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When the Words "Body Bag" Were Uttered, I Would've Agreed to Pose Naked in Playboy

07/08/2013 15:30 BST | Updated 06/10/2013 10:12 BST

Over a week has passed since news broke of Caroline Criado-Perez's Twitter abuse. Despite two arrests, the deluge of threats against defiant women has escalated rather than abated. Caroline's nightmare exposed the underbelly of misogyny in this, our so called "post feminist", society. Despite being bombarded with rape and death threats, Caroline, Stella Creasy, Mary Beard, Laurie Penny, India Knight and others refuse to be intimidated into submission.

When confronted with similar tactics, albeit in person, I wasn't so courageous. I found exposing myself to physical threats fundamentally incompatible with pregnancy, the first of which ended in miscarriage after being pinned up against a wall by a man who uttered the words "body bag" (amongst others) in my ear. My crime? Co-organising a series of demonstrations exposing the genocide in Darfur.

Having watched a film about the assassination of Veronica Guerin, a fellow Irish journalist, for daring to take on a drug cartel in Dublin, I realised my limits. Her son was the same age as mine is now when she was gunned down. I knew then if I ever became a mother I wouldn't be so brave. In fairness, I can't be accused of being silent, but I tend to avoid situations that expose me to physical threats of violence. Unless you count the Christmas rush at Toys R Us...

I have also resisted every effort to succumb to social media. I do so because I know how potent and polluting threats are (plus I can't be bothered to make enough friends for it not to be embarrassing..). Although I don't subscribe to twitter, I believe women should have the right to participate without threat of rape or other violence. Twitter's tame and tardy response indicates the need for tighter regulation of the industry.

The rise of blogging and yes, some social media, has challenged the malestream media's portrayal of women, as slags, nags or hags. The dinosaurs won't let go of their sexist copyright over women without a fight though. "Controversial" women prepared to belittle feminism are always guaranteed a place on the prime time sofa. Samantha (I'm a man's woman) Brick and Katie (rent a gob) Hopkins are regulars. Whereas "controversial" feminists are conspicuous by their absence.

I learned the hard way that not conforming to a stereotype is career limiting. A few years ago I did a live TV news interview. It went down well and my name was apparently put at the top of the "expert interviewee list". A few days later I met an editor of the programme at a news conference who indicated that comments I made about Tony Blair had enraged "No. 10". My name duly disappeared off the list.

If only I'd played the game, by the boys' rules, I could be standing next to one of those grey haired geezers on a Saturday night smiling inanely and laughing at their [bad] jokes. Shame, I'm amply qualified with an impressive décolletage.

The emergence of Lad rags has undoubtedly contributed to the desensitisation of men to the sexualisation and dehumanisation of women. Nuts notoriously ran a competition called "assess my breasts", wherein the entrants' heads were duly chopped off. Heads being surplus to requirements on account of them housing the most threatening organ of the female body. Her brain.

The Edinburgh fringe is currently in full flow. Last year the comedian Nick Page left the in protest at the rape "jokes". Jimmy (the tax dodger) Carr, AKA Jammy Dodger, has an allegedly raucous line in rape jokes. For example, "What do 9 out of 10 people enjoy? Gang rape" (boom boom). How about, "What is rape anyway, but surprise sex". The student website Unilad was reported as having the following posting: "85% of rape cases go unreported. That seems fairly good odds".

Despite being recognised as a weapon of war by the UN, jokes and threats involving rape can be made with impunity in this country. Twitter threats against outspoken women should be a rallying call to women around the world to speak up. So few are strong female voices in the public arena, that those who dare to be heard are considered fair game.