HERE’S a question I found myself faced with one recent Saturday night on Twitter: “You meet Angela Haggerty in a pub and she wants to **** you. Here’s your three options – 1.) Take her home; 2.) Kill yourself; 3.) Find a £20 hooker.”

The author of this tweet was a brave, anonymous football fan who has periodically targeted me with similar abhorrent nonsense over the last few years. He’s one of literally hundreds of accounts I’ve blocked in that time for similar, and often far more severe and sinister, abuse.

My crime? Being a mouthy woman who insists on doing her job. That job included editing a book about Rangers’ financial collapse in 2012, which has led to a nearly four-year long sustained campaign of abuse. The most serious episode of it led to a six-month prison sentence for one man who went on an online podcast to deliver a tirade of threatening comments and encourage listeners to do the same, to which they duly obliged, much to my terror one evening when I found myself alone in my home with a stream of men online asking me if I’d ever been sexually assaulted.

From that day to this, despite police involvement and a criminal trial, it hasn’t stopped. Brave men continue to set up accounts on social media with the sole intention of harassing me. They’ve tried to get me sacked from every job I’ve had since 2012, and whenever I appear on radio or television I’m subjected to a fresh slew of hate. Just months after the court case the abuse was so bad after an appearance on a BBC news programme that it was covered by a national newspaper.

Among the abusive terms publishable were “ginger hag”, “one ugly mother”, an “ugly fenian b******” and “a fenian cow”. I’m now told on a regular basis that I’m all of these things and more – munter, c***, boot, etc – and I’ve even been informed by my detractors of not only how much they’d like to see me stabbed, but that I should be under no doubt that I deserve it.

Much is said about the very

particular problem of sexist abuse directed towards women online, but there is curiously little understanding of the effects.

The campaign aimed at me was about trying to silence a journalist – a serious thing in itself – but there was an undercurrent among all of it which revealed a rage that this

journalist had the audacity to be a woman, of all things.

And the pattern is observable across social media. It ranges from the kind of extreme abuse that I, and commentators like feminist Caroline Criado-Perez – who endured an intense period of rape threats that also resulted in criminal convictions – have experienced, to more “casual” sexism and gender stereotyping.

Wherever it falls on the spectrum, these things deliver the same message: women are “other”. Women’s voices have less value. Women are inferior.

Just last week, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was reduced to a suit by a male news reporter who felt it appropriate to point out that she’d worn the same outfit as a couple of other people. Sturgeon retorted wonderfully with a picture of the reporter wearing the same suit as a politician, remarking: “Oh no, male journalist and male politician wear same suit!”

No matter how little harm the news reporter meant by his remarks – and it was all taken in good humour – for me it still underlined those frustrating prevailing attitudes about what defines women. Those attitudes go on to emerge in their most concentrated form online.

Social media has created a space that women and men can access equally, but the choice of so many men to use that technological platform to threaten and humiliate their equals highlights the challenge still facing women at a most basic level.

We could call on social networks themselves to do more to tackle it, and there are some improvements that could be made, but they aren’t really the problem. Those networks

have simply provided a platform

for the problem to show itself. It is driven by a deep-rooted

misogyny within our society that doesn’t simply stop when the laptop is switched off.

What is required is for both men and women to stand up to this abuse online when it occurs; for employers to show unwavering support to staff who must use social media in their jobs and be uncompromising about who is to blame for these attitudes.

Women are not the problem.

We do not bring this on ourselves, we do not deserve it and we should never be required to change our

behaviour or lower our voices to

placate the intolerant misogynist mob.