Sexist plasterers made porn mock-up of female rival’s daughter after she won industry award

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A female plasterer from Liverpool has been subjected to a barrage of graphic abuse by jealous male rivals – including one who created a fake pornographic image featuring her 11-year-old daughter.

Stephanie Leese became the target of a vicious hate campaign after winning a national Plasterer of the Year award.

What began with criticism of her skills on Facebook page Spread The Banter Plasterers UK quickly deteriorated into explicit sexist comments.

And the 41-year-old was horrified to discover that one post in the closed group featured her daughter’s face, added onto a pornographic image.

Award-winning plasterer Stephanie Leese, from West Derby

Describing her reaction to the picture, Stephanie said: “I was absolutely devastated and disgusted. I could take everything else but, to me, that was a different level, it was warped.

“The people who did this are going into people’s houses to do jobs and mixing with people’s children, then doing this kind of thing online.

“How would his wife feel if she knew what he was doing? How would they like it to happen to their children?”

Stephanie, from West Derby, set up her business The Pink Plasterer 10 years ago and says, although she has encountered sexism from the start, the majority of male colleagues have been supportive.

Stephanie Leese, from West Derby

She said: “I did get a lot of resistance at first but I also met a lot of lovely men who really helped me and really supported me. There are good ones out there but there’s still a minority who think it’s acceptable to treat women like that.

“So I’d experienced being put down in the job, and undermined, but I’d never known abuse like what happened when I won the On The Tools award.

“As soon as it was announced, someone lifted photos from 10 years ago, when I was just learning the trade, and put them all over this group saying: ‘Have you seen this dog s***e work?’. I didn’t want to get involved or even defend myself because I didn’t think it was worth it so I thought I’d just ignore it.

“Then the comments started to get more sexist.”

Award-winning plasterer Stephanie Leese, from West Derby

Stephanie explained one offensive message ended with her being told she should “get back in the kitchen”, while people had trawled through her images and commented on her appearance.

She added: “It was things they wouldn’t dare say to my face – but they were suddenly so brave because they were hiding behind a computer keyboard.

“Even then I was angry but just shrugged it off, but the image of my daughter just went way too far.

“She has just started high school so this is the last thing she’d need. Obviously, we haven’t spoken about it in front of her, she just knows mum’s won an award and that there are guys who have been rude about it. She wants to be part of the business one day so I want her to be prepared to a certain extent.

“I know what their defence would be: ‘If you can’t take the banter, you shouldn’t be on the site,’ but that’s not banter, and a pornographic image of my daughter isn’t banter.

“I’ve never heard a fella insult another fella’s family on the site. They’ll say ‘look at the state of that wall’, that’s banter, not ‘your wife’s an ugly b**ch’ – but that’s what they were saying about me.

“I am quite tough and I can take it – but why should I have to?”

Stephanie and husband Andy copied the posts and are now considering taking a complaint to Merseyside Police.

Maggie O’Carroll, CEO of The Women’s Organisation in Liverpool – which helped Stephanie set up her business a decade ago – said: “The passive and active aggressive sexism that women continue to face in industries which have specifically been thought of as ‘male-dominated’ is harmful and toxic, but more importantly illegal and should be recognised as such.

“It’s heinous that Steph, an incredible business woman who is skilled at her craft, has faced this abuse online and we stand with Steph in calling out these behaviours wherever they appear.”

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