Last Thursday was gearing up to be quite an exciting lunchtime in the Chester Chronicle office. Me and a colleague had just ordered a Domino’s for lunch and the England v Wales game was about to start.
Considering we share an office with the Daily Post , this was actually quite exciting. So everybody was geared up for the game when suddenly news reports started coming in that a young female MP had been shot and stabbed in Yorkshire and suddenly, football seemed trivial.
What was so shocking was the fact that an MP could be so violently assaulted in the middle of the day amidst so many people. And although I had never in truth actually heard the name Jo Cox before, as the afternoon wore on and the severity of her injuries became more obvious, the more horrifying the situation became.
Although politics was obviously the motivation behind her attack, what do they matter when you consider that Jo was a mother, wife and a human being, wiped out in the space of minutes?
It is a terrifying prospect that we are bringing children into a world that is so segregated by difference; one where someone’s race, gender, sexuality, religion and belief can make you a target for others who have a problem with it.
So the reason I wanted to make Jo Cox the subject of this week’s Women2day is because of the example she set to women, through the fact she was a genuine person, with a genuine heart and a genuine mind.
She always tried to see the positive in things, and this included the online abuse directed towards female MPs online.
Although there is evidence that Jo Cox’s killer was involved in an online campaign of abuse, it has since come out that she was harassed by many messages over a period of three months.
Almost all female MPs (not to mention women in many other lines of work) are subjected to vile abuse like rape and death threats online, often on a daily basis, but what happens when the threats turn to murder?
Business director Beth Murray sparked lots of debate when she pointed out the double standards of people on social media who turn a blind eye to online threats, then are utterly outraged when threats are carried out.
She wrote on Twitter: “Female MPs get daily death and rape threats: ‘It’s just online, why can’t you ignore it?’ Female MP is murdered: ‘An unexpected tragedy’.”
'Vitriol' about female politicians in public discourse
Claire Annesley, professor of politics at the University of Sussex, told The Guardian: “With the kind of behaviour and vitriol that exists on Twitter and in public discourse about female politicians, and women more generally, I think it’s really naive to think that it exists in a bubble and doesn’t infiltrate culture more generally, and that it won’t influence behaviour.
“Of course we’ve got to be cautious about linking things, but I also think we’ve got to be cautious of thinking [the culture of online abuse] has nothing to do with it. I think it’s part of the package.”
I just want to end this article by saying this. I’ve read articles in the past, stating that people like Beyoncé, Adele and Rhianna are true role models to women.
I’m a fan of none of them and while I respect what they do, it is not singers living showbiz lifestyles who are truly deserving of accolades like this, it is women like Jo Cox. And if you need to ask why, all you have to do is read one of the hundreds of heartfelt tributes that have been written about her this week.