Martin Shkreli is best known for price-gouging HIV patients, being charged with securities fraud, and smirking about it in front of Congress. Now, the Trump-supporting pharmaceutical exec has been suspended from Twitter for harassing journalist Lauren Duca in the most nauseatingly creepy way. To put it mildly, he had it coming. Duca made headlines last month with a viral-hit story called "Donald Trump Is Gaslighting America" at Teen Vogue that called out Trump's dangerous disregard for the truth, whether it's about Russia's interference in our election or the Electoral College "landslide." She received a good deal of attention for the piece — and for her subsequent takedown of Fox News' Tucker Carlson, who told her to go back to writing about knee-high boots, as if women can't be knowledgeable on both fashion and politics. Unfortunately, much of the attention was sexist nonsense from Twitter trolls, including Martin Shkreli. Last week, he DMed Duca to invite her to the inauguration.
"I would rather eat my own organs," Duca responded. But Shkreli didn't stop there. The 33-year-old actually took the time to find a photo of Duca and her husband online, photoshop his own face onto her husband's, and make it his Twitter profile pic, and generally profess his "love" for her all over his account. Duca told BuzzFeed that the harassment was ongoing. “He has been harassing me for a while. It’s an ongoing thing. He’s been actively tweeting about dating me,” she said. “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.”
(Are we sure this man is 33, or is he a 12-year-old operating a Twitter hate machine from his parents' basement?) When Shkreli was suspended after Duca contacted Twitter founder and CEO Jack Dorsey, Duca questioned the ongoing harassment of female journalists, and influential women in general: "Why is harassment an automatic career hazard for a woman receiving any amount of professional attention? Question for @jack & also society!" Duca told Refinery29 that Twitter needs to step it up in combating harassment from its many bots and trolls. But the problem is deeper, as it's rooted in a reflexive hatred of women who speak their minds. "Martin Shkreli is engaged in targeted harassment, and absolutely deserves to have his account suspended," she said. "It's unfortunate that the only reason people are paying attention is because he's relatively high-profile. Trolling seems to be an automatic occupational hazard for female writers who receive any level of professional attention. That's something Twitter needs to work harder to fix, but obviously the problem runs far deeper."
This isn't the first time a female journalist has been harassed online simply for speaking her mind and espousing feminist views, and it certainly won't be the last. Women who don't shy away from publicly expressing their opinions routinely receive obnoxious comments, gross pictures, and even threats on Twitter. Earlier this month, writer Lindy West deactivated her account after one too many death and rape threats. She had enough of Nazis and misogynists directing their anger at her. It's a sordid state of affairs, but one that Duca said absolutely won't stop her. "For any of my personal aggressors reading this: Would I rather you leave me alone? Of course! But know that you will never, ever silence me. Every one of your messages only serves to strengthen my resolve. I promise to never stop fighting," she told R29.