Online abuse against women MPs concerns Mitcham and Morden’s Green candidate

By Rhys Noye-Allen
December 10 2019, 13.30

Female MPs are regularly confronted with abuse and the Green candidate for Mitcham and Morden has already been a victim, despite this being her first election campaign. 

Pippa Maslin entered politics when she started a petition to get the council to declare a climate emergency. 

Her attempts to make the borough more eco-friendly led to online abuse, particularly from one user. 

She said: “There was an article about me petitioning and there’s a person who calls himself ‘Fleabag Corbyn’ in the comments of these articles. 

“I could deal with some of his comments. He would say ‘she’s just attention seeking,’ but that’s a criticism often made of people trying to make a difference. 

“God forbid anyone tried to do anything good! But in the comment, it was ‘Moonfaced’ that annoyed me. I just thought ‘I know I have a round face, I am really conscious of that, it’s not a bad thing but that is very personal and that is about my appearance.’ 

“And once we start going down the appearance route and judging people in that way whether it is a woman or a man then it feels unnerving. 

“What I found with Fleabag Corbyn was that when I answered, it encouraged him. 

“I got another comment and another comment, whereas if you just ignore you don’t give them power. 

“Abuse is something that I have thought about. Jo Cox’s murder is still something I find unbelievable. “The nastiness of the debate makes people forget how far things can go. 

“The whole thing with Jess Phillips and people trying to bang down the constituency door with her staff inside is shocking.” 

Dr Maslin also explained how her experience as a teacher could prove vital in coping with abuse from strangers. 

She said: “When I was teaching I didn’t have pupils throwing loads of abuse at me, but I did deal with people being abusive to each other. 

“I was not only an English teacher, I was also an Equal Opportunities Coordinator and Deputy head of house, doing a lot of pastoral work. 

“I was dealing with all the racist, misogynistic and homophobic language and so if I start to be on the receiving end of it, I would probably deploy some of the skills that I gave to my students to deal with it.”

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