Archive for July, 2010

What the What??

Posted in New Zealand, What the what? on July 14th, 2010 by steph – 1 Comment

Julie at The Hand Mirror has an excellent take-down of Garth George’s Herald column about Andy Haden. And when I say ‘column’, I mean ‘massive explosion of explicit and overt racism and sexism’.  I can barely form words after reading it, and suggest you check out Julie’s great post because it is well worth your attention. One the excellent points she makes is, if Garth feels that

it also pays to engage the brain before putting the mouth in gear, and to keep some thoughts to oneself except, perhaps, in trusted company.

and so thinks that Andy should have kept these thoughts to himself, then why on earth would Garth himself then spew them out in a public newspaper column?

This is not even the worst of the idiocy in his column, unfortunately. If his goal was to be massively offensive, mission accomplished. I suppose my problem (and Julie’s and every other person who reads his column on hande with horror) is just that I am too PC, right?

Science showdown

Posted in Feminism on July 13th, 2010 by steph – Comments Off on Science showdown

After reading the always fascinating Emily Nagoski take on Jesse Bering at Scientific American over cervical mucus, disgust, and sex-positivity, I have now read his rebuttal column, titled ‘The foolish feminist: Be careful who you call a misogynist, you misandrist’. Emily herself has a reply to this, and over at The Sexist there is also some nice discussion of how he has successfully debunked feminism. Well done, Jesse Bering!

As well as personal insults towards Emily (calling her “not-so-delightful”, and saying he will allow her her two minutes of “lackluster fame”, calling her a “hypocritical, self-righteous, sanctimonious schmuck” and “man-hating”), he calls her a misandrist after reminding us that hey, a women edits his posts (so surely he can’t be misogynistic!)- ohmigod, guys, I wonder if he also has black friends??

What I found hilarious was this comment

I’d venture a guess that, unlike “misogyny,” many of you had to look up the word “misandry” (I did), which probably says something about the double standard by which society feels it’s perfectly acceptable for women to hate men, but men aren’t permitted to hate women.

Hahahahahaha….. so, he and I live in different societies, right? I think the claim that society doesn’t permit men to hate women is possibly the funniest thing I have heard in a long time. Our society doesn’t permit men to hate women? I didn’t realise that denial of reproductive freedom, unequal pay, and discrimination were things you did when you love someone! My bad, people. Apparently I have been doing it wrong.

He also completely fails to consider that maybe the reason people are reluctant to call themselves feminists isn’t because

radical, hot-headed, loudmouthed caricatures of blank slate feminism—are giving the feminist movement itself a bad name

but maybe because of a huge backlash against feminism that has been going on ever since women started to push up against people who didn’t want them to be allowed any rights at all: a huge tactic of any kind of hate campaign is to smear the people who are pushing against ‘the man’, and to discredit them and make them look bad by creating a hugely exaggerated negative image of the group. Like, I don’t know, painting feminists as unfeminine or unnatural, or perpetuating the myth about foaming-mouthed bra burners. You make your opposition look bad, it makes what they are fighting for also seem bad. Simple, right? So, I disagree with Jesse Bering’s point that “caricatures” of feminism give feminism a bad name: I think the image of feminism created by the backlash is more likely to be the culprit. He quotes from the conclusion of the study he mentions (Jessica Jenen and colleagues conducted an Implicit Attitude Test (IAT) on feminist concepts):

[Previous researchers] showed that many women believed that a “typical feminist” was different and more radical than many actually are.

It is completely possible that this “typical feminist” image comes from stereotypes perpetuated not by feminists but by anti-feminists. It certainly is a plausible explanation.

As for the “bad name” being the thing (or one of the things) that scares people from identifying as feminists; this is possibly the only thing Jesse Bering and I would agree on. Where we differ, however, is the possible reasons we believe have contributed towards creating this “bad name”.

As a side note, I found his concluding sentence repulsive

Go stuff it up that hole of yours which is shared by both male and female jackasses alike.

He has obviously been careful to make sure we get this is a ‘stick it up your ass’ comment, not a ‘sexual violation’ allusion, but I still think it is hideous, and given how frequently feminists on the internet are told that a certain part of male anatomy in a certain part of their female anatomy would set them straight, I think it is pretty inappropriate. And, aside from that, ending your rebuttal in ‘stick it up your ass’ is possibly the most childish thing you could do, and weakens your entire ‘I am arguing from a place of intellect and reason’ stance.

Oh, Deborah. Let’s have a chat.

Posted in New Zealand on July 12th, 2010 by steph – 9 Comments

While reading The Dim Post I clicked through to a column by Deborah Hill Cone on, well…. ok, I don’t know. It seemed to start out being about the financial crisis and foreign ownership of land, but somewhere in the middle became completely different, and then by the end it was about parenting, but also parenting as an analogy for thinking about people other than oneself. But, what did jump out at me nice and clearly from that murky middle area was her comment

It seems a shame that Julia Gillard was not Prime Minister of Australia at the same time as Helen Clark was our PM. They would get on famously, both being cerebral, childless bony Tilda Swinton lookalikes.

I think she forgot to add one crucial point: HeLEn cLArk iz a mAN!!11!!1!!!1!!!!!

It all comes rushing back to me now; how infuriating it is that a woman can be intelligent, in a position of power, childless, or any combination of the above, and the immediate reflex response seems to be to criticise her for it. Cerebral isn’t, in itself, an insult, but in this context it clearly is meant to be. Bony; well, I guess no woman in the wntire world is immune to body-snarking bullshit. I’m a bit worried: I mean, I know we are all scared that this thing called obesity will sneak into our rooms at night and get us, but now apparently if we get too thin there is the risk of being called bony. This is a precarious tightrope we women walk; a little to either side and we will be unattractive. Gasp!

But now to the real meat of Deborah’s column.

I believe you need to have children to understand what life is like for most people and what their concerns are. Personally, I scoffed at Hillary Clinton’s folksy “it takes a village” homily before I had kids.

It is only since having children that I understand the concept of community and feel like being part of it. I feel an obligation to care for everyone’s kids, not just my own. Frankly, I find it hard to take parenting advice – and isn’t that a big part of what the Prime Minister in a welfare state does? – from someone who doesn’t know what it is like to sit up all night with a sick child.

When you have children you become capable of thinking about someone other than yourself. Sure, this might happen to people without children, too. I’m just not convinced.

Ah, right, I remember now. Childless people are mere husks of human beings that will never be able to have fulfilling lives, understand others, or have any empathy or caring at all. Yes, indeed.

It always makes me wonder; are there people out there who really just can’t “understand what life is like for most people” or “become capable of thinking about someone other than yourself” without having kids. Because that is pretty messed up. I mean, I think that is probably indicative of some sort of psychopathy, and not so much to do with the fact that they don’t have kids.

And the point that she find it hard to take parenting advice from a Prime Minister who doesn’t know what it’s like to stay up with a sick child; well, having stayed up all night holding an ice-cream container for your kid to vomit in isn’t actually a prerequisite of the job, funnily enough. And, more to the point, the Prime Minister gets to dish out all sorts of advice on things they’ve never had a hand in themselves. Farming, finance, health, education. But weirdly they also seem to have lots of people hanging around giving them advice on all sorts of issues, and even people who they can, like,  put in charge of certain things. Advisors and ministers, I believe I have heard them referred to as.

Grooming and abuse =/= a relationship

Posted in New Zealand on July 12th, 2010 by steph – Comments Off on Grooming and abuse =/= a relationship

A school teacher has been deregistered for having a “relationship” with a year 8 (Form 2, so probably around 12 years old) pupil. It is a horrible story: romantic texts (including one calling her his “first true love”, developing  into sexual texts, gifts and letters, telling her to lie about their contact, and kissing her on school camp. Horribly enough, this is referred to  (by the teacher himself, and in the article), as a “relationship”. Heads up: a child that age isn’t able to consent to anything with a adult man (legally or otherwise), so I don’t  think relationship is the word you are looking for.

Also, both the girl’s lawyer and the Teachers Council disciplinary tribunal agreed that the teacher was clearly grooming the student, but don’t mention whether or not he is to be prosecuted for anything (as well as being deregistered). The article does mention he was ordered to pay the girl $3000. Sounds like a just punishment to me (that was intense sarcasm, in case it didn’t translate well to the internet…).

Asking for it

Posted in Uncategorized on July 12th, 2010 by steph – 5 Comments

Scotland’s first TV advert aimed at tackling prejudice against rape victims is being broadcast this week.

In the ad, after a man in a bar comments on a woman’s skirt, saying she’s asking for it, a flashback shows the woman asking a shop assistant to help her decide which skirt to buy. She tells the assistant: “I’m going out tonight and I want to get raped. I need a skirt that’ll encourage a guy to have sex with me against my will.”

While I don’t think it is especially hard-hitting, I do like it a lot because the ‘short skirt, she’s asking for it’ point of view is still disturbingly prevalent (Rape Crisis Scotland’s statistics show 17% of men believe the woman is at least partially responsible if dressed ‘provocatively’) and is also utterly ridiculous. And this ad does make the ‘she was asking for it’ statement look as stupid as it really is. Additionally, as a wearer of short skirts on a near-daily basis, I hate the idea that anyone, even one single person out there in the world could take that to mean I’m asking for anything, so targeting this woefully ignorant point of view is always welcome in my book.

Oh, well, if she deserved it, then that’s ok…

Posted in Uncategorized on July 12th, 2010 by steph – Comments Off on Oh, well, if she deserved it, then that’s ok…

Recordings of Mel Gibson verbally and physically abusing his girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva have been receiving a lot of attention lately. As well as disgusting racist and sexist comments, and threats to her life, he also says (after Grigorieva asks “”What kind of a man is that who would hit a woman when she is holding a child in her hands, hitting her twice in the face?”) “You know what? You fucking deserved it”. Ah, that’s right, the ‘you deserved it’ defense to justify physically abusing your partner. I had forgotten that if you deem someone deserves it, you get to do whatever you want to them; legal, illegal, with their consent or not. I get this weird feeling I have heard people use this defense before when justifying some other types of things they do to women who ‘deserved it’….

Key speaks

Posted in New Zealand on July 12th, 2010 by steph – Comments Off on Key speaks

John Key has spoken, saying he approves of Andy Haden’s resignation as a Rugby World Cup Ambassador. This was fairly predictable; I’m sure he knew what had to be said in this situation, given how much damage could be done if he wasn’t clear in his disapproval of Haden’s comments. I’m glad Key was quoted as saying

Haden’s comments were offensive, and that New Zealand was a country which “stands up against rape or any kind of statements that would sanction some form of rape”. “I found the comments disappointing.”

Now, I would prefer he had substituted ‘horrendous’ or ‘disgusting’ for ‘disappointing’, but I do like that he didn’t just say we stand up against statements that sanctioned rape; he actually said “stand up against rape”. So no allusions of the ‘think it but don’t say it’ type; whew. And no ‘I’m sorry things were said that offended some people’; another win. I know Key would have had to make a statement condemning Haden regardless of his own personal beliefs, but I like to hope that maybe he is enlightened enough to actually find Haden’s comments offensive, rather than just be saying so to avoid getting sucked into the mess too.


Posted in Uncategorized on July 12th, 2010 by steph – 2 Comments

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Satire – I do not think you know what that word means, Andy Moore

Posted in New Zealand on July 11th, 2010 by steph – 14 Comments

Andy Moore, the director of  anti-abortion group ProLife New Zealand has had a website domain name confiscated after it was ruled that he set up the site to deceive users into thinking it was a site for Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand (Alranz). He claimed that

he never intended to mislead the public into thinking the website was genuine, and it was meant as satire. He had wanted to show up the group’s “really extreme” abortion promotion. “Most of the public wouldn’t be in line with Alranz’s views.”

Satire, huh?

My problem with the article on is that it calls Alranz a “pro-abortion group”. I suppose it made sense, given their intent to highlight the contrast between Alranz and Andy Moore’s “anti-abortion” group; use the prefixes pro and anti. However, pro-choice is actually the preferred term, and generally ‘pro-abortion’ is only used by those who oppose the right to choose (with abortion being one of the available options), so seeing ‘pro-abortion’ seems either ignorant or unbiased.

Personally, I shouldn’t throw stones, because I myself actually don’t like to use the opposing camp’s preferred term, pro-life, and prefer to call it like I see it: anti-choice. Because I am pro-choice, and certainly have nothing against life! And pro-choice is a great descriptor: pro having a choice to do whatever one feels is right, abortion being one option but not the only one. So pro-abortion is a misnomer, but pro-choice is apt. To me, anti-choice, rather than pro-life, makes perfect sense: they want to stop women being able to choose from a variety of options (abortion being one of them, but not the only one). So I lean towards framing this issue in terms of choice: who wants women to be able to choose, and who wants to restrict their ability to do so? Are you pro-choice, or are you anti?

Blame it on the m-m-m-m-m-media

Posted in New Zealand on July 10th, 2010 by steph – 2 Comments

Andy Haden has resigned as an official ambassador for the Rugby World Cup after making it pretty clear to everyone he is a huge liability, given his love of making offensive comments in the media.  Rather than apologizing and admitting he is an ignorant bigot, he said

“I feel that to stay in the role, given the current media beat-up, would mean having to remove myself from making public comments on the game or related issues.  I have always believed in saying what I think and I will always be true to myself in that regard and it’s a sad day for society when people such as I are unable to express what we believe without a media beat-up from those with sectional interests,”

So it isn’t that he is a liability and the things he says are offensive; rather, the media are latching onto things he says and then blowing wildly out of proportion? Yeah, nah. Pull the other one, mate. When you run your mouth off in public spewing prejudice, you deserve to be villified. I like how this statement from him essentially amounts to him saying “I have been victimised! I am a victim! A victim of the evil media!” (I bet the evil media is run by women and “darkies” trying to get back at him for his views of them…). Not only does he not apologize, but he thinks it is a sad day for society when people such as him aren’t allowed to express how they feel. I agree; it is awful that we don’t really react favourably to people’s unenlightened and prejudiced views and generally want to dish out some sort of negative consequence. Awful. Just awful.