The daily reality of being a female politician is gradually dawning on the rest of society. From the apparently mundane, relentless trolling of Jess Phillips, Anna Soubry, Jo Swinson, Joanna Cherry, Stella Creasy and the disproportionately extreme treatment of Diane Abbott, to death threats against Nimco Ali and the murder of Jo Cox. It's ugly.
To step up and speak out is to attract intimidation and abuse that far outweighs anything experienced by male peers. Regardless of party loyalty and gender this should concern us all. It prevents diversity in our parliament, in public policy debates and in the media. It feeds off underlying, pervasive and persistent levels of violence against women and girls who are not in the limelight. The two are connected by the same desire to control and silence.
Why did Sophie chose this moment?
"Our challenge is to overcome the abuse of female and feminist politicians, attempts to silence us through fear, and the perpetual framing of women as primarily victims. Once the story was over, our day to day work on equality for Britain's poorest and most disenfranchised people slid to the bottom of the media's priorities once again. So, we fight on.”
The scale of the moment...
In the six months leading up to the last general election, more than 25,000 abusive tweets were sent to women MPs (2.85% out of 900,223 total tweets in a study by Amnesty international)
In the six weeks prior to 8 June, Diane Abbott received almost half (45%) of all abusive tweets against women MPs. Not only did she top the list of MPs for most abusive tweets but she received 10 times more abuse than any other woman MP.