Smear Campaign Aims to Shame Female Lawmaker Out of Politics
A Sonoma, California councilwoman is the target of smear and harassment campaign to get her to drop of her re-election bid. Threatening to expose her as “immoral” based on some old photos is nothing more than a scare tactic that should have no place in politics.
Rachel Hundley, a 35-year-old Democratic lawmaker, was threatened by an unfamiliar source who said she would be exposed if she did not drop out of her race. A group called "Sonoma Citizens for Peace and Cooperation" had set up a website called Rachel Hundley Exposed and populated it with old photos - including of her in her underwear and working at the music and arts festival Burning Man.
Instead of giving in to these demands, Hundley stayed in her race and is speaking out.
"I know there are young women running for office in small cities across the country that may not have communities as supportive."
She released a video on social media taking the threat head on:
“I am here today to tell my faceless bullies that I cannot be shamed into quitting because I am not ashamed.”
Hundley is not the first woman to face such harassment and tactics meant to silence her.
The Washington Post compares Hundley’s experience to that of Krystal Ball, a Virginia congressional candidate who faced a similar situation. During her unsuccessful campaign in 2010, photos of her and her husband taken at a Halloween costume party were released publically to damage her candidacy.
Survey research demonstrates that women running for office globally face not just sexist attacks and smear campaigns but sexual and physical violence.
No matter how much someone disagrees with a candidate, using these tactics are indefensible and unacceptable. There’s a difference between challenging on a woman’s policy positions to encourage thoughtful debate and attacking her. These opponents seek to delegitimize her and distract from the issues.
In the 2018 election cycle, a record number of women are running for office. There are more than enough hurdles that women overcome in jumping into the political realm. Objectification, degradation, and shaming should not be among them.
Champion Women will call out these examples as we see them, hold offenders accountable, and celebrate courageous women - no matter their politics.