Belfast Telegraph

Everyday sexism is not acceptable, it devalues role of women at work

By Kate Nicholl

Councillor Craig's recent comments at Belfast City Council were important because they highlighted the problem of everyday sexism.

His attempt to laugh off the matter is often the response from those who casually insult women by using such remarks.

By seeing it as just a joke, they contribute to the belief that such views are acceptable. That is the problem with everyday sexism. Women are expected to shut up, sit back and accept it. But it is not appropriate to subject any women to any comments which devalue her position in the workplace.

The first radio interview I did as a councillor, a man who worked for the station chatted to me before going on-air.

He winked and told me I didn't look much like a politician. I asked him if he'd say that to a male councillor and he roared with laughter while saying: "Of course not".

All women, in politics in particular, have experienced sexism in some form, from having their fashion choices critiqued instead of their policies, to being spoken over and interrupted instead of being listened to.

Female candidates have been questioned over whether they are a token or the best person for the job, but no-one ever asks that of a man.

Likewise, I often wonder if the time I got spat on leaving City Hall would have happened if I'd been male. I believe Councillor Craig has apologised for his remarks and I am glad he has. He has shown while everyday sexism is still a problem, by continually highlighting it, we can help consign it to the past.

Kate Nicholl is an Alliance Councillor for the Balmoral area in South Belfast

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