Why Abuse Of Women In Politics Hinders Democracy By Kelly Grehan

100 years on from some women gaining the vote in the UK and 99 years from the same action in the US you would think women’s participation in the political process would be accepted, if not completely ordinary and unworthy of comment.  However, far from being the case, women in politics remain viewed as interlopers and unwelcome by many.  

 

Let’s look at the evidence for why I say this: 

 

This week, 29 year old Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is described as a rising star in the American Democrat Party, faced the seemingly inevitable abuse that comes with being a woman in politics.

A right wing website published an image showing a woman’s bare feet in the bath, under the headline: “Here’s the photo some people described as a nude selfie of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.”  

The photo was, as it happens, not of the Congresswoman, but that’s not really the point.  

 As Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter the actions of the Daily Caller were “just a matter of time” as “women in leadership face more scrutiny [than men]. Period.” She went on to say :

 

Last week attempts to shame the same Congresswoman by releasing a video of her dancing from a few years before backfired when she responded with a new video of her dancing:

 https://twitter.com/AOC/status/1081234130841600000

Over 80% of women in politics, globally have experinced sexist or sexually humiliating remarks, gestures or threats and harassment which fell outside the normal political debate.  

Then there is the bizarre judgement of any women in fertility being, as former Australian Prime Minister said Even before becoming prime minister, I had observed that if you are a woman politician, it is impossible to win on the question of family.

If you do not have children then you are characterised as out of touch with ‘mainstream lives’. If you do have children then, heavens, who is looking after them?I had already been chided by a senior conservative Senator for being ‘deliberately barren.’

 

Men just do not face this kind of commentary of their circumstances.  

  

Seeking to humiliate women in politics is just the tip of the iceberg: last year a global survey of women in politics, found that 44% had faced serious abuse, including threats of murder, rape and assault.  As  SNP MP,  Mhairi Black said ‘”I’m bored of gender. I’m bored of being told I should be raped and bored of being told I’m too ugly to be raped.”

 

Jess Phillips, who, lest we forget, lost her friend, MP Jo Cox to murder by a member of the far right tweeted this week:

 

With about a 50% chance of threats of violence and sexual assault hanging over them, is it any wonder so few women want to get involved in politics?

 

Globally more than 10,500 women served as national parliamentarians in 2017, accounting for around 23 percent of total parliamentarians worldwide. In the UK, over the last century there have been just 491 female MPs and more than 4,000 male MPs.

 

A Report, Violence Against Women In Politics, published last year found that reports that ‘growing acts of violence serve as a strong barrier to women accessing their right to participate fully and equally in politics and public life.’

 

Normalising the abuse of public figures – and dismissing sexism and misogyny in the political world – as simply the ‘cost of doing politics’ has devastating consequences for the quality of democracy – Around one third of female politicians who have threatened with violence online stopped expressing their opinions there or withdrew from public conversations as a result. We cannot know the number of brilliant women who are deterred from entering politics because of fear of bringing violence upon themselves and their families, but there can be no doubt there are many.

Let us be in no doubt, the  abuse of women is pushed by those who believe women have no place in politics and so must be shamed, smeared and harassed until they give up.

 It is for all good people to stand up against those with this agenda.

Should Abuse Ever Be Ignored? By The Masked Avenger Anonymous 

Author Anonoymous

Maybe ignored is not the right word but I am finding words so difficult right now. You see a really good friend of mine is struggling and I am broken watching what she is going through. She is in such a bad place and I can’t help her. In fact no-one can really help her though she should have had help 65 years ago!   

She is the reason I am now wondering if sexual abuse should ever be ignored.

I had such a black and white view of this until this week you know. I was one of those people who would want to kill a paedophile and would scream at the news in anger when child molestors were given short jail sentences. Child abuse is wrong. Sexual abuse is wrong. So why would anyone think it should be ignored? 

Well what if the victim had, after many years of recovering from a mental breakdown and hours upon hours of counselling, finally moved on from a very traumatic childhood. I was so proud of my friend for this. She had her life together finally. I watched as she raised her own kids and went on to have grandchildren. I mourned with her when her husband passed away and admired how she adapted to living on her own. She was settled, happy and well and then all of a sudden this week that changed and I am angry for her. 

You see I was with her when things changed. All it took was a phone call. I was in her house when her phone went and she questioned if it was a crank caller. I wish it had been, I truly do. I wish her phone had never rung. Out of nowhere she had a call from the police. Can you imagine watching daytime TV comfy in your reclining armchair having a cuppa and a scone and a natter with your friend and the police ring you and you have no idea what has happened? 

This is why I wanted to talk to you about child abuse and sexual abuse. This is why sometimes I wonder if it IS best ignored. 

My friend was abused as a child. We just don’t talk about it. We are the generation that sweeps stuff like that under the carpet and get on with our lives. Apparently someone else decided he or she could no longer do that and several months ago the children’s home my friend was in as a young child started to be investigated by the police for abuse. Yes it happened. No-one doubts that. But this was sixty plus years ago. Yes I know the perpetrators should never have got away with it but is it right that after almost seventy years things need disturbed? 

My friend wants her life back to how it was last week and she can’t now. The resurfacing of the past is destroying her. 
She asked me why someone would upset her like this? 

She wants to know why she should have to relive memories she wants to forget. She is old and tired and has reconciled her past. The people who abused her are long dead, so she assumes. Now my friend is so so sick. She can’t sleep, she is imagining all sorts and not eating. Why do that to someone who is in their seventies? 

What is being gained from digging up the past?

Hundreds of people are going through this now. Children’s homes, boarding schools, mental hospitals and so forth from the forties, fifties and sixties are all being investigated because of abuse of children and vulnerable adults. It was common place in our time. We all know it happened and it is shocking and awful. But when I look at the state of my good friend I am so worried about these investigations now. If the victims are past pensionable age what age are the abusers now? They will have lived life and many will have passed away. Even those who are still alive, is it worth jailing a 90 year old for something he did at 19?

I know for some finally seeing their abuser locked up may give them closure but what about the other victims who have had memories dragged back up and are now left alone, vulnerable and ill as a result of having to discuss things they had long buried and moved on from? 

While the State may end up looking after the abuser people like my dear friend have been left in a state. 

I tell my grown up kids that is something isn’t broken don’t touch it. Maybe I am old and old fashioned in my ways but I can’t help but wonder if there are times when abuse is best forgotten about or ignored. 

What if the trauma of all this kills my friend?

There is no punishment enough for that.