Protest targets Geelong mayor's sexism

Issue 
Sarah Hathway at the rally on October 12. Photo: MUA Geelong branch.

A rally was held in Geelong on October 12 to protest sexism from the city's mayor Darryn Lyons.

Lyons was photographed at a local Octoberfest event on October 10 wearing a tshirt featuring an image of a naked Madonna hitchhiking, taken from her 1992 book Sex, paired with the caption “Gas, grass or ass, no one rides for free”.

Fellow Geelong councillor Jan Farrell was the first to speak out about the photos. She posted on her Facebook page: “This is what passes for leadership at Geelong. As a woman who lives and works in Geelong I am beyond offended at his ongoing disrespect for women.”

“How timely that the report on Greater Geelong Council's 'workplace culture review' by former sex and disability commissioner Susan Halliday is due for publication. Sadly I suspect it will take a lot more than a report to change the mindset of some.”

Geelong Trades Hall said it called the rally to "let the mayor know that this behaviour is not acceptable and will not be tolerated by the community".

Photo: Kosta Srbinoff

Secretary of Geelong Trades Hall Tim Gooden said: “This image with the quote is saying that women need to pay their way through life by sex or sexual exploitation. We need to send a message from the top down that this is not acceptable.”

Signs at the rally called for the mayor to resign. Protesters also linked examples of everyday sexism to the 69 women murdered in Australia so far this year.

Australian Nursing & Midwifery Federation member and president of Geelong Trades Hall Jackie Kriz also condemned the mayor's behaviour. She said: “Sexism and misogyny is 'hard wired' into our society. It is woven into the very fabric of our institutions. It is in our schools, our sporting clubs, our work places, our churches and our council. It is everywhere. It is institutional sexism.”

Geelong Women's Unionist Network convener Suzi Ishkra also called out the mayor on his sexist behaviour and demanded his resignation.

Sue Bull, Socialist Alliance candidate for local council by-elections said: “I don't want to serve on a council … with a mayor who thinks this sort of behaviour is OK.”

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