A California lawmaker seeking reelection avoided becoming the victim of a campaign of harassment by cleverly responding to her online attackers in a video posted on her Facebook and YouTube accounts.
The woman in question, Rachel Hundley, is a member of the Sonoma city council, and former mayor of the northern California town.
First elected to the city council in 2014, Hundley launched her reelection bid to retain her seat and discovered in an anonymous email a website had been established questioning her alleged “immoral” lifestyle and demanding she drop her bid to return to office.
The website, “Rachel Hundley Exposed” featured images of a scantily-clad Hundley in attendance at Nevada’s annual Burning Man festival. The site has since been removed.
Burning Man is an event which has been held annually for over 30 years in which attendees build a temporary city in the Black Rock Desert and celebrate “community, art, self-expression, and self-reliance.” The festival routinely attracts over 60,000 each year in the late summer.
Hundley has acknowledged attending the event and has attested to the fact her role also included serving drinks at a wine bar to promote a locally-produced wine and reveling with friends.
While some of the images show Hundley clothed in garb consistent with Burning Man’s theme, other images depicting a woman using drugs claimed to be Hundley were exposed as false.
According to Hundley, the genuine images of her at Burning Man were obtained from her public social media accounts.
Returning fire at her anonymous attackers, Hundley created a four-minute video proudly declaring her presence at the festival over several years and attacking her detractors as “spineless.”
In her canny response, Hundley lashed out at what she described as a feeble attempt to “slut-shame.”
“What was especially disturbing in this era of #MeToo was the attempt to ‘slut shame’ me for celebrating my body and for my attendance at Burning Man — an internationally renowned arts and culture festival and an event I proudly and openly attend,” Hundley said in her video response.
Hundley added her attackers preferred to use “unfounded “accusations instead of her voting record to attack her character.
Explaining her decision to respond in the manner she chose, Hundley told the San Francisco Chronicle:
“I realized there were two paths I could take. I could continue with the campaign and ignore it all or I could acknowledge that this is something that happens to women all over the country, and is something we should talk about.”
In 2018, Burning Man is being held Aug. 25–Sept. 3.
[San Francisco Chronicle] [Photo courtesy Sarah Deragon via The Press Democrat]