Bid to Honor Austen Is Not Universally Acknowledged


Katrin Bennhold in the NYT:

On July 24, Mr. Carney said that it had always been the bank’s intention to include another woman among the historical figures on the bank notes, and he announced that Austen would appear on future £10 notes. He also vowed to review the whole process of choosing historical figures for the notes.

A brilliant day for women,” Ms. Criado-Perez said in response.

But that same day on Twitter a trickle of abuse grew into a shower of crude rape and death threats against Ms. Criado-Perez at a rate of nearly one per minute. Several other women, from members of the public to members of Parliament, have also been the targets of Twitter attacks. Three female journalists received bomb threats.

“I’m going to pistol whip you over and over until you lose consciousness,” one Twitter user warned Ms. Criado-Perez, threatening to “then burn ur flesh.”

“I will rape you tomorrow at 9pm,” a Twitter user told Stella Creasy, a Labour Party legislator. “Shall we meet near your house?”

Two men, ages 21 and 25, have been arrested so far in connection with the harassment. Scotland Yard’s electronic-crime unit is investigating the Twitter attacks involving mostly anonymous Internet users, so-called trolls.

What is perhaps most striking about the reaction, said Caitlin Moran, a columnist for the Times of London and the author of the witty 2011 feminist manifesto “How to Be a Woman,” is how little it took to set it off.

“If even a small thing like this, a nice middle-class debate about putting Jane Austen’s picture on the opposite side of a bank note from the queen, causes a storm of abuse like this, what will happen when we get to the bigger issues?” Ms. Moran asked in a phone interview.

Paul Bracchi in The Daily Mail on the faces behind the trolls.