THE BLOG

I'd Never Been Ashamed for How I Look or for Being Proud of Who I Am - Until Yesterday

02/02/2016 16:30 GMT | Updated 02/02/2017 10:12 GMT

I am a 19-year-old woman from Manchester, I'm a student at Manchester Metropolitan University and I've been active in Labour Party politics since I was 18, and I must admit while it's been a bumpy ride, I've always managed to keep my head above the water and stick at it.

Until yesterday, I could talk to anybody about sexism in politics, and tell them although it is upsetting, it's never been bad enough to make me want to quit everything for good.

Until yesterday, I'd never had my appearance picked apart so ruthlessly online by internet trolls, I didn't want to leave the house.

Until yesterday, I'd never had to ring my parents in tears, concerned they'd see the article and believe the content.

Until yesterday I'd never been ashamed for how I look or the fact I'm proud of who I am.

Until yesterday, I'd never considered quitting everything, because of how embarrassed I was over what somebody wrote about me on the internet.

Yesterday, I got Guido'd. Like having your photo posted on Redwatch or in the Daily Mail, this is something anyone politically active on the left may have to deal with at some point.

Of course, being a young woman, the attack takes on a specific character. In this case it was that, having been selected for a liberation role on a committee, I couldn't possibly have got in on my own merits. Rather, I must have been gifted it because an older man found me young and attractive.

This was complemented by the usual trawling of social media for pictures of me out with friends or enjoying myself so that his followers could comment on my appearance. Discussing my politics seems to be beyond them. The body shaming, slut shaming, abusive nonsense continued as the blog pointed people towards my Twitter, making the usual retort that "you don't have to read the comments" irrelevant.

As I say, one expects this to some extent from the gutter press and the keyboard misogynists who get off on it. What is less cheering is when those supposedly on the left engage in this. Whether it is members of my own Labour Club who think it's an appropriate tool with which to advance their own ambitions, or a former director of the London Labour Party using it as an excuse to bash those in a different faction to him, this does tremendous damage to young women who want to get involved in the political process. This behaviour cannot be tolerated in our party. After all, how can we hope to challenge sexism in wider society if we tolerate it in our own structures?

I make no apologies for being a young woman at ease with her sexuality, with friends and a social life. I make no apology for being politically active, and fighting for what I believe in. I don't see a contradiction, and I won't be told I have to give up enjoying life to have my voice heard. In the words of Emma Goldman, comrades, "If I can't dance, I don't want to be part of your revolution."

The pictures they chose to publish, might be sexualised, they might not be what you find attractive, but I touch upon the point that those pictures are for me. Do you think I dress like that to please 50-year-old men, either in my political field or on a site like Guido? No I do not. I dress like that for myself. I take charge of my sexuality, and anyone who thinks that is somehow not my right to do so, well, you know where to go.

I want to use this as a way to help other women in this position. Never apologise for your sexuality. Never apologise for your successes. But you should never accept something like what I faced yesterday, because it is only in our reaction, that we can show them exactly, what we are made of.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank my family, my friends and the long list of people who have taken their time today to offer me support and love during what has been a difficult day.

And to those who have done quite the opposite, well you know where the door is.

Don't let it hit you on the way out.