Last week's E-Sylum contained an article discussing the newly-announced Bank of England note to picture author Jane Austen. The banknote came about quickly after a swirl of protests about the lack of woman on Britain's paper money. Since then the woman who led the campaign for the new note has received several threats from opponents or crackpots. There have been several stories about this in the news. Here's an excerpt from one of the latest, in the New York Times. The new banknote indirectly led to important changes at Twitter.
It was a genteel campaign to ensure that British bank notes would continue to carry images of women, and it could have ended with the announcement last month that Jane Austen, the much-beloved novelist, would replace Charles Darwin on the £10 note.
Instead, a countercampaign of online harassment, including threats of rape and death, against several high-profile women here turned so nasty that Twitter took steps this weekend to tighten its global policy on reporting abuse.
There has been plenty of pride, but also a good dose of prejudice, as a small band of feminists in period costumes has initiated a national debate about power, rape and the limits of free speech in the age of social media.
Caroline Criado-Perez, a blogger and co-founder of the Web site The Women’s Room, began her campaign months ago when she realized that soon there might be no women — except Queen Elizabeth II, of course — left on British bank notes. The issue seemed urgent: in April, the Bank of England had announced that the only woman currently featured among five historical figures, the social reformer Elizabeth Fry, would be replaced by Winston Churchill, indisputably male.
The departing governor of the bank, Mervyn A. King, fond of pointing out that one woman, the queen, is on the back of every bill and coin, appeared to have little time for the debate.
But in July he was replaced by a younger man, a Canadian named Mark J. Carney, the first non-Briton to run the bank in its 319-year history. Mr. Carney seized the opportunity to make a gesture.
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.
Twitter, under pressure after receiving an online petition with at least 124,000 signatures, announced Saturday on its site that it was introducing a new one-click button to report abuse on every post. The new feature will help users navigate their way to an online form. The company also pledged to dedicate more staff members to identifying abusive posts and is updating its rules, stating explicitly that it will not tolerate abuse.
Tony Wang, who runs Twitter’s British operation, posted a personal apology “to the women who have experienced abuse on Twitter.”
The abuse is “not acceptable in the real world, and it’s not acceptable on Twitter,” he said. He added, “There is more we can and will be doing to protect our users against abuse.”
To read the complete article, see:
Bid to Honor Austen Is Not Universally Acknowledged
Responding to last week's article, Joe Boling writes:
I quote: "The move comes after the Bank faced criticism that a plan for Winston Churchill to feature on the new fiver meant there would not be a woman on any English note." When did Queen Elizabeth become male?
She had the operation in 1985. You all know the medical name of the procedure to turn a woman into a man, right? An "addadictomy"...
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
JANE AUSTEN TO APPEAR ON BANK OF ENGLAND £10 NOTE
Wayne Homren, Editor
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