New Zealand fails with awful “sex teacher” headline

Posted in fail, New Zealand on August 23rd, 2012 by steph – Comments Off on fails with awful “sex teacher” headline

As anyone who has ever read, they are rather atrocious at paraphrasing stories to produce short headlines for their main page. If the story involves rape or sexual abuse, they generally just use the word “sex” (presumably to use as few words as possible), such as calling someone who is facing charges realting to rape or sexual assault a “sex accused”, which I always think is horrible. Today, their story about a school teacher ( a deputy principal) who has confessed to sexually abusing students has a pretty great (and by “great”, I mean “hugely stupid and offensive”) title on the main page:


“School warned about sex teacher”.


Come on. COME ON. What exactly is a sex teacher? I mean, obviously, I can imagine (ha), but in the context of a school? There’s no such thing as a sex teacher. The closest thing would be a sex education teacher, and that is clearly not what is meant by this. Using the phrase “sex teacher” is soooooooo offensive, and doesn’t even make sense. If you didn’t have the additional story text (or weren’t familiar with the story), you would have no idea what the headline meant. Sex teacher? School warned about the sex teacher? About what exactly? That the teacher wasn’t very good at teaching sex? That they weren’t a real sex teacher?  It’s a terrible phrase, and pretty offensive given the sensitive nature of the situation and the number of people who will probably see the headline.

So, that’s another tally mark in the “ fails at something” column, bringing the total to one million or so.


“Female Privilege”

Posted in fail, Feminism, New Zealand on February 14th, 2012 by steph – Comments Off on “Female Privilege”

The biggest mistake I made yesterday was reading this article on The Good Men Project when I saw the link. I really knew not to expect anything from a post on the GMP, but I couldn’t resist. “I Have Female Privilege”. I should’ve just walked away from the computer and never read this, because cleaning up the resulting mess from my head explosion was just not a great use of my time.

So, apparently the world is now a “woman’s world”, and women have all sorts of privilege; “I know that battle has not been won everywhere. There are countries or cultures where horrendous things happen to you if you are female. But in my country and in my culture, and in many other western countries, I would suggest the tide has well and truly turned.”


1. I’m allowed to be far more open about my sexuality than a man is. In fact, if I’m bisexual, it’s encouraged (both male and females encourage it funnily enough). If I’m hetero, I’m allowed to make comments about how hot men are, compliment men without others thinking it’s harassment and generally can make lewd comments about any person, be them male or female, and it’s considered ok. I can say “I fancy him so much I’d  even rape him” or “I need to pull him into the storeroom and show him I mean it” or “He is mega hot” about any male whether  he is seventeen (I am forty) or seventy. I can sit in a Twilight movie and drool at Jacob (for instance), and not be seen as a dirty old woman.


As QoT said on twitter last night, “I have privilege because people are happy to objectify my bisexuality!”. Some fucking privilege it is that lesbians and bi women are still positioned as being wank-fodder for guys- it’s so great not having your sexuality taken seriously! Additionally, the reason women are allowed to make “lewd comments” is because our sexuality is still seen as non-threatening; and, in fact, women are actually shamed for their sexual desires (too high=slut, too low=frigid, and there is no ‘perfect medium’ because no matter what you do you will always be a slut or a prude to someone). Some privilege that is. I’m not trying to say that men have it much better- in some ways they do, and in others they don’t. For me, that’s a part of why I’m a feminist; trying to work against mainstream stereotypes of men always being horny and lascivious beasts, and trying to combat homophobia. But just because men have it bad in some ways, that doesn’t mean that women have privilege over them in that area.


2. If my partner and I were in a domestic dispute and both violent, or both shouting, and I hit him … if the police were called, my male partner would still be the one far more likely to be taken into custody for the night. If my male partner tried to report domestic violence, it would be harder for him to have the charges laid, than if I did so. In fact, while there is a charge of Male assaults Woman in my country, there is no Woman assaults Male. That would be classified instead as General Assault.


So, because men may not be believed if they accuse a woman of violence, women have privilege? Even though the actual facts also include the statistic that women are much more likely to be the victim of violence (perpetrated by a man) than men? If that is what female privilege is, then you can have it back, thanks. It’s so reassuring to know that in a “woman’s world”, women are at risk of violence (domestic, but also sexual violence and rape outside of domestic spheres). I mean, come on. Really?! REALLY?! Because surely in a woman’s world, we would be at very low risk of being victimized. Oh, but men might not be believed if they report being victimized by a woman- well, that does suck. But it is in no way an indicator that the world is a woman’s world; in fact, it is a sneaky little byproduct of patriarchy- you know, that system that positions men as the top dogs! Yes, that’s right: in the patriarchy, where gender stereotypes roam free, women are seen as weak, submissive, passive, and generally incapable of violence against men. In the patriarchy, a man being hit by his wife is as absurd as a talking horse. So no wonder he might not be believed if he claimed to have been hurt by a woman- it is a ludicrous role-reversal. So, this example of “female privilege” is really just male power and dominant positioning backfiring for men. To be clear: as a woman and a feminist, my ideal world would be one where acts of violence were all treated seriously; I don’t want to live in a world where a man who is hurt by a woman is not taken seriously because I don’t want women to have power and control over men. That attitude – that the only dynamic is one group having power over the other- comes from the perspective that the world is a zero-sum game, and that improving the lives of women means an automatic switcheroo so that men are now on the bottom. That is a fairly common false conceptualization of what the goal of feminism is, and seems silly when you consider how explicitly feminists state that we want equality (which, as you can see, includes the word “equal”. It seems obvious enough…).


3. If my relationship with the father of my children was to break up, I’m far more likely to get the kids. And if I want a child, but don’t have a partner, I can do that too. I get to choose whether I have the baby or not, I get to choose whether the father’s name is on the birth certificate or not (and if he queries it, he’s the one who has to pay for the DNA test) and if he’s named as the father, he then has to pay child support, whether he was aware I was trying to have a child or not.


There is so much fail contained in this example. Firstly, the reason a woman might be more likely to “get the kids” is because in this world- the patriarchy!- women are positioned as the caregivers and often the primary parents, so who better to “give” the kids to than their figure of eternal love and nurturing?  This attitude is an attitude of the patriarchy, not of a “woman’s world”, so using this as an example of how women have all the privilege is just hilarious. A patriarchal attitude being used to explain how the world is no longer biased towards men- I find this very, very funny. Another clear example of looking at the small picture and not thinking about the larger causes and dynamics at play. And, to top it off, the idea that women usually “get” the kids is actually disputed- apparently, men not getting custody is often due to men not applying for custody, and when they do they often get it (in some form)- the whole “feminazis have infiltrated the justice system and the courts are female-controlled” line is most often spouted by good old MRA types who love to talk about the “gynocracy”.

And if I want a child, but don’t have a partner, I can do that too. I get to choose whether I have the baby or not”

Oh, what a privilege to live in a world where if you did what this first example suggests you would be slammed as a gold-digging deadbeat single mum, and your parenting routinely criticized until the end of time. We do not live in a world friendly to single mums, and often it is actively hostile. So sure, you can “do” that, technically, but to pretend that it is an easy option, and to not mention the backlash that comes with that choice, is utter misrepresentation. And great, we can choose to “have the baby or not”. Sucks that while we may have that choice, the world we live in- which is apparently a woman’s world- is still generally not very positive about the choice of abortion, nor does it provide great support for parents. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. The post is, apparently, about New Zealand (given that the writer is from here, and mentions “her” country early on) and other western countries: we’re apparently awash in the privilege to choose not to continue a pregnancy in New Zealand, where abortion access is not nearly as easy as people believe and where grounds for abortions are laid out in the Crimes Act (“Serious danger to the life or to the physical or mental health of the mother. Risk that the child would be severely handicapped, physically or mentally. Pregnancy as a result of incest or unlawful sex with a guardian. Severe mental subnormality of the mother.”). That is not what a “woman’s world” in New Zealand looks like to me, and if that is considered to be “female privilege”, then it’s a fucking joke. Other western countries aren’t looking to great when it comes to choosing not to have a child either- the reproductive rights of Americans are being chipped away at, and abortion providers in the USA continue to be targets of domestic terrorist acts (and yes, that is what clinic bombings and the murders of doctors is) committed by anti-choicers, and access to abortion services (choosing not to continue the pregnancy) is fraught for many people in many states of America. This is NOT what female privilege looks like. To argue that because women have “female privilege” because we are theoretically presented with choices about pregnancy  is 100% tunnel vision, full stop.


4. I’m allowed to be as education- and career-driven as I want to be, and push for the top, seeking equity and equality in everything. But when it comes to dating and relationships, I’ll want the dates paid for, the doors opened, the bling bought. And if I want to choose to not be career-driven, and be instead at home, and not work, then I can far more readily choose that option too than a male partner could.


I’m allowed to be as education and career driven as I want, provided I make sacrifices in other areas of my life that a man would not have to, and put myself out there for criticism that a man would not receive. I can push for the top if I want to be called a ball-breaker, or have my ability to do the job questioned, or have it insinuated that I only achieved success because I used my sexuality and/or got the job because of sexual favours. I also may be the victim of sexual harrassment by coworkers, or be excluded from the old boys network that still exists in many places. And when I want to work and have kids, it’s considered “having it all”, whereas for men it’s called “being an adult” or not called anything at all. Hooray, female privilege! Life is so great.

But when it comes to dating and relationships, I’ll want the dates paid for, the doors opened, the bling bought.”

Two words: BECAUSE PATRIARCHY. Patriarchy is why men are expected to take care of women, and it sets up a world where this is an acceptable dynamic. When women are viewed as needing to be looked after and provided for like a small child, of course you are expected to pay for their dinner. Chivalry -such as holding doors for women- is a product of the patriarchy, and doesn’t actually mean that it is a “woman’s world”: in fact, if you actually think about the situation beyond the superficial interaction, it is an example of how it is still a man’s world. Chivalry is patriarchal, and patriarchal means, by definition, that the world is a man’s world. I guess it sucks to be a guy who is so goddamn pleased with his superior status (as bestowed by the patriarchy), but then realises that this now means he is expected to take care of the people inferior to him as part of the deal.


“And if I want to choose to not be career-driven, and be instead at home, and not work, then I can far more readily choose that option too than a male partner could.”

Yeah, it does suck that the expected dynamic is women stay at home and men go to work. But guess what? Once again, that is actually not an indicator that it is a woman’s world and that women have the privilege, but it is a byproduct of patriarchal attitudes that say  “why the fuck would any red-blooded man want to stay home to fold clothing and change nappies? That’s women’s work!”. So yeah, another invalid example, and another case of looking at the small picture but not the bigger dynamic and what causes the small picture. As a feminist, I would love for it to be easier (both practically, in terms of support systems, but also in terms of reduced social stigma) for men to stay at home with their kids. Women being considered the default caregivers is not a privilege that women have, because it robs everyone of choice.


5. If I write an inflammatory comment, or a blog, or article, and a man questions anything in it, all I need to do to shut the conversation down is call him a bully, or say he’s a privileged male. I can also make disparaging comments about his sexuality, his economic standing, the size of his penis, and his ability to do pretty much anything in return for him disagreeing with me. I can do this, because when I do, I KNOW there will be a bunch of other women who will stick up for me.


This is obviously a joke, right? Or written by someone who has never been a woman in a comments section in the internet? Because, come on. That is basically the exact opposite of what it’s like to be a woman on the internet. Generally how it goes is: woman has opinion, man calls her a feminazi slut who is too ugly to even be raped, then rinse and repeat. “Men call me things” is a great example of how women are attacked for just existing online. Sure, you will often have many women to back you up against the guy, the usually all that means is that they all get threatened and abused too. Generally, when people accuse feminists of “ganging-up” on a guy, it’s because he had blundered into a conversation to denounce their opinions and use his manly male authority to tell them how things ACTUALLY are; i.e. man waves his male privilege about in a space that doesn’t kowtow in deference of it, and suddenly he is the victim when his actions don’t go down well.


Basically, this whole article about “female privilege” is a huge joke. Most of the examples are actually examples of the patriarchy in action, and are actually not all that privileged when considered in their wider context. It’s the equivalent of describing a wrecked car as fine because that one headlight isn’t damaged; you absolutely must look at the entire picture, and the author failed spectacularly. And, because of this myopic perspective and the insistence that seeing women using their privilege all the time “sickens” her, and the repeated talk about how women now have freedoms our ancestors did not (did you guys know we can go to university? And, like, own property and stuff? I think women are even allowed to vote and drive cars and wear pants!) just gives the impression of a woman desperate to ingratiate herself with men by proving that she thinks guys are great and actually have it way tougher than them, and how she’s brave enough to call women on our greedy, ungrateful attitudes and ignorance of our own good fortune. The statement in her author bio, “She considers herself both a feminist and a masculist”, doesn’t do anything to change that impression either.

Shitting on society’s “losers” is such a great national sport.

Posted in change the record, doin' it wrong, New Zealand on November 28th, 2011 by steph – 1 Comment

(Note: This post was actually written a week or so ago, before the election, and was motivated by the general nastiness towards people in “undesirable” jobs that seems to be picking up speed – or, perhaps, it may be the case I am just noticing it more. Anyway, given the election results, I don’t really imagine that this sniping at society’s “losers” – i.e. anyone who is perceived to be lower in status than the person who is doing the criticising- will ease up.)


Maybe I’ve just been naïve  not to notice it before, or maybe it really is getting much more prevalent, but the attitude towards people who are “unmotivated”, “lazy”, “moochers”, or have the “crap jobs” has made me extremely angry and upset lately. So many people seem to feel entitled to shit on people who are obviously less awesome then they are, and are exercising what they seem to think is their right to aggressively and nastily criticise anyone they think is in a bad situation, because apparently all it takes is hard work and enough desire for anyone to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and become a lawyer/doctor/millionaire entrepreneur/the Prime Minister. And usually this attitude also includes some obligatory criticism of the types of jobs that these non-awesome bottom feeders are doing (with apparently no motivation to ever better themselves, because if they had that then they would’ve swiftly risen through the ranks to become the manager/boss/own a whole damn franchise chain). Apparently these jobs – in fast food, cleaning, care work, factory work, etc – are piss easy jobs that are handed out to any warm body on the street, and why should someone in a job like that be paid more than five bucks an hour to mindlessly put things into boxes or mop the floors?

Well, I’m fed up with these arrogant, nasty, heartless jerks talking smack about how monkeys deserve their peanuts. These jobs are so easy and effortless, are they? Barely even count as real jobs? As someone who has worked in a few different “drone jobs”, I feel very strongly about this topic. As someone who worked as a supermarket checkout chick, I want to know this: if that kind of job is so easy and inconsequential, then I guess it wouldn’t matter if I had sat back and read a magazine and left my work to the manager of the store. No biggie- it’s not like my job was any real effort or work, right? And seeing as we had rows and rows of monkeys sticking things in bags- a job that a two year old could apparently do, by the way-, maybe we should just scrap all those jobs and the manager can do all of them- after all, people doing those jobs are really just being kept busy as box openers and being paid as little as the bosses can get away with. Oh, except that if you only think that the “important” jobs (switch important with prestigious, enjoyable, high-paying, desirable – they appear to be interchangeable) are worth decent compensation for doing, and that other jobs barely even count as jobs, then the people doing the “big” stuff wont be able to do their work because they’re be swamped with the work of a hundred other “monkeys”. And everything will be great when you walk into a supermarket where there’s no food on the shelves because none of the monkeys are there to stack it anymore, and no monkey working the register to ring up your groceries (although I guess you could just saunter behind the till and immediately know what to do because it’s such a low-level skill, like breathing). And who’s going to pack your groceries into bags- you? Come on, we all know that job is beneath you. And who are you going to subtly belittle for working such a low-paying , unskilled job if nobody’s doing those jobs anymore? (Yes, when I worked in a supermarket I had customers behave very condescendingly towards me). Some people are just rude and don’t know when to keep their stupid little stereotype-based opinions to themselves). It kind of takes the fun out of things when you can’t patronize the loser working the cash register as your checkout line treat.


So, we’re working with the idea that people should be smarter than to stick with crappy, low paying jobs, right? People who do those jobs lack ambition and don’t contribute anything of value to society. So from now on, there will be nobody to flip your burgers, nobody to pick those yummy cherries you want to eat with Christmas dinner, nobody to make sure that the bathroom at your office is clean when you arrive at work every morning. If these jobs are for barely functional losers and require no skills or effort, then why not just tack these jobs onto the jobs of other people? If they’re barely jobs at all, it won’t make a difference, right? I can see it now: you’re finally packing up after a stressful day at work, and as you make a move for the door your boss hands you a toilet brush. Have fun scrubbing your workmates’ shit stains every day on top of your actual work. Any loser could be an office cleaner, so who cares if you have to do a little industrial vacuuming before you head home to cook dinner? Any numbskull could pick fruit all day, so why don’t you go get that heavy ladder, lug it from tree to tree, and pick those delicious cherries in the burning sun. People who work at burger joints are just box-openers, and surely someone as smart and successful as you knows how to open a box, so it won’t be a big deal for you to take on that job too. Maybe that McDonalds manager should do the job of all of their monkey staff members if those jobs are so easy and worthless- one person staffing is probably all a place like that needs, anyway.

Oh, and before you go to work in the morning you’ll also have to deal with your garbage. I mean, rubbish collectors just hang off the back of a truck all day and intermittently throw rubbish bags into the truck- that doesn’t involve any actual skills, so why the hell are we paying those mooching losers?! Nobody should be rewarded TOO well for such a low-level job or you’re basically rewarding them for doing nothing. And if it’s a job that barely even qualifies as a job, maybe you can just do that yourself, too. I’m sure you can’t wait to get up close and personal with big piles of stinking rubbish, because I know you love that so much. And it’s no big deal, right? Any chump could do that job, so you should manage just fine because you have mad skills, and it’s obviously within your capabilities.


I’ve worked on the checkout at a supermarket (and for more than minimum wage, which I was very grateful for when I was a struggling student making JUST enough to get by each week). I’ve also done a few summers of various orchard work- picking, packing, grading, and there’s no feeling like the back-breaking physical effort of lugging huge crates of fruit to be exported and sold at astronomical prices for the grand reward of very little money and pain in your whole body. Without people doing these jobs, all the people with their big important jobs who love to complain about the deadbeats working at McDonalds would probably fail to function. Sorry to insult any of you who have big important jobs and actually understand this – you aren’t the people I mean when I say this. It’s the horrible, nasty jerks who don’t even think about who makes their coffee, cleans their office, pumps their petrol, picks up their recycling, rings up their purchases, picks their fruit, babysits their kids, or fries their fish and chips. You jerks: if those jobs are for stupid, hopeless losers with no skills, then why don’t you go out and just do all that stuff for yourself, given that you are so skilled and awesome at life. If a monkey could do those jobs, then why pay a person; lets get some actually monkeys in here and see how long it takes one of them to learn how to bag up the new clothes you’ve just purchased. I feel that if we test this by using actual monkeys, your perspective that any monkey could do such a job might be disproven, and my perspective that these jobs involve actual WORK might be validated. And hey, if I’m wrong and a monkey really could collect your garbage and take it to the dump for you, then it’s a huge win because we’ll be able to scrap the minimum wage altogether and just pay monkeys for doing those shitty jobs in food. Think of all the money we’ll save!


Oh, you were just using monkey as a perjorative term! Silly me. (Does that make me some sort of stupid sub-human for failing to grasp your oh-so-intelligent derogatory point? Probably). Well, if some half-asleep 8 year old could do those jobs, then we should just give them those jobs. Kids will be occupied outside of school hours (and thus unable to sneak around getting stoned in their school playground at 9pm at night, which will alleviate Peter Dunne’s fears), and they’ll also learn the value of hard work from a young age! Or, as I said earlier, if these jobs are so piss-easy, then maybe we should just add them on to the jobs of everyone else, and eliminate the low-status jobs by amalgamating them into the jobs of the awesome regular people with awesome jobs that require awesome skills. After all, if they require so little effort –no special skills, no energy, no time- then this should have absolutely no effect on the work of people who now have to do them. So, there’s no downside to this at all: minimum wage monkey jobs are taken care of by other people, and the regular work of those people is obviously not affected in any way by having to do one or two tasks that require no more effort than scratching one’s arse. Perfectly realistic, and problems with those pesky losers and their scabby little excuses for ‘jobs’ are all solved – no lazy bum will be getting paid for a job that basically amounts to just standing around doing nothing all day!


People who do these jobs – the kind that sneering idiots like to look down on as being jobs for thick people – are important. These jobs are important. Not everyone can be a doctor or a lawyer or the Prime Minister, and not everyone wants to. And unless we can get hold of some robots to do all of those “little” jobs for us, we will still need people to do them. People who act like chucking a 10 cent coin at someone doing one of those jobs would be more than enough compensation for that work should probably think about whether they would be happy to take on that work or not, and how they would feel doing a job and being told that it doesn’t count as work and how they, as an employee,  are essentially expendable. And they should think about who would do those jobs if the people doing them now didn’t, and imagine how much it would affect them. But, naturally, people who are smug, entitled jerks probably don’t care about any of this, because really their perspective boils down to “I have a good job, and I am a good person with good skills and lots of ambition, therefore people who do the jobs I consider to be bad must therefore be bad people with no skills and no ambition”. Either that or they are just egocentric assholes who don’t see these people as actual human beings that even belong in the same category as them, and thus are fair game for criticism and derision.




BLOKES. Blokes in charge of New Zealand. While being manly.

Posted in fail, New Zealand on November 4th, 2011 by steph – 6 Comments

This was a featured story on Stuff today:


That’s right, they even emphasized the word “man”, as it to remind us that yes in fact that saying does mean man, and not the generic “person” (as people often try to claim)

The post consists of a video of Key and Goff being asked questions preseumably designed to gauge whether they are real men or limp-wristed metrosexuals. They’re asked if they’ve ever punched someone, or shot a living thing, or done a yardie, and who drives on a trip to the bach with their wife. They’re asked for their best wilderness survival tip, and would they choose Tui or Pinot, and if they can change a tyre. Would you tell your wife that her new haircut looks bad? NO, they both say. What’s your best secret BBQ recipe? What if you ran out of undies- John would go commando, Phil would wash his stuff in the hotel sink. These are questions about MANLY things, you see. Men being men, and doing man stuff.

FUCK THAT SHIT. I have no energy to be more articulate than that. I am tired of this “here is what a man is like” crap. It’s so stupid, and so lazy, and SO pathetic. But sadly I am sure there will be plenty of people who eat it up.


Fact: Pregnant teens didn’t exist before the 1990s.

Posted in New Zealand, sex, sex ed on September 20th, 2011 by steph – 6 Comments

Naturally, with such a salacious topic as sex education being the scandal du jour, everyone has a very important and very, very correct opinion on the issue. It is about sex, after all. And to all those people who have taken this oppourtunity to shout about how modern sex ed is causing more teen pregnancies than it prevents, and how back in the day teens weren’t just getting knocked up willy-nilly,  so obviously modern sex ed is responsible for teen pregnancy, I’ve got two words for you: Magdalene Laundries. Or how about Bethany Homes, for that NZ flavour? Yeah, that’s right, we did actually have “fallen women” and “unwed mothers”; but maybe the reason you don’t think we did (aside from the fact you were probably not alive then…) is that we packed the dirty hussies off so respectable people didn’t have to see them or know about them.

So continue on with this revisionist history bullshit (BTW, did you know that we’ve always treated indigenous people in this coutntry really super well, for reals?), and go back to your sad little fantasies of the good old days with black and white TV and pies cooling on windowsills, back before the country was awash with young sluts. Really, please tell me more about how things were in a time back before you were born and where the reality of the situation was hidden from many people. I’m sure you are 100% correct and know all the facts about how things were back then.


The idea that comprehensive sex education is responsible for a rise in teen pregnancies is laughable, and the claim that ‘back in the day’ young girls didn’t get knocked up and now they’re doing it like it’s going out of fashion is just ignorant: statistics show that back in the day, teen girls did get knocked up at a pretty decent rate , and that now the rate of teen pregnancies is much lower than it was back in those glory days when teenage girls apparently didn’t get pregnant .

In the early 1970s, 70 out of every 1,000 teenagers had a child in any year. By the mid-1980s the figure had fallen to 30 per 1,000. Subsequently, it varied between 30 and 35 per 1,000 until 1997. There has been a general downward trend in the last five years, and in 2002 the fertility rate for teenagers was at a historical low of 25.6 per 1,000.

So that’s two strikes against the theory that the way people did it back then meant fewer pregnancies than the way we do things now (comprehensive sex ed). The fact that our teenage pregnancy rate is high when compared to other OECD countries isn’t the point: we aren’t making cross-country comparisons, but comparisons across time. And a comparison across time leaves the ways of the glory days of yore not really looking so shiny and fabulous. People trying to claim that we should revert back to how things were back then (don’t talk about it, and if you do get up the duff we might pack you off to “stay with an aunt” for a few months) because that was much more effective than the way we do things now are dreaming. Well, I guess part of the appeal is the shaming of young women for being sexually active, and in that case the good old days a probably a great model for that kind of attitude, and in that case maybe we should mimic how things used to be. Going back to the old ways isn’t going to make anything better because the new ways aren’t a problem. People may argue that having parent units in schools and not ostracising young mums is just promoting and encouraging girls to get pregnant at young age, but look at how things used to be compared to now: back then we hid and shamed, and the rate of teen pregnancy was higher than now when we are generally more open, and at least grudgingly accept things. That seems like basically the exact opposite to what is being claimed, really. I think the word ‘encouraging’ means that you’re getting people to do it more, and the idea that these days we promote teen pregnancy isn’t borne out in statistics showing a falling rate. But anywho, logic and statistics are for heathens anyway, so whatever.


Oh, and if you want a nice picture of how young girls in New Zealand never ever used to get pregnant back in the days before modern sex ed, maybe check out Piece of My Heart. Nope, no pregnant teenage girls being hidden away and used as slave labour before their babies were snatched away from them or anything like that. Ah, the good old days.

If comprehensive Sex Ed in schools is wrong, I don’t want to be right

Posted in New Zealand, sex ed on September 19th, 2011 by steph – 1 Comment

To the father who thinks teaching his son about the clitoris is “grubby”: I hope you’re planning to give him comprehensive sex education yourself, at home, lest he just learn this shit from the internet himself at some stage. Seriously, teaching children about basic anatomy is not grubby. Apparently it’s ok to teach them how “babies are made”, which I assume requires details about anatomy (fallopian tubes! uterus! penis!), but not about the clitoris(also an anatomical structure)- I can only assume because you would then have to talk about sexual pleasure, because that’s pretty much what the clitoris is all about. Heaven forbid children learn that sex (and sexual acts) can be pleasurable! And not just for men! What’s this,

Children as young as 12 are being taught about oral sex and told it’s acceptable to play with a girl’s private parts as long as “she’s okay with it”.

It included a question-and-answer session that focused on, “I have learned that my girlfriend has a thing called a clitoris. I really want to play with it. Is that okay?” The answer was: “Yes, if you ask her and she’s okay with it.”


Consenting to sexual activities, gasp! I mean, “she’s okay with it” isn’t a full-strength example of enthusiastic consent (I would prefer “she’s pretty damn excited about it!”), but it emphasizes the basic concepts of asking explicitly about a sexual act and obtaining active  consent.

I assume this is the point where the horrified parents would chime in and say “but my 12/14-year old is too young for this kind of graphic information”. Well, honestly, whether someone is old enough (legally, emotionally, psychologically, whatever) really isn’t an argument that will sway my opinion in this debate. You think your twelve year old is too young to know about oral sex? Chances are that if they’re curious, they would find out somehow anyway, and if they aren’t curious they wont go out and start road-testing the option just because they know it exists.  Even when I knew my friends were actually doing that kind of stuff (at ages 13/14/15), and had heard all about it from them, it didn’t make me run off to rip the pants of the nearest guy. You think your 14 year old is too young to learn how to put a condom on a penis? I learnt how to do that in sex ed when I was 14 or 15 (though it was a majestic wooden phallus, not a black plastic one. Snicker.) and it was many a year after that before I ever put that knowledge into practice (though not for lack of interest…). Knowing how to do it didn’t mean I felt like I had to go right out and start condom-ing every dick in town, it just meant that when the time came I had the knowledge. And you know what, people who think 14 is too young to learn how to put a condom on? There were 2 or 3 girls who left my class in 5th form because they were pregnant- they would have been having sex at 14 or 15 for this to happen. You can’t deny that people that young are having sex, and that if they’re going to have sex they should at least have as much knowledge as possible. As much as you may hate the idea of your 14 year old being sexually active, it may happen, and certainly does happen: Family Planning reps are on record on this issue saying New Zealanders as young as 12 are sexually active. Just because your idea of a good age for your child to have sex is 16 or 18 or “when they’re married”, doesn’t mean that this is a realistic or sensible attitude.

And as for the idea that schools might be going into too much depth with sex-ed classes, and encroaching on what should be the parents’ job; well, I hope the parents who feel this way are planning some extremely detailed birds and the bees talks that cover everything a child could want to know and don’t misinform them about anything (“condoms fail 50% of the time!” “abortions give you breast cancer!”). Personally, I know one guy who’s parents did not give permission for him to attend sex ed in schools, and clearly failed to take up their ‘parental role’ when it came to educating him themselves: he only learned at the age of 18 or 19 that women don’t urinate and have their period “through the same hole”; i.e. that the vagina is not what a women urinates out of, and there’s actually more than one hole down there. Oops.


Suffrage Day

Posted in New Zealand on September 18th, 2011 by steph – Comments Off on Suffrage Day

Happy Suffrage Day, y’all! Time to think about all the amazing people who fought for women’s right to vote, and also to think about how far we still have to go when it comes to women in New Zealand politics.

And, to the people who thought that voting would take women out of their natural sphere of home and family: the decline of New Zealand’s women into pants-wearing, beer-drinking, liberal, boner-killing feminists is probably because we let ladies take part in elections. Surely I’m not the only one who celebrates voting on election day with a large beer, pre-maritial sex, and some shrill feminist tirades?

Taxis, and walking home at night

Posted in New Zealand on September 5th, 2011 by steph – Comments Off on Taxis, and walking home at night

As we ladies know, walking home at night is a sure-fire way to get raped. “Don’t do it, ladies!”, screams society. And here we have a story of women being refused by taxi drivers and told by them to walk. I suppose you could argue that because there were three women walking together, they would be “safe” walking, but seriously. If something happened while they were walking (because taxis refused to take them), do you reckon someone would say “well, why were you walking home at night?” (or, after hearing that taxis refused to take them, “you should have flagged down every taxi you could until one accepted your fare”- even though they might have been there all night waiting for that to happen) ?

Assimilation and “when in Rome”

Posted in fail, New Zealand on July 5th, 2011 by steph – 2 Comments

Ugh. Just ugh. “Veiled woman kicked off bus”. If you want to know the reason for my “ugh”, just read the comments. All 300+ of them.  What got ot me most was how many people were spouting variations on the “if you come to our country, you have to fit in!” theme. Blend in, adopt, adapt, assimilate, when in Rome, abide by our rules, be like us. Many commenters are saying that if they went to Saudi Arabia they would be respectful of dress codes and cover their arms and legs etc, so obviously when people from over there come here they should abide by our “culture”. I hadn’t realised that a uncovered face and hair were a root aspect of our culture, so that’s me schooled. Not just an issue of politeness, decorum, general ettiquete (e.g. removing caps indoors), but a fundamental element of “Kiwiness”. Basically, there are an awful lot of people who are using the “respect Kiwi culture!” line as a substitute for “blend in with us or don’t complain when you suffer the consequences”. And that is a pretty hateful and nasty attitude.

“Women hate hard work” and other stereotypes

Posted in New Zealand on June 26th, 2011 by steph – Comments Off on “Women hate hard work” and other stereotypes

Good news, everyone! Kerre Woodham has explained to us the REAL reason for the wage gap between men and women. Fuck Alasdair Thompson’s explanation that it’s due to periods and babies; Kerre knows the real reason: it’s because women don’t want to earn as much as men!

What does gender pay parity really mean? If women aren’t earning as much as men, quite often it’s because they don’t want to.

They don’t want to put in the hours and the weekends and the stress and the politics that are involved in clawing your way to the top of your field.

WE ARE NOT JUST TALKING ABOUT CEO’S, KERRE. WE ARE TALKING ABOUT WOMEN AT ALL LEVELS OF THE CAREER LADDER. And major fail by comparing apples and oranges; the wage gap isn’t the difference between what John Key earns and what a women who cleans offices earns. The gap is between men and women doing the SAME JOB who are equivalent in things such as experience, qualifications, etc. So the number of women getting to the tops of their fields is not what this is about – although it is a interesting issue in it’s own right.

I would be more ranty about this, but this steaming pile of women-bashing garbage with no actual evidence or stats to back it up is classic Kerre Woodham, so I can’t really be surprised or taken aback. In fact, I think that from now on whenever someone uses baseless speculation and anecdotes based on tired stereotypes to offer up the solution to an issue, especially if it involves women or poor people, I’m going to re-name that “pulling a Kerre”. You hear someone saying that rape victims aren’t to blame, but really women should be careful about what they wear? They just pulled a Kerre.