Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read has cut back online presence. (THE NEWS/files)

Maple Ridge mayor talks ‘Nasty women’ in politics

On SFU panel discussion Wednesday in PoCo

The public can hear for itself what it’s like to be a woman in politics in 2017.

It might not be much different than it was in 1957.

Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read is one of four politicians talking part in a Wednesday event titled Nasty Women: Gender in Politics.

“Nasty women” is a rallying cry for women in politics, after U.S. President Donald Trump described Hillary Clinton in those terms, says SFU’s Metro Conversations, which is organizing the 7 p.m. event at the Wright Art Gallery in Port Coquitlam.

The focus of the four-person panel discussion is on sexism and mysogny in politics.

Read, a first-term mayor, said she experiences some of that in person, but mostly online.

“Why would someone tell me I should go cook them a steak and deliver them their slippers? … there’s lots of those,” Read said.

“I’m a nasty, vile condescending bitch. There’s a multitude of things,” she added.

“I have media people call me sweetheart. People comment on my hair.”

Last year, she was criticized for what she wore to the Remembrance Day ceremonies in Maple Ridge. Read points out it was an expensive outfit and Remembrance Day, for her, is the most imporant event of the year.

“There’s a lot of it. And it’s a reality. Women in politics are confronting it and it’s super important,” Read said.

Many people can criticize and debate respectfully. But some just can’t, she added.

But most of the sexist attacts are mixed in with the frequent attacks online and in social media that the mayor has weathered the last three years.

She said the level of the criticism is disappointing.

“It’s a sad state of affairs that there’s so much impact through social media.”

Read has said, as a result, she’s cut back her presence online and has removed one of her Facebook pages.

“I see a fraction of it. So I don’t see everything that gets said.”

She says that the law hasn’t caught up with what’s going on online, and agreed that raising the general level of awareness of sexism in society is the most effective way of dealing with the issue.

Coun. Bonita Zarrillo, with the City of Coquitlam, and Couns. Laura Dupont, and Glenn Pollock, from City of Port Coquitlam, compose the rest of the panel.

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