A land use decision that the Seattle City Council made on May 2 has triggered a slew of hateful rhetoric towards the five female councilmembers who voted against selling off a section of Occidental Avenue.
The vacation would have essentially sold it to investor Chris Hansen for the purposes of building a potential sports arena for an NBA team, and possibly an NHL team.
The Port of Seattle argued that the move would make traffic in the city’s industrial core even worse. Councilmember Lorena Gonzalez agreed and cast the decisive vote.
Councilmember Sally Bagshaw, who has always opposed vacating Occidental Avenue, thought the vote on May 2 would go 7-2 in favor. Bagshaw knew that she and Lisa Herbold opposed, but council members Gonzalez, Kshama Sawant, and Debora Juarez were undecided.
The remaining three had reportedly become increasingly put off in the days leading up to the vote, by the personal attacks against Bagshaw from male sports fans on social media and certain talk-show hosts.
Once the vote was cast, Gonzalez, Sawant, and Juarez became targets, too.
An attorney, “Jason M. Feldman, Esq.” wrote a threatening email to the five female council members, claiming they “robbed” him of the sports stadium to which he was entitled.
“As women, I understand that you spend a lot of your time trying to please others (mostly on your knees) but I can only hope that you each find ways to quickly and painfully end yourselves,” Feldman wrote.
“Each of you should rot in hell for what you took from me.”
The email, titled “Dishonorable Women of the Council,” went on to suggest the council members were “whoring” themselves out to the highest bidder and that they should “do the honorable thing and end yourselves.”
It should come as no surprise that Feldman was already facing a two-and-a-half year suspension from the Washington State Bar Association.
Documents obtained by the Puget Sound Business Journal revealed the bar recommended in September to suspend Feldman from practicing law because of a female client’s allegation that he sexually assaulted her.
Feldman’s email was just one among a barrage of vitriolic and misogynistic insults and threats by sports fans, almost all of them male.
Regardless of your feelings about a potential stadium — this is unacceptable.
What do sexism and threats of violence have to do with basketball? Or with land use or politics?
We stand with Councilmembers Bagshaw, Herbold, Gonzalez, Sawant, and Juarez. And we applaud their courage in voting their conscience.
What seems to have occurred is a coincidence that every male council member voted one way and every female council member voted another. But some rabid sports fans refuse to see it that way.
What if four male council members and one female voted no? It’s unlikely the men would have been subjected to such harsh criticism and name calling. But the woman would have — possibly even more since she was the only one.
It is frightening that in 2016, in Seattle, that so many feel righteous in spewing this kind of hateful rhetoric.