This week the House of Commons Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport published a report on phone hacking. One of the noteworthy things about the report was that the majority voted to include in the report that Rupert Murdoch was not a fit and proper person to lead News Corp.
There was very strong media interest in the report, especially the verdict on Rupert Murdoch, and a number of media outlets featured MPs who had supported and opposed the verdict. One who opposed the verdict was Conservative MP, Louise Mensch. As a result of this she received fierce misogynist tweets in the most vile language. Someone else I do not agree with, the columnist on the Independent Laurie Penny, has now written about the misogynist emails she receives as a result of publishing opinion pieces.
For eight years I worked for a female Labour MP who similarly received misogynist hate emails when she did something, said something or was in the media, in parenthesis there were a small group of men in her party who thought she should not do or say anything unless they told her to. Polite emails saying how dare she express an opinion (Not how dare she express the opinion she did) right through to pornographic emails about what would be done to her, quite often featuring guns.
I could never understand what so threatened these men that when a woman expresses an opinion they have to respond in such a violently hate-filled way. OK, disagree and say so. Argue the merits of the case and say why you think someone is wrong. I am ashamed to say that some of my gender have real problems being in a society featuring women, particularly when women then get into a position of authority. That is their problem, get over it. I do not claim perfection in this for myself but I do try to deal with everyone as I would like to be treated. I hope the attention given to this, as well as the awful behaviour over the Ched Evans rape conviction, will lead a few other men to stop and reflect a bit more about their behaviour and whether what they’re doing is how they would like to be treated.
One thing I found working in the House of Commons was the way friendships could be formed across parties. This should not really be so surprising as representatives of whatever party have their whips, their local party and their constituents to deal with. They are colleagues in the same line of work, with the same working conditions, stresses and pressures. So it has not been surprising to me that there has been support from across the political spectrum from other women MPs for Louise Mensch and her raising this issue. I too am glad she has raised this rock and shined a light on these insects.