A ten pound note and a load of nonsense

The decision by the Bank of England to put Jane Austen on their £10 notes started a bit of a furore online.

The campaigners who had urged that a woman be included on a UK banknote have been subjected to a fierce hate campaign on social networking site Twitter.

Caroline Criado Perez who was behind a 35,000 strong petition to have Austen put on a Bank of England note, received, in the immediate aftermath of the announcement, threats on the site at the rate of 50 an hour.

These threats included death threats and rape threats - and then it seemed almost any high profile woman on the social networking site who voiced their support of Criado Perez, or the inclusion of a woman on bank notes, were subjected to the same threats.

These escalated (as much as death threats and rape threats can escalate)to the point that Labour MP Stella Creasy was sent a sinister picture of a man in a mask holding a knife - vowing he would be the first thing she would see when she woke up.

Journalists including Grace Dent and India Knight received death threats and fellow journalist and author Caitlin Moran underwent what can only be described as a character assassination for asking people to campaign against this kind of social media behaviour.

For midly obsessive Twitter users like myself, it has been as if a weird, surreal soap opera has been played out in front of my eyes.

My brain has struggled to compute - it really has. These women receiving bomb threats, being forced to call the bomb squad or the police, or being threatened they will be raped. Over what? A ten pound note. A ten pound note with a picture of Jane Austen on it. Mrs Bennett would need the smelling salts for sure.

If it weren’t so serious it would be beyond the realms of utter ridiculousness. Are we really living in a world where anyone gets a kick out of issuing a rape threat? Where someone - God forbid - thinks it is funny to do so, or big, or clever or just well not absolutely and totally wrong on every level?

Some times something is just so completely surreal that even to comment on it seems absurd. But here we are, in 2013, finding that Twitter is being used to try and silence prominent women.

I’m raising a daughter in this world - a daughter I hope will speak out and campaign and be respected. But perhaps more importantly I’m raising a son who I hope would never utter such vitriol. There is so much work to be done by all of us.