Remember 'Pharma-bro' Martin Shkreli? The pharmaceutical executive douchebag, who hiked the price of a life-saving drug used by cancer and AIDS patients from $13.50 to $750, has now been suspended from Twitter for harassing journalist Lauren Duca.
Duca, whose Teen Vogue article "Donald Trump Is Gaslighting America" went viral last month, was featured as a guest on Tucker Carlson’s show on Fox News. Responding to sexist questions and comments from Carlson, she rightfully called him out as “a partisan hack who is just attacking me and not even allowing me to speak.”
The article and this appearance led to her becoming a target of online harassment from misogynists and Trump supporters, and Shkreli took it even further, sending her a message asking her to accompany him to Trump’s inauguration.
After she responded saying "I'd rather eat my own organs” (which we totally get) Shkreli stepped up the abuse. He posted a collage of pictures of Duca as his Twitter cover photo with the caption "For better or worse, 'til death do us part, I love you with every single beat of my heart," changed his bio to include "small crush on @laurenduca (hope she doesn’t find out)" and tweeted a weird badly-edited version of the movie poster for The Proposal, that he claimed had been made by one of his "fans." In possibly his grossest move of all, he also photoshopped himself into a photo of Duca and her husband and accused her of “[disrespecting] the sovereignty of [his] love” for her. Bleugh.
Duca tweeted screenshots of the harassment directly at Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, asking “How is this allowed” and soon Shkreli’s account was removed from the site. A Twitter spokesman told The Guardian that the rules “prohibit targeted harassment, and we will take action on accounts violating those policies.”
“He has been harassing me for a while. It’s an ongoing thing,” Duca told Buzzfeed News. “He’s been actively tweeting about dating me. I don’t know if he’s encouraging people to do this, but there’s been a small contingent of trolls telling me to sleep with him — but not that politely.”
This insanely targeted harassment is part a wider culture of online misogyny directed at female journalists, a culture that attempts to silence and intimidate women, especially trans women and women of color, who dare to speak out on public platforms. Just last week, feminist author Lindy West left Twitter due to overwhelming levels of online abuse, and while it’s good to see Twitter suspending Shkreli’s account, we have yet to see a solution to its widespread harassment problem.
Brianna Wu, who was herself a target of harassment during Gamergate and who plans to run for Congress in 2018, tweeted in support of Duca.
While we’re still waiting for Twitter to address this issue, feminist organizations are creating their own solutions. HeartMob is an online platform that aims to make the internet better by providing resources on how to deal with harassment and creating a community of support for those who are targeted.
As Duca herself asks, and we here at BUST have to wonder, “Why is harassment an automatic career hazard for a woman receiving any amount of professional attention?”
Top Photo: @MartinShkreli