Unfortunately, violent misogyny is nothing new in politics

An activist with a "pink pussy hat" participates in front of the Brandenburg Gate in a demonstration for women's rights on January 21, 2018 in Berlin, Germany.

John McTernan is head of political practice at PSB, a strategic research consultancy. He was a speechwriter to ex-British Prime Minister and Labour Party leader Tony Blair and was communications director to former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own.

(CNN)Over the weekend, the often-overheated debate about Brexit and Prime Minister Theresa May's leadership of the UK's Conservative Party took a very nasty turn.

One of her own lawmakers said that she should bring a noose to the meeting of the backbenchers 1922 Committee in an article published in a Sunday newspaper.
Quite literally, the language of the lynch mob.
    Another talked of the knife being heated and just waiting to be plunged in and twisted. These, remember, are members of May's own party.
    Sadly, the surprising thing about the statements is that they are not in any way surprising.
    Nancy Astor, who sat in the House of Commons as the first female member of Parliament in the UK, told later of how isolated and alone she felt.
    On one occasion, Winston Churchill told her that seeing her in the chamber was like finding a woman in his bathroom but having "nothing to protect himself with but the sponge."
    As so often with men talking about women's equality, it was all about him -- Churchill felt his privacy had been invaded.
    That same tone is there in the reported remarks of May's Conservatives: a similar anger at the fact that the natural order of things has been violated. There is a name for these ugly remarks -- and it is misogyny.
    Sadly, male resentment of women taking positions of political power is not restricted to the UK.
    Julia Gillard, when prime minister of Australia, was treated to a level of personal abuse beyond what any male politician could expect.
    Former Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gillard, pictured in 2013
    One shock jock said that she should be "put into a chaff bag and thrown into the sea." So pleased was he with the reaction to his grotesque suggestion that he then autographed some of the heavy-duty bags, which were then auctioned at a fundraiser at which he was speaking.
    The 2016 US Presidential campaign had similar misogynistic rhetoric. There is no need to rehash all the attacks, one can stand for them all: "Life's a Bitch, don't vote for one."
    The coarseness of Donald Trump has posed a huge problem for journalists. In reporting it -- which is their job -- they repeat it and potentially normalize it.
    Though, the truth is that when the President uses this type of language or refuses to disavow it, he is putting the weight of his office behind a degraded public discourse.
    Trump and his supporters rail against "political correctness" and they are right to see that as a threat to them. It has been a deliberate attempt to make it harder to make sexist, racist and homophobic remarks.
    And by and large it has worked.
    Being polite to each other -- which is, at base, all that political correctness is -- becomes self-reinforcing, and self-sustaining. But, as President Trump knows, the opposite is true too.
    Saying offensive things encourages others to say the same. And that is a vicious circle. Which is why the remarks of May's unnamed lawmakers are so serious.
    The language of politics has always been aggressive, often drawing on military metaphors and analogies -- big guns, battles, victories and so on.
    But these attacks on Theresa May go further. There is a lip-smacking relish to them -- a sense that the speaker has not just envisioned the consequences of his words, but actively enjoyed them too.
    Words, like other actions, have consequences. Tragically we know this all too well in the UK. During the Brexit referendum, there was a political assassination. Jo Cox was savagely murdered and her killer shouted "This is for Britain," "Keep Britain independent," and "Britain first."
    The murderer didn't coin those phrases; he co-opted them from political groups, some of whom supported Leave -- others are far more radically nationalist.
    There was insufficient rage at the time that an atmosphere of violence had been whipped up.
      The weekend's misogyny must not pass uncondemned and unconfronted. No woman should be subject to the verbal violence that Theresa May has experienced.
      We know verbal abuse is the gateway to physical abuse. Stopping violence against all women starts with opposing any violence against any woman.