David Leyonhjelm isn't a man with a woman problem; he's just misunderstood

I THINK I need to give David Leyonhjelm a hug.

I need to track him down, throw out my arms and give him a good old-fashioned bone-crusher to let him know he is loved, despite being a man, and despite me being a woman of the feminist persuasion. 

I need to help him overcome his fear that there’s “misandrists” in all directions out to get him, after the tough week he’s had.

(A short break here for the history of misandry – a hatred of, or prejudice against, men. First used in the late 1800s, as opposed to misogyny – a hatred of, or prejudice against, women. First used in ancient Greece. In other words, hatred of women to the point where there is a word for it has been around for 2000 years longer than hatred of men.) 

But back to the Big D.

I’d put Leyonhjelm at ease after hugging him - maybe with a pot of tea, some Shredded Wheatmeals and gentle talk about how difficult it must be, fighting your own principles as a “classical liberal” senator dedicated to the end of “overgoverning, overtaxing and overriding” government, while picking up $200,000 a year from the public purse, with added perks.

Living with the enemy, so to speak; an insider working towards the downfall of the host. All for the greater good, of course.

I’d ask him about his week, in a soothing un-misandrist kind of voice, because it’s been hard.

There he was, minding his business on June 28 when Fraser Anning told Parliament that the way to keep Australian women safe, after a “recent spate of horrific violent crimes”, was to import and “actively promote the carrying” of pepper spray, mace and tasers “by women for political protection”.

Greens Senator Janet Rice replied that if Anning “really wants the government to ensure that innocent citizens are protected from harm, might I suggest he focus his attention on interventions that prevent men’s violence”.

Labor’s Senator Anthony Chisholm responded that “Women have a right to safety in public places and in the home”, and then Senator Sarah Hanson-Young and Leyonhjelm had a turn, unrecorded by Hansard.

In interviews this week Leyonhjelm accused Hanson-Young of saying “All men are rapists” – or something like that, he’s a bit fuzzy on the detail – and confirmed that in retaliation he told her, across the floor of Parliament, to “Stop shagging men”.

Which is when it all turned to the proverbial for him.

It’s not the first time he’s got people offside for upholding his “classical liberal” principles of pursuing liberty and being free with his speech.

In 2016 Labor MP Chris Hayes told Parliament he was horrified after Leyonhjelm was filmed at a Queensland bikie law rally saying police could “lie on the side of the road and bleed to death”, because he was “never going to help someone who thinks it’s OK to pull me up, search me and threaten me with jail if I don’t answer questions”.

Leyonhjelm rides a motorbike.

He’s lashed out in Parliament at people who “feel entitled to impose restrictions and constraints on motorcycling”; at governments for applying “sin taxes” to punish smokers and drinkers “for their alleged excesses”; and at the media after photographers were finally allowed to take photos of pollies in the Parliament.

“I am very uncomfortable about that,” he said in September, 2014, about the photo-taking.

“If I rest my eyelids, I do not want that to be interpreted that I am sleeping.”

June 28 is not the first time Leyonhjelm has seen misandrists around every corner.

In September last year a large number of senators, female and male, put a motion to the Senate about changes to a government-funded sexual assault and domestic violence service.

The motion called on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull “to ensure that victims and survivors of family and domestic violence continue to have access to best practice specialist sexual assault and family violence trauma counselling services”.

There was no mention of women or men, but Senator Leyonhjelm wasn’t happy.

His comment to Parliament, in full: “I would just like to place on the record that, while I support the intent of the motion, there is an implication that violence is perpetrated by men against women. The evidence would suggest that more than half the cases of that is true, but there is a very large minority of violence cases against men by women, and the debate does not reflect that.”

In 2015 the NSW Coroner’s Office released a review of all family violence deaths – 280 adults and children – in the state between July, 2000 and June, 2012, with 164 female victims and 116 male victims.

Of those, 165 were killed by their partner or ex-partner. Of the 129 women, all were killed by men. Of the 36 men, 31 were killed by their current or former female partner, and five by their male partner.

Magistrate Michael Barnes found that of the 129 women, 127 had been domestic violence victims.

The review found 60 children under 18 years old were killed, with 36 by a male father or father figure, 18 by a female, and four by both parents together. It found 41 children were killed by a biological parent, with 25 children, or 61 per cent, by their biological father.

When the Coroner’s office looked at the 27 people killed in a domestic violence setting, but with no direct relationship with the killer, it found all 27 victims were men, and all killers were men.

In a foreword Mr Barnes noted that “women continue to be overrepresented as victims of domestic violence, suffering not only physical abuse, but other coercive and controlling behaviours such as verbal, social, financial and emotional violence”.

Some women were killed after no history of physical violence, “but their abuser had exercised almost total control over all aspects of their lives”, Mr Barnes said.

And women weren’t killing women.

In his first speech to Parliament, on July 9, 2014, Senator Leyonhjelm outlined the beliefs of his party, the Liberal Democrats.

“All our policies are about freedom – the absence of control by others,” he said.

Which begs the question, Senator Leyonhjelm: if you’re only in Parliament to fight for “the absence of control by others”, why the hell aren’t you standing up for women whose male partners are exerting “almost total control over all aspects of their lives”?

Or are you just another powerful bloke who gets off abusing anyone – man or woman – who disagrees with you?

This story Give the man a hug first appeared on Newcastle Herald.