In light of the abuse aimed at Caroline Criado-Perez, Sunday 4th August was declared by some a Twitter ‘Trolliday’, or a day of #TwitterSilence.
Of late, I’ve not been as active on Twitter. At times, silence comes naturally. For me, it’s the result of a need to retreat instinctively. For all my boisterous moments, I tend to need just as much time (if not more) to reflect. Natural silence is something that should be applauded, celebrated even, in the right circumstances. But it’s when silence is forced that concern is raised. And concerned, I am.
The Twitter Silence has seen some high profile names raise the issue of online abuse, bringing it to the forefront of discussion. But the irony strikes me with a certain bitterness. Our oppressors want our silence. Will they really strike up some new found empathy with us in the light of a 24 hour twitter boycott? Doubtful. It merely teaches those that hate women that they can drive us off, in our hundreds. Thousands, even.
At what point did we decide we stop discussion in the vain hope it would get our plight noticed? Silence from women is applauded by those who hate women. Our absence would be celebrated. #TwitterSilence teaches those who aim to silence women that it’s achievable. They merely need to push hard enough.
Instead, we need to shout back louder. They want silence. I’m sure as hell not willing to give silence as a reaction to abuse. I know this is late in the day. I know many have logged off for the day, and won’t be back until the end of Sunday. But those who fall silent, those who co-ordinated the silence seem to be missing a key point. We have brought about changes over the past two weeks; From Caroline’s campaign to stop the erasure of women on UK banknotes, to the campaign for Twitter to tighten up it’s abuse policies and make reporting easier – These campaigns haven’t come about through silence, nor has silence contributed to their success. Silence doesn’t work. Instead, we need to keep shouting back.
We’ve been taught that silence would save us, but it won’t. – Gloria Steinem