Internet-Troll

“Scary monsters are like Hula Hoops. They come in and out of fashion”- John Malkovich

I was searching for quotes about monsters and found the above, monsters are not really something we think about in daily life, but it is fair to say that monsters-virtual ones-trolls have become a harsh reality with the dawn of the new millennium. In line with the developments in feminism and the journey towards equality opposition has grown even larger. Criticism of women was previously limited to tabloid newspapers and glossy magazines scrutinizing everything about women from their career choices to their bodies.

We only have to take the  recent ruthless criticism of Kim Kardashian’s weight gain – DURING PREGNANCY, may I add as an example of this. With increasing advances in technology women suddenly had many more accessible platforms to display their talents and opinions much to the dismay of a small corner of the internet. Whilst the majority of society rejoice in the progress that has been made a small proportion, in this particular case men are quaking in their boots and desperately trying to think of ways to silence some of the most influential women in the country and the world. They may not have faces but they do have names-these are trolls.

Trolling is not a new phenomenon but the regularity of it is new, it hit the headlines of late in response to the feminist writer Caroline Criado-Perez, whose three month campaign to see Jane Austen on the new £10 note was finally successful. The Bank of England conceded that it was of crucial importance that the faces on our money should reflect the faces in our society. Cue celebrations and dreams of ‘ future banknotes featuring Mary Seacole and Rosalind Franklin’ swimming around in not only campaigner Caroline’s head but in the minds of many in Britain. But suddenly things took a very sinister turn,vile men descended into the twittersphere to vent violent abuse at Criado Perez. Here are just two of the tweets:

“this Perez one just needs a good smashing up the arse and she’ll be fine”

“Everyone jump on the rape train > @CCriadoPerez is conductor”

Even retyping these quotes makes me feel sick to my stomach. It worries me how so many feel it is ok not only to disrespect women publicly but to threaten their safety, using physical sexual power of others as a threat. Whilst it could be said that the most sensible solution would be to ignore it, why should women or anybody for that matter have to accept it. But the tweets threatening rape and violence did not stop there, soon they moved on to publishing her address on the micro-blogging site, prompting the question of freedom of speech gone mad! What shocks me most about the case is that it wasn’t just one person, but so many directed, not just at one woman, but focussed on many. MP Stella Creasey and columnist Grace Dent also received threats, the latter regarding a bomb that had allegedly been planted outside her home

Legal action has been taken with two men in their twenties having subsequently been arrested for harassment. Scotland Yard have launched an inquiry and Tony Wang the general manager of twitter uk is issuing personal apologies to the women affected. The actions are both necessary and positive but it is essential that the real focus should be placed on how to prevent the problem in the future. Consequently Change.org have spearheaded the petition for a report abuse button on twitter stating that the current method of reporting abuse is ineffective and too time consuming. At the time of writing the number of signatures on the petition stood at 120,000. In addition, feminist writer Caitlin Moran (if you haven’t read her book ‘How to be a woman’ then you’re seriously missing out) has called for those wishing for something more to be done to boycott twitter on august 5th. Whilst we figure out a solution, we can all show our support by boycotting twitter on ‘trolliday’.

I shall finish on a positive note with the words of Owen Jones from his article in the independent: “Trolls don’t run the internet; neither do abusive men who issue rape threats to get women to shut up. We are the majority. And if we stand firm, and shout back as one, we will win. I hope you’ll join me in shouting back.”

BY: Yasmin Levy-Miller