COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Months after an Ohio lawmaker called his female primary opponent “sweetie” and questioned her interest in holding office while raising young children, several female Democratic legislators said they often encounter offensive jokes and remarks made by their male counterparts.
State Sen. Tom Patton, the Cleveland Republican who made the comment regarding his opponent in the Ohio House primary race, later said his remarks were misunderstood.
But some lawmakers said they’ve also heard comments from lawmakers and voters.
State Rep. Greta Johnson, 38, said she recently had a conversation with a male lawmaker who insisted on calling her “kiddo.”
“I don’t think he was trying to be disrespectful to me. We certainly have a very collegial relationship,” the Akron Democrat told Cleveland.com (http://bit.ly/1Tykjxh). “Are my male colleagues being called “kiddo”? I don’t think so.”
State Rep. Christie Kuhns gave birth to a son about two months after she took office. She said some male lawmakers asked what she planned to do when the baby came and that one remarked: “I know you’re not going to leave your baby at home.”
“I think women are forced into a box a lot of times to choose one or the other,” said Kuhns, a Cincinnati Democrat. “And I don’t think that’s fair, because men aren’t forced into a box.”
Women in the Legislature’s Republican majority had a different take. Those interviewed said they hadn’t had similar experiences or didn’t take offense when they did.
“I’ve never, ever, ever felt that they treat me differently,” Senate Majority Whip Gayle Manning, a North Ridgeville Republican, said of her male colleagues. “I think they treat me as an equal.”
Information from: cleveland.com, http://www.cleveland.com