Catherine Scott: Whatever the medium, sexist abuse is wrong

Despite the way which technology, especially social networking is propelling us deeper into the 21st century at cyber-speed, I feel like I have woken up in the Dark Ages this week.

All the chat has been about misogyny and the vile abuse of women.

Just because the medium is Twitter and it takes place on the Internet doesn’t make it any more acceptable.

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I had really hoped that the days of women’s sexuality being used against them had been confined to the history books.

But sadly not a bit of it.

The vile abuse of Caroline Crado-Perez and her supporters on Twitter has left me wondering, what sort of society we are living in?

Just because Crado-Perez successfully campaigned for Jane Austen to be on a bank note, she has suffered threats of rape and all manner of violence on the social networking site. Bullying and misogyny are nothing new, only the medium by which these cowards attack their victims.

But whereas in the past these women-haters would have had very little oxygen 
of publicity for their 
narrow-minded views, they now have the world at their feet.

Twitter is a useful and powerful tool, but due to its very nature it allows people to connect to an endless number of other people immediately. That is a powerful tool open to abuse in the wrong hands.

If there is any shred of hope to be garnered from the last few days it is the outrage with which these comments, on the whole, have been greeted.

While Twitter says it is doing its upmost to find the culprits, it seems the Twitterati are doing their bit to condemn this unacceptable behaviour.

But is it enough? This isn’t just a matter for Twitter, it is a matter for society.

I have two girls and they will soon be social networking with the best of them. I will be instilling in them the need to treat people on Twitter and Facebook as they want to be treated themselves.

With the age of texting and tweeting we seem to have lost all sense of manners and common decency.

A friend of mine discovered his son had sent a somewhat derogatory comment on Facebook to a friend recently.

He lost all use of “gadgets” for a month – for a teenager that is some punishment.

But it isn’t that easy to know what your children are doing or saying. All we can do is hope that we have done enough as parents to instill in them some sort of moral code, which clearly the parents of the idiots who attacked Crado-Perez and others did not.

Men and boys need to know that it is not acceptable to behave in this manner. It is just common respect for other people no matter what their gender, colour, creed or sexual orientation.