The conversation

This happened yesterday:

It got boring fast.

James Kirkup wrote about it at the Spectator today. Twitter is not real life, he notes, but it does shape the discourse, so it does matter.

So when Twitter starts denying a voice and a platform to certain people and certain ideas, that matters. It also matters when Twitter makes it possible for certain people with certain ideas to be violently abused for expressing those ideas.

Twitter matters in the debate about sex and gender because, at a time when some media outlets and some political representatives are a bit reluctant to engage in a full, rounded debate, Twitter is for some people the only place to talk. So it really matters when Twitter allows the nasty intimidation of women who express views that some people don’t like. And it really matters when Twitter bans from its platform women who express such views – or just state facts that some people find inconvenient.

Both of those things are happening, and happening routinely. Nasty abuse of women who question the mantra that ‘trans women are women’ – or simply ask questions about the implications for law and policy of that stance – is commonplace, with grim consequences.

He cites Helen Lewis, and the fact that she doesn’t join the Twitter conversation as much as she might because of

the abuse and threats she receives there from pathetic, cowardly men claiming to promote the interests of transgender people. Abuse and threats that Twitter appears content to tolerate.

Like for instance yesterday:

Yes, certainly, telling a woman – a woman who talks and writes as a profession, a woman who is good enough for The New Statesman and the Atlantic and Saturday Review – to shut the fuck up, from behind a pointed gun, is all part of the “conversation.”

Kirkup goes on:

Yet elsewhere, Twitter takes a very different approach to what it permits to be said on its platform. Among women who question transgender ideology, an experience almost as common as being abused online is being banned from Twitter for saying things some men don’t like. I could write a very, very long article listing all the women who have been barred from a media platform (that turns a blind eye to threats of violence) simply for stating facts. Facts like ‘men are more likely to commit crimes of violence than women’ and ‘in English law, a rapist must be male because rape is defined as inserting your penis into another person’s body without consent’.

He says to check out #TwitterHatesWomen for more examples than anyone could possibly want.

And because Twitter, sadly, matters, this stuff needs to be debated and scrutinised. Which is why this article isn’t really about Twitter and its awfulness, but about a politician who has done something rather wonderful.

That politician is Joanna Cherry QC, an SNP MP and member of the Joint Committee on Human Rights. It was at that committee that Cherry recently said ‘fuck’ and ‘cunt’ a lot, and in so doing did her job as a parliamentarian in an arena where many others have failed.

The context was a hearing where a Twitter representative was giving evidence about the site’s role in the intimidation of politicians.

You can watch the whole thing here, and I recommend that you do.

I plan to.See

The Twitter representative still does not get it though…or pretends not to. Watch the clip:

Joanna Cherry: “Do you accept that the word TERF is a gendered term, forgive me, in the same way as bitch and cunt are gendered terms?”

Twitter’s Katy Minshall: “Yes.”

Cherry: “And are bitch and cunt acceptable on Twitter?”

Minshall: “We don’t have a prohibition on swearing…”

BZZZZZZZZZZZT. Wrong. The issue is not swearing, the issue is gendered epithets.

I do wish people could manage to hang on to that thought for longer than five seconds.

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