Female MP shares “creepy” letter telling her how to dress, to highlight sexist abuse

Posted by
Sarah Biddlecombe

A skin-crawlingly “creepy” letter advising a female MP on how to dress has gone viral after being posted on Twitter.

Canadian MP Michelle Rempel shared an image of the typed note, in which an anonymous “girl watcher” makes unsolicited comments about her clothes, with her 28,000 followers yesterday.

“Nobody will notice your bare neck and decolletage if you wear a blouse and necktie as do your male counterparts,” the letter begins.

“Hide the skin and people will look you in the eyes,” it continues. “Were you wearing a bra on Thursday?”

The sexist letter goes on to insinuate that Rempel will not be respected as an MP unless she changes the clothes she wears.

“The Queen never wore revealing clothes and she and her ideas are well-respected around the world,” the letter sneers. “Or you might take a page from Michelle Obama.”

The missive ends by stating, “I’m a girl watcher… and you are not that bad looking.

“What was it that you were talking about…?”

Rempel, 36, told BuzzFeed News that she receives “this sort of fan mail all the time” and that, while she doesn’t want to give it a platform, sometimes it does “get under her skin”.

Alarmingly, the note could actually be considered tame in comparison to the other letters she regularly receives, which have included both rape and death threats.

“I don’t want it to come across as victimisation, because I don’t feel victimised,” she said. “It’s just more like, come on, really? Like this person actually thought this was appropriate to send to me.”

Calling the person who sent her the note a “creepy weirdo”, Rempel added that this kind of abuse is “not acceptable in any format”.

The trolling of female MPs is a problem here in the UK, too.

Back in June of this year, Labour MP Jo Cox was murdered by Thomas Mair in an “act of terror”. Although no direct link has been made between her murder and online trolling, her office had previously reported that she had received two “malicious communications of a sexual nature at her parliamentary office in Westminster”. It later emerged that several female MPs had independently written to Downing Street asking for increased security measures due to the fear of a fatal attack motivated by online trolling.

And just days before Jo Cox’s murder, MP Jess Phillips said she was “not safe” when Twitter refused to act over thousands of rape threats being sent to her via direct messaging. The Labour MP, who received some 5,000 abusive tweets in less than 36 hours, said at the time that “the targeted harassment I have suffered... is persistent, illegal harassment, specifically designed to harm and silence me – and worse, to do the same to the people who interact with me”.

Also in June, Labour MP Tulip Siddiq said the trolling of female politicians in the UK was so widespread that she didn’t “know anyone who has not had to deal with it”. 

Siddiq recommended that women are given training in how to deal with a trolls – a situation that, infuriatingly, does not seem to be going away.