A Labour party candidate has taken to Facebook to call out sexism after being inundated with “disgusting” messages on social media.
Emily Owen, running in Aberconwy, Wales, says she’s been asked about her bra size, whether she’d strip for support and “what sexual acts I'm prepared to perform to get votes”.
In a statement initially posted on her public Facebook page before she shared a screenshot on her Twitter account, under the title “polite reminder”, she explains: “This is the first time I've been under this level of public scrutiny and I have to say I'm shocked!
“If people have questions about my politics, discuss with me. If you don't agree with my reply then challenge me. I'm more than willing to engage in political conversation so let's have that debate. This is acceptable.
“What is NOT ACCEPTABLE is flooding me with messages about what sexual acts I'm prepared to perform to get votes, what bra size I am, how many votes needed for me to strip and comments suggesting the reason I'm standing is to sleep with an Oxford grad.”
Owen, 22, goes on to say she’d been “debating ignoring it” but wanted to highlight the behaviour and point out that her male opponents would likely not get the same level of abuse.
“I highly doubt you'll be asking the male candidates their penis size in order to make a decision about their politics.
“Sexism is not okay.”
While the offensive messages in question appear to have now been removed from her Facebook page, the Daily Post newspaper reports that one example read: “I'll only vote for her if she's got a decent rack for me. Anyone know her size? I mean she's pretty enough but haven't seen much of her body yet.”
Another allegedly asked: “How many votes for a striptease?”
Meanwhile on Twitter, in response to a user claiming men were being unfairly targeted as the senders of such messages, she revealed the abuse had gone even further, saying she’d received some messages “describing how men will forcefully have sex with me without my consent.”
The would-be MP has recieved cross-party support since her post, with councillors and Twitter accounts from the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats praising her for speaking up.
Predictably, some responses underneath the Facebook post have continued the theme, with one user – seemingly referencing social media pictures used of Owen in a low-cut dress on a right-wing website – writing: “Silly girl, don't flash parts of your body and then complain when people comment on it. This is just what we need another naive socialist snowflake […] If you want to be taken seriously don't keep sexualising yourself – Emily shows a complete lack of self awareness.”
Another wrote: “How about the real questions... Who are you? What are you running for? And what are your political views. There’s enough ‘Ism’ cards floating around now days, if that's the first I hear of you, I doubt your policy is relevant.”
But plenty came out in support, with one user writing: “It’s disgusting that men seem to think this level of sexist abuse is acceptable online. As you will probably agree not all men see pathetic sexist remarks as acceptable. Keep your head up and well done for speaking out. The more women who do speak up about sexism then hopefully the less of a sexist world my daughter will grow up in!”
Another wrote: “Sorry to hear that the idiots are out and about. I don't agree with your politics but admire you for standing.”