• Kristin Perissinotto

What Lidia Thorpe said is deeply misogynistic

If you've spent even an ounce of what's left of your almost-totally-depleted-for-the-year energy keeping up with the news this fortnight, you'll know it's been an absolutely fucked last sitting period in federal parliament. I'm not even going to recap because I only have the one ounce of energy leftover for this issue and I can't waste it I am so sorry.

Something I'm sure you will remember is the Liberal senator who ~allegedly~ made dog noises at Jacqui Lambie as she was speaking. What you might not have heard about was the very similar scenario involving Liberal senator Hollie Hughes and Green senator Lidia Thorpe. Thorpe interjected while the Liberal senator was speaking, saying "at least I keep my legs shut." Hughes interpreted the phrase to be referring to her son, who has autism. Thorpe denies this.

While we have no way to determine the intent behind the Greens' senator's comment, I will absolutely say it is seated in misogyny. It's a horrendous comment that, if said by a man, particularly a conservative man, we would have heard droves of critique on. This is a difficult topic and hard to critique, as I find myself more disappointed than anything. Senator Thorpe is a member of the most progressive party in Australia and is one of very few First Nations People who sit in elected positions. But what she said was awful.

The Greens whole 'thing' is "keeping the bastards to account," and "cleaning up politics," but the comment she made was an action that goes wildly against both of these sentiments. It was completely unnaceptable. And I get it, parliament is a weird fucking place to work, and the senate's default includes hurling insults at reps in parties other than your own (something school children are taught not to do, but I digress), but the comment made was particularly cutting. It was misogynistic and it was slut shaming. And to have it on the tip of your tongue, ready to hurl. That's not acceptable.

Thorpe 'apologised' twice for the comment - once was more of an 'explanation', saying “I’m happy to retract, Mr President. I just got a view of something over there that disturbed me. But I’m happy to retract.” And we don't know what she saw or didn't see, but again - whatever it was (or was not), is no reason for her choice of words.

She later told the Senate (undoubtedly after the story had been received by the media): “I just want to unreservedly take back the comments that I made earlier when interjecting, and I apologise to that senator, senator Hughes, wholeheartedly. That won’t happen again. So I apologise to the senator and also the Senate.”

One can only imagine a progressive feminist senator must be under immense pressure in the workplace for something so vile to be said to a woman colleague. But is that an excuse for what was said? As an elected official who gains her position through our votes, it's really up to us to decide.