At the Lakewood City Council study session on Feb. 6, Rich Olver, council member for Ward 4, said “Girls, it’s on you” in reference to his women colleagues. He was challenged by the mayor on his word choice and, rather than apologizing for the insult, he doubled down and refused to do so. He even implied that women should be flattered to be referred to as such — “I would say that some are the opposite of offended.”
As a constituent of Ward 4, I found it highly offensive that my council member would refer to his colleagues in this way. It was a disrespectful, insulting and sexist comment. It was embarrassing and disappointing to hear him.
As women in professional settings, we come up against this type of insult and micro-aggression on a regular basis. Our expertise and experience are diminished by men using words that imply we are not their equal. It is completely unacceptable that a council member would refer to his colleagues in such a way. His refusal to apologize casts doubt on both his judgment and character.
No matter what your personal “style” is when out in the world, when it comes to business settings such as City Council meetings, everyone should behave and speak appropriately. Although wherever you are, referring to grown women as “girls” is patronizing and offensive.
His response to emails from constituents raising his behaviour have been unprofessional and patronizing. He truly does not seem to grasp the difference between a professional setting such as council meeting and a more personal situation.
I call on Council Member Olver to apologize to his colleagues for his disrespectful tone. There are eight women on council, all of whom worked just as hard, probably harder, than Mr Olver to get elected. He needs to do better moving forward. After all, half of his constituents are women and deserve to also be treated appropriately.
In addition, his use of the word “girls” makes no allowances for different gender identities. However that is probably a whole other conversation.
Eva Frickle, Lakewood