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‘I’ve been called a dyke, a rug muncher, a whore’: SNP’s Mhairi Black opens up about vile online abuse

Nick Duffy March 7, 2018

SNP MP Mhairi Black has opened up about the vile homophobic and sexist abuse she has suffered as a Member of Parliament.

The out Scottish National Party politician became the UK’s youngest MP when she entered Parliament in 2015.

Ms Black, the MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South spoke out today in a debate on proposals to treat misogyny as a hate crime, like homophobia and racism.

In her speech, Ms Black said: “Misogyny is absolutely everywhere in our society, to the point that we often miss it because it has been so normalised by being continually unchallenged.

“Some folk will be uncomfortable with the graphic language that I am about to use, but I am not going to dilute the reality of such an important issue. I am used to online abuse in particular. I am regularly called a wee boy, and told that I wear my dad’s suits and stuff. Me and my pals actually laugh about it. That is how I cope with it.

“We find the best insults, and that is how we have a laugh, but I struggle to see any joke in systematically being called a dyke, a rug muncher, a slut, a whore and a scruffy bint. I have been told, ‘You can’t put lipstick on a pig,’ and, ‘Let the dirty bitch eat shit and die’.”

Scottish National Party politician and Member of Parliament, Mhairi Black (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP/Getty Images)

She added: “I could soften some of this by talking about the ‘C-word’, but the reality is that there is no softening when I am targeted by these words: I am left reading them on my screen day in, day out.

“Someone said: ‘She needs a kick in the c**t’. I have been called ‘guttural c**t’, ‘ugly c**t’ and ‘wee animal c**t’. There is no softening just how sexualised and misogynistic the abuse is.

“Some guy called William Hannah—I have never heard of him in my life—commented: ‘I’ve pumped some ugly burds in my time but I jist wouldn’t’.

“I have been assured multiple times that I do not have to worry because I am so ugly that no one would want to rape me.”

She added: “All those insults were tailored to me because I am a woman. We can kid ourselves that those are comments by a few bad, anonymous people on Twitter, but they are not: this is everyday language.

“I am aware that everyone here was uncomfortable hearing those insults—I felt uncomfortable reading them out—yet there are people who feel comfortable flinging those words around every day. When that language goes unchallenged, it becomes normalised, and that creates an environment that allows women to be subjected to a whole spectrum of abuse.

“I regularly see guys on Facebook talking about ‘getting pussy’ and using other horrible words for women, but should we really expect any better given that the man sitting in the Oval Office thinks that it is okay to grab a woman by the pussy and faces no consequences?

“Even in this place we need a bit of self-reflection. We are only starting to appreciate the full extent of the abuse and danger that women face on a daily basis, yet only a few weeks ago in the voting Lobby I was physically pressed up against a Member who has been accused of sexual misconduct, because there is so little room.

“That is not normal, and it is fair to say we should be looking at and talking about that. I am blessed in that I have the same right and influence as any elected man in this place, but what about all the female staff here who do not? Is that really the best example we can set for society? Surely it is something that we should at least be talking about.”

Mhairi Black MP (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

She concluded: “Last year, the Fawcett Society launched a sex discrimination law review. It said ‘the long-term aim is to nudge people towards a culture shift and to reframe misogynist behaviour as socially undesirable.’

“Perhaps it is time we assessed the example that we set, because if we cannot get our own House in order, how can we expect anyone out there to?”

Labour’s Carolyn Harris responded: “Unfortunately, I am not uncomfortable with the language used by [Ms Black], because I, too, am normalised to hearing such words, as most people are in society.”]

Meanwhile Tory MP Philip Davies, an outspoken critic of women’s rights, took to the floor to complain about the lack of focus on men in the debate.

Addressing Labour’s Melanie Onn, he said: ” The hon. Lady is talking about misogyny. Can we take it as read that she thinks that misandry ought to be a hate crime, too? If she does not, will she explain why she thinks there should be one rule for one and another rule for the other?”

Ms Onn responded: “If he wants to raise the issue of misandry, he is perfectly able to do so. To date, he has not. He has every opportunity, as everybody in the House does, to pursue that.

“It does not form part of my suggestions today, which are focused on misogyny. There is a power imbalance in society that disproportionately affects women negatively, so I think misogyny should be an exclusive strand of hate crime.”

More: Gay, LGBT, Mhairi Black, Scotland, scottish national party, SNP

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