Why Sarah Smith’s experience of misogyny is not ‘imagined’ and must end

“You f***ing lying b****” does not scream “imaginary woes” to me, but the typical and constant abuse women working in the media, and women just existing, face.

After Sarah Smith, the former BBC Scotland Editor, told of how she was relieved to walk away from the “bile, hatred and misogyny” of Scottish politics, I dared to look at the comments section.

From the ‘quick, don’t think’ space Twitter offers, MSP James Dornan called the journalist’s experience “imaginary woes”. He soon limply apologised for what “seemed as though” he believed the abuse Ms Smith suffered was imaginary.

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“No matter differing opinions, the misogynistic abuse of women in the public eye is never acceptable,” the MSP said.

And Mr Dornan is exactly right. However, it’s his and other men’s commitment to this zero tolerance I question.

There was a significant amount of support from men and women showing outrage at this behaviour they ‘can’t believe’.

Yet depressingly, I and many women can.

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Journalist Sarah Smith was appointed BBC North America editor in November (Picture: Robert Perry).

I started my career in journalism over a year-and-a-half ago and when I met its companion misogyny in the form of sexual comments on videos of myself or even over phone calls and messages, I nodded and gritted my teeth. I knew he was going to be there, I just didn’t like it. He was like the unavoidable ex at a party.

My experience is far from unique, which is why so many women are tired and angry to the point where we log out of social media or even quit our jobs.

And this is where the problem lies.

It is so easy to dismiss a woman as a problem.

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"She’s not a complicated, experienced woman who can get it wrong, she’s just a cow”, we say, and just like that the case is closed with one simple and easy slur.

We move women out of the spaces of political and public life by making them one dimensional sexual creatures.

If I am being honest, I really do not know how we begin to resolve this, but we should all question our language and feelings towards people like Sarah Smith in these spheres.

You do not need to agree or disagree with Sarah Smith and women. You just need to respect us.

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