A Sonoma, California, city councilwoman is getting the better of cyberbullies after receiving an anonymous email that linked to a website of photos of her in her underwear.
“We encourage you to reconsider your intention to run for City Council,” read a screenshot of the email to Councilwoman Rachel Hundley, “otherwise, your candidacy this time will be one of full disclosures to all Sonoma.”
The email, ostensibly from a group called “Sonoma Citizens for Peace & Cooperation,” contained vague complaints about Hundley’s leadership and a clear message: Drop out of the race.
Instead, it seems to have had the opposite effect.
Hundley posted a video on YouTube on Aug. 20 addressing the emailed threat and the now-defunct website, “Rachel Hundley Exposed.” On camera, she calls out the “nameless cowards” and “spineless individuals” who tried to use the photos to “slut-shame” her.
Over the past week, her video has garnered nearly 100,000 views.
“I am here today to tell my faceless bullies that I cannot be shamed into quitting, because I am not ashamed,” Hundley says in the video.
While some of the website’s claims are “outright lies,” Hundley says, others are culled from things she “proudly” posts to social media.
Among the images included on the defunct website were photos of Hundley at Nevada’s Burning Man arts festival ― an event known for attendees’ wild costumes. In her video, Hundley explains that she has managed a wine bar at Burning Man of the past several years that is associated with “a consent-focused, sex-positive theme camp.”
Hundley told The Washington Post she was “stunned” to see the message and website. She admonished her anonymous critics for not challenging her on specific votes and for hiding behind anonymous internet platforms.
A record number of women are running for political office this year in the wake of the Me Too movement against sexual harassment and abuse. The attack against Hundley is a reminder of the cyberharassment many women endure from anonymous predators.
In her video, Hundley explains how it’s affected her campaign.
“This year, I will be running not only for the future of our city but for every woman and man who has been shamed for being themselves,” Hundley says. “I am running for our daughters and sons, who should never have to fear that their voices could be silenced by anonymous threats and lies.”