Are men in politics heavily criticized in the media? Ed Milliband will attest to this, so would Corbyn and Trump. However, there is large discrepancy with criticism between men and women. When it comes to women such as Theresa May, it seems as they are criticised for being women. How men look doesn’t seem to matter as much as what comes out of their mouths. Hence, we haven’t a male edition of the Daily Mail’s ‘Legs-it’ article.
Theresa May receives about three times as much comments about her appearance compared to Jeremy Corbyn. Attacks on Corbyn often focus on his policies and his so-called Russian ties as one skeptic tweeted: “He is a lying, dishonest Marxist who would totally wreck what little is left of our country.”
A report just released by Atalanta shows common reoccurring themes: delegitimising women as leaders; depersonalising; intentionally distracting female politicians from their real work; sometimes dissuading women from being politically active; and raising anxieties about their physical safety.
What is most troubling is the threatening language to women and the graphic sexual depictions of female politicians.
The former Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff was dubbed “the lying prostitute from the Planalto” by one blogger. Grotesque picture of her legs were circulated on social media, and were made into car stickers to fit over fuel tanks. Drivers were advised to “penetrate her every time they fill up”.
A survey by the Inter-Parliamentary Union across 39 countries found that more than 80 per cent of female parliamentarians had been subjected to psychological violence through “misogynist remarks, humiliating images, mobbing, intimidation and threats”. Sprinkle race and religion there and things get even worse. Amnesty International concluded that black and Asian women in the UK get 35 per cent more abusive tweets than white women. Dianne Abbot was subject to the hashtag #burnDianeAbbot, a tweet calling on her to be hanged “if they could find a tree big enough to take the fat bitch’s weight”.
The problem with social media is that it provides a safe haven for men to hurl racist, misogynistic and anti-Semitic insults to women. I don’t agree with everything Theresa May says, but that doesn’t mean I think we should attack her for being a woman. I would like to see some of this so-called men bring the same energy they have online to the real world. I imagine another John Prescott moment would happen this time with Theresa May delivering the knockout blow.