Senior female politician in Australia jokes she ‘would kill to be sexually harassed at the moment’
Teena McQueen, the Liberal Party’s federal vice-president in Australia, has drawn criticism for allegedly saying that she “would kill to be sexually harassed at the moment.”
Ms McQueen has, however, denied making this remark but apologised for cracking a joke “about herself.”
“What I said was, at my age — and it was a joke — every woman ages and I’m no longer sexually harassed, which is a fair comment considering I’m a grandmother,” Ms McQueentold news.com.au.
Three senior Liberal women reportedly told the Sydney Morning Herald that Ms McQueen made the comments during a meeting that was called to discuss the new code of conduct for the party’s New South Wales branch.
Calling it a “throwaway line”, Ms McQueen said, “I have apologised and I’ve said I regret the comment — clearly I will no longer make any off the cuff jokes — even though it was a comment about myself, but I will certainly not go there again.”
However, when the Sydney Morning Herald told the three women about Ms McQueen’s version, they were adamant that she indeed made the exact same remark.
Two of the attendees also told the SMH and the Age that they also heard her say, “let’s talk about women not getting drunk at work.”
Her comments were being read in reference to former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins, who recently alleged that she was raped inside the Parliament House.
Ms Higgins had earlier in February said that a senior male staffer at the office of Australia’s defence industry minister, Linda Reynolds, raped her in the Parliament House in 2019 when she was 24. She had also said she feared filing a complaint could end her political career, which led to a debate in Australia about the handling of cases of sexual assault and misogyny in politics.
Offering clarification, Ms McQueen said that her remarks were not directed at anyone.
“I’m pretty annoyed that it’s trying to be skewed in that direction,” she was quoted as saying by the news.com.au. “I was brought up in hotels, I used to smell the wine and beer, and it turned me off alcohol… I saw the violence that occurred because of alcohol and I feel very strongly about this and it had nothing to do with Brittany,” she said.
“No one deserves to be attacked, whether they are drunk or on drugs. My disgust is with the use of alcohol, particularly at Parliament House.”
Ms McQueen, who is in her 60s, shared that she has been sexually assaulted as a teenager.
“It was a very frightening experience so I can relate very well to sexual assault — just not from a man. But sexual assault is sexual assault no matter who is doing it,” she said.
Ms McQueen further said that Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Parliament was “probably slow off the mark to respond” while handling the rape allegations.
She further slammed the media for repeatedly attacking her for the remarks. “I think if you care about women generally, you should care about all women and what they’re going through,” she said.
“I’m a woman, and they jump in to protect other women but there is no concern from media. They are not listening to me, they just see it as an opportunity to whack. I’ve not only corrected but apologised for the things I said,” she said.
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