Politics

You Need To See David Leyonhjelm Get Absolutely Owned On ‘7.30’ Over Senate Sexism Controversy

This is extremely satisfying viewing.

Trioli Leyonhjelm

Virginia Trioli made short work of Liberal Democrats Senator David Leyonhjelm during a fiery interview on Monday night’s episode of 7.30. And god, was it fun to watch.

Leyonhjelm is currently in the middle of a non-apology blitz after slurring Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young during a debate in parliament on Thursday, telling her that she should “stop shagging men”. He has repeatedly refused to retract the remark, insisting that he was responding to a claim by Hanson-Young to the effect that all men are rapists — although Hanson-Young has denied saying this, and Leyonhjelm can’t seem to produce the actual quote.

“Why won’t you withdraw [your comment]?” guest host Trioli asked Leyonhjelm on 7.30.

“I’m on very solid ground,” Leyonhjelm responded. “Very legitimate. I’m opposed to misandry, just as I’m opposed to misogyny. I’m also entitled to call out double standards.”

“Arguing on the one hand that all men are evil, the enemy, rapists, sexual predators, and on the other hand having normal relationships with men obviously is contradictory.”

When Trioli asked Leyonhjelm what exactly Hanson-Young said to provoke his response, he replied that it was “words very similar, if not identical to, ‘if only men would stop raping women’ or ‘all men are rapists’, or words to that effect.”

“They’re not the same thing,” Trioli pointed out.

Asked whether he understood how offensive his comment had been, Leyonhjelm said that “offence is taken” before adding that he did not believe the remark was inappropriate.

Trioli then suggested he might feel differently if the remark had been directed at a woman in his family, to which the senator responded “no woman in my family would accuse all men of being sexual predators”.

“Neither did Senator Sarah Hanson-Young,” replied Trioli. “You certainly can’t produce that quote and she certainly denies it.”

Leyonhjelm then accused Trioli of calling him a liar, asking “do I have to remember every word precisely for it to be true?”

“In order to justify a pretty strong comment, yeah I reckon you do,” said Trioli.

But the kicker came when Trioli accused Leyonhjelm of getting personal and “bitchy” when confronted by women, citing not just his exchange with Hanson-Young but also an incident when he called an elderly woman who criticised him “a bimbo”.

“When I am abused … I feel that I am perfectly entitled to respond,” said Leyonhjelm

“I guess Australia will form its own view on that,” Trioli shot back.

Following her interview with Leyonhjelm, Trioli spoke with Hanson-Young, who said she was saddened by Leyonhjelm’s apparent “disrespect” for women.

“He seems to be doubling down and digging himself a bigger and bigger hole,” she said. “His justification for these offensive and frankly inflammatory comments are based on a lie. I never said anything along the lines of what he [is saying].”

Hanson-Young also said she is regularly subjected to sexist slurs while in parliament.

“Various men’s names are yelled at me across the chamber, suggesting that they’re men that I’m having relationships with,” she said. “I’m often told to change the way I look or the way I speak. I’m often criticised for not smiling at people enough.”

“For years I’ve said nothing. For years I’ve sat there … and hoped that they would simply go away. But the reality is that they haven’t. They’ve gotten worse.”

“I’m taking this on as a matter of principal,” she added. “I’m doing this because I’m a woman in a relatively privileged position. I am able to stand up for myself. I am able to not remain silent. I’m doing this because the woman on the factory floor, or the woman who works at the bakery, or the flight attendant who has things like this hurled at her.

“Many of those women can’t stand up. Many of those women are made to feel intimidated and silenced, and it’s time that this ended. And if we can’t clean it up in our nation’s parliament, where can we do it?”

You can watch Virginia Trioli’s interviews with David Leyonhjelm and Sarah Hanson-Young via ABC iview (starting at around the 7:45 minute mark).