In these highly polarised times, we should note when there seems to be unity across the parties. The effects of online abuse on female participation in politics appears to be one of those overlaps.

In the last seven days, both Theresa May and UK Labour’s shadow education secretary, Angela Rayner, have highlighted how much social media, and its hordes of screen-jabbing misogynists, dishearten and discourage women politicians – both actual and aspiring.

A few months ago, Nicola Sturgeon announced a fund of £500,000 to promote political engagement among young women. Sturgeon has long been prominent in speaking out against online trolling and abuse.

In particular, Rayner and May agree on one very specific regulation that might be nationally applied to these global media. “One of the first things they should do is stop anonymous accounts,” said Rayner at this week’s Labour conference. “Most people who send me abuse do so from anonymous accounts, and would not dream of doing it in their own name.”

In February, the Prime Minister said that “new laws were now needed to make sure what is illegal offline is illegal online”.

Now, a policy that’s shared between a hard-right and a hard-left politician is probably implementable, but I hope I can talk through a few disquiets first, even as we head for what may well be a fundamental redefinition of the internet itself.

The comeback could (understandably) be instant: it’s nowhere near as much “disquiet” as the abuse itself causes. Back in March, Mhairi Black stood up in the Westminster Parliament and broke precedent by using the c-word, as she shared the brutal language directed at her by online haters.

Another MP, Jess Phillips of Labour, has described how she received 600 rape and death threats on social media in one day. Over the 2017 General Election, Diane Abbott received nearly 50% of all abusive tweets against women. The n-word, said the digital sociologists, was a notable addition to the often violent sexism.

So in the face of all this, is it time for the web – heading for its third decade – to finally grow up? I’ll confess that I have been deeply shaped by the idealism, and creativity, of the early internet.

The internet dream once promised the rebirth of democracy and mass participation. It also offered the opening up of a new realm of experimentation with identity: a “cyberspace” in which our “avatars” might allow us to live several lives within one.

The reality at present – where we’re hooked on networks that exploit, for profit and surveillance, our interactions; and where virtual identities, easily adopted, become vehicles for untrammelled hatred and bigotry – is deeply dispiriting.

Spend even a little time with the fetid nature of online misogyny against female public figures, and it’s very tempting to fall in line with calls for an “identified” net.

The digital playzone could easily be seen as full of overgrown man-babies, spraying the muck of a liquefying patriarchy everywhere. Shouldn’t responsible adulthood begin for the online world?

My only push back comes from the age-old question: who guards the guardians – or at least those who would manage such a pervasive online identity? If only it was as simple as saying “these are all little acts of publishing – make the authors crystal clear, and we can apply existing laws on defamation and hate speech to them”.

If you want this level of digital clarity, it’s happening most trenchantly in the People’s Republic of China. Their “social rating system” tracks all digital behaviour, and ties it to each individual user. They are already beginning to reward certain social behaviours, and punish others – the ultimate Big Brother.

In the future they may even be able to anticipate collective unrest, or even your mild disgruntlement, from their algorithmic crunching of big data.

Would we want a digital identity system to lay out the possibilities of such a regime here? (Though it might fairly be asked how much we meekly submit to commercial monitoring already, as we blithely sign up to our “free” social media.)

You don’t need to wait for the uncovering of crimes in electoral campaign spending to be worried about the UK’s digital regime. May’s recent cyber-surveillance laws has already been described as the most draconian in the developed world.

(One might also gently suggest that May – from her “Go Home” anti-immigration vans to her dogged pursuit of an irrevocable Brexit – has played no small part in the escalation of hate speech, in a racist register at least.)

But in any case, everything about the post-Brexit regime (if Scots are still labouring under it) points towards the need to micro-govern the population – both to maintain performance and to monitor dissent. What if you’re a public-service whistleblower in the new Brexitannia? Where will your outlet be?

So one might resist the prospect of universal digital identification, as a slipway to authoritarianism (soft or hard). But we still have to face down these dreadful – and,more often than not, male – online behaviours.

One route might well be sheerly commercial – that is, consumers and users turning away from platforms that have become toxic. Ellen Pao, the former CEO of the often wild-and-woolly online forum Reddit, notes that the business end of Silicon Valley only looks at the metrics, which are driven up satisfyingly high by furious debates. As she puts it, “everyone is holding hands on the way to hell”.

So boycotting Facebook and Twitter, says Pao, is one way to make them notice. This consumer revolt may also open up opportunities for new services which more tightly screen for misogyny, racism, intolerance (and more avidly promote positive values).

We may have to abandon our 1990s dreams of perfect digital agoras, teaching the world to sing in perfect harmony. And we may have to embrace a strong digital version of the “marketplace of ideas” – where lovers can love in their zone, and haters hate in theirs.

But at least this arrangement might keep a distance between us (in all the crooked timber of our humanity), and a super-surveillance beyond our craziest sci-fi paranoias.

As to why a certain category of men are driven to cruel fury, whenever they see change-making political women – regardless of their ideological cast – occupying official positions of power? We need to go deeper than the current use of online tools to answer that one. Our innermost hearts may demand the most intricate reprogramming of all.