Last night, around Australia, there were men and women putting their kids to bed and telling them to be kind. Not to bully. To let others speak, to not tease, exclude or call others names.
They were busy, as always, stroking sweaty heads, kissing little noses, putting down books and tiptoeing out of rooms, job done.
Some of these people – many of them mothers – then went to their phones and their iPads and the family desktops, settled down with a cuppa and tapped out some words of vitriol and hatred for a woman they have never met.
In response to news of this woman’s pregnancy announcement, they typed things like:
“Fertile sow, isn’t she?”
“I hope she dies in childbirth.”
And “God, she’s trash.”
They tagged their friends to come and join in, apparently delighting in a full-throated attack on a mother of four (soon to be five, plus two ‘steps’) whose only apparent crime is speaking her mind and being good at it.
At Mamamia, we publish stories about hundreds of women every month. Some of them attract criticism for what they do or what they say or what they stand for. It’s not a secret that women get a hard time online. That the criticism directed at them is particularly violent and rageful. From Jacqui Lambie to Roxy Jacenko to yes, of course, Mia Freedman, women in the public eye draw judgement by the pageful. Scads of it.
Generally, at Mamamia, we make it our business to rise above. To delete the worst of it – the foul-mouthed, the threatening – and to keep right on telling women’s stories and publishing their voices regardless.
But when it comes to Constance, it’s proving difficult to turn the other cheek.
At this point, full disclosure: Constance Hall doesn’t like it when Mamamia writes about her. Because the comments on our Facebook page that follow are often cruel, and come faster than we can keep up with.
So it is with apologies to Mrs Hall, that this time – days after she announced she is pregnant to her fiance Denim, and the day after she wrote about dealing with hateful comments – we insist on coming to her defence in the face of such relentless, mindless abuse.