Of course the police are more interested in rude tweets than violence against women

Content note: this post discusses violence against women 

In news that is pissing me off today, the Twitter is inherently abusive line is out in the media again. This time the victim is Stan Collymore, who was sent racist and threatening tweets. The police are, of course, interested and investigating.

Now, of course, it is unacceptable to send racist and threatening tweets to anyone, but I’m getting a little concerned about how much of an interest they are showing in rude tweets. This isn’t the first time they’ve swooped in to help out Stan Collymore: late in 2012, a man was arrested for sending a racist tweet to Stan Collymore. Indeed, arresting people for tweets seems to be a new top policing priority, in sharp contrast with how they deal with violence against women.

Let’s look at Stan Collymore’s record. He violently attacked one woman, including kicking her in the head three times. As far as I can discern, the police didn’t get involved at all. He then went on to threaten to kill his wife and burn down her parents’ home. This time the police took the matter slightly more seriously, and charged him for a threat to destroy property, because apparently the structural integrity of a building is the most important thing here.

So why are the police far more gung-ho in going after internet trolls than perpetrators of domestic violence? Ultimately, it boils down to two things.

Firstly, they don’t really give a flying fuck about violence against women. This is why so few of us report our rapes. This is why we don’t trust the police to keep our violent partners away from us. We’ve seen their record, and we know that they’ll violate any trust we put in them. And many women, particularly marginalised women, have themselves been victims of violence perpetrated by police, because that’s their job: to beat us into submission. The role of the police is to keep everything as it is–and this includes protecting a structure which enables violence against women.

Put more charitably, the police are a product of a broken society, born and raised in it, and then paid to enforce this broken society. Is it any surprise that they reflect and enforce patriarchal control of women?

And secondly, democratised communication scares the shit out of the establishment. It is a way people can get messages out, outside of the controlled circumstances in which we may usually have a platform. Things get out that threaten the system, and that frightens them. Of course they will instrumentalise the very real experiences of misogyny and racism in order to try to clamp down on their own real enemy: their critics. It is important to remember, when thinking of police interventions into online abuse, to remember this. Twitter was blamed for the riots, while simultaneously lauded for causing the spread of democracy in the Middle East. These are the same mechanisms at work in both cases, and basically the state would rather keep such uprisings further away from home.

It is hardly a surprise that tweets will be policed more heavily than kicking a woman in the head. It is an inevitable reflection of how things are.

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4 responses to “Of course the police are more interested in rude tweets than violence against women

  • tinyorc

    High-profile man is subjected to threatening tweets containing hate speech, reports it to the police. Police swing into action, arrest a suspect within 24 hours and are praised for their “prompt response”.

    High-profile woman is subjected to threatening tweets containing hate speech, reports it to the police. Police react with indifference, insist that it’s not real because it’s on the Internet, waffle about how there’s nothing much they can do about it anyway, suggest that the victim might want to get out of her house for a few days as a precaution.

    So sexism. Wow.

  • eye2deal

    You hit the touchy spot…again. Good. Whether it is the old codgers like saville and travis ( deliberately not using capitals) or judges and police, women are just not believed, their word holds no power or strength or meaning…they are not taken seriously and/or not believed.2 women this week ruthlessly murdered cos the police did nada. And no one punishes them, it is the old boys club/freemason mentality. Say it out loud Girl!

  • surreptitious57

    Yes we live in a society in which those with privilege get results over those without and everything needs to be done to reverse that imbalance. However the fact of the matter is that sending abuse online is a criminal offence and the police have aright to investigate

    Stan Collymores history of violence towards woman / women does not justify him receiving racist abuse. It is that simple. His history of violence towards woman / women is wrong but two wrongs do not make a right. The fact he is high profile is completely irrelevant too as that still does not justify racist abuse. Nothing does Caroline Perez who received rape threats saw her abusers jailed for what they wrote on twitter and rightly so too so it is not just prominent men who see action being taken but prominent women too

    However it is completely unacceptable that in Twenty Fourteen women are not automatically believed when reporting domestic violence and / or sexual assault. The natural default position should be that they are always believed unless there is absolute proof otherwise. This is just not good enough in this day and age. And it needs to change and change now. I always believe the victim over the perpetrator. It would be wrong not to. The vast majority of sexual assaults claims are true so why should this not be the natural default position for all ? Absolutely ridiculous that it is not. Progress is being made but it is agonisingly slow. Better some than none at all but it is disappointing. Cest la vie. C est la vie

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