Cr Megan O'Hara Sullivan.
Cr Megan O'Hara Sullivan. Contributed

Councillor shares stories of sexism in Toowoomba

COUNCILLOR Megan O'Hara Sullivan has been shown inappropriate videos by men working in the council.

Her high-profile corporate female friends have been propositioned for sex or had items chucked down their shirts.

"Sometimes it's something that tips you over the edge and you say you won't put up with it at all," she told The Chronicle.

Casual and chronic sexism is ever-present across Toowoomba's political and corporate landscape, according to the first-term councillor.

The experience that federal Senator Sarah Hanson-Young had to go through with David Leyonhjelm this week struck a chord with Cr O'Hara Sullivan, who said it was an example of how sexism was present in every setting.

"It's the casualness of it. It's the casual remarks, the video that someone shows you which you find inappropriate," she said.

"There are girlfriends of mine in senior positions who talk about working with men who are throwing cubes of ice down the front of their shirts and making crude remarks.

"These are men saying to young girls in their office that they'd like to have sex with them, suggesting they stay back."

Senator Leyonhjelm, who is refusing to apologise for telling Senator Hanson-Young to stop "shagging men" in Canberra , is facing widespread condemnation for his remarks.

But Cr O'Hara Sullivan said until both men and women stood up to sexism in regular workplaces across Australia, nothing would change.

"That's the point that Sarah Hanson-Young is trying to make. It happens in our lives every day," she said.

"It's not until a man tells another that this behaviour is not okay that we will see something happen."

Cr O'Hara Sullivan said women were guilty of turning a blind eye to casual forms of sexism, highlighting an incident when a man had showed her "inappropriate videos, like pictures of women with no clothes on".

"That's what we're guilty of all the time, because you don't want to be seen as a prude," she said.

"Women in positions of power need to stand up and say it's not okay. There would be hundreds of stories like that."



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