So that women are not silenced on the new streets of social media

MP Yvette Cooper in the Guardian on social media harassment of women:

The comedian Kate Smurthwaite received 2,000 abusive tweets for objecting when a men’s rights activist called her “darling” in a TV debate. Some called her “bitch”, “slut”, “harpy”; some were explicit threats of violence and rape.

I remember that. It was The Big Question, and it was Milo Yiannopoulos who called her “darling” in a patronizingly insulting way.

After going on Question Time, the historian Mary Beard received hundreds of messages attacking her appearance. And the scientist Emily Grossman received so many hostile, sexist tweets when she talked about sexism in science, she was forced to take a break from social media.

I remember those, too. I’ve blogged about all this. A lot.

But it’s not just public figures. I’ve heard stories of teenagers who have stopped going into college, women who have withdrawn from social media or been forced to change their work after being bombarded with online attacks.

And, she points out, we shouldn’t stand for it. We all use social media, and abuse shouldn’t be the price we have to pay.

[W]e can’t ignore this issue any more. A century ago, the suffragettes fought against the silencing of women in public and political life. In the 70s and 80s feminists began the campaign against the violence, threats or harassment that silenced women in the home or on the streets – founding the first refuges and organising marches to “reclaim the night”.

Each time, campaigning women challenged and changed culture. We need to do the same again now so women are not silenced on the new streets of social media, so no one is drowned out by bullying and abuse.

It’s time for women and men to stand together against sexist abuse, misogyny, racism and violent threats online – so the web can be the amazing democratic space we need it to be. It is time to reclaim the internet.

Sign me up.

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