politics

What Sarah Hanson-Young told her daughter after she was slut-shamed in Parliament.

When Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young stood up in Parliament in July and called out David Leyonhjelm for uttering a sexist slur, it started a national conversation about slut-shaming, about workplace conduct, about the persistence and power of the boys’ club on Capital Hill.

But, as the mother of an 11-year-old girl, it was a conversation she had to have at home, too.

Speaking to Mamamia‘s No Filter podcast, the South Australian Senator recalled what happened after she demanded an apology from the Liberal Democrat, who she claimed yelled that she ought to “stop shagging men” during a motion relating to violence against women.

“David then went outside the chamber, where he wasn’t [legally protected from defamation claims] by parliamentary privilege, did TV and radio interviews and doubled down. He told people I was well known for having lots of boyfriends, went on a national radio show and told people the name of a man he believes I’ve had sex with – which I haven’t, by the way. But what does that matter?” she said. “It was the ultimate slut shaming.”

In the midst of it all, Senator Hanson-Young sat down with her daughter, Kora.

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"That's a hard conversation to have. I said that someone had been saying some pretty mean things, and I wasn't going to let the bullies win and we needed to stand up for ourselves," she said.

"She's a pretty smart and cluey kid, so she did her own research and it was pretty easy to see that it was starting to creep into her daily life, as well, at school. She had some of the kids in the classroom ask whether it's true, whether her mum had lots of boyfriends. I said 'What did you say, honey?' She said, 'I said that was a lie!'

"So she she's prepared to stand up and say what she wants to say, too."

Senator Hanson-Young argues that it's vital to have these discussions about sexism, about gendered harassment and bullying, with children.

"I think it's really important for us as mums to have conversations like that with our daughters," she said. "And look, I don't have a son, but I've got a nephew and I'm very close to him, and we also need to think about how we're teaching our young boys in all of this. Respect starts at childhood, and we have to keep going on that."

For more from Senator Hanson-Young's chat with Mia Freedman, listen below or subscribe to No Filter in your favourite podcast app.

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