Brogan Driscoll Headshot

Caroline Criado-Perez Says Twitter Rape Threat Campaign 'Isn't A Feminist Issue'

Posted: Updated:

Since successfully campaigning to keep a woman on British bank notes, the woman at the forefront of the campaign Caroline Criado-Perez has received a tirade of rape and death threats on Twitter.

Until now the fiesty 28-year-old appeared untouchable -- taking on the Bank of England and winning and setting up an ever-expanding women's networking site, The Women's Room UK -- but over the weekend, as she received approximately "up to 50 rape threats an hour" over Twitter, a spotlight has been shone on the shocking reality of online threats of violence against women.

On Monday, four days after the abuse began, Twitter announced plans to introduce a 'report abuse button' and a 21-year-old man is currently being questioned under police custody.

HuffPost UK Lifestyle caught up with Caroline to find out how she is coping with the online abuse, what she thinks about Twitter's abuse policy and why this isn't just a feminist issue.

twitter

Caroline Criado Perez

How are you feeling?

I’m exhausted, today has been better than yesterday -- I had seven hours sleep instead of four -- but I’m really on edge.

Certain things that are happening make me realise how much fear I’m dealing with on a subconscious level.

The Evening Standard came knocking at my door at 10:15pm the other night. The doorbell went off and I went into panic mode wondering who was at the door at that time of night. Once I realised it was journalists, a different type of panic set in: how did they get my address and could someone else could get it, too.

How did you feel when you read the first threat?

I felt sick. It was so graphic. Reading something like that brings a very vivid image to your head and the senses of your body. I felt sickened and horrified. It was a horrible experience.

I am determined to maintain a ‘fuck you’ attitude to the whole thing. It’s been going on so long and has been so relentless, it feels more like a siege mentality now. I feel constantly under attack.

No matter how strong or brave you are, it can’t help but have an impact on your mental state.

One rape threat is one thing. But hundreds and hundreds of rape threats is a different thing. It’s not just the rape threats, or what they say they are going to do to you, but the sheer volume of them.

See Also: Caroline Criado-Perez, The Women's Room Co-Founder, On Female Experts, Feminism And Media

Do you think that women are more vulnerable than men online?

I don't know about 'vulnerability' but women are definitely more under attack than men.

There are some really unpleasant people out there who will attack both men and women: Men get attacked because they’ve said or done something someone doesn’t like, whereas women get attacked because they’re visible.

Women get attacked no matter who they are or what they say -- across the political spectrum, for writing about technology or about religion -- which demonstrates that they are getting attacked because they are women.

The same things are said to women no matter what. It’s not ‘you wrote something stupid about the new Playstation’, it’s ‘you wrote something stupid about the new Playstation and I’m going to rape you’. The response is the same and it’s said to all types of women.

How do you feel about the way Twitter dealt with the rape threats?

I’m disgusted with how Twitter have responded.

They were first contacted on Thursday, but it’s taken them until Monday to set up a meeting with me.

I just can’t quite believe that in this fast-moving digital world with all these forms of communication that it’s taken up to three days to set up a meeting.

It makes me think that they’re not serious about it. Because if they were it would be very easy for them to get in contact with me.

How have men reacted to your campaigns? And has this changed as your profile has grown?

We always had great vocal male supporters at The Women's Room UK, so I don’t want to act like they weren’t there before but the number of male supporters has grown significantly recently. I now have equal male supporters as women.

They are so lovely, so kind and supportive. They send really galvanising messages telling me to keep going and that what I’m doing is inspiring. Some men say they didn’t get bank notes and aren’t feminists, but they are still making a stand against the online abuse.

This isn’t a feminist issue. The support is much more widespread.

See Also: #Twitternice Shows The Positive Side Of Twitter After Caroline Criado-Perez Rape Threat Incident

The media coverage of your latest campaigns has been phenomenal and there have been talks of a ‘fourth wave’ of feminism. Do you think we’re at a tipping point?

I really, really hope so. The past week has been great (apart from the end, of course). We had the bank notes victory and Walk for Women with Lucy-Anne Holmes to tie in with the 100th anniversary where 50,000 women flocked to Hyde Park to demand the vote. It all seemed very apt.

And even with this tirade of abuse, I think we've been given a chance to change things.

I can’t explain why my case has sparked such a huge reaction -- there are people who have been through it consistently and much worse, for much longer -- but it feels like we have an opportunity to do some culture change at Twitter and at the police.