Mhairi Black repeats c-word insults aimed at her by online trolls
7 March 2018, 19:02
The SNP's Mhairi Black has revealed the scale of misogynistic abuse she faces online, repeating in Parliament insults aimed at her which include the C-word.
The Paisley and Renfrewshire South MP said she felt uncomfortable reading them out but warned some people felt "comfortable flinging these words around every day".
She added when such language is left unchallenged and is normalised it "creates an environment that allows women to be abused".
Ms Black's speech came during a Westminster Hall debate in which calls were raised for misogyny to be treated as a hate crime.
Labour's Mel Onn (Great Grimsby) urged the Government to formally extend the current five strands of centrally monitored hate crime to include misogyny and provide for appropriate reflective sentencing.
Speaking during the debate, Ms Black explained how she is regularly called a "wee boy" and told she wears her dad's suits - adding her and her pals "have a laugh" about this level of insults.
But she said: "I struggle to see any joke in being systematically called a dyke, a rug muncher, a slut, a whore, a scruffy bint.
"I've been told you can't put lipstick on a pig, let the dirty bitch each shit and die.
"I could soften some of this by talking about the C-word but the reality is there is no softening when you're targeted with these words and you're left reading them on my screen every day, day in, day out - she needs a kick in the c***, guttural c***, ugly c***, wee animal c*** - there is no softening just how sexualised and misogynistic the abuse is."
Ms Black added: "I've been assured multiple times that I don't have to worry because I am so ugly that no-one would want to rape me. All of these insults have been tailored to me because I am a woman."
The MP also said there needs to be reflection on what happens in Parliament, with the "full extent of abuse and danger" women face on a daily basis only beginning to be realised.
Ms Black said: "Only a few weeks ago I was physically pressed up against a Member (of Parliament) in the voting lobby who is accused of sexual misconduct because there's so little room.
"Now, I don't think that's normal and I think it's fair to say that's something maybe that we should be looking at - something we should be talking about - because I'm blessed in that I have the same right and influence as any other elected man in this place, but what about all the female staff in here who don't?"
Opening the debate, Ms Onn said the topic had provoked a backlash of "vile fury" that she was a man-hater, had no sense of humour and should learn to take a compliment.
Tory Philip Davies (Shipley) also asked if misandry should also be a hate crime in exactly the same way, adding: "If she doesn't could she explain why she thinks there should be one rule for one and one rule for the other?"
Home Office minister Victoria Atkins said: "If we were to have hate crime in relation to gender, I think we would have to think through very carefully whether that applies to the whole of the population as opposed to half of it."
Ms Atkins said the Government was "listening", but added: "We want to ensure that any changes that we make in the law to reflect this abuse don't in any way have an impact on those five protected strands."
She said she had quit Twitter some time ago as she "got fed up with the abuse", adding: "I wouldn't describe myself as feeling forced to leave Twitter, I just took the decision."
Ms Black also noted in the debate that she had been "very unwell" recently and unable to travel to vote, saying she had received abuse after Scottish Labour MPs Ian Murray (Edinburgh South) and Paul Sweeney (Glasgow North East) suggested she should turn up for work more often.
She accused the pair of continuing to "knowingly misrepresent and cause abuse", suggesting it qualifies as "bullying" under the House of Commons code of conduct.
A Scottish Labour spokesman, in a statement, said it was "good to see Ms Black well and back in Parliament", adding: "The attempt to link criticism of her and her SNP colleagues' failure to vote against the Tory Budget to a debate on whether misogyny should be regarded as a hate crime is ill-judged.
"Her attempt to portray criticism of her actions as an MP as criticism of her as a woman, demeans the cause of women's equality, the serious subject of misogynistic hate crime and her position as a Member of Parliament."