The transcripts of the official inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press. More…

Yes. I only briefly mentioned it here but obviously there's increasingly and rightly debate in the general media and general public and comment, blog and, as others have said, almost all of us have become publishers in a way.

I think the point that I reference here -- some of you will have seen the New Statesman article which actually asked women about their experiences of blogging, commenting and what kind of responses they got, and what was quite shocking about it, even for me, was the level of abuse that people get, and there was a recognition even amongst some of the male commenters as well that the abuse that women get when they comment on issues of public policy generally, but particularly on issues relating to women's rights or feminism or anything of that nature, is very sexist and gendered abuse. It's not purely: "You're talking rubbish and you don't know what you're talking about", or: "Shut up", or: "I disagree about you", which is a normal feature in debate; there is language -- quite violent and vitriolic language like, "You should have ..." I mean, some of it I couldn't even repeat here, but: "You should have your tongue ripped out. You should be raped backwards with a bush." It's ridiculous, but that is the kind of language that is used, that you should be gang raped, you should be raped in every orifice with an implement. These are genuine things that have been said, as well as a focus on your looks, you're ugly, or an assumption that you must be a lesbian, as though that was a very bad thing, you're unattractive to men, you're not interested in men and you're man-haters. Assumptions about your sexuality, assumptions about your looks and quite -- as I say, very violent and obscene abuse which, as I say, I can't even repeat here in some cases.

Now, the women themselves and a lot of even the men who were also involved in the whole comment thread around that recognised that that was actually about preventing or resenting women's rights to comment on public matters. If she's talking about cupcakes and children, it might be okay, but if she's talking about public policy, if she's talking about women's rights, about equality, about the economy, there is a challenge to her right to have and express an opinion, and a lot of the women who actually blog themselves feel that this is actually about intimidating women into knowing their place, and that's -- for me, the nub of this matter, really, is women's voices and women's issues are actually being silenced, to some extent intimidated, not properly covered, not adequately or covered in a partial way, in a stereotyped way that can be misleading, misrepresentive, inaccurate and is not a true representation of how women experience life.

I think the point I noticed this morning with PEN's submission -- I very much liked what they used as their definition around public interest, that that might be something that looks at how it can enhance the public's ability to engage in public debate.

As I've said before, we support freedom of speech. With that in mind, that it should enable people to equally participate in shaping, deciding, commenting on our society and holding our society to account, and our view is that the way that media covers women at the moment -- the portrayal of women in media, the roles that are focused on, the stereotypes that are there -- it curtails and limits women's freedom of expression and women's ability to engage in that public debate, and we think actually the press can be a crucial and helpful partner in actually challenging some of those norms and enabling that freedom of speech and expression for everybody with just a little bit of tweaking these and there. Thanks.

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