Caroline Criado-Perez interview: The campaigner on Twitter abusers, and why women don’t need to do things like men

By | March 17, 2016

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Felicity Aston is probably the one I was most blown away by. Her research stint in the Arctic was such an incredible feat of endurance for anyone, man or woman. Women are often framed culturally as being incapable of doing things for ourselves. Also, it was psychologically so challenging, having to avoid crevasses and… I’m really sorry, I’m struggling with words today. I went to a gig last night and my brain’s just not on it, apparently.

Good gig?

It was a friend of mine. I ended up drinking a lot of vodka diet cokes and it’s just not working out well for me today.

Well, on we shall soldier. The book has been compared to Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In but that, broadly, encouraged women to play men by their own rules. What do you make of that idea?

First, I think that Sandberg’s book has been unfairly represented in many places. But one of the reasons I chose that title for my book was to counter the idea that women need to do things like men. There is a way that men are supposed to behave and a way that women are supposed to behave, which is seen as inferior. But actually many female attributes, like being caring or having emotions, are good, positive human… God I can’t speak today. What’s the word I’m looking for…? Things that humans have.

Faculties? Capabilities?

Yeah, maybe that. Human capabilities? I don’t know. Anyway, so… f**k, I’ve lost the thread of what I was saying again. I’m so sorry, this is a car crash.

Haha, no, it’s not, really…

I think the problem is your questions are really hard. I thought you’d ask easy things like “what do you have for breakfast?” and “who’s your favourite dog?”

Moving on, who’s your favourite dog?

Ahaha, obviously my dog, Poppy! She’s sitting on me right now. She’s a mongrel: King Charles, jack russell, chihuahua.

Due to your dad’s work in the retail industry, you grew up all over the world. How do you think that shaped you?

Growing up, I didn’t enjoy it. I didn’t like having to leave school every three years and having to make new friends. But looking back, I think it was incredibly good training. You constantly have to walk into rooms where you don’t know anyone. I think also it’s… [long sigh] I’ve forgotten what I was going to say. Is this the worst interview you’ve ever done?

No, no, I’m enjoying it. You’ve become a public face of feminism. Could you have predicted that 10 years ago?

If I went back 10 years, I probably would have thought the day before doing an interview, don’t go out and get absolutely smashed. But no, I definitely did not plan any of this. I’m terrible at planning, I tend to do things on emotion and instinct. If I start a campaign it’s not because I’ve thought carefully about it. It’s just something that’s pissed me off.

Do you feel you had the last laugh on your Twitter abusers as it ultimately granted you a bigger platform?

It’s deliciously ironic in that they were trying to silence me and they ended up giving me a bigger voice. So, yeah, thanks guys who tried to shut me up by threatening to rape me – that didn’t really work out very well for you, did it?

So, what do you have for breakfast?

Seriously? I was joking! Well, this morning, the only thing that got me out of bed was thinking about having an ultimate halloumi roll at my local café. I had that and a massive cappuccino. It’s not what I have every morning. That would be extravagant, wouldn’t it?

Biography

Born in Brazil, Caroline Criado-Perez OBE, 31, is a British feminist activist and writer who campaigns, among other things, to improve women’s representation in the media. In 2013, after challenging the Bank of England’s decision to replace the only woman pictured on banknotes, Elizabeth Fry, with a man, she found herself subject to numerous rape and death threats on Twitter. Her new book ‘Do It Like A Woman… and Change the World’ is published by Portobello.