A leading women’s rights campaigner has officially complained about the ‘complete lack of respect’ afforded to her by a county councillor.
Eleanor Rehahn, coordinator of the Fawcett Society Suffolk, lobbied members of Suffolk County Council about the importance of adopting gender neutral language ahead of a Constitution Working Party debate on the issue next week.
She had hoped to persuade the council to replace its use of the term ‘chairman’ with ‘chair’ in order to remove ‘one of the many barriers to women achieving equality to men in public life’.
But she was ‘absolutely appalled’ by Cllr Alan Murray’s response to her email in which he referred to the issue as ‘tosh’ and ‘petty semantics’ and told her to ‘get a life!’
Ms Rehahn, who has made an official complaint to the council, said that while she had not expected many councillors to agree with her, she had been shocked to be treated with a ‘complete lack of respect and no sense of formality or courtesy’ by someone in public office.
As a teacher in a Bury St Edmunds school, she said: “Imagine if I did this in my role as a teacher.”
A spokeswoman for Suffolk County Council said: “We encourage active debate on matters of equality as we strive to eliminate all forms of unfair treatment and discrimination.”
She added: “Councillors are individuals and will always have their own opinions which they are free to express.”
Cllr Murray said he considered the matter ‘private’ and would not comment further.