Julia Gillard gave a speech in London this week in memory of British MP Jo Cox, who was shot and stabbed to death while the UK was in the middle of the Brexit debate. Gillard says that her message to women looking to enter a career in politics is “you will encounter sexism and misogyny and prepare yourself to face it and ultimately to eradicate it”. She said that before the internet, those who wished to criticise politicians had to put their names to their opinions, but now anonymity has opened the floodgates of abuse:

“Now, both seasoned commentators and the general public can say what they like, protected by the anonymity of a Twitter handle. They have the power to fire barbs directly at their targets without any fear of consequence.

“At best, these can be snarky and occasionally witty criticisms of a politician’s decisions or actions.

“At worst, they can take the form of detailed death threats, or threats of violence against family, friends and staff.

“And of course, as a woman in public life, the violent threats take on another sickening dimension. Threats of violent abuse, of rape, are far too common. A woman in public view may expect to receive them almost daily.”

Gillard has also been quoted in the American media about the prevalence of sexism directed at women in public life, and the often violent form it takes. While anonymity is part of the issue, the safety of the mob means that this Trump rally descended into chants of “hang her in the streets” overnight:

sally-kohn-tweet

The full speech is here.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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