Visible Women

This is how Conservative MP Kemi Badenoch deals with Twitter abuse

Posted by
Moya Crockett
Published

Appearing on Stylist’s new political TV show Women of the House, Conservative MP Kemi Badenoch reveals she takes steps to avoid seeing abusive messages on social media. 

For many female MPs in the UK, vile online abuse can feel like an inevitable part of the job. Meet with constituents, read through parliamentary briefings, block the thousands of Twitter trolls who are threatening to rape you: just another day in the office.

Of course, this shouldn’t be the case. Everyone has the right to criticise politicians, but we should be able to denounce their policy positions without using hateful language or threatening their safety.

Yet the online abuse and harassment of MPs is on the rise – with women politicians much more likely than their male counterparts to receive sexist comments, and women in general more likely to be subjected to digital sexual harassment and stalking.

During a discussion on Stylist’s new political TV show Women of the House, Conservative MP Kemi Badenoch revealed that she has taken steps to stop herself seeing the abuse she receives online.

“It changed the way I decided I would use Twitter,” the MP for Saffron Walden in Essex said. “So if I don’t follow you, I don’t see anything. People who are saying things are shouting into the ether.”

Saffron Walden MP Kemi Badenoch 

Twitter has been heavily criticised for not doing enough to protect women from online abuse, and figures and institutions including Theresa May and the union Unison Wales have warned that trolling could be deterring women from pursuing careers in politics. 

However, the social media platform does have a function that allows people to mute notifications from users they don’t follow, who don’t follow them, or who have a default ‘egg’ profile picture (a tell-tale sign of a troll account).

Badenoch said that she found it frustrating when other people tried to draw abusive Twitter messages to her attention.

“What was annoying was people would say, ‘Oh, have a look at what someone said,’” she said. “I don’t need to see it. And that’s helped me deal with it – that I say what I need to say, and constituents can email me.” 

Women of the House host Isabel Webster with Badenoch, SNP MP Hannah Bardell and Labour MP Jess Phillips 

Launched as part of Stylist’s Visible Women campaign, new TV show Women of the House is a media first: a “safe space” designed to allow female politicians discuss subjects that matter to them, from Brexit to misogyny to social justice.

Hosted by Sky News presenter Isabel Webster, the pilot episode dropped ahead of the centenary of women being able to stand for parliament.

“Our mission is to encourage more women to engage with politics, consider a political career and to champion the women already making waves in Westminster,” says Lisa Smosarski, Stylist’s editor-in-chief.

“After working for over 20 years in the male dominated world of Westminster politics, including No.10 Downing St, I felt that not only did we not hear enough from our female representatives, but they were often drowned out by others,” says Katie Perrior, British political advisor and co-creator for the show.

“I’m thrilled to create something that is not only thought provoking but also entertaining and warm. As Jo Cox once said, “we have more in common than that which divides us.’ It’s time for more women to step up and be heard.”

Find out more about Women of the House and watch the first full episode here.

Stylist’s Visible Women campaign aims to raise the profiles of women in politics – and inspire future generations to follow their lead. See more Visible Women stories here

Topics

Share this article

Author

Moya Crockett

Moya is Women’s Editor at stylist.co.uk, where she is currently overseeing the Visible Women campaign. As well as writing about inspiring women and feminism, she also covers subjects including careers, podcasts and politics. Carrying a tiny bottle of hot sauce on her person at all times is one of the many traits she shares with both Beyoncé and Hillary Clinton.

Recommended by Moya Crockett

  • Visible Women

    Stylist unveils brand new political TV show: Women of the House

    Watch the first episode – featuring MPs Jess Phillips, Hannah Bardell and Kemi Badenoch – right here

    Posted by
    Moya Crockett
    Published
  • People

    'Tearful' J.K. Rowling thanks fans for support over Twitter abuse

    Author says onslaught crossed a 'personal line'

    Published
  • Life

    This is how the online abuse of women politicians is affecting our democracy

    New research shows Theresa May gets three times as many comments on her appearance as Jeremy Corbyn.

    Posted by
    Moya Crockett
    Published
  • People

    Anne Hathaway on how she learned to deal with trolls

    ‘The hatred of strangers would catch me off-guard’

    Posted by
    Kayleigh Dray
    Published
  • Visible Women

    Theresa May supports Stylist’s Visible Women campaign

    “We can celebrate exceptional women throughout history as well as those who continue to work tirelessly and strive for a truly equal Britain today.”

    Posted by
    Moya Crockett
    Published

Other people read

More from Visible Women

More from Moya Crockett