May 14, 2015

Criado-Perez says her “wake-up call” inspired new book


criadoIn 2013, Caroline Criado-Perez led a campaign to get Jane Austen‘s face on the £10 bank note. Her campaign was successful. Thrust into the public spotlight, she had to endure an incredible number of alarming threats on social media. She turned her attention to addressing Twitter, and speaking to UK media about the way we handle online attackers.

The activist has emerged on the other side of this incident: Austen’s face has usurped a space once reserved for Charles Darwin, and now Criado-Perez has a book of her own. Do It Like A Woman and Change the World is out from Portobello Books this week.

Criado-Perez is also the founder of the Women’s Room. She received the Liberty Human Rights Campaigner of the Year Award 2013 and was named one of The Guardian‘s People of the Year. Putting together this book, a kind of manifesto, she sought out a female fighter pilot, a Chilean revolutionary, and many other powerful women.

Dick Costolo, chief executive of Twitter, has admitted that the company “sucks” at dealing with abuse, and said Twitter aims to do better. This is, in part, thanks to Criado-Perez. Last year, 1,207 reported crimes included a mention of Facebook, and 138 included Twitter, though these are just the tip of the iceberg.

She has been articulate and graceful through what must have been a difficult two years. After two of her verbal attackers pled guilty, she said to the BBC:

This is a small drop in the ocean, not just in terms of the amount of abuse that I was sent, where way more people than just two were involved, but also women in general, the amount of abuse that they get online and how few people see any form of justice.

In an interview with the Guardian, she said she draws inspiration from other women who are fighting their own battles:

I admired all the women in my book…. If you’re feeling: “Oh god, it’s all too difficult”, just spend time reading about women because they do really recharge you. Collect women now!


Kirsten Reach is an editor at Melville House.