Disagreeing with a Woman: Threats of Rape and Violence

 On 4th June 2021 the Daily Telegraph published an article on concerns about the Stonewall Equality Diversity Champions programme. The article included a couple of short quotations from me. On 7th June 2021 I received a long, intense email addressed to my work email account from a reader of the piece who disagreed vehemently with what I had said.

After expressing some general concerns and criticisms of my character, knowledge, legitimacy, family history and ethics, the writer opined that he (I presume) would be able to change my opinion if he were given the opportunity. He proposed to change my mind through rape and violence – conduct that would result in more than 10 years in prison if it took place. Included were 3 separate photos illustrating different young women being whipped and sexually assaulted.

I am sure that nothing written in this email was written with the knowledge, approval or consent of Stonewall. I have no doubt that Stonewall would never condone threats of sexual violence addressed to those who criticise or disapprove of Stonewall. This email demonstrates, however, a wider problem in British life. Women who are in any way visible – and this was an article in the Daily Telegraph, not a section of a  primetime television show – attract a degree of misogyny, threats, sexual imagery and proposed sexual violence that is utterly unacceptable.

Of course this is #notallmen. It is a very small number of men and I am sure the vast majority would never direct such images of rape and violence against women no matter how strongly they disagreed with their opinions. But there is a small, noisy minority of men who do behave in this way. All surveys of women who are MPs, journalists, television presenters, columnists or otherwise publicly visible demonstrate that they attract disproportionately aggressive and misogynistic responses such as these.

Emails of this kind can amount to criminal offences – depending on the context, content and the number of threats, offences could include harassment, contrary to the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, malicious communications, contrary to the Malicious Communications Act 1988 or Communications Act 2003, making a threat to kill, contrary to the Offences Against the Person Act 1861, making a threat to commit criminal damage, the Criminal Damage Act 1971, or blackmail, contrary to section 21 Theft Act 1968. Identifying an offender is not always easy with emails, of course. 

Of course, this is not really about the women who are the subject of these kinds of threats. The man who made threats of sexual violence to Joanna Cherry did not know her, any more than my correspondent yesterday knows me. This is about those men, not about the women who are the subject of the threats. It points to an inadequacy and threatened insecurity in the men themselves, rather than in their targets.

But aggression and unpleasantness of this kind deters women from participating in public life. Nobody, of either sex or any opinion, should be subject to threats in this way. My particular correspondent chose the anonymity of a ProtonMail address and cannot be traced. But when men  who have behaved in this way can be traced, it should be made apparent that such behaviour is always unacceptable. Perhaps such men should realise they do no good to the causes they claim to support when they act in this manner.

No woman reading a message like this thinks, “Oh, of course, this charming gentleman threatening rape seems a normal and sensible chap, maybe he’s got a point.” Instead, they think merely of his inadequacies and failings.

Everybody in the UK, particularly, in this instance women, deserves better than this.


16 thoughts on “Disagreeing with a Woman: Threats of Rape and Violence”

  1. Dreadful but sadly not a unique experience for women who dare to challenge the Sacred cow that is Stonewall. Sorry you had to endure this nasty attack. I hope you informed the police!

  2. I’m sure you’re in touch with the telegraph. Would you/they consider publishing your reflections of the abusive email?
    Keep safe and I’m sorry that inadequate men can only use male pattern violence to disagree with us.

  3. They wave these penis’s about like a bloody magic wand thinking it’s corrective use will somehow get them what they want. It’s just so repulsive. You, Joanna, Maya, Marion, Allison, JKR (I could go on and on and on) should not have to put up with this. The real travesty however is that this person felt he had the entitlement to send it safe in the knowledge that he could do so anonymously and without repercussion.

    1. On the other hand, he has to live with his own rage, anger, spite and aggression. I don’t. So I’m definitely better off!

  4. I’m deeply distressed to hear of your experience here. What you suffered is unacceptable in the kind of decent society we should strive for.

    We are most certainly on opposite sides of this “debate” yet I hope you will accept my best wishes.

    Eloise Freya

    1. Please don’t think I tar anyone who disagrees me with this brush! I said in the article I’m sure Stonewall don’t condone it, and I don’t think that people who don’t agree with me think this man’s behaviour is OK either. I’m always happy to discuss, disagree, debate, and explore ideas.

      It’s a wider problem – not about Stonewall, or trans rights, or the SNP (in Joanna Cherry’s case). It’s about the small, noisy group of men who treat “women going equipped with opinions” in this way.

      1. “I said in the article I’m sure Stonewall don’t condone it”.

        In all seriousness, have you got any evidence to back that up? It seems to me absolutely clear that Stonewall are not interested in debate. They are happy to abuse and silence and foster a culture of fear. Huge swathes of TRAs say horrible things constantly.

        It seems to me that Stonewall may condone it. They may tacitly condone it. The most charitable explanation I can give is that they don’t want to hurt poor vulnerable trans-people by siding with gender critical people at all, and that leads to them tacitly condoning disgusting and criminal behaviour.

        1. There’s nothing to suggest Stonewall was aware of this man who emailed me, let alone approved it.

          I do think they don’t pay sufficient attention to violence against women & girls, but I’ve never seen them support it.

          1. What evidence is there that this nasty little scrote was a man?
            I agree it is a reasonable supposition, but the supposition might be incorrect.

  5. How many of these ‘men’ who would send such horrible disgusting threats will also be rubbing their hands in glee at the proposed notion of self id. Where they may enter women only spaces to either intimidate and harass women with behaviour that just falls short of criminal, or worse. And removal of these men barred by the magic words ‘I dentify as a woman’. And the recording of any criminal acts they should commit also to be laid at the feet of women and where the perpetrator will be sent to a womans prison. Madness.

    1. Those are my thoughts exactly. My ex husband is a trans man and l know he would never consider any kind of violence or verbally attack a woman who disagreed with his behaviour. However there are documented accounts of violence, rape, sexual assault by trans people who are self identifying as women who have full male genitalia.

    2. Well I have read that a number of men who write such sick emails abusing women, later have been picked up for sex offences. If a man who writes these gutless kind of emails is reading this, remember technology changes all the time and a techno whizz kid somewhere maybe able to tell the police exactly who you are. Do ..not.. do.. it. Be a civilised person.

  6. I’m so sorry you were subjected to such vile misogynistic abuse.

    I hope you have a gin and tonic in the sunshine today, as living well is the best revenge.

  7. Online i got told I was getting c*nt punted and to suck on the persons ladydick. I reported them to twitter.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.