Labour MP Jess Phillips took to Twitter to share a piece of online abuse that landed in her inbox this week, and her response was perfect.
It’s no secret that female MPs are often subjected to vile, sexist abuse online. Whether they’re being targeted by threats of rape or criticised for their appearance on social media, more and more female politicians are choosing to give up their career to avoid the continued abuse; more than 20 women have said they won’t be running in next month’s election. The latest target? None other than Labour MP Jess Phillips.
Taking to Twitter on Sunday to share one example of the kind of abuse she is sent online, Phillips posted a screenshot of an email which explicitly told her to “shut the fuck up” alongside some more violent and distressing messages.
Writing above the screenshot of the abusive email, Phillips wrote just eight words: “I’ll chalk this one up as a ‘maybe’.”
While, of course, Phillips should not have to deal with any messages like these in the first place, it’s safe to say her response – which chose to make fun of the terrible abuse that had been thrown at her – was pretty amazing.
Of course, despite the shocking nature of the message, Phillips’ followers were quick to praise her for her response and apologise for the harsh words she continues to be subjected to.
“I salute your wonderful sense of humour in such lousy circumstances,” read one response. “This is one of your greatest strengths. God knows how you manage, but keep smiling! Permit me the liberty of giving you a cyber hug!”
Another added: “I’m truly in awe of you for having the strength to respond to this vileness with humour. You really shouldn’t have to, though.”
This isn’t the first time Phillips has responded to the people sending her such vile and sexist abuse. Earlier this year, she was the repeated target of comments made by UKIP candidate Carl Benjamin, who spoke openly and casually about raping the politician.
Responding to these violent threats in an interview with Buzzfeed News, Phillips rejected the idea that the comments were just a “joke”, and took a stand against the people who saw them that way.
“I don’t really know what to say – as someone who works still every day with victims of rape, the idea that it is funny or a joke to hear someone saying that that if forced they would rape me,” she said. “There is a childish misunderstanding that rape is about sex rather than power or violence.”
She also took to Twitter to speak about the comments, adding: “I’m normally pretty tough, I take the slings and arrows, I might just be tired but when asked to comment on this I was really upset. What do women have to do to end this shit, I’m so tired of people legitimising this stuff.”