The misogynistic backlash to our vote is an attempt to communicate a dangerous message: Elected women in Seattle do not deserve the respect necessary to make tough decisions without the fear of violence and racially and sexually charged retaliation.
LAST week, a five-member majority of the Seattle City Council voted against vacating a section of a Sodo street for the purpose of building an arena near a maritime industrial center. It was anticipated that this would be a divisive vote and that some people would be disappointed, while others were going to be relieved. This is par for the course in politics. By coincidence, five “no” votes were cast by women — each for different reasons — and four “yes” votes by men.
What we did not anticipate was the bombardment of threats, of sexual and other physical violence, hateful language and, in some cases, racist rhetoric and accusations of incompetence rooted in our gender identity. We were deeply troubled that this level of vitriol — exposed over a land-use decision — was lying just beneath the surface.
Equally surprising was the way journalists, local and afar, immediately took to characterizing the vote as a “boys-versus-girls” issue. We need to hold ourselves to a higher standard.
To belittle our votes and policy considerations as “emotional and naive” is not only an insult to women, it impacts our community. The misogynistic backlash to our vote is an attempt to communicate a dangerous message: Elected women in Seattle do not deserve the respect necessary to make tough decisions without the fear of violence and racially and sexually charged retaliation.
There are women across our city and nation who are abused, insulted, belittled and exploited at home or work. Their stories rarely make news. We stand in solidarity with them.
Make no mistake: We are not deterred. We will not be silenced with threats, not today, not tomorrow and not ever. We are confident the majority of Seattleites understand the malicious intent of these few misanthropes: to use fear and shame to silence and control.
To this we say: Women of Seattle, you are valued. Women from around the country, joined by men, have led the call for solidarity. The messages of solidarity and support we have received in the days since the vote have proved that the negative voices truly are on the losing side of history. Don’t allow the hateful voices of a few intimidate you into silence or inaction.
As for the five of us, we may not always agree on policy issues in the future, but on this we agree: We must and will take a stand against misogyny and other hateful rhetoric. We invite you to stand with us.