“In the 1970s and 80s women across Britain and across the world took to the streets to ‘Reclaim the Night’. Women and men campaigned together for safer streets, for stronger action to stop physical violence against women, and to argue that there should be no no-go areas for women – the streets and public spaces should belong to everyone,” she said.
Cooper argued that abuse on the internet was today’s equivalent, and she has launched a campaign called Reclaim the Internet, which will hold a conference in late May.
A conference! Ooooh, lots of opportunities to… err….
Well, maybe the sandwiches will be nice.
Miller said there was now an urgent need for legislation that would support police work in an online age, and said MPs were planning to get together to try to drive forward the agenda.
“There needs to be a wholesale review of the way the law works for the most prevalent online crimes, and that includes online abuse,” she said.
She said that a new law around revenge pornography introduced a year ago had given people confidence to bring forward complaints, driving up the numbers from a handful of cases to regular reporting of the issue. The challenge, argued Miller, was to help the police by identifying types of abuse online so they did not have to rely on a “patchwork of law” to deal with different issues.
“There is growing recognition that a laissez-faire approach … isn’t working,” she added.
Seems like it’s working just fine – new law, police swamped by cases. That’s usually how it works.
But Polly Vernon, the author of Hot Feminist, who suffered a steady stream of low-level abuse online, said it wasn’t just about things that were unlawful.
She said she “felt dehumanised, mildly depressed, anxious and body dysmorphic” after an outpouring by her critics, who she said were “swept up in the sport of being cruel on Twitter”.
“What they do isn’t high-level trolling, of the kind Cooper’s concerned with; it isn’t death or rape threats, it isn’t anonymous,” she said, arguing that people felt it was admissible to attack her after columnists wrote negatively about the book.
“I think people don’t entirely realise that what they are doing is bullying, shaming, piling in en masse on one individual who may well suffer badly as a result of that treatment. I did.”
Awwwww…. *sad face*
Vernon said that she was now utterly disinclined to write with honesty about her life experiences …
… and admitted it took therapy to help her get over it.
“I have almost disengaged from Twitter now. It’s the only way I can bear to write and publish things I truly think, feel and behave.”
You mean when no-one can offer a different perspective?
Cooper agreed that there was a risk that people were being driven offline when the internet ought to be a “forum for wild and wonderful debate, passionate argument and free speech”.
She said the silencing of women daring to speak their mind ought to be of great concern.
Only women, Yvette?
The conference will also look at what individuals can do when faced with abuse. The MPs involved want to make sure that the next generation do not think that online misogyny is acceptable.
What about online misandry? Or are you just fine with that?