For many, it was a sight of sheer brilliance. Australian journalist Virginia Trioli schooled Sen. David Leyonhjelm over sexist remarks that he made in the Australian parliament about a female senator.
It was a particularly heated moment on Trioli's show 7.30. Leyonhjelm said that he didn't agree that he needed to remember what Australian Sen. Sarah Hanson-Young said to him in order to justify his comment that she cease having sex with men — a suggestion given during a Senate debate on violence against women. In response, Trioli simply asked Leyonhjelm:
I've often wondered if you have ever paused to reflect on why you sometimes have such a reflex to get so personal and frankly bitchy when women take you on? Have you ever stopped and wondered about that?
At the moment, the Australian senator told Trioli that he did not "accept the premise" of her query. But Trioli wasn't satisfied with his answer. She retorted, "Let me tell you what it is based on. It is based on the comments that you made to Sen. Sarah Hanson-Young, it is made on comments that you made to an elderly woman once who criticized you and you told her to quote 'go away and stop proving you are a bimbo.'"
Leyonhjelm's controversial remarks during the Senate debate have since gone viral on Twitter. Hanson-Young, who is a member of Australia's Greens party, said she confronted Leyonhjelm who then reportedly told her to "f*ck off." Leyonhjelm confirmed that he said that to Hanson-Young, but has refused to apologize.
After mentioning his controversial remarks, Trioli said that Leyonhjelm's instances "constitute a reflex to get pretty bitchy with women. Why do you think that is?" Leyonhjelm then gave a defense and said that he was being "abused, accused of something, such as being a sexual predator" by the Greens senator. But Trioli, once again, refused to accept Leyonhjelm's version of events and went ahead to iterate the truth. "I am going to jump in there. I don't think anyone accused you of that but go on," she said.
Reluctant to agree with Trioli, Leyonhjelm said, "Well, you weren't there, I was and when people, irrespective of their age, irrespective of their gender, write obnoxious emails to me and the woman who wrote that did, I feel that I am perfectly entitled to respond." The Australian journalist said that the nation would decide and ended 7.30 at that point.
Although Trioli wrapped up her interview with Leyonhjelm, it looks like the Australian senator's comments will continue to be a hot subject for the locals. In her an opinion-editorial in The Guardian, Hanson-Long wrote, "We reward bad behavior with attention. Men who use sexism to belittle or intimidate women, as I experienced by Senator Leyonhjelm, face no backlash. This is politics in Australia in 2018. Now, simply because you don’t like a person’s politics, anything goes."
On Twitter, too, Hanson-Long remained vocal about the incident and said, "Thank you for all the words of support and care; they mean a lot to me. I am seeking legal advice — as many of you have suggested. As a woman, a sister and a mother, I will continue to stand up. I will not be intimidated or bullied by offensive and sexist slurs."
Leyonhjelm's comments have driven senators like Hanson-Long to amplify their message for respect and equality in the Australian parliament. "Our parliament should be better," she concluded in The Guardian. "We should set the standard. Yesterday I called out what happened, because both men who behave badly and our parliament should be held to account."