A Tory councillor has been accused of ‘sexism’ after saying a pregnant Labour candidate will be “too busy changing nappies” to work as an MP.
Jon Wright made his comments on the Facebook profile of Catherine Atkinson, who is standing for the Erewash seat in the general election.
He suggested that the 36-year-old would not be able to do her job “whilst on maternity leave” and would be “too busy changing nappies to be a voice for the people.”
The comments were made after Mrs Atkinson, of Ilkeston, Derbyshire, posted a message on Facebook describing herself as a barrister with a two-year-old son and a husband who served as a soldier in Afghanistan.
Cllr Wright wrote: “Funny she [Catherine] never mentioned she was heavily pregnant? I wondered how she would represent the people of Erewash whilst on maternity leave? How can a woman who is just about to give birth take on a role as MP?”
And in a later post, he added: “Brexit on the horizon and she might be too busy changing nappies to be a voice for the people of Erewash.”
Cllr Wright has since defended his comments claiming that he is not sexist and he was “genuinely interested.”
But the mum-of-one, whose second baby is due to be born in July, wasn’t prepared to brush off the comments lightly and has demanded an apology.
“I am disgusted that a local conservative councillor has said a woman who is pregnant or has a young family cannot stand for parliament or be an MP,” she said.
“I demand an apology. Not for me, I’m perfectly capable of standing up to any kind of bullying, but o behalf of women across the country who might want to put themselves forward for parliament. They shouldn’t be put off by these kind of archaic views.”
She went on to say that though she wasn’t surprised by the comments she hoped to help encourage not discourage women to put themselves forward for parliament.
“When I speak to girls and young women across the constituency I want to tell them that they can and should stand to represent their community as an MP, not that they can’t,” she said.
It’s the second time in a matter of days that the subject of motherhood and Parliament has hit the headlines. Last week Senator Larissa Waters by becoming the first mother to breastfeed her baby in the Australian parliament.
And earlier this year Sir Roger Gale MP sparked a sexism row when he referred to the female staff in his office as ‘girls’. But the move didn’t go down well with the Internet with some claiming the comments were misogynistic and others saying it was like harking back to the 1950s.
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