Ginny Chadwick’s Sexism Card
by Melissa C. Sharp
As a woman, I can give first-hand examples of sexism from my own life. Female politicians and celebrities are scrutinized in ways which males are not. However, because women are sometimes unfairly targeted and derided in public spheres it is all the more important to use caution before whipping out the “sexism” card. There must be an element of either stereotyping, discrimination or prejudice directed at a person because of her sex for the remarks to qualify as sexism. Otherwise, it’s just criticism.
This is why, as a politically-active woman, I approach the recent statement from Councilperson Ginny Chadwick with chagrin. First of all, it should be noted from her quotation, she pulls out the sexism card, but fails to give any specifics about the incident(s) she is referring too. It makes me wonder if she just wants to play on people’s emotions. And while it’s admirable to encourage women as leaders, I feel like her comments are designed capture support for her instead of for the idea of female leadership.
There is no room in public office for vague accusations, particularly not if those accusations are plied to garner support for leadership or policies that are deeply unpopular. Making false accusations is serious and depending on the allegations, can be criminal. This is the reason why public officials are sworn into office promising honesty in the performance of their duties.
Anyone remember Ashley Todd? She was the GOP volunteer for presidential candidate John McCain, who falsely claimed she was robbed and assaulted by a Barack Obama supporter. She was charged with filing a false police report and sentenced to probation when her claims were revealed as hoaxes. But the real damage inflicted by Todd’s claims have nothing to do with how she was personally punished (although, I’m sure she still has to live with the social repercussions to this day). The lasting damage from her false accusations is how it gave ammunition to those who wished to minimize the very real and common dangers women face from assault. It also tarnished the Republican party’s reputation when a tight presidential election was only a month away.
If Chadwick is making a false statement about sexism she’s encountered while in office, then she is employing the use of a “red herring.” This claim is designed to take attention away from some very important questions about politics in Columbia. Especially, the kind of policies Chadwick is promoting.
Why is Chadwick trying to gather support for a local ordinance to ban smoking by 18-21 year-olds when it’s unlikely to reduce young adults’ access to cigarettes?
Furthermore, why will the University of Missouri be exempt from it?
After all, isn’t the University the reason why Columbia has such a large 18-21 year old population?
What’s the point of this piecemeal ordinance, especially since smoking is already banned inside businesses?
Chadwick was elected in April of this year. Since then, as First Ward’s councilperson, she has come out in favor of the controversial downtown development by the Opus Group, a ban on alcohol in Douglas Park, and a ban on cigarette sales to anyone under the age of 21. So in other words, an ordinance which favors more ill-conceived development at the expense of local taxpayers and two different bans which would violate adult citizens’ rights to freedom of choice.
If Chadwick wants to represent the interests of the First Ward, perhaps she should study the playbook of Democratic Senator Maria Chapelle-Nadal. When protests erupted in Ferguson, Missouri, Nadal joined with her protesting constituents. The senator is fiery and controversial, but there is no question she is working to represent the values of the people who live in her district.
The truth is, there’s no need to attack Councilperson Ginny Chadwick because she is a woman. Her record speaks for itself.
Melissa C. Sharp serves as the Keep Columbia Free Director of Community Outreach and is a longtime, active member of the organization.
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