Searchlight Magazine Arts has long been impressed by the tenacity of Women Against UKIP. This is by far and away the most active group on social media and its Facebook community has soared since it launched last April, with current “likes” standing at 17,226. We catch up with the leaders of this community to learn more about how this group began… and why they decided to put so much time, effort and dedication into making a stand.
How did your group come about?
The movement Women Against UKIP on Facebook and Women Defy UKIP on Twitter started as a bit of a laugh. Three women were having a chat on Twitter one morning on the more misogynistic policies suggested by UKIP and one of us said ‘let’s start a women’s group against them’.
One of us went off and created the Facebook page, and another created the Twitter account. There was no serious intent to form a movement, and immediately on Facebook and Twitter we were subjected to the most horrific abuse and trolling.
Can you tell us more about this?
On Twitter, @womendefyukip was targeted by far right activists and faced a systematic campaign of abuse and suspensions enabled by mass reporting of the account. For the first six weeks the account was down more than it was up. Through the multiple suspensions, @womensayno2ukip was created as a backup account but is now run in its own right. We also have @Trumpton_Women too, run by another member of our expanding group.
Over on Facebook, well known trolls, and many other pro-UKIP accounts, started harassing the page too. More misogyny followed and it started putting a [serious] strain [on the group].
Where do things stand now?
[Gradually the group as grown and] we are now based all over the country from Scotland to Portsmouth, and only one or two of us have every actually met!
Is it difficult to post so regularly?
The page is very time consuming, as is UKIP, and we can only attribute its success to them. Their constant misogyny, veiled racism and homophobia provide us with all the ammo we need.
How have you found the reaction to your community?
The support we get amazes us, and we never expected this to take off in this way. We are still surprised on a daily basis when the likes keep going up.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
You have to laugh [and poke fun] but UKIP are dangerous. There are some genuinely scary people in there. They are like pinstriped Nazis. [But] it is hard to turn online activities into real life action because people need to remain anonymous. Look what happened to Bunny La Roche. [Le Roche received threats after some very vocal criticism of UKIP]. [This means] our main energies are invested in Social Media.