Women politicians are still receiving violent messages while in office; Quebec politician reads some examples
WARNING: This story contains language that may be disturbing to some readers
MONTREAL -- Just about one week away from the 30th anniversary of the École Polytechnique massacre, MNA Christine Labrie addressed Quebec's National Assembly to read a handful of messages she and other women politicians have received so far during their time in office.
“You are going to hear me say words that I usually wouldn’t use here, nor anywhere else,” the 32-year-old, who represents Sherbrooke in the Eastern Townships, begins.
“I apologize in advance for the things I am about to read. Please know it is also very difficult for me to have to say these words.”
Labrie, who represents Québec solidaire, notes that these ‘words’ have become part of the job of being a woman in politics.
She says she asked four female colleagues to send her examples of messages they have received from the public.
“If I was your son or your daughter, I would be embarrassed to call you my mother,” she reads, her voice wavering slightly with emotion.
“You’re a f---ing prostitute. Go f--- yourself, f---ing b----. Go kill yourself. You should disappear. You’re an embarrassment to the people of Quebec…This is the reality of what we are facing here, in Quebec, right now.”
Watch Christine Labrie's message to the National Assembly here:
Labrie acknowledged that her male counterparts do also receive threatening messages, “maybe less about rape, but I’m sure no one is exempt.”
However, she argues women are 27 times more likely to be victims of violent messages online. Women politicians, no matter what their affiliations are, are particularly targeted.
“The more vocal we are, the more we are threatened with violence,” she said.
“Violence online is no different from any other kind of violence. It works to devalue women, to treat them like objects and create a climate of insecurity that encourages women to avoid public office.”
Labrie, who notes she could see how shaken her colleagues were by her message, is encouraging anyone who takes a seat in the National Assembly’s Salon Bleu to set an example of comportment, treating each other with the utmost respect.
“Personal attacks have no place here. If we tolerate it, it shows others that it is acceptable and normal to vilify others,” she said. “It’s up to us to set the example.”
Nov. 25 marked the International Day for the elimination of violence against women.