- British politician Tracy Brabin has hit back at “keyboard warriors” who slut-shamed her for wearing a one-shoulder dress in UK parliament on Monday.
- In response to negative social media comments, the Labour MP and former actress tweeted that she is not a “slag,” nor “hungover,” nor had she “just been banged over a wheelie bin.”
- Brabin had been holding the Conservative government to account for its recent treatment of journalists.
- The original Twitter user she quoted has apologised and said he has been subjected to “vile abuse.” But the incident has sparked a debate on workwear and double standards for women in politics.
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British politician Tracy Brabin has spoken out against social media users who slut-shamed her for daring to bare one shoulder as she did her job in parliament.
The member of parliament, a member of the opposition Labour Party, raised a point of order in parliament on Monday in protest at Downing Street’s attempt to exclude certain journalists from a high-level briefing.
But some viewers were more concerned about what she wore to make her statement at the despatch box – a black garment which revealed one shoulder, with the MP claiming that she has received Twitter abuse for her attire.
On Twitter, the soap actress-turned-MP singled out one commenter who had snapped a picture of her on their TV screen and had tweeted her with the comment: “Is this really appropriate attire for parliament?”
Brabin replied with examples of much worse comments she had received.
“Sorry I don’t have time to reply to all of you commenting on this but I can confirm I’m not…. A slag / Hungover / A tart / About to breastfeed / A slapper / Drunk / Just been banged over a wheelie bin [trash can].”
Hello. Sorry I don’t have time to reply to all of you commenting on this but I can confirm I’m not….
About to breastfeed
Just been banged over a wheelie bin.
Who knew people could get so emotional over a shoulder… ???? https://t.co/sTWWiEY2TF
— TracyBrabin4Mayor ???? (@TracyBrabin) February 4, 2020
The words “slag,” “tart,” and “slapper” are British slang terms roughly equivalent to “slut” or “whore.”
The tweet has been shared nearly 10,000 times at time of publication, with a wide range of views from social media users.
Screenwriter Emma Kennedy drew comparisons to top government advisor Dominic Cummings, who is known for wearing casual attire such as jeans and sneakers for his meetings with the prime minister at Number 10.
“So @TracyBrabin goes to work in a very smart off shoulder dress and is a disgrace and PM Cummings goes to work with his a*** hanging out and that’s fine. Yeah. OK fellas,” she tweeted.
However, others felt that the criticism was fair, on the grounds that workplaces often have rules for clothing, and that the media has also focused on male politicians’ wardrobes.
Author Peter Lloyd tweeted: “Dominic Cummings is frequently slated for his attire.”
The original Twitter user highlighted by Brabin, Laurence Dovey, tweeted an apology saying he had never intended to cause such a storm and said he also had been subjected to “vile comments.”
“I asked a simple question, I haven’t tweeted anything offensive, but both myself & Tracy Brabin have been subjected to vile comments,” he said.
“Tracy, I’m sorry you’ve received abuse, it was not my intention. I was just a bit shocked when I saw what you were wearing in Parliament. Sorry.”
I asked a simple question, I haven't tweeted anything offensive, but both myself & @TracyBrabin have been subjected to vile comments. Tracy, I'm sorry you've received abuse, it was not my intention. I was just a bit shocked when I saw what you were wearing in Parliament. Sorry
— Lawrence Dovey (@LawrenceDovey) February 4, 2020
Speaking about the incident on the BBC on Wednesday, Brabin put it down to double standards.
“I think it was ever thus. Women are judged continually by how they look … listen to what we say, not what we wear.”
Before Brabin’s attire became the focus of attention, she had been trying to say that the government’s recent treatment of journalists was “deeply concerning.”
WE support @TracyBrabin opposing Downing St's decision ordering senior journalists to leave before the briefing for @BorisJohnson's Brexit plans. Government decisions must be accessible in a democratic society.
Her shoulder is irrelevant. https://t.co/CJHVHABRLD
— Women's Equality Party (@WEP_UK) February 5, 2020
Downing Street attempted to exclude a selection of lobby journalists from a briefing about trade plans for the UK after Brexit.
As the briefing was with high level civil servant David Frost, the setting is understood by journalists to be politically neutral – and not one where favoured reporters are singled out. Leading journalists walked out of the briefing in protest at the tactics, which have been compared to Donald Trump’s playbook.
“Lobby journalists’ access to government is vital for a functioning and healthy democracy, and this latest deterioration in relations between the government and the lobby is deeply concerning,” said Brabin.
Prior to being a politician, Brabin was a familiar face on the primetime soap opera “Coronation Street.” But she swapped careers to successfully campaign to be Labour’s MP for Batley and Spen in 2016.
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