‘I’m Over It’: Sarah Hanson-Young Vows To Fight Back Over 'Reprehensible' Sexist Slur
‘I encourage all women and men: if you see this, stand up and say something.’
Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young has taken a strong-willed stand to fight back against workplace sexism and “reprehensible” comments made about her by fellow politician David Leyonhjelm.
The Liberal Democrats senator is refusing to apologise after telling Hanson-Young she should “stop shagging men” in a parliamentary debate about violence against women and widening access to pepper spray.
Over the weekend, he was invited to appear on the Outsiders program on Sky News, where he defended and repeated his earlier comments and alluded to her private life.
"I was attacked by some pretty offensive and inflammatory language by Senator Leyonhjelm in my workplace. When I confronted him about it, he swore at me -- and has gone on to further those comments and make them worse in public," Hanson-Young told reporters on Tuesday,
“At this point, I have called this out because I thought it was appalling and I have had enough,” she said, maintaining calls for Senator Leyonhjelm to resign.
The senator said for years she has ignored sexist comments and pretended that “they would just go away, that it wasn’t impacting on me, that I couldn’t hear the comments.”
“I’m over it. I’m absolutely over it and from here on in, when it happens, I’m calling it out.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Hanson-Young accused her fellow politician of “slut-shaming” her, telling ABC radio he is unfit to be in parliament.
“He wants to intimidate me, he wants to use this to bully me,” she continued in an emotional press conference.
“He is trying to attack my character, the very heart and essence of what I do as a parliamentarian and what I stand for … Nothing he says is going to shake me from being able to do that.”
Hanson-Young commended Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition leader Bill Shorten who have both called on Leyonhjelm to withdraw his comments and apologise -- despite claims from the senator he has no intention of doing so.
Leyonjhelm said he was willing to apologise on the grounds Senator Hanson-Young made three public announcements, including saying "she no longer believes men are collectively responsible for the actions of those men who commit violence."
But the senator has denied that is her belief.
The Prime Minister earlier said he couldn’t remember similar language before being uttered in parliament.
“That type of language has no place in parliament and it shouldn't’ have a place in any workplace,” he said.
The Prime Minister said violence against women stemmed from disrespect.
“I just want to say this, it’s a reminder to everybody that not all disrespecting women ends in violence against women, but that is where all violence against women begins.”
Hanson-Young agreed with the PM.
"The Prime Minister is right: all violence towards women -- in the privacy of their own home, or like the poor young women working home from work in Melbourne -- stems from disrespect,” she said, fighting back tears.
“He must be congratulated for making that link and urging us as a nation to do better.
“Senator Leyonhjelm should listen and he should resign.”
Hanson-Young, who is seeking legal advice, on Tuesday told reporters discussions with her Party about funding the potential suit “hadn’t been had” but “it will obviously be out of the private pockets.”
She would not comment on a possible parliamentary censure against Leyonhjelm.
“I have been contacted by colleagues across the chamber and across the political divides … most members of parliament are really decent people,” she said.
“Most men in parliament are really decent men. This is an opportunity to fix this, to clean up the parliament and to make sure that it is a safe place for women, that it is a safe place for everybody.
“The last thing I want to see out of this would be less women going into politics.”