misogyny and they overwhelmingly belong to women.
Perhaps that's inevitable. An attack on any group will be felt first and most keenly by that group: it usually falls to Jews, for example, to sound the alarm over antisemitism. But that rule is not universal. The backlash against the Home Office's "Go Home" vans, a hateful scheme now under investigation by the Advertising Standards Authority, has not been the exclusive preserve of immigrants, legal or illegal, or the descendants of immigrants. Even Nigel Farage denounced it.
But somehow men leave the heavy lifting against gender bias and gender hatred to women. The most charitable explanation is that men worry they cannot speak about this subject authentically, that their perspective is of less value than a woman's. Others fret they'll get it wrong, that they'll inadvertently say something that is itself sexist, thereby revealing that they too don't "get it" – so it's safer to say nothing. The diffidence of the men who took part in last week's #twittersilence was striking, several indicating that they were only "sort of" taking part.
Underlying all of this is that fear of ridicule, the suspicion that there is something funny about a man in a No Page Three T-shirt, or even about the simple act of calling himself a feminist. My remembered student experience is part of that, the notion that if a heterosexual man takes anti-sexism too seriously he'll end up emasculated, humourless and ideologically barred from expressing sexual desire – in other words, less of a man.
The result in what should be a universal movement for human equality is a big gap where the men should be. Of course the differences between sexism and racism are vast, but it's useful to recall the great civil rights struggles of 50 years ago all the same. That was an African-American movement from top to bottom, from its leaders to its grassroots, as it had to be. But white anti-racists were part of it. Scan the photographs of those freedom marches and there are white faces as well as black.
That was necessary, for the twin and bleakly simple reasons that white Americans were both the problem and an essential part of the solution: racism did not exist in the abstract, but in the hearts of white people and white-led institutions, and it was white people who held the power to change things. Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks prevailed because they not only raised the consciousness of black America, they moved and shifted white society too.
Again, the parallel is imperfect, but surely contemporary feminism has to engage men for similar reasons. Dip into the eye-opening@EverydaySexism feed on Twitter and you will see evidence of the most egregious discrimination – women assaulted and insulted as they go about their daily lives – almost all of it committed by men. At the risk of stating the obvious, progress requires more than the testimony of the woman told in a job interview that it'd be nice to have some "eye candy" around. It will also require men to stop saying it.
That means a change in men, but also perhaps in the struggle itself. For there is not just a gender gap on this issue. Wary as I am of pointing it out, there does seem to be a gulf separating the feminist conversation currently aired loudest in the public sphere and the kind of monotonous, grinding experience recorded by @EverydaySexism. It is the culture wars that grab media interest – a run of pop videos featuring topless women; proposed "modesty" wrappings to hide the covers of lads' mags; Jane Austen on bank notes; horrors on Twitter – yet it is the stubborn problems of unequal pay, low conviction rates for rape, workplace discrimination against mothers and, say, the need for statutory carer's leave, which probably speak more directly to the lives of women outside the media bubble.
For now, though, the challenge is for men to find their place – and to be welcomed – in a struggle that may be led by the women's movement but which is surely a human cause. We've tried sitting in silence – and it hasn't worked.
Twitter: @Freedland

‘Fifty Shades Of Grey’ Perpetuates Violence Against Women – Study

Accessed 13th August 2013

Published: Aug. 12, 2013


Contact(s): Andy Henion, Kristen Parker
 “Fifty Shades of Grey,” the best-selling novel that’s promoted as a tale of erotic romance, actually perpetuates the problem of violence against women, a new study finds.
Reporting in the Journal of Women’s Health, Amy Bonomi and co-authors conclude that emotional and sexual abuse is pervasive in the novel, with the main female character, Anastasia, suffering harm as a result.
About 25 percent of women are victims of violence by intimate partners.
“This book is perpetuating dangerous abuse standards and yet it’s being cast as this romantic, erotic book for women,” said Bonomi, lead author of the study. “The erotic content could have been accomplished without the theme of abuse.”
Bonomi, currently an associate professor at Ohio State University, will become professor and chairperson of Michigan State University’s Department of Human Development and Family Studies on Aug. 16. She co-authored the study with Lauren Altenburger and Nicole Walton from Ohio State.
The researchers conducted a systematic analysis of the novel to clarify patterns consistent with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention definitions of intimate partner violence and associated reactions known to occur in abused women.
Anastasia suffers reactions consistent with those of abused women. She feels a constant sense of threat and loss of self-identity, changes her behaviors to keep peace in the relationship such as withholding information about her whereabouts to avoid Christian’s anger, and becomes disempowered and entrapped in the relationship as her behaviors become mechanized in response to Christian’s abusive patterns.
Written by E.L. James and published in 2011, “Fifty Shades of Grey” has sold more than 70 million copies and set the record as the fastest-selling paperback of time. A movie based on the novel is in the works

Andy Henion Media Communications office: (517) 355-3294 cell: (517) 281-6949 Andy.Henion@cabs.msu.edu
Kristen Parker Media Communications office: (517) 353-8942 cell: (517) 980-0709 Kristen.Parker@cabs.msu.edu