Women and Twitter and Strength — a ramble

It’s been a while. There was a holiday, and a lack of internet access (!) and revisions to my shiny story, and other excuses too, naturally.

And I came back to the internet to find something completely bizarre. People have finally started questioning whether it’s actually okay to threaten someone with rape because you want Winston Churchill on a bank note and they do not.

Rape? For voicing an innocuous opinion? How did we let that happen, ever?

If I was inclined towards conspiracy theories I’d think this must be some sort of cunning ploy by the nefarious (and cloaked) agents of global feminism, because who could seriously claim they weren’t a feminist when faced with such an alternative? We live in a post-feminist age, hmm? Battle for equality won, huh? Apparently not.

And it’s not about guys who live at home with their mums. Several years ago (and I’m counting with fingers and toes here) I moved to a new city. I knew no one there so my boyfriend put me in touch with a guy he’d gone to school with, and we arranged to be flatmates. We looked at various flats and got messed about by a rather evil estate agent. Who was a woman. And my flatmate-to-be, who was studying for a PhD, who hadn’t lived with his mum for at least 3 years and had gone to school with my boyfriend, said, when we were alone together: “She needs a good raping.”

And I don’t think he meant to lurk outside her offices and jump on her. I think he meant it as a throwaway remark to indicate disapproval. And I’m not sure he’d considered the effect of saying it to a lone 22 year old woman who’d agreed to live in the same house. And he was weird in many, many other ways (though less weird once he got a girlfriend) but he wasn’t from another world. He grew up in Dundee. He went to a good (fee-paying) school there. He’d done a degree, half a PhD.

It goes deeper than internet trolls. It goes deeper than idiots dribbling into their keyboards. And that is the really, truly scary thing. Somehow, we’ve made it acceptable for women to be threatened for having opinions. Sexually threatened. Less than a year after the horrific Delhi rape case.

I really should be angry, but it makes me want to weep.


In other, far more positive thoughts: I love this article on Strong Female Characters.