A hero of mine has been driven off Twitter by the abuse she has received. I would urge you to read her account; When A Man Stalks A Woman Online. My Story. In it, Jean Hatchet (her pseudonym), describes the constant onslaught of abuse she has received from a number of men, with one in particular leading the charge. He has threatened her with murder, with rape. He has threatened her daughter. He has listed personal details about her with the promise that he knows where she is and that he will come for her.
The reason she gets this abuse is because she is a woman, a feminist, and spoke out against a famous man; Ched Evans. She is currently raising funds to support both the claimant in the Ched Evans case, as well as the rape crisis centre, and that has earned her even more abuse.
I recently talked to my mum about it because I too am a woman, and a feminist, and I too have spoken openly about the Ched Evans case. I have donated to her fund. I have been in arguments online and I have received abuse because of it. My mum is worried for me, worried for my children.
I hugely admire Jean. When I get the abuse I get, in no means anywhere close to the level she does, it rattles me. But, like Jean, I keep going. I try to always keep going.
I understand the urge to stop. My mum is an incredible woman. She is strong, she is smart, she is a feminist and a huge inspiration to me. But she wouldn’t do it. She went on Twitter for a time, occasionally looking now, but the moment the abuse started she stopped. It’s not worth it. It’s upsetting, it’s frightening, and it’s so much better to just walk away and not make yourself suffer through it. I don’t judge or condemn anyone who chooses not to deal with it. Life is short, and the abuse is hard.
Last year I had a spell where I was getting a flurry of particular upsetting abuse. My mentions on Twitter were overwhelmed by angry, aggressive men, shouting abuse at me through their computers and phones, and it got me down. I dreaded opening that page.
At first I had been able to laugh it off. Idiots. Misogynistic assholes with nothing better to do, so pathetic they could hate a woman so much just because I spoke out against shaming women’s bodies.
And then it got hard. Then harder. Soon I felt sick and shaky. It was horrible.
It was then that my partner did the most romantic thing he has ever done. He started hashtagging “Invading Your Mentions” #IYM. He started tweeting me with things about me that he loves. Things like being a good writer, a good mother, a smart woman. Things that popped up between the vitriolic abuse I was receiving to break it up with sunshine.
His tweets, that came in so rapidly they were able to drown out the cruelty, saved me that day. Stopped the feelings of sickness and the fear. And soon I was laughing.
Until recently I imagine the abusive tweets that Jean Hatchet receives on a none stop daily basis were drowned out, at least partially, by the messages of support from women who, like me, admire her and respect her for the work she does.
But now? I understand why she has stepped back. I nearly caved after just a day or two of the kind of barrage she gets daily. Mine stopped after a couple of days and now only flares up occasionally, and rarely enough that I can handle it. To cope with it like Jean does takes extraordinary strength,
So why do it at all? Why not do what my mum, and millions of other women, does? Why not step away before it begins? Why not say the idiots are not worth it? Why not see that nothing will change the behaviour of the aggressive, violent idiots that haunt Twitter?
Because if we are silent they win. If we step away they carry on. If we lie down, who stands up?
Edmund Burke was credited with the famous line; “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
Well the only thing necessary for triumph of misogyny is for good women to do nothing.
For as long as I am able I will keep standing. I will keep writing, I will keep tweeting, I will keep facing it. I will keep supporting the work of other women, sharing their words, encouraging them as best I can.
I will keep invading their mentions with words of solidarity.
I hope Jean Hatchet is one day able to return to Twitter and the public eye because she inspires me and so many others to keep standing, and to want to stand in the first place.
We stand to say no. We will not take it anymore. We will not lie down and let you walk all over us, abuse us, beat us, rape us, deny us our own agency, and exclude us from life. We will not stay away out of fear and a desire for a quiet life. We will not be bullied into silence.
I stand with Jean, whether she comes back or not. I stand with Jean.
You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.
Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!