Mayor Bliss spoke last night at the Progressive Women’s Alliance event which was held at The Pyramid Scheme downtown Grand Rapids; it was there she revealed that had experience sexism, first as a City Commissioner and then as mayor.

She was originally at the event to encourage those in attendance to get involved with politics. During a question and answer segment after the speech, a 16 year old girl asked the mayor if she had any advice on dealing with sexism, as she had just recently experienced sexist comments at school.

The Mayor then revealed when she was first elected to the city commission in 2006, she was just 30 years old, and the only female commissioner.  She went on to tell the crowd that her first year was “extremely challenging.”

In the video of her speech, captured by MLive she says:

"My first year as a city commissioner, it was extremely challenging. Things that were said to me ... patronizing comments that were made, inappropriate comments that were made. I am glad I grew up with six brothers."

"Even as mayor now I feel like I'm not taken seriously, very often - more so in my first couple months in office than now."

Mayor Bliss goes on to say that she learned how to confront those who made patronizing or sexist remarks by staying true to herself, while also trying to not damage her working relationship.

She would often tell those who disrespected her, “I’ll be here to listen to you when you can speak to me respectfully.”

After becoming mayor, she says she would often have people say things to her that they would never have said to former mayor, George Heartwell.  After a few times of realizing this, she created a filter she would say to those who chose to say inappropriate comments..

From the speech recorded by MLIVE:

A couple of times I said to someone, 'Here's a little filter I want you to use: before something comes out of your mouth, I want you to think to yourself, would I have said this to Mayor Heartwell? And if the answer is no, don't say it to me.

I like her approach!  I’ve only been here 9 months, but I’m very proud to be represented by Mayor Bliss.  Keep doing you, Mayor!

source: MLive