By Walker Orenstein
SEATTLE (AP) — Writing in an op-ed in the Seattle Times last week, the five women on Seattle’s mostly female City Council responded to sexist attacks against them after a recent council vote sidetracked an arena proposal aimed at bringing the NBA back to the city.
The councilwomen wrote they were “deeply troubled” at the level of vitriol in social media posts and emails that often threatened them with “sexual or other physical violence,” contained hateful language and racist rhetoric.
All five women on the nine-member council voted against selling a street to investor Chris Hansen, complicating his plan to build an arena in the city’s SoDo District. The four men voted for the proposal.
The op-ed was the first major public response by the councilwomen and says many accused them of incompetence because they’re women.
“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,” the op-ed says.
Hansen wants to bring the NBA back to Seattle after the SuperSonics left for Oklahoma City following the 2007-2008 season. Hansen and Mayor Ed Murray both condemned the sexist attacks last week. Murray also supported the arena project.
“While we may not agree with the council’s vote, misogynistic insults, vile comments and threats are unacceptable and need to stop,” Hansen said in a statement last week. “We should all show respect for our elected officials and the legislative process, even if we disagree with their decision.”
Many members of the council voiced opposition to the street vacation because of concerns from the Port of Seattle that an arena project could infringe on nearby industrial activities.
“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,” the op-ed says. “Don’t allow the hateful voices of a few intimidate you into silence or inaction.”