1984 (age 31–32)|
|Awards||Human rights campaigner of the year award, 2013 (Liberty)|
Caroline Criado-Perez, OBE (born 1984) is a Brazilian-born British feminist activist and journalist. She has been involved in campaigns for women to gain better representation in the British media and to be depicted on banknotes. Her efforts in part led to a decision by the Bank of England to review the selection process for future banknotes. Since this decision, the Bank of England announced in July 2013 that the image of Jane Austen will appear on the £10 note by around 2017.
The later campaign led to sustained harassment on the social networking website Twitter of Criado-Perez and other women. Twitter announced plans to improve its complaint procedures as a result.
Early life and education
Born in Brazil, she is the daughter of Carlos Criado-Perez, an Argentinian-born businessman and who rose to be CEO of the UK's Safeway chain. Her mother is English. Her father's work in the supermarket industry necessitated the family live in several countries during her childhood years, including Spain, Portugal and Taiwan, as well as the UK. When she was 11, her father moved to the Netherlands and she was sent to a public school in England with her two brothers, but disliked that culture.
Criado-Perez left school at 18, and spent a year at university, before leaving her studies. Having developed a passion for opera during her teens, she wanted to become an opera singer, and various jobs subsidised her singing lessons. Her parents divorced.
Criado-Perez worked in digital marketing for some years, but found she wanted to change her career path and studied for her English Literature A-level in the evenings and at weekends, having dropped out of completing the qualification at school. She gained a place to study English Language and Literature at Keble College, Oxford as a mature learner, and graduated from Oxford University in 2012. A participant in the London Library Student Writing Prize in 2012, she was one of the runners-up who received £1,000 and other prizes. Since then, she worked, in 2012, as an editor for an information and networking portal of the pharmaceutical industry and is in the process of gaining a master's degree in Gender Studies from the London School of Economics.
Female representation in the media
In November 2012, with Catherine Smith, she founded the website Women's Room, whose goal is to collect suggestions for female professionals and to convey to journalists to increase the proportion of women in the media. The immediate reason for this development were two features on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme broadcast on consecutive days in October 2012, on the prevention of teenage pregnancies and breast cancer, in which no female expert was interviewed – the interviewers were also male. As a result, presenter John Humphrys had to ask during the latter item: "if you were a woman you would have no hesitation about being screened"? One of the interviewees on the item about teenage pregnancies was Anthony Seldon, the headmaster of Wellington College, a public school. Criado-Perez wrote that Seldon might be an authority on contemporary British political history, but not on the immediate subject under discussion. She commented on the rather narrow selection of voices, on social lines as well as gender, in such broadcast debates in early November 2012: "These voices are shaping the debate, and they therefore wield a huge influence over our currently populist public policy. If public policy is going to be so responsive to the media, let's make the media truly representative of the public."
On the Wikipedia controversy in April 2013 concerning the creation of a sub-category for American women novelists, she was reported as saying: "It perpetuates the idea that men are the default and don’t need to be marked in any way, whereas women are still seen as the outliers."
Women on banknotes
In another campaign, she called the Bank of England on their decision to replace Elizabeth Fry with Winston Churchill on the £5 note, which left no women featured on the reverse of bank notes; the Queen is depicted on the front of bank notes, with historically prominent people on the reverse. Dismissing Churchill as "another white man", Criado-Perez pointed out that the Equality Act 2010 commits public institutions to "eliminate discrimination", whereas proof the Bank had acted with the required "due regard" was absent because details of the decision-making process were not made public. Criado-Perez met Head of Notes Victoria Cleland and Chief Cashier Chris Salmon at the Bank to discuss the matter in the second week of July.
The campaign, which gained the support of 35,000 petitioners, and financial support for a potential legal challenge which Criado-Perez had not ruled out, led Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, to announce a change of plan on 24 July 2013. It is now intended that the image of Jane Austen will appear on the £10 note, likely from 2017. The process to make such decisions is to undergo an extensive review. "People have said this was not such a big thing to tackle, but I didn't especially pick on banknotes", Criado-Perez commented to The Observer's Vanessa Thorpe. "I just saw the new note and thought, 'I am not having this'. And the Bank of England is not a small institution." Jane Austen was not her preferred female historical figure, but Criado-Perez still approved of the choice: "She spent her time poking fun at the establishment. All her books are about how women are trapped and misrepresented. It is really sad that she was saying that 200 years ago and I am still having to say that today".
Harassment on Twitter
This decision by the Bank of England resulted in numerous threats, including threats of rape and murder, made against Criado-Perez and other women on Twitter from the day of the Bank of England's announcement in July 2013. At this point, Criado-Perez said that she was receiving about 50 such threats each hour, and found somewhat inadequate the suggestion that she fill in an on-line form for Twitter detailing the behaviour she had experienced. At the height of the abuse, Craido-Perez "lost half a stone in two days" and "couldn't eat or sleep". She commented later: "I don't know if I had a kind of breakdown. I was unable to function, unable to have normal interactions."
While she felt it was taking over her life, Twitter at the time was assuming no responsibility for the content of tweets, merely advising users to contact the relevant authorities. Criado-Perez said the campaign of abuse, provoked by a small issue, "shows it's not about what women are doing, not about feminism. It's that some men don't like women, and don't like women in the public domain." In her view: "Men get attacked because they’ve said or done something someone doesn’t like, whereas women get attacked because they’re visible."
The Labour MP Stella Creasy, who had been involved with Criado-Perez in the bank note campaign, was amongst those who suffered similar criminal harassment. A man and a woman were arrested towards the end of July. An on-line petition calling on Twitter to introduce a button to enable site users to report abuse had gained 110,000 signatures by 2 August.
Criado-Perez did not participate in the Twitter silence organised by Times journalist Caitlin Moran for 4 August to persuade Twitter to change its policies. "Sorry, but I won't be silenced by anyone", she said. Although she acknowledged that the boycott was a "mark of solidarity", she argued the need to "shout back" at trolls. On 3 August, the micro-blogging site's general manager in Britain, Tony Wang, announced a one-click option on all posts enabling users to easily report abusive tweets, and apologised to the women who had received abuse.
In September 2013, Criado-Perez felt that the Metropolitan Police had not treated her honourably, and reported that they had lost evidence. The following day, the Metropolitan Police said they had not lost evidence in this case. Meanwhile, Criado-Perez deleted her Twitter account for a time. On 16 December it emerged that a woman and a man from Tyne and Wear would appear in court in early January having been charged with the improper use of a communications network. It was announced at this time that two other suspects were not going to be charged, and of a fifth a decision was yet to be made. On 7 January 2014, John Nimmo (25) and Isabella Sorley (23) pleaded guilty to the charges brought against them. Sorley was sentenced to 12 weeks and Nimmo 8 weeks on 24 January. When asked on the BBC Newsnight programme in early January whether she was surprised that one of the convicted Twitter abusers was female, Criado-Perez said that the woman in question had "internalised" misogyny already rampant in society as a whole. A second man, Peter Nunn, 33, was found guilty of sending threatening tweets to Creasy on 2 September, and was blocked from contacting either woman when he was imprisoned for 18 weeks on 29 September 2014.
As a result of her campaign against Twitter policies, columnist Owen Jones in July 2013 described Criado-Perez as "a brilliant fighter".
After Jeremy Corbyn became Labour leader in September 2015, Criado-Perez tweeted: "I really thought Corbyn would have the sense to give top [shadow] cabinet jobs to women. You're a white male leader with a white male deputy". Corbyn's shadow Chancellor, Foreign and Home Secretaries were also men. In the context of threatening behaviour suffered predominantly by female Labour MPs before and during the 2016 Labour leadership crisis, Criado-Perez has written about the subject for The Pool website.
For her successful activism over depicting women on bank notes, Criado-Perez won the human rights campaigner of the year award from the pressure group Liberty in November 2013. In the 2015 Queen's Birthday Honours, she was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) 'For services to Equality and Diversity, particularly in the Media'.
- "Jane Austen to be face of the Bank of England £10 note", BBC News, 24 July 2013
- Simon Hattenstone "Caroline Criado-Perez: 'Twitter has enabled people to behave in a way they wouldn't face to face'", The Guardian, 4 August 2013. Accessed 20 April 2015
- Harriet Dennys "City Diary: Campaigns are family currency for banknote protester Caroline Criado-Perez", telegraph.co.uk, 30 July 2013
- "The London Library Student Prize Winner and Runners Up 2012", The London Library Magazine, March 2012, p.22
- "Caroline Criado-Pereze – freelance writer at eyeforpharma", eyeforPharma
- "Winner announced", London Library Student Prize, 30 March 2012
- Brogan Driscoll "Caroline Criado-Perez, The Women's Room Co-Founder, On Female Experts, Feminism And Media", The Huffington Post, 15 March 2013
- Georg Szalai "U.K. Web Site to Help BBC Get More Female Experts on Air", Hollywood Reporter, 5 November 2012
- "About Us", The Women's Room
- Caroline Criado-Perez "Female experts for BBC interviews wanted. Your suggestions please", theguardian.com. 5 November 2012
- Caroline Criado-Perez "Finding female experts – doing the BBC's job for them", New Statesman, 5 November 2012 (reprinted post of Week Woman Archived 9 July 2013 at the Wayback Machine..
- Kevin Rawlinson "Wikipedia in sexism row after labelling Harper Lee and others 'women novelists' while men are 'American novelists'", The Independent, 26 April 2013
- Caroline Criado-Perez "Women on bank notes: is the Bank of England finally listening?", theguardian.com (The Women's Blog with Jane Martinson), 4 July 2013
- Daniel Hinge "Bank of England faces legal challenge over all-male banknote roster", centralbanking.com, 11 June 2013
- Katie Allen and Heather Stewart "Jane Austen to appear on £10 note", theguardian.com, 24 July 2013
- Katrin Bennhold "Bid to Honor Austen Is Not Universally Acknowledged", New York Times, 4 August 2013
- Vanessa Thorpe "What now for Britain's new-wave feminists – after page 3 and £10 notes?", The Observer, 27 July 2013
- Caroline Criado-Perez "After the Jane Austen announcement I suffered rape threats for 48 hours, but I'm still confident the trolls won't win", New Statesman (Voices), 27 July 2013
- Laura Smith-Spark "Calls for action as female journalists get bomb threats on Twitter", CNN, 2 August 2013
- Lucy Battersby "Twitter criticised for failing to respond to Caroline Criado-Perez rape threats", The Age (Australia), 29 July 2013
- Elizabeth Day "Caroline Criado-Perez: 'I don't know if I had a kind of breakdown'", The Observer, 8 December 2013
- "Criado-Perez: 'I feel under siege'", BBC News, 30 August 2013
- Jessica Elgot "Twitter Rape Abuse Of Caroline Criado-Perez Leads To Boycott Threat", The Huffington Post, 27 July 2013
- Brogan Driscoll "Caroline Criado-Perez Says Twitter Rape Threat Campaign 'Isn't A Feminist Issue'", The Huffington Post, 29 July 2013
- Chris Baraniuk "'I'm not giving up' says Caroline Criado-Perez as Twitter abuse storm thunders on" Archived 4 August 2013 at the Wayback Machine., Wired, 1 August 2013
- "Caroline Criado-Perez Twitter abuse case leads to arrest", BBC News, 29 July 2013
- "Man Arrested In Twitter Abuse Campaign Probe", The Huffington Post, 30 July 2013
- "#TwitterSilence: Was Caitlin Moran's Twitter boycott an effective form of protest?", Independent Voices, 5 August 2013
- "Twitter silence not the answer against trolls, says Criado-Perez", The Week, 5 August 2013
- "Twitter's Tony Wang issues apology to abuse victims", BBC News, 3 August 2013
- Caroline Criado-Perez "Have the police failed to record the Twitter threats against me?", New Statesman (blog), 5 September 2013
- Alexandra Topping "Feminist campaigner says police have lost evidence on Twitter rape threats", theguardian.com, 5 September 2013
- Alexandra Topping "Caroline Criado-Perez deletes Twitter account after new rape threats", theguardian.com,. 6 September 2013
- Press Association "Two charged over Caroline Criado-Perez tweets", theguardian.com, 16 December 2013
- Alexandra Topping "Jane Austen Twitter row: two plead guilty to abusive tweets", theguardian.com, 7 January 2014
- "Two jailed for Twitter abuse of feminist campaigner", theguardian.com, 24 January 2014
- "Two guilty over abusive tweets to Caroline Criado-Perez", BBC News, 7 January 2014 (embedded video)
- "Troll Peter Nunn guilty of MP Stella Creasy rape tweets", BBC News, 2 September 2014
- Media Mole "Online troll Peter Nunn found guilty of tweeting abuse at MP Stella Creasy", New Statesman, 2 September 2014
- "Peter Nunn jailed for abusive tweets to MP Stella Creasy", The Guardian (Press Association), 29 September 2014
- Owen Jones "Trolls, Caroline Criado-Perez, and how to tackle the dark side of Twitter", The Independent, 28 July 2013
- Alwakeel, Ramzy (14 September 2015). "Jeremy Corbyn's shadow cabinet criticised over lack of women in top posts". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 13 July 2016.
- Criado-Perez, Caroline (13 July 2016). "Does misogynistic abuse mean the Labour party is now the nasty party for women?". The Pool. Retrieved 13 July 2016.
- Owen Boycott "Guardian wins Liberty award for articles about GCHQ and NSA spying", The Guardian, 25 November 2013
- "Birthday Honours List 2015" (pdf). Gov.uk. 12 June 2015. Retrieved 12 June 2015.
- Sophie Elmhirst "Do It Like a Woman … and Change the World by Caroline Criado Perez – review", The Guardian, 9 May 2015
- Rachael Pells "Do It Like a Woman by Caroline Criado-Perez, book review: Fuel to feminist fire, but little more", The Independent, 30 April 2015