Calgary-North West MLA Sandra Jansen, who crossed the floor from the Progressive Conservatives to the governing New Democratic Party last week, stood in Alberta’s Legislative Assembly today to speak against the disgusting online harassment and violence that has been directed at her and other women MLAs.
Once you have watched the video of Ms. Jansen’s statement, head over the to Calgary Herald and read Don Braid‘s powerful column in response. Here is an excerpt:
We have to face it — some men in this province simply can’t stand the sight of a government run by a female premier, who is in turn supported by a caucus with a higher percentage of women than any other in Canadian history.
Alberta has become a kind of social laboratory, unique in North America, to test whether a near-majority of women in a government caucus makes a change in style and substance. The verdict is already in — they do, as shown both by Notley’s conciliatory style and the NDP’s advancement of women and minorities.
The more obvious this becomes, the more the language escalates. It slimes its way from women to the LGBTQ community and back again.
“These are hateful comments. They are nasty, gender-based and demeaning. They are not constructive and it’s no wonder why so many women fear choosing politics as a career,” said Calgary-Bow MLA Deborah Drever on the floor of Alberta’s Legislative Assembly yesterday.
Here is the entire text of Ms. Drever’s statement from Hansard:
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. In the last year there has been a growing awareness of online gender-based violence. Hundreds of thousands of women face online harassment because of who they are and what they say. Women sports journalists and broadcasters, provincial and federal cabinet ministers, even our own Premier have been trolled online with hateful messages and name-calling due to their gender and public profile.
Mr. Speaker, as you and others in the House already know, shortly after I was elected, I experienced hate messages that were explicitly sexist and subject to taunting and online harassment because I am a woman. In May 2015, after forming our government with near gender parity in our caucus, an individual posted publicly on Twitter using the ableg hashtag, “Pretty confident things’ll run smooth with so many broads’ ladyshipping over the #ableg. Aren’t you? Guys? Don’t you want broads mitigating?”
Another example is a comment directed at a federal female MP: “What a C you next Tuesday. Like seriously just go back to your house and run your car in your garage while you think of another anti oil campaign to attend.”
Mr. Speaker, these are hateful comments. They’re nasty, gender-based, and demeaning. They are not constructive, and it’s no wonder so many women fear choosing politics as their career. In no way do they provide a constructive conversation on policy orpolitical action.
For many women things often escalate further. Name-calling, violent messages, rape, sexual assault, and even the threat of targeting family members are sent through online threats to feminists regularly. The practice has become so common that the process of reporting these has become second nature. The intersections of harassment get even more intense for women of colour, queer women, indigenous women, and women living with disabilities. They are targeted even more intensely, and the language used to attack them is almost unrepeatable. Online communities are working to stand up against gender based attacks online.
Mr. Speaker, as a woman in politics I stand with all women who have experienced gender-based harassment. You are not alone in your struggle. I encourage all members of this Assembly to respect us and treat us with dignity and equality. Thank you. [Standing ovation]