Female politicians in Oklahoma subject to sexism, threats
September 9, 2020
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma women in local government have received sexist remarks, threats and harassment during recent months, according to a newspaper report.
Critics have resorted to name-calling and made comments about elected officials' appearance to show their discontent with them, The Oklahoman reported.
Oklahoma City Councilwoman JoBeth Hamon, who represents Ward 6, was criticized by the local police union and its supporters for questioning police funding and supporting Black Lives Matter. She began receiving angry messages and death threats after sharing a BLM graphic on social media comparing police with Timothy McVeigh, who bombed a federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995.
"I did expect some complaints, but I didn't expect the way it so quickly turned to personal insults, particularly on my appearance and using some of those more gendered insults," she said.
Alex Scott, a former councilwoman in Norman, said she was criticized because of her age. The 26-year-old also remembers a critic saying 'Alex Scott is objectively attractive, but she's such an ugly b----.'"
Scott supported cutting 3.6% of the Norman Police Department's $23 million budget, which was Norman City Council approved this summer. After the meeting, Scott accused some officers of sharing her address online. The Norman Citizens Advisory Board found the officers sharing Scott's information did not violate any policies.
Scott alleged in June that her neighbor was raped after the councilwoman's address was shared. Scott believes she was the intended target of the attack, which is being investigated by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.
In recent months, Norman Mayor Breea Clark has received death threats and a slew of vulgar messages. She worries the aggressive political environment could discourage women from running for office.
"Women are tough, and you don't run for office unless you have thick skin," Clark said. "Now that we're here, we're not going anywhere."