I’m a British citizen currently visiting the UK to see my family, and I was here when news broke of MP Jo Cox’s murder. The event was tragic, but as facts came to light it became clear to me that this murder was not only devastating to her family, friends and colleagues; It was a devastating public statement about women who are in politics.
Jo Cox’s husband, along with many others, has stated that he believes that her killer was motivated by Jo’s political beliefs and outspoken nature in Parliament. While I cannot comment on Cox’s political beliefs, as I do not know them well enough to do them and her career justice, I do know this: Killing a woman for her political beliefs is outright sexism and, in my opinion, a hate crime.
Women in countries all over the world have their opinions suppressed, and are not allowed to speak their minds. Luckily, Britain is not such a country- women can hold powerful roles in government. However, women who dare to possess strong views are often shamed. They are name-called and treated as less than their male superiors- many of them face hatred and threats, like Jo Cox did, except this time she paid with her life. She died far too young because a man didn’t like that her political views. He didn’t like that she was expressing her beliefs and working for what she deemed just causes- He hated her for doing her job. In the free world we do not kill people who hold opposing viewpoints. It is clear, in my mind, that Jo was specifically targeted because she was an outspoken female MP, and she was vocal on issues of controversy like the rampant Islamophobia in her constituency, and that is a sad state of affairs. Women in power are too often seen as a threat, and they are not. Women have as much right to be in power as men do, and they have the right to hold power without fearing for their lives.
So, as many of us mourn Jo Cox, think about this: Why, when women allow their voices to be heard and place themselves at the metaphorical table, do we shame them and treat their presence as abnormal? Why are women judged for having strong views?