August 13, 2013 – We reported on the Bank of England’s decision to honour Jane Austen on a £10 banknote. This choice followed a vivid protest because Sir Winston Churchill was to follow the only woman on a British banknote, Elizabeth Fry. While writer Jane Austen is generally acknowledged as a good choice being widely accepted, strange reactions to this decision have been reported.
Feminist activists and female MPs who supported the idea of dedicating again a banknote to an important woman received threats on Twitter menacing murder and rape. First police said they could do nothing about it and Twitter also held the opinion it is only a platform and was not able to remove or trace back any posts. When the threatened women made their situation public, eventually a special task force of Scotland Yard took charge of investigating and one man has been arrested. Twitter is now considering to change its policies worldwide to block and eliminate posts that were reported as abusing other peoples’ rights.
It seems awkward that the symbolic action of choosing a woman to sport a new banknote could create similar reactions. It confirms anyway – even in a rather sad way – the importance of the banknotes’ design and how a design is chosen.
Here we reported on the new banknote.
The New York Times published an article on the criminal reactions in the UK.
The Guardian says that police is investigating and has arrested a man over Twitter threats.