I'm quite accustomed to the shocked faces of individuals who are somewhat taken aback by the fact I would like to study Politics at University. However, nothing could have prepared me for the backlash I encountered as a result of my last blogpost.
It seems that despite huge progress in female political participation, there still appears to be a certain hostility expressed by some when a young female raises her voice. After centuries of women being told they have no place in politics, this argument is getting a tad boring. Despite the fact that we have a female Prime Minister and that there are more female MPs than ever before, this type of dogmatic rhetoric still exists. Yawn.
'Go back to bed,' they said. (Why bed?!)
'Nah, I'm ok,' I said. 'I prefer my soap box.'
From comments on my appearance, to being labelled a 'bitch,' and a 'bint,' I was genuinely shocked by the level of abuse that ensued after I published the article. Of course, I anticipated some level of disagreement and discussion or debate - but I did not foresee comments encouraging me to 'shoot' or 'drown' myself. I don't mind if people don't agree with me, I don't mind if people don't like my style of writing - but referring to a politically engaged female as a 'little lady,' a 'silly girl,' a 'stupid woman,' a 'dear,' or a 'brat,' is really quite tedious and backward-thinking. Even more surprising was the fact that a lot of these comments were coming from women - women from my own party. I'm not sure why, but that somehow made the whole situation even more difficult to swallow.
I was also truly horrified by the number of comments discussing my mental health. I was told to 'keep on taking the pills,' and was sent numerous links to self-help guides for people with personality disorders. I found the whole situation to be truly sad and antithetical to the type of politics I seek to promote - fairness, equality and social justice.
At first, I was genuinely upset, hurt and angry. After a while however, such feelings turned into bemusement as I scrolled through my Twitter feed and encountered the same dogmatic attitudes being hurled at me over and over again, interspersed amongst the news that Hillary had secured the Democrat's Presidential nomination. All I could think was; if Hillary can deal with this rubbish, then I can certainly deal with, in comparison, the minuscule abuse being directed at me. They are wrong. Women do have a place in politics. Deal with it.
I will never apologise for having a political voice. Your comments no longer hurt me. I'm using my girl-power to ensure that my daughters, and my daughters' daughters will never have to endure such misogyny. Now, more than ever before, I am determined to fight for a future where one's gender or age does not prohibit political engagement. I feel empowered - and if you don't like that, then it's your turn to 'jog on,' - or words to that effect.
P.S. I can confirm that I am not employed by MI5 (unfortunately), Portland Communications, Tony Blair, Rupert Murdoch or the Conservative Party.
P.S.S. Some have claimed that I am Jess Phillips MP in disguise. I am not. Though, I wish I was, because she is so cool.
P.S.S.S. Although Welsh (and proud), to the best of my knowledge, I am not related to Owen Smith. I am, in fact, capable of my own political thought.
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