Gordon-Pamplin tackles unhealthy’ sexism
Politicians are expected to take a stand against sexist online comments and a culture of disrespect towards women after an Opposition MP asked parliamentary colleagues to set an example.
Patricia Gordon-Pamplin said Bermuda’s elected representatives had a responsibility to conduct themselves appropriately and that she hoped others would follow suit.
It is understood the move came after Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, posted footage online where he asked a young woman serving in a London cereal café for “titty milk”.
Ms Gordon-Pamplin said this week: “Very recently, we had the situation with respect to the online posting of the incident that happened with the minister in London.
“The incident that was recently posted on social media gave me cause for pause because it seemed to be a continuation of behaviour that I’m beginning to question is becoming entrenched, because it seems that people do and say what they like and nothing is said or done about it. I think it’s unhealthy for the community.”
Ms Gordon-Pamplin was speaking after she gave notice of a motion on Friday to ask the House of Assembly to condemn “the posting of inappropriate and/or sexist comments on social media by Members of Parliament”.
The proposal asked MPs to support the inclusion of policies and procedures in the Parliamentary Code of Conduct that will “embrace a culture of respect towards women parliamentarians and women in general”.
A debate on the motion was expected to take place in a sitting of the House soon.
Mr Caines was in Britain for a forum on the blockchain industry and a meeting with the UK National Crime Agency when he posted the recording online.
The video led to a backlash across the political divide and Mr Caines made an apology on Facebook.
The story was also picked up by British newspaper The Evening Standard.
David Burt, the Premier, said afterwards that the video displayed a “lack of respect for women” and “poor judgment”.
He also carpeted Mr Caines over the controversy.
Ms Gordon-Pamplin said she wanted to draw attention to sexism and get the House to agree “that the behaviour is unacceptable and we need to at least take responsibility as leaders in the community to show that we can treat people with respect”.
Ms Gordon-Pamplin added: “If you start with leadership, then the rest will filter down.”
She said the incident should have led to a personal explanation and apology in Parliament. The shadow health minister added: “When you travel on government business, the taxpayers are paying for you and if the behaviour is inappropriate while you are travelling on taxpayers’ dime, it would seem to me, at the very least, that you should deal with the transgression.
“In the absence of the leadership stepping in and determining that this was something that was worthy of having a public apology, an explanation in the House of Assembly, then it just seemed to me that we needed to do something.”
She added her motion focused on broader concerns related to sexist comments made on social media.
Ms Gordon-Pamplin added that decorum appeared to be “diminishing exponentially” and that she hoped One Bermuda Alliance and Progressive Labour Party members would work together on the problem.
She said: “If we as leaders don’t present ourselves in such a way to show that we have some level of decency and integrity then the person in the street is going to think anything goes.”
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