Women Running for Office Have to Worry About One More Thing: Their Phones

Online harassment of female politicians is nothing new. But as more and more young people enter the political arena, and as we rely on our cellphones more than ever, it’s “a whole different ballgame,” Ms. Guillermo said.

“The training that we’re providing them is reminding them that all of the stuff that they have on their phones, that they have on their computers, could get somewhere someday,” she added.

Ms. Zideyah said that she and many of the women who attended the Ignite training were aware that they had to be careful about their social media posts, but worrying about what was stored on their phones was new.

“As an online human, you don’t think that those kinds of things are going to be used against you or leaked, especially from people that are closest to you,” Ms. Zideyah said. “But I do think that now that sort of training has to be implemented, because what you should keep on a phone is becoming a serious issue.”

In her farewell address on the House floor, Ms. Hill, one of the first openly bisexual members of Congress, said that she was leaving “because of a misogynistic culture that gleefully consumed my naked pictures, capitalized on my sexuality and enabled my abusive ex to continue that abuse, this time with the entire country watching.”

“The release of these private photos would be traumatic itself,” said Elliot Imse, senior director for the Victory Institute, an organization dedicated to helping L.G.B.T.Q. candidates. “But the sexism and bi-phobia that has played into the commentary that surrounded all these photos only adds to the anxiety that L.G.B.T.Q. people, young people, women and minority candidates feel about running for office.”

Lily Herman, founder of Get Her Elected, an organization that offers campaigning help to progressive women candidates, sees what happened to Ms. Hill as a continuation of the backlash several progressive first-term women in Congress have faced since last year’s midterm elections, which saw historic numbers of women and people of color rise to power.


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