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Blog reveals sexist comments about female premiers

Christy Clark at the B.C. Legislature on Feb. 12, 2013.

DARRYL DYCK/THE CANADIAN PRESS

A newly launched blog highlighting the vulgar and sexist comments levelled at Canada's female premiers online is quickly gaining traction in British Columbia, where it has garnered cross-party support and elicited a response from Christy Clark herself.

Diamond Isinger, a communications and online strategy consultant who has worked on B.C. Liberal Party and Vision Vancouver campaigns, launched her Madam Premier blog on Tumblr as a response to inappropriate comments she observes regularly on Twitter, Facebook and other online forums.

Launched on Tuesday, the blog received about 3,000 unique visitors in its first 24 hours.

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Screen shots of attacks lobbed at B.C.'s Ms. Clark, Alberta's Alison Redford, Quebec's Pauline Marois and Ontario's Kathleen Wynne include crude sexual comments, homophobic slurs and deeply personal attacks. Among them are occasional calls for violence – "Someone please punch this woman in the face" – and most are unfit for publication.

One posting includes a screen shot from a photo gallery of Ms. Wynne's "style evolution" – 16 photos illustrating her "penchant for the power suit." Another shows the bizarre naked kite-surfing invitation British billionaire Richard Branson tweeted to Ms. Clark last year.

While nasty online comments and a disdain toward politicians are nothing new, the Tumblr blog underscores the personal nature of the insults that female politicians receive in contrast with their male counterparts.

"Often, criticism toward men has to do with their style of leadership: whether they're more focused on control or if they can't keep control of their caucus or whatever else," Ms. Isinger said. "A lot of the criticism aimed toward women is sexual or really offensive, or stuff to do with their appearance."

Ms. Clark welcomed the effort to catalogue some of the sexist attacks that target her and other women in public office.

"I think it's an important discussion for us to have," she told reporters in Victoria.

"If that vitriolic anger that we see directed at women is collected in one place for all of us to get a chance to talk about, I think that's a major contribution that women in public office will make to our country and to our civic life. Because this happens to women every day in offices, and workplaces all across Canada."

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Marcella Munro, a communications strategist who has worked on federal and provincial NDP campaigns, as well as Vision Vancouver municipally, lauded Ms. Isinger on the creation of the blog, calling it a "fun way to call out some of the sexist rhetoric and hopefully put it in its place."

"It comes down to the classic gender stereotypes and using those to attack women," she said. "It has nothing to do with your political position or decisions you might have made – legitimate things to be calling out politicians on.

"This is bullying, at some level, and one of the best ways to deal with a bully is to shine a light on their bad behaviour and let people know that's what's out there."

With a report from Justine Hunter

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Based in Vancouver, Andrea Woo is a general assignment reporter with a focus on multimedia journalism. More

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